Life After Travelling

You leave to see the world, to move past your comfort zone and away from the familiar. To explore and try new things. To find out something about yourself you never knew before. You meet amazing people, fall in love with distant places and discover the wonder of different cultures and then with a snap of your fingers (or a 16 hour plane ride) it’s all over. You’re home. People always speak of their burning desire to travel and then they speak about how amazing it was when they got there, but what people don’t speak of is life back home. Life after travelling.

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If you have been keeping up with my blogs then you will know that I have written about the hard parts of travelling; missing home, being scammed, saying goodbyes, credit card fraud and night train disasters. But today I’m going to tell you what’s hard about coming home.

You’re standing at the airport about to board your final flight and it all seems a little surreal. Everything you have done and all the people you have met already seem like a distant memory as the longing for home and to embrace the people you love takes hold. Overwhelming is the only way I can describe that final journey.

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Then all of a sudden you’re home, you have your reunions, spend your first few weeks catching up with family and friends, telling stories and tales from your trip. You’re high on life for the first few weeks back and it’s all new and exciting again. And then it all just sort of fades away. Everyone gets used to you being back and the questions start to change. No one is interested in your trip of a life time anymore, now it’s all “so how’s the job hunt going?” and the most daunting of all “what’s your plan?”

But it’s not even these questions that really bring it home, it’s when you’re sitting in your  bedroom or eating dinner at the dinner table instead of at the beach, sleeping in a familiar bed in your own house surround by people you know that it hits you, nothing has changed and coming home just might turn out to be the hardest part of your journey.

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I’m glad to be home with the people I love of course. I’m happy people have found new jobs, new boyfriends, gone through break ups that have grown them, but part of me is screaming don’t you understand how much I have changed? And I don’t mean that my hair is longer, my skin tanned or anything else to do with how I look. I mean what’s going on inside of my head. What has changed is my dreams. I now see things differently. Things that once seemed so important just aren’t anymore. I have a new outlook on life. So how do you communicate that to others? To the people who haven’t shared your journey?

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I have come to find that the answer is you can’t. And for a while you will feel disconnected and a little lost, and that is ok. It’s normal for home to not quite feel like home at first. You will have moments where you feel like it wasn’t worth it because nothing has changed, but they will soon be pushed aside by the realisation that what you have done might just be the most important thing you will ever do because it has changed you. It has forced you out of a life you once lived in search of a greater one. After all isn’t that the reason you left in the first place? It will also be the reason you will one day leave again. To seek out new places and new people, to continue to grow surrounded by people who know all too well how hard it is to explain why home can feel like the most foreign place in the world and why that is both sad and spectacular all at the same time.

By Sophie Maguire

 

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26 thoughts on “Life After Travelling

  1. Hi Sophie,
    Not sure if you remember me but I met you, Cam and Rose in M Hostel, Bali, Seminyak. One of my friends who I met in Australia traveling just shared this on Facebook, I didn’t realise it was you that wrote it until I saw the picture of you two! Loved reading it, so true. Hope you’re both good 🙂
    Faye

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  2. So very true! Thank you for sharing this. It has now been 3 weeks since landing back home. The reunions have happened, the stories shared, the job hunt well underway. It is amazing to be back surrounded by the people I love and in a place that I love but sometimes I do find myself questioning how comfortable I am with slipping back into this stable, one location life.

    My mind has been forever altered and finding the ways to express the full impact of that is sometimes something that, even as a writer, is difficult to put into words. But if there is one thing I’ve learned from many years now of traveling, it’s that the adventure is never over, regardless of where you are. And maybe more importantly, because you’ve experienced what you have, you will find ways to bring what you’ve learned into everyday life, including finding ways to make travel a permanent part of your life. It’s not called the travel bug for nothing!

    Best of luck to you in what lies ahead…and in finding the ways to bring the new found parts of your soul out into the open.

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  3. You will always have your travels to sustain you, to inspire you, to educate your children if you have them, to remind you to be grateful and to encourage you to do it again. I am pushing 50 and my year of travel was 25 years ago; I am eternally thankful that I explored my planet and myself.
    You are exactly right in that you will want to explore and travel again but there is no better time than when you are young, fit and free to follow the breeze. 🙂
    Thank you for the reminder.

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  4. My daughter has been studying avoid for 4 1/2 month in Ausralia and has traveled to 21 countries yet is only 21 yrs. old. Your blog gives me a realistic idea of what her state of mind is when she returns home & I truly appreciate your help in understanding how she feels. My question is, what can we do to help make the transition back into “reality” (until she leaves again LOL) easier? Any suggestions and advice will be greatly appreciated!!

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    1. Hi thank you for your comment. How amazing that your daughter has been able to embark on such a journey and at such a young age. These journeys are incredible and they change you in ways you never thought possible and I don’t doubt that your daughter will come back a better version of herself. She will have grown more confident, self assured and she will look at life with new eyes.

