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Rules for Returning Home (After Travelling)

As a serial nomad and therefore a practiced returnee, let me tell you that coming back home after a long travel is never easy. Time and time again it is hard for us global wanderers to land back where we began – a sense of dread often proliferates as we seem to be venturing backwards to familiar ground rather than forwards to the new, fresh and exciting. Yet there are patterns, repeated feelings, that surface each time we return home. The more times we return home, the more we experience these patterns and the more we grow used to them. This familiarity can be useful in helping us deal with them too.

Having recently returned home after another 2 year adventure, I have yet again been faced with some familiar emotions. Many are positive – the seeing of friends and family, the safety of a place you know, the excitement of seeing changes, the welcome of a steady community. However, many of the feelings I experience can be hard, no matter how delighted I am to see old faces and receive warm hugs. Inspired by this I’ve jotted down some of the familiar things I find when I make my way back – the rules for returning home if you like! After all, if you know what to expect, you can at least be a little better prepared how to handle things!

Do be prepared that everything will seem ludicrously expensive

And that wearing no shoes may attract some strange looks

And that people around you will expect you to wear deodorant

Do foresee that washing your hair everyday will become the norm again

As will wearing clothes without holes

Do remember to put toilet paper in the bowl and not the bin

Don’t expect people will ask you where you’ve been

Don’t expect them to know the location of the places if they do

Don’t expect things to have changed

Don't expect things to have stayed the same

Don’t think you’ll have stayed the same

But don’t think that you’ve changed beyond recognition either

Or that you’ve done stuff no one else has ever seen or heard of

Don’t expect people will want to listen to your stories

Do know that you’ll probably continue to live out of your backpack for a bit because you can’t deal with the wealth of stuff you seem to own now

Know that you’ll probably want to throw most of that stuff away

Do throw that stuff away

But wait for a few weeks, so you’ve had a chance to realise what you really do and don’t need

Do realise that you’ll probably cry

And start looking at flights again immediately

And start planning your next trip in minute detail

And become depressed by the lack of money in your bank account

Do be aware you’ll spend a long time on social media reliving travel photos

And a long time on Skype chatting to people you met

Do be aware you’ll become increasingly engaged in books, stories, articles, films and documentaries about countries you’ve visited

And that your ears will prick up when anyone mentions those places

Do come to terms with the fact that some friendship will have sailed

Let them

Do realise the positive in this:

That travel is a test, that time away is hard for relationships, but that a few true friends will always remain regardless of distance and time.

Cherish these friendships

And work at maintaining them

Do accept the fact that at some point you probably will have to get a phone again

… And a watch

… And a job

Do accept the fact that any foreign language you learnt will quickly seep out of your brain like goo

Do be aware you probably will feel lost and dislocated and disconnected

That you’ll probably feel like a stranger in your own home

Do know that this will all pass

Do know that knowing this helps



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My name is Stephanie Parker and I'm a travel addict! With a background in the arts, I've always enjoyed writing, creating and sharing. This, combined with my love of wandering the globe and a deep-rooted nomadic spirit, led to the creation of Big World Small Pockets. Originally from Jersey, Channel Islands, I'm now based in Australia and backpack the world upside down collecting tips, advice and stories, to share with a smile.



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