Well, lying on the beach with a cocktail was never going to be the hardest bit, was it?
If you’ve ever got back from a big trip, you’ll know coming back to reality can suck. One thing you’re likely to get?
Reverse culture shock
We all understand culture shock. People do things differently, things they or YOU do can suddenly be considered rude, and you worry about offending people. Often roads are hectic and there are different health, safety and cleanliness standards.
It can feel strange, but reverse culture shock feels even stranger. It’s a real thing – when I arrived in Australia after nearly a year in Asia, it felt so weird to be back in the Western world. People drove in organised straight lines, wore fancy clothes (compared to my elephant pants and flip-flops) and everything seemed upmarket and to be made of avocado.
$12s of bottled watered later I realised – hold up, you can drink tap water here! I never remembered to bring I.D to bars and got turned away – and when I did remember my I.D I got turned away for wearing flip-flops. Australian culture is basically the same as British culture so I had similar problems when I got home.
Adapting to real life and routine
When you’re travelling you do weird and wonderful things every day, whenever YOU want to do them. Life is an adventure. When you come home, you usually return to waking up at the same time, doing the same commute and the same thing all day.
I know some people crave routine but I crave not having it. In fact, the idea of repeating my day ’til I retire terrifies me.
On that note, finding work after coming home can be a b*tch.
Unless you’ve taken a sabbatical or happened to have something lined up or are about to study, you’re usually in need of money pronto. There’s no dread like waking up jetlagged and your mum brandishing a pencil skirt (which probably doesn’t fit you now after all that pad Thai) and telling you it’s time to get applying for jobs.
Also, people don’t really get it.
Friends who don’t travel may not get why you feel down and they may not ask much about your trip either.
I get it – no one wants to hear another ‘this one time in Thailand story’. But it can be hard when you feel your friends don’t care about a time that’s been so important to you.
I’ve literally returned from 5-month trips around Africa and asked friends everything about their lives, jobs, boyfriends and families since I’ve been gone and they’ve looked me in the eye and not asked how Africa was. WTF. It hurts but I guess I just need to understand it’s not personal – as Nomadic Matt says, ‘Any long-term traveller who has come home and talked about his/her trip can testify to eyes glazing over after five minutes’.
(aaaand that’s probably the only rant you’ll ever hear from me on here! On the note of positivity, THANK YOU to all my friends who DO ask about my adventures and never get bored of the answers. It really does mean the world to me.)
On that note, returning from travel and adjusting to reality can really make you notice your friend’s lives going in different directions.
I feel like this topic will resonate with a lot of people my age. I see memes being like ‘my friends are either engaged and pregnant or they’re too drunk to find their phones’ (or as a travel alternative, are wasted in Bali).
Now I don’t really like these – just because I’m not in a longterm relationship that doesn’t mean I’m hopeless – maybe I’m also trying to grow a business while juggling a career, saving money and exploring the globe single-handedly. But they serve my point here!
If you travel a lot like me, you’re likely to have fewer ties and less of a stable vision of the near future. Which is all good. So is having your shit together. There’s no wrong or right. It just gets a bit weird when it’s clear that you and some of your friend’s lives are heading in opposite directions faster than Blake Lively when she had to swim super fast in that shark film.
It’s returning from periods detached from my home life that make me notice these things all the more.
Does any of this resonate with you?
Need a post-travel pick me up?