Those two dreadful words: RETURN TICKET. Going home after long-term travel can be absolutely terrifying to some, or maybe a dose of heaven for others – but most of us do experience some type of culture shock, or at least a sense of longing for the life we stuffed into our backpacks the last couple months, weeks, or years. But, with the right attitude going home can become just another adventure – one filled with old friends, family fun, and a different outlook on the place you used to call ‘home’.
Smiling is contagious; it just lifts everyone’s mood up a level. Smile, run into your friends and families open arms, accept them just as they are. Smile at being home, at the luxuries you are unaccustomed to. Smile for being back in a place that hasn’t really changed since you left.
Enjoy the smell, the feeling of truly being clean. Enjoy washing your hair (I know there were some weeks I literally didn’t even shower .. yuck). Enjoy your mom, dad, roommate, boyfriend, husband, or wife’s cooking. Enjoy the small things about being home, and remember those nights you spent dreaming of a hot shower and a clean, bug-free bed.
This was probably the hardest one for me. You come home all excited to spill your crazy stories about that ‘one time you fell off a motorbike in Vietnam, or how you lived in a town where you were the only person who spoke English, or how you jumped off a cliff higher than your house.’ But, you return home and your friends and family don’t ask, they don’t want to dig into your suitcase of memories with you – and you have to be okay with this. That suitcase is yours, and it is so treasured to you, but sometimes even your friends and family can’t begin to understand, so they just don’t attempt to.
Eat, eat, and eat everything you missed from home. For me, there is nothing more comforting than a meal or beer from my favorite restaurant. Enjoy the ease of ordering a meal, going to a grocery store, or simply eating food not covered in flies, bugs, or whatever can be found in little roadside stands around the world!
I cannot stress this enough. Go for a hike in the woods – even if it’s not Machu Picchu or some exotic trail, it’s still nature and it’s still beautiful. Sign up for a month of yoga, or try a new activity offered in your area like Barre, Spin, or Tai Chi. It will get you out of your comfort zone, and you are guaranteed to meet new people just like those beloved travel days. I tried aerial yoga in a part of my home town I had never even ventured to and met so many interesting people, and am now flying through the air on weird ropes and chains …
If you are feeling sad or depressed that your ‘big adventure’ is over and your life is now ruined, write down the best days you had traveling. Write down every second of your best day on the road – how it smelled, where you woke up, taste what it felt like to be truly happy. It will immediately put a smile on your face and hopefully brighten your entire day.
Don’t shut down your investigative gene because you aren’t out there right now. Keep digging, keep saving pictures of places, cultures, festivals, or people that you want to see in the future.
Write down a plan for the next day, week, year, however far in the future you want to go. Write down what you want to accomplish whether it is related to travel, work, health, relationships – write down what steps are going to lead you there.
Don’t spend endless hours looking at the Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter accounts now that you have endless wifi and connectivity. If you feel the urge to browse, set a daily time limit for yourself, that way you won’t get engorged with envy, or wrapped up in the post-travel blues from seeing the endless images and posts from those who still are out there traveling the world.
It isn’t over, the adventure is never over.
What else have you guys found to be useful when coming home from overseas, an international adventure, or living abroad? I’d love to hear from you!