A Travellerspoint blog

Going Home...

One thing all trips have in common, no matter how big or small, is that at some point, you have to go home.

For some, going home is fantastic. Everyone speaks your language, you know where to go if you need to buy a small everyday item (how difficult would it be for Beijing shop owners to stock deodorant?), the food won’t necessarily put you in hospital and you can safely wander anywhere without the fear of coming into contact with deadly local wildlife (or deadly locals for that matter).

For others, going home is a traumatic rollercoaster of emotions. There are highs of seeing friendly faces again, but lows of feeling disconnected. When returning home people often feel they have grown as a person whilst travelling and that their life has moved forward. As a result it feels as though the friends and family you have returned to see don’t really understand you as fully anymore. They didn’t share that amazing mountaintop view or the curry with meat of questionable origin or the encounters with local characters that shaped you into the person you are upon going home.

I, unfortunately, fall into the latter category. After sixteen months on the road I was looking forward to seeing the friendly faces but after two days I was desperate to leave. When you live a life whereby everyday is new and challenging it becomes very difficult to look at the mundane routines of daily life with any enthusiasm. Where is the fun in going to buy something for breakfast when you know; firstly how to ask for it, secondly what it is you’re buying and thirdly that it won’t necessarily put you in hospital? It’s no fun at all! Travelling, I’ve realised since coming home, challenges you every day and forces you to continuously learn new things. It becomes a way of living your life and not just a trip that you’re making. One of the most difficult questions I’ve been asked since being home is did I enjoy my trip? How do I answer that? How do you sum up a chunk of your life in a small, polite response? It’s impossible. As a result, the conversation quickly turns to what happened at work on Thursday or the questionable sausage roll that was bought for lunch yesterday etc. All no doubt very interesting in their own right but quite difficult to take in when your thoughts are somewhere on the other side of the planet.

On the other hand, an interesting aspect of going home is that, for a short while at least, you are able to see your own country from a tourists perspective. If you’ve been on the road for a significant amount of time then everything seems new and novel when you go home. For example, after becoming accustomed to the erratic, crazy and chaotic streets and drivers of Southeast Asia and China, it was amazing to see a road sign in the UK that politely asked, “please be a courteous driver.” How very British! Although even if there weren’t a sign asking drivers to be nice it wouldn’t matter. Cars often stop voluntarily in order to let pedestrians cross the road, I was amazed! You mean I don’t actually have to walk into a throng of oncoming traffic and risk my life in order to cross the road? A novel experience.

In addition, is there a nation better placed in the world to describe their weather as “blustery?” On my trip I think I may have seen the entire weather spectrum, from central Australia in summer to Siberia in winter and everything in between. Yet nowhere has a weather forecast where for 365 days of the year the word “blustery” (i.e. a combination of whipping winds and drizzly rain) is likely to feature. In my mind, Britain has communist weather i.e. it’s grey and oppressive. But it seems to add to the national character. Because of the grey downbeat nature the population have grown to greatly appreciate small pleasures. Bill Bryson in his book “Notes From a Small Island” quite accurately describes how the British seem to feel guilty in enjoying the pleasures of life and as a result derive immense satisfaction from small luxuries, such as a cup of tea and if you’re a devil then maybe even a biscuit!

Unfortunately though, the tourist phase of going home only lasts for a week or two. After that you have to start dealing with the travel bug. Common signs of having contracted the bug are: prolonged time being spent in the travel section of book shops, the desire to buy a new, smaller backpack, spending time on the internet looking for cheap flights or trains to various locations etc… The only known cure for the travel bug is to hit the road again. However, at some point you have to once more face up to going home. It’s a vicious circle…

Posted by scotsman 12:01 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged backpacking

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Another great read Stuart. This is something Ive been mulling over a lot recently: ive been feeling that disconnection already, emailing friends at home, etc. I am already trying to imagine how a certain sense of alienation might set in upon returning home....
Anyway, I really enjoyed reading that. Thanks.

Ps: I think Ireland might be able to contest England on the blustery thing!

by samsara_

i've been travelling but never for more than two weeks at a time but i want to just pack up and go. i travel on my own and love to meet new people and experience new things but friends and family don't understand that. it's a drag going from work to bed and from bed to work. i need excitement! Can someone explain that to my mum?

Disillusioned and bored!

by sparky2005

Get your old dear to read Rolf Potts' book "Vagabonding,a Guide to the art of long-term world travel" or something along those lines. In a philosophical way it puts travelling where it should be on the spectrum of self-development!!

by scotsman

hah- so true! I was so sad and "displaced" when I returned home from Taiwan after having had lived there for a year. I have taken trips since, usually 2 weeks at a time, but its just not the same. I have the travel bug big time right now and cannot wash away the idea of giving up my cozy job to travel once again. Its an addiction! I have spent far too many hours online looking up plane tickets. I wonder if there is any cure for this travel bug of mine!?

by nicole06

Excellent Scotsman!!! Am crying. It just so true I cant help it. I have about three trips on preparation, just need time and money to do them. I really social security should pay for our travel because we are sick very very sick.

by flo jo

Well written...

by Ancilla

You've hit the nail on the head there! I've just recently come home from a trip in SE Asia (not as long as your trip though) As I was given unpaid leave, I haven't even had the challenge of finding a new job. I thought I was the only one, but I have also become obsessed with looking at numerous travel website, flights, weather forecasts & my holiday snaps. Here's to the next trip I guess!

by Laura_B

Hi Scotsman,
Know exactly how you feel. After 19 flights and 16 countries, landing back in Manchester was a very weird experience.
"To travel is to return home and see it clearly for the first time"
Also, you realise with some sadness that, despite being happy to see you, your non-travelling family and friends really aren't that interested in something that has just fundamentally changed you as a person.
My sister actually said,"You don't have to show us all of your photos at once."
Huh, as if!

by stevieh

Brilliant. Don't look for a job mate, start writing!!!

by Vlakvark

I think I have the solution. Afriend left her horrid underpaid job and went to India for a year to "wash that job right outta her hair".
When she came back it was as we all think, almost unbearable. Big brother was still on telly, food was acceptable and safe etc. She rang up the tour company she had used at the start of her trip, and they had a job showing tourists around for eight months of the year, with four months off in between. She now lives in Dehli, has for four years, and loves every minute of her life. She comes back to Oz, to see the rellies once a year, then it's off again.

by palerider

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