This post is a little different to the usual content on the blog, but it's something that has been flowing through our lives in the last few weeks...
Travelling and living abroad will always be an integral part of life for us and many others in this world. It's part of who we are, it's what creates fire in our bellies. But people rarely talk about what happens when we return home from travelling. After delightful reunions and sharing tales of adventures, how do we deal with this sense of emptiness that can face us? How do we return to the monotony of western living when a huge part of us is still longing to explore the world?
Of course, everyone's different. Along my travels I've met people who love their home countries, people who are more than happy to return to a feeling of routine. But for a lot of us, feelings of anxiety and confusion begin to fog our minds during this time of transition and anticlimax...no matter how positive we intend to be.
Our idea of 'home' takes on a whole new meaning when we set out into the world. We returned to the UK a month ago after living in Colombia, and to speak truthfully, I don't know where my home is anymore. My home is no longer a location, but I feel it in my chest when I am around certain people. I know there is a place out there for me somewhere, I will feel it when I finally get there.
For now, here are some thoughts and practices that have been guiding us over the past few weeks:
1. Create your own sense of 'reality'
People often use the phrase 'going back to reality' or 'heading back to the real world'. While I understand what people generally mean by this, I feel like this a negative way of expressing this change and is one I try not to use.
Although daily 3 hour commutes and draining work schedules may be many people's idea of 'reality', please remember that this is their lifestyle of choice. This version of reality and success is not mandatory for every one and forever. Of course, we have to pay rent and bills etc, but this should not mean we have to be restricted and unhappy all for the sake of money. More often than not, we all have the ability to choose and participate in our own 'reality'. Take ownership of this privilege and prioritize what you really desire - if you want to travel for work, find a way to make it happen and get the necessary qualification. If you want to set up your own business, start dreaming and planning for it to happen. If you want to move abroad, start saving and researching how you can!
2. Enjoy your favourite things about 'home' - be grateful!
You've probably realized by now, but our minds are pretty powerful things. If we think positive, our minds move away from feelings of grief and withdrawal. Before you go home (or once you're back), make a list or talk to a friend about everything/everyone you're excited to do/see/eat/enjoy once you return (hopefully you won't be eating anyone though!) For me, it really helps to have this in writing as a list to refer back to.
Making space for gratitude in your every day routine is such a game changer when it comes to happiness. The truth is, we are unbelievably fortunate compared to the majority of people in this world. Once you gain perspective and appreciate small things, being home doesn't seem as terrible as you think.
3. Set short term goals
It can be daunting coming home and being feeling pressured to have your whole life planned out ahead of you. Don't expect for things to immediately be perfect upon your return - things often take time to fall into place. If it's all too overwhelming, try and plan short term goals, rather than looking too far ahead. Whether it be to save X amount of money, enroll on a course or find a specific job - it's something to aim for that isn't too far ahead. After 3 months, you can then see how things are going and think forward a little further.
4. Make your space sacred
Once you've finally unpacked and are free from jet lag, do little things to make your space feel sacred. Put up trinkets and photos of your travels - look upon them and feel grateful for your experiences. Do whatever you need to make your space feel as relaxing and homely as possible. I always appreciate sleeping in a comfortable bed after travelling for so long .... and also the lack of snoring dorm roommates!
5. Connect with people who understand your feelings!
It can feel pretty isolating when you return from a trip dying to share your endless stories and experiences, but people eventually lose interest after a week or two. While you may feel like a completely changed person after your trip, a lot of people will be doing the exact same thing as when you left. As they say : 'life goes on'.
Try to connect with friends who can relate to your travel blues. The ones who understand this desire to see the world and won't tire of your stories. Connect with travel buddies online. Plan a trip with a friend from home!
6. Dream for your next trip
There's no harm in dreaming of your next destination. Make a list, plan the route and go where your heart takes you.
How do you cope after returning from a trip or moving to a new place? Can anyone else relate to these feeling of confusion? We'd love to hear any tips on how to deal with transition!