No matter how many people said it and no matter how they said it, I didn’t buy it.
“When you get home, everything will be the exact same.”
It seemed impossible to me. How could anyone spend months, or years, away from their friends and family and not come home to an entirely different world?
After my first year of solo travel, I found myself in awe of how identical my home remained. The people and places I’d always known were exactly how I’d remembered them, only somehow smaller and more stale. That’s not to say I didn’t miss them or welcome reconnecting — I simply didn’t fit back in the mould I’d left behind. At first I was eager to share stories and photos from my trip with my friends, but that excitement soon wore off. It somehow felt pointless to recount experiences that weren’t shared and weren’t relatable to them. When I tried to express that, I felt deflated — it’s hard to explain without coming off as ungrateful towards your friends who welcomed you back home.
I’m in no way the first or last person to write about this topic. The online conversation about post-travel blues has shown me that thousands of people are in the same uncomfortable shoes. Like a new pair that blisters your heels, your mind has stretched too far to fit in comfortably yet. It’s a natural feeling, shared by thousands, but that doesn’t make it any less weighty.
So how can you adjust?
The one thing that helped me most had nothing to do with anyone’s advice, comfort or caring. It was completely internal. Rather than ruminating, I started plotting my next adventure. Having a rough timeline in place for where I'd be heading next made everything feel lighter. Putting positive energy into my plans distracted my brain and washed out the stale state I found myself in. Although I couldn’t afford to travel right away, I now had something to work towards. A good friend of mine calls these carrots — like a horse chasing a treat on a stick, these travel plans aren’t attainable right now but at least they get you motivated.
It’s called the travel bug because it bites hard- and once you’re bitten it stays in your veins. Embrace the discomfort of coming home, because without it, travel wouldn’t be nearly as impactive or addictive.