I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while but for some reason I’ve been putting it off. Maybe because after the initial 24 hours my thoughts and feelings changed so often that really I did not know what I was thinking. Travel really does change you and coming home is a shock to the system in many ways, both good and bad.
My last plane ride felt very different to every other flight on my big trip around the world. Instead of feeling butterflies and anticipation because I was arriving in a brand new place, having to adapt and learn the local ways I felt nervous and excited because I was going back to ‘normal’ life.
I was going home.
My motto is que sera sera, what will be will be. I initially planned to be home after a year, after all I managed to get a career break and I had a job to go back to, a luxury not many returning travellers have. I guess along the way I wished for something amazing to happen to me, for my life to change irrevocably. To fall in love with a person or a place, for my heart to tell me to stay in one particular place, for something extraordinary to happen.
Unfortunately for me this did not happen. I actually felt ready to go home.
My last flight to Manchester actually arrived early. I was surrounded by English people in the terminal and I didn’t realise how much I missed the English accent and the way we interact with each other. I had been away for ten months and was about to meet my parents again. Although we had kept in touch via skype when I’d been away I still felt like I didn’t know what to expect, will it be the same as before?
Throughout my trip I had been waiting for this moment, the moment I walk through the arrivals gate, drop my bags and run towards my screaming parents. As I took the tentative steps out of the arrivals gate I looked around and my parents were no-where to be seen. All around me families and friends were being reunited, tears were shed and hugs were given.
I had missed my moment.
I decided to sit down on my heavy backpack for one last time and just soak in the atmosphere. This was home. This was normality. It felt easy yet alien at the same time. In the back of my mind I was glad that I visited ‘Western’ countries at the end of my trip. Suffering from reverse culture shock would have made coming home unbearable.
They finally walked through the doors, looking the same as when I left them. I don’t know what I was expecting. They didn’t see me and walked right past me so I crept up behind them and surprised them. The feeling of love was overwhelming, it was so nice to see my parents after ten months of new people. Everything felt familiar and almost too easy from that moment on-wards.
In the car on the way home I watched the changing scenery go by, surprisingly parts of the journey reminded me of places that I had seen on my travels, a leafy roundabout in Australia or factories in Malaysia. I had to remind myself that I was now back at home, not on the road.
I had always thought that moving back in with my parents after all this time would be weird but it was the most natural thing in the world. It was nice to sit in familiar, comfy surroundings and feel completely at home, something that is rarely encountered on the road. After sometimes experiencing loneliness on the road, it was so nice to have people to talk to all the time, people who understand me and know me.
After flying for over 30 hours in the past 4 days I was mentally and physically exhausted. I went to bed to try and sleep but my mind was in overdrive. I couldn’t stop thinking about the past, present and future. I was in a new cycle of my life and I couldn’t focus. I stayed up the rest of the day and ate loads of salad, I was craving it after weeks of unhealthy eating in New Zealand. I watched TV and was very happy just doing nothing. Not having to think about anything, plan anything, everything just felt easy!
I was overwhelmed by the amount of possessions that I owned, despite selling or giving away most of my possessions before I went travelling. For 10 months I had owned just what could fit on my back, now I had a room full of pretty shoes, dresses, handbags and makeup and I wanted to try them again right now! Probably my favorite part of coming back home was ‘going shopping’ in my room, finding outfits and possessions that I had longed forgotten about. It felt amazing when I wore my first vintage dress again. I felt more like ‘me’.
I had expected to be inundated with invitations from friends but that was not the case. People get on with their own lives when you are away. When you get back you have to fit in to their lives again. It’s crazy to think that life goes on without you.
After a few days I did meet my friends, other family members visted me and I started to feel more settled. What surprised me most was how little people wanted to talk about my trip. I had kept everyone updated about my whereabouts on Facebook but I still thought that people would love to hear my travel stories, about the time I lived with that crazy ex monk, when I rode an elephant or even the time I jumped out of a plane at 12,000 feet. Nope, no-one wanted to know anything.
I guess if you have never experienced long term travel you can’t be expected to understand what it’s like. Maybe people are not interested, maybe they can’t understand what it’s like or maybe they are jealous that they won’t take the plunge and travel.
I will never know. All I knew was that I would never be the same person that first stepped on the plane to Dubai.
Travel has changed me and I’m ready to start the next chapter of my life.
How did you feel when you came back from a long trip away? Did you find it hard adjusting to ‘real’ life or did you find it really easy? Did your friends and family react how you thought they would?