“No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.”
The thing no-one tells you about travelling is what to expect when you come home.
I’d thought about it before I left; I’d assumed that lots would change in five months but, to be honest, I was more concerned about the trip ahead. I worried about being alone, about not being able to hack it.
But then you settle into the nomadic way of life and you realise that, actually, the real fear is returning home.
Coming home from a long-term adventure can, bizarrely, be a bit of a culture shock, and the excitement you’ve been cultivating on the 12 hour plane journey home can disappear pretty quickly after a couple of days back on home turf.
Going from doing something new and meeting new people every day to being catapulted back to life pre-adventure is pretty tough going.
For me, now the jet lag has worn off and I’m back at my parents’ house in a tiny rural town in Warwickshire, England (with nowhere to go and not that much to do), I’m glad that at least the sun is shining so I get to put in a few sunbathing hours in the garden.
But I’m not very good at relaxing, so it turns out – I have the attention span of a gnat – and I’m already trying to figure out where I want to go next and what I want to do. Travelling has changed me in that sense, I’m more proactive now and detest sitting around waiting for things to happen. Doing nothing has me going out of mind.
It’s almost like being stuck in limbo. The travel experience is so close, so recent, that it doesn’t feel completely over, but you’re definitely back in the reality of “home” and all the worries that come along with it. I’m already wondering about jobs, houses, money and relationships.
I’ve spent the last five months living such a carefree lifestyle that this concern has come as a bit of a shock to the system, and avoiding the desire to compare your life to other woman is impossible.
But does all this worrying make me want to “settle down” anytime soon?
Yes and no.
I’m still not sure what I want to do.
I’m positive I am not done with travelling, but I don’t know how this will fit into my life exactly. I guess that’s another blog post.
But, having said all this, there are also many good things about coming home.
1) Creature Comforts
Although there have been severe bouts of boredom, it’s been nice to be home.
It’s great to see my family, sleep in my own bed, and have access to a wardrobe of clean clothes. It’s nice not to be on the move constantly and have time to breathe and think and just sit still for five minutes. I’m completely in love with my double bed and I have no burning desire to return immediately to crappy hostel rooms, shared bathrooms and dirty kitchens.
I don’t eat too badly when I am travelling but my menu is usually repetitive and uninspiring so having all my favourite foods around me (I’m currently nursing a can of Stowford Press because I have missed decent cider) is a welcome change (although I’m making a conscious effort not to indulge while I’m not as active as I have been in recent months).
2) Friends and Family
Although I spoke to my friends and family often during the five months I was away, nothing beats seeing their faces. My mum and dad picked me up at Heathrow. My mum cried (of course) but what I didn’t expect was the reaction from my Dad who looked so happy to see me I thought he might burst. I love being back with them and, although I know I can’t live with my parents forever as we will kill each other, it’s made me realise that I couldn’t live far away from them for years at a time like some travelers. It’s just not me.
I haven’t been able to see all my friends yet. The problem with moving around the country so often is that your friends live everywhere and, like I said before, life continues in your absence.
People have jobs and lives. I cannot wait to see them!
But, on the flip side, moving back home also means new friends are left behind and so you wind up missing them and wishing you could speak to them when you’re in different time zones.
3) Appreciating Your Home Country/Town
I love England. I don’t think I realised how much I loved it until I’d travelled longer term. Although I don’t know if it’s the place for me forever, I’ve never been one of these people who hates their own country. I have been lucky enough to see some beautiful places in the world but driving back from Heathrow airport; I couldn’t help but think how pretty the English countryside really is. I’d love to show someone from another country around and see their reaction to our fantastic culture, history and scenery.
Check out this awesome list of beautiful places to visit in the UK compiled by Stylist magazine. This will certainly feed your wanderlust!
4) Taking a Break
Let’s face it, carrying a backpack around like a pack-horse and moving rooms every other day does start to grow a little old. After months of having no room of one’s own, I was dangerously close to losing my shit. The initial buzz of sharing a room and making immediate friends began to wear thin and I started to dream about my lovely soft bed and en-suite bathroom.
5) Planning the Next Big Trip
Personally I think coming back home – even if it’s just every so often for those more hardcore travelers – is necessary to recharge your travel batteries and rekindle your wanderlust. Try not to give in to the post-trip blues, instead immerse yourself in reading any travel books, articles, blogs you can get your greedy mitts on, and start planning your next adventure. South America, Borneo or a USA road trip anyone?
Have you recently returned home after a trip? Do you have any tips to beat the post-adventure blues? Do you have a new found love for your own country? What do you miss about home when you are travelling? Are you a long-term traveller with no intention of returning home?