The 4 Stages of Coming Back from Travelling
Everyone talks about their travels but people rarely mention what it actually feels like to return home. The biggest challenge isn’t booking the flights, waving your family off at the airport or constantly being on the go. It’s not the cold showers that take your breath away, the cockroaches lurking under your bed or the constant exhaustion. The real challenge is getting over the experience.
I often ask myself, how can I run so freely around countries and cities on the other side of the world and yet still feel so lost in my hometown?
Having returned from a big adventure before, I have decided there are four stages of returning home from a long trip; the red carpet stage, the denial stage, the mourning stage and then finally the stage of acceptance. As I go through them all over again I thought I would share with you a little bit about each one.
The first stage, the red carpet stage, is the week of excitement that surrounds your return. You get to see and catch up with loved ones who have missed you and you have missed them. You are in demand. Everyone wants to see you and everyone wants to hear about your adventures. You are enjoying the little things that coming home brings; your own bed, water from the tap, hot showers, ROAST DINNERS. This high usually lasts for about a week until you go into the denial stage…
It is normal to get that weird feeling when your travels are over when you feel as though they didn’t even happen at all. Similar to when you return from an epic holiday, during the denial stage you feel like the experience was something you watched from afar, something that didn’t happen to you. I look back at the photos and can’t believe I was there. This stage is also where you kid yourself that you have just got back and have plenty of time to get on with the job hunt and face reality. You convince yourself you are deserving of some time to unwind and come to terms with the end of the adventure. The reality is you are clutching at straws.
The mourning stage is by far the worst one. This is when you become aware of your return and the reality that brings. You feel gutted about being home and begin to think you have made a massive mistake. It is normal for sufferers of this stage to browse the Sky Skanner page looking for flight deals, maybe follow a few travel pages on Twitter and waste hours flicking through old traveling photos. You feel as though now you are back home you will never feel fulfilled in life again. You also feel like no one understands and everyone else is doing so great in their lives. In the mourning stage all your friends are getting married, getting promotions, having kids and securing a mortgage. You are crying at homes under the hammer and having a breakdown because you can’t find a decent film on Netflix.
Finally, the acceptance stage is the one that acts as a punch in the face. Unfortunately you need to reach this stage on your own. People telling you to accept that you are back from traveling only pushes you back into the denial stage. Eventually we become ready to throw off the comfort blanket that is home and tackle the next adventure. Whether that takes the form of booking more travel, applying for that new job or going back to study depends entirely on the person but the motivation that drives that decision is all the same. There comes a point when travel acts as a catalyst for us to do something else that makes us happy.
As much as I love the traveling lifestyle, each week being a series of new places and new faces, being on the road means you don’t have a routine or a real purpose. After a while I sort of miss that feeling of stability. I will always long to go back to my favourite countries and feel completely free but it has also made me motivated to find my own purpose, get another job and work hard. Once you travel it is always in your blood but there comes a point you will learn to cherish those memories rather than crave them back.
You have to say to yourself: “Look, I did this, this was one of the best things I have ever done. Nothing is impossible.”
By Fiona Watson