In this blogpost I would like to try to help nearest and dearest of travellers and themselves understand each others mindset about living life and why this makes it so hard for a traveller to go back home and into society.
Whenever someone says they go travel long term the reaction of most people surrounding this person will be: ‘That’s the way to find yourself and you’ll know what you want in your life whenever you get back!’ Is this really what a traveller experiences? Do we really find what we want and where we want to be? Is it so that when you get back you got your whole life figured out because now you had the ‘time’ to think about that? Well let me tell you about my experience being abroad and travelling for a long time and what my opinion is about all these questions…
When you are reading this being a traveller you will most likely find a piece of yourself in the philosophy that I will make. When you are a relative or a person that is close to someone that is travelling or has travelled this might bring up a big some confusion for you. My goal with this is to help you understand the traveller’s mind and my opinion how to deal with someone that comes back from a long term travel.
What does the traveller feel before the journey?
Before the traveller get’s it in his mind to stop whatever he/she is doing and break free to go on a long-term journey, his mind has been dreaming and wandering off thinking what it would be like to get out of his day to day life, out of his comfortzone and into a totally new environment. The person that already has this idea in his head is probably already someone that is not going to be able to sit still and just let life pass by. It is someone that will take his own life in it’s own hands, even though he/she is terrified of doing this so that there won’t be any regrets for them later in life.
What I mean by this is that mostly outsiders will say; ”aren’t you scared to not fit in anymore whenever you get back? It will be difficult to get back to reality for you and so on.” Then for me the question rises; if that person wants to do a long term travel in the first place isn’t there already a big part of him/her that already thinks that he/she doesn’t fit in before the travel even started?
What feelings come up when coming back after a long trip?
I certainly agree with the fact that ‘coming back’ will be one of the hardest parts. But there should be ways to make it bearable and let the traveller feel that they are still on a journey but now not abroad but in it’s own country! Yes being free and choosing when you want to work or not gives the traveller the chance to schedual their own life. Although it is a big change coming home to a ‘pushy’ society trust me that most travellers will come back from a trip with an urge and thought to start working. People are not made to sit still and neither does society make us think in that way. So a solution to making the comeback easier it might be better instead of being bombarded by all these questions by friends and fo to support them in their choices.
I had a fellow traveller calling me because she felt so lost. She’s been travelling, working and living in several countries away from her home but now her Visa is going to run out and she doensn’t know what to do. All she knows is that she doesn’t want to go ‘home’ and she is looking for some stability to build up a life. This is a well known phenomenom under travellers (especially solo travellers). The reason I quoted the word home is because for her her home means a place where there are memories of people that have moved on with their lifes differently than she has. Also these persons will have trouble understanding her ‘new’ way of looking at life and will probably be very judgemental instead of understanding. When travelling you obviously meet a lot of like minded people with the same idea about how to live life. I’m not saying this is the right way to live life because there is no right way but it is their way. For every person in this world the right way is exactly how they live. There is people that like to build up their life, buy a house and have kids whenever they are young and that’s perfect for them. That’s their way of living life and also a right way. For a traveller on the other hand it is different because they want to see the world before they start settling. The only problem with this last way of living is that it is not widely accepted by society and thus will be commented on (especially in Europe). For this reason aswell it is very hard for long term travellers to come ‘home’ to deal with the comments like ”now it’s time for reality” and ”now you’ve had what you wanted so now you have to find a job”. Even though the travellers all know that they have to start looking for a job it doesn’t make it easier for them when everyone is putting pressure on them. Also most outsiders tend to forget that most long term travellers have also worked abroad. It might not have been the proffesion they studied for but they still earned money and sometimes even more money than when working at home. The outside world still sees this as being on ‘holiday’ because you’re not at home starting a family and building your life up.
So what is my advice?
Travellers don’t let yourself pull down to much because it is the end of a trip. Nothing in life is permanent and so maybe some day you will have another one of those trips or something that will replace your great experience travelling. Going back home is hard because you feel the pressure of society and other people. Try to protect yourself from this by holding on to that travelmood troughout your next adventure. See coming home as a new adventure of looking for a new job in a new place with new people to meet. Whenever you were in that other country and you were applying and looking for jobs you were also excited. Even for me my apple picking experience was great even though work is hard and I would never choose to do that if I’d be at home. After all your time travelling and working abroad you kind of know a bit more in what direction you wanna go and what kind of job you want. If you wanna be closer to the beach or closer to a certain city make that your new goal and see this as your new adventure!
Also try to deal with the comments people will give you. You have probably already encountered this while you were travelling that some friends or family members said: ”isn’t it time to come home yet” and you hated it because on your travels you became so independent that you don’t want other people to control your life anymore. Well you’ll get more comments when you get home and don’t have a job immediately or when you just started your job and you take time off. Deal with this and be the smarter one don’t react to it because it won’t solve anything. It’s very normal for an outsider to try and suck you into that society because it is how we are brought up. Don’t let it put you down and try to hold on to that great adventurous travelling mind of yours!
For friends and family of a long term traveller it will be a big party that their big love and good friend will be back home. After not seeing him/her for a very long time that first moment is fantastic both for the traveller as well as for friends and family. Whenever the traveller has been home for a few days or weeks this feeling of ‘yes he’s back’ is already gone and ‘normal’ life sets in for everybody except for the traveller. As an outsider it is really hard to get that the traveller doesn’t feel great because he is well rested and just didnt work for a long time right? No, not true… Yes you might not believe this and it sounds really weird but travelling is very tiring! Especially when travelling by yourself. Every day you have to be social meet new people make decisions for yourself and constantly watch your back for possible threats. So let the traveller come to rest at home, a place without threats a room without other people in it… The traveller knows he will have to start working again and has probably already been doing research and maybe even applied. While travelling you become so independent that you will set your life up yourself and you don’t need other people to push or comment you around. Thus instead of trying to push with comments like: ‘haven’t you had enough time to sit around try to be more supportive and ask them if they have actually already thought about a job or what they are planning to do.
I hope both traveller as outsider got help with this blogpost. I think this might help a lot of people deal with overcoming the travel blues in combination with the support of their surrroundings.