When Travelling Comes to a Close: The Reality of Coming Home
Our hunger for novelty will always outweigh our appetite for routine. Travel far and travel often, but don’t expect coming home to be easy.
Coming home after a long winded, incredibly exciting travel expedition is like watching a movie with a really, really bad ending—the hype builds up and up until finally, you reach the climax and everything comes back together only to disappoint.
They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder. They also say that travelling makes you appreciate home more. I won’t necessarily deny these sayings, but I will, however, say that they only tell half of the story.
Travelling does both of these things to you until you come home only to realize that the days following your return will be nothing like the ones you had abroad. Namely exciting, invigorating, challenging, adrenaline inducing, unpredictable, spontaneous and yes, even scary at times.
In fact, they’ll probably be the exact opposite.
Routine. Some of us love it and some of us hate it. Either way, it will creep its way into your life after coming back home whether you try to avoid it or not. It’s simply inevitable to avoid in all forms and the only way you can perceive it positively is to immerse yourself in your passions instead of your obligations.
Routine in itself is not the enemy—it’s the type of routine that we engage in that can trap us in a pattern of thoughtless actions. Work, gym, eat, sleep. Work, gym, eat, sleep. Work, gym, eat, sleep.
When you compare a routine of this level of monotony to the routine of a traveller, then I’m sure you can understand why you might feel incredibly trapped after returning home.
You’ll also feel overwhelmed.
The world always finds a way of overwhelming us the most when we are least emotionally ready to embrace it. Travelling is unique in the sense that it embodies none of the responsibilities we commonly face back home. We can travel at ease knowing that all we truly need to focus on is the day at hand. We immerse ourselves so fully in the present that we learn not to worry about the future and the troubles it might bring. We quickly realize that the future can be handled when the time comes.
With all this being said, it’s no wonder we wish we could hide from responsibility when we get back home. Rather than trickling into our lives gradually, responsibility hits us like a brick wall—and unlike in Harry Potter, we actually smack right into it instead of passing through with ease.
Bills, voicemails, job searching, loans, credit card debt, groceries, errands, cleaning, e-mails and catch ups with friends. The list goes on and on.
We face these things lifelessly, unaware of how or when we will possibly make it to the other side.
And while we do so, all we wish for is the carefree livelihood that we experienced halfway across the world. One that was full of presence and life and absent of schedules and lists.
You’re going to feel a sense of obligation.
While travelling, you did what you wanted to. You visited the places you wanted to see and you participated in the activities that excited you. When you get home, your life may become filled with obligations; some enlightening and some incredibly draining.
We are experts at filling our days with things to do and people to see. The sad part is that half of the time we don’t even want to do these things, we just feel the need to purely out of obligation and an inability to say no. Unlike travelling, we prioritize what we feel we should be doing rather than what would make us genuinely happy.
You’ll feel like nothing has changed.
Your family will be grinding through their normal routine as if you never left. Your friends will probably be gossiping about the same trivial stuff they were obsessing about before you left—before you realized that there’s more to life than your high school foes and first world problems.
So how do you casually slide back into these relationships knowing that you now see the world in a different way than those you love(d) most?
The reality is, you might not. And in some ways that’s okay.
When you get home, it’s going to be much harder to meet people. Travelling, you met new friends in every destination, most of which had tons in common with you despite coming from a contrasting culture. These friends challenged your perspective and introduced you to new experiences and conversations you’d never had before; in some ways they inspired you to be a better person.
Something can be said for the loyalty of old friends, but oftentimes, old friendships can turn into stale ones instead—friendships that don’t offer any growth or encouragement. They remain static.
Coming home means you may be faced with the necessary task of deciding who your true friends are. The ones that make you feel the way you do when you’re travelling: alive, enlightened, inspired and your best self.
Refuse to accept anything but happiness.
So what if, despite all of these inevitable emotions, we decided to refuse to be anything but happy when we get home? What if, instead of seeing routine as a negative thing, returning to static friendships, or letting daily life overwhelm us, we made the active choice to do everything in our power to experience the same level of passion we felt while travelling?
This might mean taking more risks. It might also mean reconsidering some friendships and putting ourselves out there to try and find new ones. And in some cases, it might even mean finding a new outlet for stress relief and relaxation that we never engaged in before we left.
It’s not coming home that’s the hard part, it’s the way it makes us feel.
And like anything in life, it’s never negative until we perceive it to be that way.
Challenge yourself to see coming home as an opportunity, not a detriment. Question the way you view your routine and change it if its not giving you life.
It’s as simple as that. So why do we insist on making it so much more complicated?