Travel is a drug, and these are the Rules for recovering from it.
As a seasoned backpacker and therefore a practiced returnee, let me tell you that coming back home after long-term travel is never easy.
Time and time again it is hard for us global wanderers to land back where we began – a sense of dread often flourishes as we seem to be venturing back to the familiar ground rather than forwards to the new, fresh and exciting.
Yet there are patterns, repeated feelings that surface each time we return home.
The more times we return home, the more we experience these patterns and the more we grow used to them. This familiarity can be useful in helping us deal with them too.
Having recently returned home from Asia after another multiple month adventure, I have yet again been faced with some familiar emotions.
Many are positive – the seeing of friends and family, the safety of a place you know, the excitement of seeing changes there, the welcome of its community.
However, many of the feelings I experience can be hard, no matter how delighted I am to see familiar faces and receive warm hugs.
Inspired by this I’ve jotted down some of the recurring things I find when I make my way back – the rules for returning home if you like!
#1 Do be prepared that everything will seem extremely expensive
#2 And that wearing no shoes may attract some strange looks
#3 Do foresee that washing your hair everyday will become the norm again
#4 As will wearing clothes without holes
#5 Do remember to put toilet paper in the bowl and not the garbage
#6 Don’t expect people to ask you where you’ve been
#7 Don’t expect them to know the location of the places if they do
#8 Don’t expect things to have changed
#9 But don’t expect things to have stayed the same either
#10 Don’t think you’ll have stayed the same
#11 But don’t think that you’ve changed beyond recognition either
#12 Or that you’ve done stuff no one else has ever seen or heard of
#13 Don’t expect people will want to listen to your stories
#14 Do know that you’ll probably continue to live out of your backpack for a bit because you can’t deal with the wealth of stuff you seem to own now
#15 Know that you’ll probably want to throw most of that stuff away
#16 Do throw that stuff away. But wait for a few weeks, so you’ve had a chance to realise what you really do and don’t need
#17 Do realise that you’ll probably cry
#18 And start looking at flights again immediately
#19 And start planning your next trip in detail
#20 And become depressed by the lack of money in your bank account
#21 Do be aware you’ll spend a long time on social media reliving travel photos
#22 And a long time on Instagram chatting to people you’ve met
#23 Do be aware you’ll become increasingly engaged in books, stories, articles, films and documentaries about countries you’ve visited
#24 And that your ears will prick up when anyone mentions those places
#25 Do come to terms with the fact that some friendships will have sailed
#26 Let them
#27 Do realise the positive in this:
#28 That travel is a test, that time away is hard for relationships, but that a few true friends will always remain regardless of distance and time
#29 Cherish these friendships
#30 And work at maintaining them
#31 Do accept the fact that at some point you probably will have to get a phone again
… And a job
#32 Do accept the fact that any foreign language you learnt will quickly seep out of your brain like goo
#33 Do be aware you probably will feel lost and dislocated and disconnected
#34 That you’ll probably feel like a stranger in your own home
#35 Do know that this will all pass
#36 Do know that things will get better and you will be so happy to be with friends and family.
These are my Rules for Returning Home After Travelling.
I hope you find them helpful, even if only because they make you smile!