I remember getting all anxious and fidgety when the time to come back home got closer, I wanted to keep going at any cost. I recall thinking that a last minute visit to Malaysia was an opportunity that shouldn’t be wasted. After all, we were close by and the chance to visit it might not happen again. Besides, one of the biggest international airports in South East Asia is in Kuala Lumpur anyways. It’s perfect! We can catch a plane home from there.
As convenient as it may sound, I know that it was all to make the experience last for a few more days. I would’ve done anything to postpone the end.
When we arrived, it wasn’t comforting to find things just as they were before, it was weird and surreal. I remember a heavy feeling of guilt in my stomach for not wanting to be back, and the fake smiles I had to force. An overwhelming sense of disconnection when I tried to rekindle friendships, as I found friends more interested in smartphone screens than our stories.
It’s funny how during our 5 months trip, I said frequently to Nuno:
– When we go back, we mustn’t become two of those travel bores that talk about traveling all the time.
Fortunately, that never happened. Sadly, because nobody cared about our trip.
It has been a difficult transition, not going to lie. People don’t seem to understand what our travel experiences meant for us: a time when we were truly happy and free.
But I get it, we were the ones that choose to leave for half a year, while they stayed here with “real responsibilities”.
However, it’s undeniable that our friends seem to be in different trails of life now: as we want to save money for our next trip/ they want to spend it on a new car. We want freedom/ they want to settle down. While we talk about dreams and aspirations/ they keep complaining about bills and work. It’s like we’re tuned to different frequencies nowadays.
So, could traveling be transformational?
Some people say traveling can change you. Personally, I don’t believe so.
The only thing traveling long-term shifted in me was my perspective (and maybe my priorities). I believe it’s not about changing as it is about growing: I’m not a different person now that I’ve returned home, I’m actually more of the person that I was before I left.
Back to “reality”
Now that I’m back again, I find myself pressured to fit the mold, delay my happiness and follow the socioeconomic guide that says: ” Focus on career. Be successful. Make money”. The trouble is that I don’t see myself as a career man, and nothing annoys me more than the concept of success ̶ that empty, generic New Year’s Resolution that we’re all expected to strive for.
And I’m not avoiding responsibilities, working is necessary of course, but I won’t choose a career in detriment of a life well spent. My set of ambitions don’t pass through a solid résumé, or a good retirement plan because I don’t want to save all my money for retirement, but enjoy it along the way there.
Besides, if I have the privilege to pick what to do with my life, why would I choose to spend my most physically able years locked in an office? Plus, I firmly believe that when we like our craft we can do some version of it in any part of the world, so why be geographically restricted?
One thing is for sure: we can always make more money but we can’t make more time.
Traveling was a super rewarding experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything, and I know in my heart that I will travel again. In the meantime, I must prevent this happy-expanded version of myself from shrinking, so it’s fundamental that I handle my emotions in the best possible way.
Keeping the spirits up!
So what if, instead of looking at my return as the end of a chapter in my life, I saw it as a blank slate? What if I made it a mission to figure out what really matters to me now, and start building my life around it? What positive personality traits that came out during our travels can we translate to our daily lives?
Check out the action plan that has been helping Nuno and me through this gloomy period of adaptation:
Are you back from a trip and your life is feeling a bit stale? How have you been feeling and coping with your return? Share your thoughts, leave us a reply down here.