Thought Catalog

The Hardest Part Of Traveling No One Talks About

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image - Flickr / Corie Howell
image – Flickr / Corie Howell

You see the world, try new things, meet new people, fall in love, visit amazing places, learn about other cultures – then it’s all over. People always talk about leaving, but what about coming home?

We talk about the hard parts while we’re away – finding jobs, making real friends, staying safe, learning social norms, misreading people you think you can trust – but these are all parts you get through. All of these lows are erased by the complete highs you experience. The goodbyes are difficult but you know they are coming, especially when you take the final step of purchasing your plane ticket home. All of these sad goodbyes are bolstered by the reunion with your family and friends you have pictured in your head since leaving in the first place.

Then you return home, have your reunions, spend your first two weeks meeting with family and friends, catch up, tell stories, reminisce, etc. You’re Hollywood for the first few weeks back and it’s all new and exciting. And then it all just…goes away. Everyone gets used to you being home, you’re not the new shiny object anymore and the questions start coming: So do you have a job yet? What’s your plan? Are you dating anyone? How does your 401k look for retirement? (Ok, a little dramatic on my part.)

But the sad part is once you’ve done your obligatory visits for being away for a year; you’re sitting in your childhood bedroom and realize nothing has changed. You’re glad everyone is happy and healthy and yes, people have gotten new jobs, boyfriends, engagements, etc., but part of you is screaming don’t you understand how much I have changed? And I don’t mean hair, weight, dress or anything else that has to do with appearance. I mean what’s going on inside of your head. The way your dreams have changed, they way you perceive people differently, the habits you’re happy you lost, the new things that are important to you. You want everyone to recognize this and you want to share and discuss it, but there’s no way to describe the way your spirit evolves when you leave everything you know behind and force yourself to use your brain in a real capacity, not on a written test in school. You know you’re thinking differently because you experience it every second of every day inside your head, but how do you communicate that to others?

You feel angry. You feel lost. You have moments where you feel like it wasn’t worth it because nothing has changed but then you feel like it’s the only thing you’ve done that is important because it changed everything. What is the solution to this side of traveling? It’s like learning a foreign language that no one around you speaks so there is no way to communicate to them how you really feel.

This is why once you’ve traveled for the first time all you want to do is leave again. They call it the travel bug, but really it’s the effort to return to a place where you are surrounded by people who speak the same language as you. Not English or Spanish or Mandarin or Portuguese, but that language where others know what it’s like to leave, change, grow, experience, learn, then go home again and feel more lost in your hometown then you did in the most foreign place you visited.

This is the hardest part about traveling, and it’s the very reason why we all run away again. TC mark

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    • http://saradio27.wordpress.com sargodd

      Reblogged this on Sarah G. Marie and commented:
      Thank you to whoever wrote this.

    • http://hello2buenas.wordpress.com jkb2249

      Reblogged this on and commented:
      Worth reading- while it’s difficult to agree with EVERYTHING that this article claims, it has a few points worth considering! Thoughts, readers?

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    • http://lifeexperimentsbymichelle.wordpress.com michellechristasmith

      Reblogged this on Michelle's Life Experiments and commented:
      My thoughts exactly. I have been experiencing something like this every since I returned from the Camino.

    • http://wanderinto.wordpress.com Wanderhere

      Reblogged this on Wander Into – and commented:
      My thoughts exactly.

    • http://thehereandwow.wordpress.com ginaalward

      Reblogged this on THE HERE AND WOW and commented:
      “There’s no way to describe the way your spirit evolves when you leave everything you know behind and force yourself to use your brain in a real capacity.” Experience will give you so much more than any textbook or classroom, and it is this change I strive for, and that shapes me every day. I believe you’ll never fully understand who you are without leaving behind who you’ve been.

    • http://allisoninaustralia.wordpress.com allinewts

      Reblogged this on Allison in Australia and commented:
      couldn’t have said it better myself

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    • http://beenaroundtheworlddontspeak.wordpress.com jackso91

      Reblogged this on Been Around the World, Don't Speak the Language and commented:
      “All of these lows are erased by the complete highs you experience.”

      While I don’t agree that we are running off when we’re traveling, I have felt the travel bug itching out of me the past few years. As I have told many people, this is the first trip I have left with a complete understanding that I need to spend more time at home with those I love and who will be apart of my life forever.

      On a completely different note, this feeling that she describes about changing when no one else around you has, is exactly the feeling I got when I came home from college the first time and visited my high school. It was like I had all these thoughts to share and stories about my “new” life, but everything in my high school had stayed the same. Almost like time hadn’t passed.

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    • http://beatkneadbakerepeat.wordpress.com beckykadansky

      Reblogged this on Take Your Marks…Go! and commented:
      This is something I can completely understand. I always call it reverse culture shock, coming home is always so beautifully impossible.

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      Reblogged this on INGO VOGELMANN and commented:
      Very good read.

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      Reblogged this on Travelogue and commented:
      That’s probably the post that better describes how I feel since I came back in June. I thought I would never have felt that terrible feeling again, but apparently it’s like a curse that follows you everytime you come home. This beautiful curse that makes you dream a new adventure. And I am ready for a new one to come!

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      So what if you’ve changed, by perceiving people differently and having different dreams? Are you doing anything to move toward that dream? Or are you just looking for another reason to escape your duties and responsibilities which you owe to not only your family and friends but also your society, which fed you and provided the resources for you to grow up and become this selfish person who can’t face being an adult. As a first world citizen with enough money to go travelling full time or without a job, you don’t realise how fortunate you are and how others don’t have this choice, even if they lived in the same city as you, having to provide for the rest of their family from meal to meal. In addition, the reason for escaping is that your friends and family don’t understand how you have changed. How have you changed such that it has even affected how you behaved that they would think to ask you “Hmm you seem to be different” or have you tried understanding how it was to stay at the place you abandoned and trying to get on with life and facing life’s disappointments? The people who were there to maintain your house so that you have something to come home to.

      You have to grow up, Zona. Short breaks between work and dream-chasing is fine, but never too long. Don’t get used to it, it is a privilege you can only afford after your dreams have been fulfilled. Even then, it’s time to get a new dream, not wandering around the globe aimlessly meeting new people who don’t really care how you are 2 months after you leave and who you don’t really care about, even if you have them on facebook as friends. They live in a different place, living different lives. Your family and living with them happily, making them happy, is what you should be doing. Because when they’re happy, so are you. Running away should only make you grow up and realise that you have to go home.

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