Whether you go on a week-long trip to the Caribbean or live abroad for a year, there are some difficult readjustments to make when traveling home. Through my own personal observation, and the experiences of others, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are generally four major stages one goes through when ‘going home’ from a life-changing trip.
1. ‘I’m ready to go!’ ‘Wait, am I?’
When the time comes for that flight home, you try to convince yourself that you’re ready to fly home. The reasons you may use to convince yourself include being closer to loved ones, leaving cultural quirks from your travel destination, returning to an idealized home, and being ready to move on to bigger and better things. At the same time, you start questioning your confidence. You begin to wonder if you’re really ready to go, whether you’re merely trying to put a positive spin on things, and can’t help but question your sanity. At the end of this stage, you decide that you’re ready to board your flight with positive thoughts only. For the next few hours, you’ll continue to battle your decision to go home in your head, leaving yourself mentally exhausted when you reach your destination.
2. ‘This sucks! Can I go back now?’
Once you’ve managed to get home, see the main sights you haven’t seen in a while, and gotten over the novelty of it all, your mind begins to wander. You start to compare things at home to the things you experienced in your foreign environment. You suddenly begin to realize that your home isn’t quite as perfect as you believed it to be, and that your adopted country/city abroad is superior to your own in some ways. It doesn’t help that you subsequently begin to adopt the ‘grass is greener’ mentality and begin to do just what you did at home – make your life abroad seem substantially better.
3. ‘Okay, I can deal with this. I have to deal with this’.
After a little while, you get back into the swing of things. Whether due to memory loss, well-achieved assimilation, or your need to stay positive, you start forgetting your ‘other life’. Things at home stop seeming so horrible as long as you keep yourself busy, balanced, and socially-involved. You may occasionally remember life on the other side, but you remember that you’re here for a reason, and that eventually your departure was to achieve a certain goal that you could only achieve upon leaving it.
4. ‘Where to next?’
Now, as much as you’ve managed to soothe yourself into accepting life in your home base, it doesn’t mean that you’ve completely quenched your thirst for travel. The traveler is, after all, a life-long explorer with a constant need to change environments. Though you’re realizing some of your ambitions at home, you know that you can only be happy if you plan for your next trip whilst in the midst of your comparatively mundane day-to-day activities. For this reason, you probably have a flight booked for some time in the next few months, if not weeks. While it may somewhat worry those around you – at least those who like to stay still – your fellow nomads understand that it’s completely natural.
While it may not be completely accurate for all those who travel, I believe it applies to compulsive travellers who admit they may have a slight addiction to exploring the world. As such, this should be taken with a grain of salt, although it’s the truth for me!