My last world trip in 2010/11 was one that I had planned for around 18 months prior. I loved the planning stage and got starry-eyed for hours on end, as I agonised over which routes, countries and continents to visit. It was a hugely enjoyable aspect of the trip and I’m also making the most of it this time round too, as I plan for my next world trip due in the next year. One thing I didn’t plan very well for last time round however, was returning home… and I paid for it.
Coming home after an extended period of travel is hard. You might feel down after the constant changing scenery is exchange for the familiar surroundings of home. You could feel as if you’ve changed beyond recognition and aren’t the same person who left. You might have left a great job behind and it is no longer available. Your career may have suffered and you might need to start again. It can be overwhelming.
For me, when I returned back, I was reliant on my sister for a place to stay, which meant living in an area that I didn’t really want too. I also had to find a job and start again with my career. To be frank, when I returned back, I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do work-wise and that lead to a wasted year of working in a job I didn’t like, just to get back on my feet. Then I realised, I could work with my passions and it all made sense.
(Pic: My welcome home birthday party June 2010)
I started to work in travel, three years ago and it has been good for me. I didn’t want to be off travelling all the time and my wanderlust has been satisfied with regular short holidays. My career has also allowed me to get to know my home country much better, as I’ve lived in London, Edinburgh and am now in Glasgow, working for the same company.
That brings me up to now and I find the road calling again. I met my partner in April 2016. Kate is from Perth, WA but has been living in Scotland for a few years. We’ve decided to plan for our future and as Kate is a duel citizen of the UK and Australia, our ultimate goal is that I become the same to allow free movements between our home countries too.
So after our period of travel, we intend to settle in Perth, WA and get me a partner visa and start working towards that. Now, that takes a whole lot of work, so I’ll perhaps go into that on a different post but it feels great to have a plan for after travelling – something definitive to aim for.
So, in summary, from my experience, it’s a great idea to think a little about the period after your trip and what you’ll do then. I truly hope you avoid the kind of year I had when I returned from my first trip. Good luck with your planning – enjoy it – but don’t forget about what comes next.
Top Tips to Help Coming Home
1. Set a Return Date
Before your trip, set an estimated date of return. Plans may change and your trip could end up being wildly different but have an idea of when you are likely to return, gets you visualising what returning will be like. This helps your mind prepare.
2. Think About What You’ll Do
Have an idea of what kind of work, profession or job you’ll do when you get back. That way you can look to build your skills an experience in that area, whilst travelling. You will likely never have as much free time again, as you have whilst on the road. Use it wisely.
3. Have a Contingency Fund
Coming back to no money may lead you to going from ultimate freedom and independence, to regress back to being dependent on your parents or family. This can be bad for self esteem and cause major return home blues. Having a little money tucked away can help you hit the ground running when you get back.
4. Keep In Touch
It’s easy to lose contact with friends and family whilst you are away. Out of sight, out of mind, so they say. If this happens, people may move on and forget about you. When you come home, you might feel isolated due to this. Make an effort and keep in touch with people. Set up a blog for your trip. Skype key friends at home whilst on the road. Spend an hour on Facebook chat with good pals once a month.
Travel may change your attitude to life but don’t let it think you’ve outgrown where you are from. It might feel a little smaller when you get back but remember, you are not better than it or any one from that place, just because you’ve travelled. As Jennifer Lopez would say “no matter where I go I know where I came from“. Word, sister.
First Hand Experiences
It is incredibly useful to hear and see the experiences of other travellers, who’ve recently returned home. This way you can get an idea of the celebration of first seeing people and pitfalls that follow.
1. Here is Sophie Stiener – a German Travel Blogger who recently returned home unannounced, surprising her family and friends and filmed the experience.
2. Nomadic Matt is one of the worlds best known backpackers. Here he explains why coming home is much harder than leaving on his blog.
“Returning home is hard, and few people address the reality that coming home is often an anticlimactic end to a life-changing experience” – Nomadic Matt.
3. The Anxious Adventurer is a blog that specialises in adventure for those than suffer from anxiety, so it is more qualified than most to talk about post travel anxiety.
“The absolute worst part about coming home though, was that despite my inner fears that everybody would have moved on without me and carefully photoshopped my face out of all their pictures, nothing had actually changed. Literally nothing” – The Anxious Adventurer.
4. The Calm Clinic‘s page on general travel axiety is a great resource for Travel Anxiety Causes & Cures.
“Of course, knowing these issues is only the first step. Ideally, you’ll also want to learn how to overcome your travel anxiety and travel much more easily” – Calm Clinic.
5. The Huffington Post put together this list of 7 helpful ways to get over post travel depression. Hopefully you will find it useful.
(Pic: My welcome home birthday party 2011, me and my friend Natalie)