      I think one of the hardest thing for people back home to understand is how deeply your time away has effected you. It can manifest itself in two ways I find; one you feel this constant desire to talk about it and two you feel quite private about the experience and tend to draw back. It’s a hard feeling to explain, but I think the best thing that anyone can do is to listen. Listen genuinely.

      Understand that she might not choose to share all of her experiences at once and that that is ok. She might never. But when she does choose to divulge be interested. Also be prepared for a period of strong emotions, of tears and of feeling lost. Home won’t feel like home for a while and there can be a great disconnect. No matter what events follow your daughters return always remind her of the great achievements she has made and that you are proud of both her journey and her growth.

      I have been home six months now and I still struggle with it but then again as the saying goes “a soul that has been stretched by a new experience can never truly go back to old dimensions. She is will be better for it and so will you. Sophie x

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  5. Couldn’t have put it better myself. I actually found myself answering the question we always get so many times after returning home from a long trip – “So how was it all?” – with an impossibly inadequate answer – “It was amazing” – and kind of leaving it at that unless they ask for more details, because it’s just too hard to sum up. But the feeling is more important than the response.

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  6. Couldn’t have put it better myself. I actually found myself answering the question we always get so many times after returning home from a long trip – “So how was it all?” – with an impossibly inadequate answer – “It was amazing” – and kind of leaving it at that unless they ask for more details, because it’s just too hard to sum up. But the feeling is more important than the response. The point is that family and friends want to know about our lives when we were away for so long in so many foreign places, even if they don’t quite know how to ask or how to relate if they haven’t been through the same thing.

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  7. At the age of 60, a 6 month sabbatical to teach English to Chinese children was a step too far for most people. I am now a week away from returning home and am already nervous at the thought of ‘slipping back into my old life’. Like you, I have changed. My outlook and expectations are far removed from the person that left the UK, 6 months ago. I have no idea how I will manage life after travel. When the interest from friends and family has passed and everyone expects me to go back to how things were, will I be happy to do that? If I was happy a year ago, the need to travel as I have surely wouldn’t have existed? The new me needs a new life, one that encompasses some of what I have seen. This is truly going to be a testing few months. Thanks for the blog, it reassures me that I’m not alone.

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  8. EXACTLY how i feel after coming back from my trips. I’m currently struggleing with the part “how to make people realize about what i changed”. I came up to the same answer than you! Thanks!!

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  9. Sophie,
    I’ve lived in LA and New York and returned home multiple times to feel exactly this. Reading your words made me tear up. Home often feels more like a foreign place when I return now, rather than somewhere I need to be. The people I love are still here, but I’m so changed. Coming from a small town, it’s hard to slip into the stable, married couple, 2.5 kids lifestyle that surrounds me. I often have a moment about a week after returning when I scroll through photos and think ‘How did I live in these walls day in, day out for years and ignore all the culture, people and experiences that awaited me. Thank you for your words, you made me feel much less alone. x

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  10. Sophie,

    Thanks for your post. I read your post a few months ago and completely understood your situation as I felt the same exact way. I’ve read it multiple times since and the feelings haven’t changed. Your post is spot on.

    I’ve lived and travelled abroad for the past year and after returning home to the U.S., it’s not the same. I mean, everything here is the same: the familiarity, the culture, the people, the food, the lifestyle, the expectations; but I’m no longer the same. I’ve learned much, grown immensely, travelled the world, seen so many new places, met so many great people, experienced new things, expanded my comfort zone and my identity. I don’t find myself interested with the activities I used to enjoy with my old friends, or fully engaged with my old friends. I’ve changed and it’s not something that’s easily explainable to those who’ve just been here – stagnant.

    It’s been 8 months since I’ve been back in the U.S., and it’s been a difficult transition. Sure, the beginning was exciting and new, but as you said, it soon faded. I don’t see myself able to stay put and live here. There’s so much more of the world to see, adventures to experience, people to meet, cultures to explore. I can’t stay here; there’s an insatiable hunger for more beyond the existing lifestyle and I must move again.

    I’d love to hear your thoughts. My question for you is how are you doing now after being “home” after travelling?

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  11. l left the UK in 2002 and returned after 18 months and felt trapped l left again in early 2004.After travelling for a year l settled in Japan after the tsunami in Thailand.l now have a wife and 2 kids,something l raged against as l saw it as a block on my travelling,but and this is a big but that may only work for some travellers.When you do the normal wife,2 kids,job life in a totally different culture to your own it always feels fresh and new.Something is learnt everyday and at the end of the day lm still travelling.As for the kids (5 and 2) they have racked up 11 countries already with another 3 to be added before 2017.
    My advice if you’re bored or feel trapped in your comfortable place get out and make it happen somewhere else.
    Kudos on the blog.

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  12. Hi,
    I remember really loving and relating to this article! I’ve just come back to it, and the text doesn’t seem to be there anymore? I have tried on my mobile and laptop – has it been removed?
    Thanks,
    A

    Like

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