Let’s be honest, coming home after a long trip sucks. If you’ve done it, you know.
After being on the move for x number of months, meeting tons of new people, doing exciting things, and being entirely free of responsibility, it’s tough to settle back in to the comparably mundane day to day. Additionally, all your friends and family have had the audacity to continue on with their lives in your absence, and they’re busy.
Meanwhile, you’re home – probably jobless, searching for a flat, and doing absolutely nothing else, but your friends have to go to work, or whatever, and can’t come day drinking or urban adventuring with you.
When you do see your friends, everyone wants to know how your trip was, and the only thing you can really say is like, “great!” You jumble some words together because there’s no way to concisely explain how epic it all was. If you’ve publicly journaled your experiences like I always do, chances are they’ve read your blog and they already know. You tell a couple of your best stories, but it gets old when two months later everything you say still starts with “when I was in Barcelona…”
Especially when the location isn’t vital to the story. Oops.
(Maybe you don’t do this. I can’t bloody help myself.)
Alright but now that you’re back you’ve gotta settle in. You’ve probably spent all of your savings and more on your recent backpacking adventure, so you need a job right away. If we’re being realistic, you won’t land a job in your field of study within the first couple weeks, especially now that your resume has x number of working months missing. How will you scrounge together enough for first and last month’s rent (or a bond) before you’re actually employed?
I always find myself returning to serving jobs, for the quick cash and ease of finding somewhere to work, but if you don’t plan on working in the hospitality industry forever, this isn’t exactly constructive for your future. It is, however, a great way to save up some money if you’re thinking about taking another trip – and ohhhh how you’re thinking about taking another trip.
After I’ve added the most recent trip’s pins to my cork board map, I spend my time staring at it, longingly, and deciding where else I’d like to go…which is everywhere.
But the more often you leave the more contact you lose. My best friend is still my best friend, but she’s getting married soon and has created a pretty permanent life for herself in the city. We’re on very different pages, and have less and less in common every time I come home.
Another one of my friends once described me as “this enigma” in a positive tone, but it’s true. They don’t know you as well anymore, because you’ve changed and they’ve changed and everything’s changed.
In addition to the friends I’ve lost touch with due to circumstance, who I still consider friends and know they consider me the same, I’ve also had friends actively cut me out because (I can only assume) they felt abandoned when I left. I had someone tell me “it’s no one else’s fault but your own” because of my lifestyle. “You roll in and out of relationships”, he told me. And he’s right. I guess I don’t understand why travelling a lot and maintaining friendships need to be mutually exclusive, but that does often seem to be the case.
Of course, not everyone does this when you get home. I have some incredible friends who let me stay with them when I’m back and without a place to live, or before I go and have already moved out of my apartment. Unless your flight is on the 1st of the month, you’ll have a transitory period of homelessness, and I’ve always been lucky to have a couch to sleep on until I leave. Obviously, I also have my wonderful family to fall back on, but I find it even harder to come back when it means living at home. When you’ve just been on your own, answering to no one, doing as you please every single day, it’s not an easy transition. Even if your family is as wonderful as mine.
The only way I’ve learned to cope with the hard part of coming back, is to adjust my expectations and go on my own local adventures. Every time I come back to Toronto the city has grown and changed, which means there’s new bars, restaurants, cafes, street art, gigs, and more to explore. While I don’t have hostel dorms in which to meet new people, I will find new roommates, meet people at work, and my old friends will have no doubt met new people to introduce me to.
Coming home sucks, but we travellers are adaptable and adventurous, and you will eventually adjust to the immobile lifestyle of being home…waiting and wishing… until you leave for your next trip!