Your travels are over and you have returned home, back to ‘normal’ life and routine. Initially, it is all very exciting when you return: you reunite with friends and family, and bask in the familiarity of being back home. Everything appears to be a little bit easier, more comfortable and most people are genuinely interested and excited to hear your travel stories. Soon after, reality starts to sink in. Life goes on and the initial feelings of ease and comfort quickly transmute into feelings of restlessness and astray. It is important to accept these feelings, and learn to manage them effectively.
One thing you need to realise is that you will always crave that feeling of adventure, spontaneity and freedom. Try your hardest to keep reliving this feeling as much and as often as possible. Don’t lose this free-spiritedness just because you are in your own country and most likely expected to follow some form of routine. Find beauty in the mundane and continue to live with the mind-set that you may never get the opportunity to do something again. Believe that even though you are home, you won’t be in this place forever and living in the moment is as important as it was when you were travelling.
Be prepared to spend more time alone or in smaller groups of people; you will soon realise that if you have to always wait for others to do the things you want, you’ll end up doing very little. Embrace this and as you start doing more of the things you love, it is inevitable that people with similar mind-sets will cross your path. You probably love meeting foreigners in your own country. Whenever you bump into foreigners, you are intrigued by their travel stories in your own country. Make friends with them the same way as you would in a random hostel in a foreign country.
You have to actively stop yourself from telling too many stories that start with “when I was travelling in…” because it becomes borderline socially inappropriate, and most people don’t actually care. You will probably feel an instant connection to people who have travelled similarly to you. Hold on to this as these are the people that you will be able to relate to the most. One of the best ways to connect with other travellers is through sharing stories and feelings of nostalgia about experiences you never had together. Sometimes you will be accused of living in the past due to bringing up too many travel memories. Don’t allow this to make the memory any less meaningful: find the ones who get it, the ones who also understand the value of reminiscing.
Understand that many people around you who haven’t travelled similarly will probably seem like their lives are way more sorted out and ‘organised’ than yours. They will probably be well settled into a job, most likely have a big stash of savings, maybe a fancy car, married with dogs, children or both. Learn now and learn fast that it will never be realistic to compare your life to theirs; it’s too different and an unfair comparison. Try hard not to allow dinner conversations about marriages, the best swimming pool cleaners and mortgages reduce your passion for an adventurous life, or diminish your future travel dreams.
You will most likely feel more comfortable around strangers soon after meeting them than before. Understand that while this is great, some people you briefly meet might think you are abnormally too eager to be friends with them. Talking to strangers as if they were friends has become the norm for you; you have grown to love the possibility of forming instant connections with people from all walks of life.
Just because you are in your own country, do not let this curiosity, openness and willingness to engage with others die.
There are many differences between travellers from all over the world. One thing that seems to be a common link is their optimistic outlook on life and their liberal way of viewing the world and the people around them. Be aware of the fact that you may have developed a slight intolerance for pessimistic and narrow minded people. Be prepared to feel frustrated with pointless and shallow conversations: seek out the other searchers and free spirits to soothe your curious mind and complex soul.
You will need to learn to accept the fact that you will have that ‘itchy feet’ feeling, most days for the rest of your life. Some days you will feel claustrophobic and will want to run through the wall. No matter how long or often you travel, you will never truly get to a stage in your life where you sit back and think, “I am over travelling”. You will begin to realise that with every five new places you tick off your bucket list, you gain about fifty more. It’s important to share these travel dreams with people that are interested and share your passion for new places, people and adventures.
You know that you can never relive a moment but every now and then, you experience a nostalgic-attack. You may listen to music that reminds you of a certain time, read a book about a foreign country, mix a drink that takes you back to a place or spend time revelling in a photo album that doesn’t do the reality of what you experienced justice. Give yourself the much needed time to do this: channel your nostalgia effectively.
You know what it feels like to love people in many places. You will start to learn that many of the people you have met, you may never see again. Most of the time you are more appreciative of the fact that you met them in the first place rather than disappointed by the realistic prospects that you may unlikely see them again.
Appreciate the travel opportunities that your own country has to offer. Focus on the feeling that travelling gives you and find other ways to get this feeling on a random day in your own city. Check into a local backpackers, go camping in the middle of nowhere or on a road trip with no apparent destination in mind.
Travelling is like an addiction you learn to live with; the longing never goes away, but you can create a lifestyle which helps reduce the craving.
Become a traveller in your own country.