Planning your dream trip is exciting. Where will you go? What will you see? How long will you stay in each place? Who might you meet? What modes of transportation will you use? There are so many questions and limitless possibilities. Will you quit your job or can you take an extended sabbatical leave? Will you set up a business and work whilst you move around? Have you saved up and plan on just enjoying yourself? All this planning, and yet the hardest thing about travelling is returning home!
I’m thinking you probably have the travel bug. You probably feel giddy every time you think about immersing yourself in a new culture. I love packing because it means I’m going on an adventure; maybe you feel the same way.
Maybe you try cooking the food you had when you were abroad. Maybe you spend hours researching new locations to travel to and making a top destinations list. Every time someone asks you where you want to travel to next you can rail off three or four or five exciting new locations. When you hop on a plane you get giddy and exhilarated.
We talk about the hard parts while we’re away – finding jobs, making real friends, staying safe, learning social norms, misreading people you think you can trust – but these are all parts you get through.
All of these lows are erased by the complete highs you experience.
The goodbyes are difficult, but you know they are coming, especially when you take the final step of purchasing your plane ticket home.
All of these sad goodbyes are erased by the reunion with your family and friends you have pictured in your head since leaving in the first place.
But the sad part is once you’ve done your mandatory visits for being away for a year; you’re sitting in your childhood bedroom and realize nothing has changed.
Every time you get back from a trip, you are bombarted with questions about your adventures, but the reality is that no words can even begin to describe how it makes you feel to be exploring a new corner of the world. You have your reunions, spend your first two weeks meeting with family and friends, catch up, tell stories, reminisce, etc. You’re Hollywood for the first few weeks back and it’s all new and exciting. And then it all just…goes away.
Everyone gets used to you being home, you’re not the new shiny object anymore. They stop wanting to hear about Italy, or China or Thailand. People stop losing interest in wherever you visited, but you haven’t been able to stop thinking about it.
Then questions start coming: So do you have a job yet? What’s your plan? Are you dating anyone? Where are you living? Are you going to go to school?
You’re glad everyone is happy and healthy and yes, people have gotten new jobs, boyfriends, engagements, etc., but part of you is screaming, don’t you understand how much I have changed? And I don’t mean hair, weight, dress or anything else that has to do with appearance.
I mean what’s going on inside of my head. The way my dreams have changed, the way I perceive people differently, the habits I am happy I lost, the new good habits I now have, the new things that are important to me now.
You want everyone to recognize this and you want to share and discuss it, but there’s no way to describe the way your spirit evolves when you leave everything you know behind, and you force yourself to use your brain in a real capacity, not on a written test in school.
You know you’re thinking differently because you experience it every second of every day inside your head, but how do you communicate that to others?
You feel angry. You feel lost. You have moments where you feel like it wasn’t worth it because nothing has changed, but then you feel like it’s the only thing you’ve done that is important because it changed everything. What is the solution to this side of travelling? It’s like learning a foreign language that no one around you speaks, so there is no way to communicate to them how you really feel.
This is why once you’ve travelled for the first time, all you want to do is leave again. They call it the travel bug, but really, it’s the effort to return to a place where you are surrounded by people who speak the same language as you. Not English, Spanish, Mandarin or German, but that language where others know what it’s like to leave, change, grow, experience, learn, then go home again and feel more lost in your hometown, then you did in the most foreign place you visited.
This is the hardest part of travelling, and it’s the very reason why we all run away again.
Although I believe the hardest thing about travelling is returning home, I also believe in the power of positive thought. So, if you don’t like something, change your mindset. Nothing is permanent, and one of the things that travel teaches you is how easy it is to relocate when you need a new landscape. I have lived in some places for a year and only stayed in others for a day. I may stay here for six months or three years, who knows at this stage in my life!
What I do know is, home is wherever I lay my hat and drop my backpack!
“Traveling leaves you speechless but turns you into a storyteller”