What it’s like coming home from long term travel

At the beginning of my trip I was curious how the withdrawal would feel like coming home from a long travel journey and trying to get back into normal life and routine. It’s been 5 months since I’ve been back and I’ll share my experiences about it.

The beginning

Coming home initially was so great. I live in Canada where I’m surrounded by natural beauty, fresh water, clean air and a safe community. It was something I missed a lot when I was overseas.

I explored the places I used to frequent all the time to see if I’d feel any different about it. I did.

I started to notice things that were always there, but for some reason never made an impression on me before. It’s nice to walk through a street or mall that you’ve done so hundreds of times before just to once again experience the sights and sounds. All the familiar things you’ve missed.

Restaurants serving ethnic foods from the countries you’ve traveled to makes more sense to you now. You can understand why the decor is the way they are or why they’ve named their restaurant the way that they did. You’re able to connect the dots with your own experiences in their home country.

My friends and family welcomed me back with open arms and warm feelings and they were all so excited to hear all about my travel stories. They could sense a change in me. I was happier.

The initial couple of weeks was spent hanging out with the people I haven’t seen in a long time and catching up was a lot of fun.

You feel like you’re the new kid on the block where everyone is interested in the exciting life that you’ve been partaking in, and you’re happy to share and try to inspire them to travel as well.

What was interesting to notice was when I talking about a foreign country such as Thailand to some of my friends who’ve never traveled there, I can see they hold the same preconceptions that I once did before I ever truly got to explore and understand the country.

They were surprised to know that Thailand is one of the safest country to travel in! It’ll be a nice treat when they finally make a trip there on their own.

The beginning of the end of your travel routine

Things are different in your head though. You feel like a foreigner in your own city and the routine you’ve had abroad sticks with you for a while.

My days went something like this:

  • Wake up in the late afternoon from the jet lag
  • Eat breakfast at 3PM
  • Go outside to explore
  • Still want to be outside but everything is closed, so I go back home
  • Eat lunch at 7PM
  • Read travel blogs to make up for the lack adventures
  • Eat dinner at 3AM
  • Sleep
  • Repeat

At some point after 2-4 weeks, your body adjusts back to the local time and you’re doing what the locals do. Before that, you feel impaired to do anything socially or even to find work because you’re just not all there yet.

Things are different for you now, your tastes have changed and you feel like it’s harder for people to understand or relate to you.

You try your best to be the person that everyone knows you as, but you can’t help that a little bit of worldly flare comes out at the seams. You try to seek different experiences in your own city, preferably something more culturally out of your own. It’s like a hunger reaction from the brain that needs to be satisfied.

You try to get a taste of what Thai food is like at home compared to the many dishes you’ve been having in Thailand. You acknowledge that you’ve changed. In the back of your mind you know if you live in the same routine long enough, things will be back the way they used to be pre-travel.

Back to reality

After everyone has had their fill of your presence and you’re tired of hearing yourself repeat the same travel stories, it is time to get back into the workforce. This time I wanted to do something different with my career path.

At this point I was really into doing new things with my life, I mean I have been doing so for the past 9 months anyways, why stop just because I’m home? The confidence and courage I have now is off the charts.

When you travel, you realize how small you are in this world and the opportunities that you can seize everyday are endless. If something in life doesn’t work out, there are plenty of other things around the corner.

There’s a memory that plays in my head when I start to feel small in my own world and I’d like you to imagine it.

Put yourself in a plane sitting by the window. As the plane is ascending in the air, imagine looking down at the city and trying to count how many homes you see. It’s impossible to count them all because there are so many, but you start to realize each home is occupied by at least 1 person. Each person means an opportunity you could have had to interact to make a sale, get hired, to hire, converse, make as a friend, marry, etc. These are all opportunities that could potentially change the direction of your life in a major way.

As the plane pulls away from the city further away, you start to see your city shrink with all of the familiar landmarks and a larger picture comes into view.

The city you’ve lived in is surrounded by vast land and mountains that isn’t occupied by humans. You can see hidden lakes and craters that pockets some of the mountains you’ve been living nearby for years and they dwarf the size of your city.

Immediately your prospective on your entire life changes and you realize there’s so much more going on outside of the small speck of space over there that you’ve been living in day-to-day.

At that point, you’ve woken up and realize your life is way too short to be able to do and see everything this world has to offer. You make a promise to yourself that you’ll only make time for the things that will make you feel happy and fulfilled to make the most out of your time on this earth.

Having multiple experiences like this in other parts of the world, you too will have the confidence to do anything you please.

In my case, I decided my next career move will be something totally unrelated to the office job that I once held. Until this day I absolutely love it. The money is great, my body feels healthier with all the moving around that I get to do now, and I feel more engaged with what I’m doing.

I’ve found happiness.

Current day

At work there are so many things that would normally make me feel upset but I’ve come to just let it all go with ease. It’s the equivalent to being in sweltering Southeast Asian heat with your backpack that weighs a ton while running to catch a train or bus and missed it for the N-teenth time during your travel. Frustrating.

Just throw up your arms, brush it off, go grab a snack and drink, chill out and wait for the next one.

There’s a sense of freedom that I’ve learned to allow myself to have. When something does upset me, I think back on my memory of sitting at the window seat of a plane, and immediately the problem becomes insignificant. I move on.

I guess you really do get wiser after travel?

They say the travel bug never leaves you and this is so true. The travel withdrawal becomes increasingly larger as time goes on. I’m determined to start another long term travel journey soon after this Corona Virus ordeal goes away and it’s safe to travel again. This time I’ll document it better than I did the last time and fill my blog and feeds with engaging stories so it feels like you’re travelling with me.

For the past few months I’ve been trying to acquire the Thai language though movies, YouTube videos, and music. It’s going to take many hours of practice and learning, but I’m determined to get there.

There are plans in my future to move my life to Thailand for most of the time of the year and only coming back to Canada for maybe 3 months of the year.

I fell in love with the country and the lifestyle it offers, it’s a lot easier to have fun there and enjoy a relaxing life there. Ultimately I’d like to start a business there, buy property, and have a family.

For now, I’ll work, save, avoid covid, and work on my dream.

The world is your oyster.

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