How to Stay Sane After Returning Home from a Trip

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So you’ve safely returned home from your trip, and you’re now back at home. Congratulations! I hope you took lots of pictures! You might now be thinking about what you’re going to do next, or about how you’re going to ingratiate yourself back into ‘regular’ life.

Traveling to a foreign land for the first time is a culture shock for most people, but something you might not have expected is that (once you’ve been away for long enough) coming back home can also be a culture shock. The initial excitement and novelty of being back home and seeing all your old friends will quickly wear off, and the reality that you’ll be stuck in the same daily routine everyday (as opposed to seeing new and exciting places everyday) will quickly set in.

Obviously it is not all bad, as there are a lot of nice things about returning home after a long trip away. Your nice, warm, comfortable bed that you didn’t realize how much you missed. Sharing a home cooked meal with your family and recalling some of your travel adventures. Being back in your own bedroom again and having a place to call your own. Meeting up with old friends again and showing them your travel pictures (or as many of them as they can take!)

pulling your hair outReturning home to the comforts you left behind has another advantage as well – it re-energizes you for your next trip. After a long time of being on the road the excitement traveling can wear a bit thin. There are only so many waterfalls, beaches, villages and cities that you can see before you lose all of your enthusiasm. Returning home is like pushing the ‘reset’ button – it’s the best way to reignite your passion for traveling and to make you appreciate the riches of the world.

“You may wonder, ‘How can I leave it all behind if I am just coming back to it? How can I make a new beginning if I simply return to the old?’ The answer lies in the return. You will not come back to the ‘same old thing.’ What you return to has changed because you have changed. Your perceptions will be altered. You will not incorporate into the same body, status, or world you left behind. The river has been flowing while you were gone. Now it does not look like the same river.” – Steven Foster [The Book of the Vision Quest]

I have found that it’s easy to become bored after a few days of being back home again after a long trip. I have also found that it’s easy to fall into an unproductive pattern, and to be ‘stuck in the mud’; treading water and without a plan.

Here are a few things you can try if you find yourself in the same situation:

Keep Yourself Busy – It’s definitely nice to have a few days relaxing after you get back (as the long flights will have probably worn you out), but doing this for TOO long will only cause problems. Keeping yourself busy is the best way to take your mind off the fact that you’re no longer traveling. Meet up with friends, join the local gym, start that project you’ve been meaning to work on or go back to work. Which brings me to my next point…

Get a Job (if you don’t already have one) – This is one great way to ‘stay busy’, as you’re meeting (potentially new) people, making money and doing something proactive. If you’re already dreaming of your next trip away, the chances are that you’ll have to save up again, so why not get working right away?

Get Advice – If you’ve had other friends who have been traveling, the chances are they’ll know what you’re going through and they should be able to help. Meeting up and chatting about your experiences is a great thing to do, and can help you to put things in perspective and give you an idea of what the next step is.

“Coming back from [a trip overseas] means re-entering a world you have known and lived in, but doing so without feeling the charm you might expect at returning to a former life. You had left that world behind in the hope it might be thoroughly transformed in your absence, but nothing of the sort has occurred. It got along quite nicely without you and it adjusts quite smoothly to your return.

“People and things conspire to make it seem as if you had not been away… People are a thousand times more preoccupied with their own little lives than with the strangeness of another world. You are best advised, then, to land discreetly, to come back politely into this world keeping anything you may have to say — along with the few sights still gleaming in your memory — strictly to yourself.”
–Jean Baudrillard, America (1986)

Plan Your Next Trip – If this was your first trip and all you can think about is going traveling again, congratulations! You’ve caught the ‘travel bug’! Now is as good a time as any to start planning your next trip. Think about where you want to visit, which routes you’ll take, what you want to do and see and who you might go with (if indeed anyone – traveling solo can be a great way to go). Even if you never do actually go traveling again, planning another trip is a great way of distracting yourself and getting yourself back into proactive and productive habits. It should also help you realize that just because you’re back at home now, that you don’t have to be there forever, and that there’s a whole world out there waiting to be explored.

Look at Other People’s Travel Blogs – Reading travel blogs is a great way to get ideas about future trips (where to go, what to do, etc), and lots of blogs have great travel diaries that put you right back in the shoes or a traveler on the road.

As you can see, there are lots of things that you can do to stay busy after coming home from a long trip away. Adjusting back to normal life can be tough, but don’t forget that your family and friends are there to help you. Like traveling, coming back home is just another experience, and if you approach it with the same level of enthusiasm and intrigue that you did with visiting new places you’ll be fine.

Related posts:

  1. How to ‘Debrief’ After a Trip

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