How to Adjust to Life After a Long-Term Trip
After a year or three exploring the world, you’re now back home and trying to come to terms with it. It can be quite a shock to go back to normality when you were recently tasting new dishes, meeting awesome people, and doing fun activities.
Don’t worry. The post-travel blues are extremely common, so you won’t have to go through it on your own. There are several ways to make your return more pleasant. So, before you know it, things will be normal again. That is unless you go back to the road.
Keep in Touch with Your Travel Friends
The people you meet on your travels are the ones who can truly relate to what you’re going through. Your family and childhood friends can make you feel better. However, they weren’t there when you saw the Salar de Uyuni for the first time or helped you when you were sick.
Nowadays, there is no reason to stop talking with the friends you met abroad. Make sure you tell them about how you’re feeling and ask them about their adventures and plans. Even though you’re worlds apart, it’s going to feel like you’re still traveling together.
Seek a New Goal
The great thing about being on the road is that you can travel for travel’s sake. While there are people with specific goals such as riding a motorcycle across Cambodia, most travelers are happy to just explore new countries with no structured plan.
When you get back home, you’re likely to feel lost because you’re not on the move anymore. The best course of action is to simply find a new goal. It could be as simple as just finding a job or learning a new language for your next trip.
Look on the Bright Side
It’s important to remember that it’s not all doom and gloom. As exciting as traveling can be, going back home gives you the chance to relive all the things you left behind. So, take some time to remember what you missed the most when you were homesick.
People also tend to minimize the downsides of long-term traveling. So, cherish the fact that you won’t be sharing the room with 10 other people, eating noodles for breakfast, or killing flying cockroaches.
Slow Transition to Normal Life
The last thing you want is to immediately return to your old life and pretend your trip never happened. While not everyone can afford to take the time to re-adjust, it’s essential to do it and slowly. If you don’t, you may have a severe case of reverse culture shock. This is when your own home seems alien to you.
Essentially, you should just take it easy and not rush into things. Take some time to overcome the jet lag, meet your friends, and reacquaint yourself with the neighborhood. Once you find your bearings, getting back to normal will be a lot less overwhelming.
Pretend You’re Still a Traveler
You don’t need to stop traveling when you return home. Although you may not be constantly on the road anymore, it doesn’t mean you should abandon your wandering spirit. Why not treat your own city as if it were a completely new destination?
It’s actually quite surprising how many people don’t know much about their own town — let alone their neighborhood. Make a list of the museums, tourist sites, trendy bars, and restaurants. Then start exploring them with a traveler’s attitude, soaking up all the information, and seeing things with new eyes.
Make Use of Your New Skills
When you travel for such a long time, you’ll undoubtedly learn something new about the world and yourself. If you became more outgoing and talkative on your trip, you could use these traits to your own advantage in a job interview or make new friends at a party.
It could be the case that you actually did a professional course and learned a new language or how to cook a tasty local dish. You could try to find a community of people who speak that language and carry on practicing. Or host a dinner party for close friends and show off your cooking skills.
Consider Finding a New Home
Traveling is the embodiment of freedom and flexibility. You can go anywhere you want, when you want, and with whom you want. You can also eat when you’re hungry, avoid the things you don’t like, and pretty much live by your own rules.
Unfortunately, going back home could be the end of that — especially if you’re young and still living with your parents. While it may be okay in the beginning, you could feel trapped as time goes on. One way to smooth things out and still keep some of your freedom is to find a new place where you can make the decisions.
Talk About Your Travels Sparingly
While you may feel like sharing all your stories with everyone, you should remember that not everybody will listen. It’s not that they’re not interested, it’s just that they can’t fully relate to your experiences as they weren’t there with you.
Try to focus the conversations on their lives and things you’re doing now, especially if your friends can help you in any way. If people are truly interested in your travels, they’ll ask you specific questions.
Understand That Things May Have Changed
Many travelers who return home after a long time on the road tend to feel like nothing has really changed. But just because you had incredible experiences that shaped your life doesn’t mean that your friends didn’t have experiences that changed theirs.
People have kids, change jobs, move homes, get married, so on and so forth. While it’s okay to expect some things to remain the same, understand that life moves on. So, you will have to adapt to new surroundings.
It’s Okay to Be Nostalgic
It can be difficult to come back home after years on the road and feeling like you don’t belong. So, don’t be too hard on yourself. You were used to having new experiences every week. Now, all of a sudden, they’re gone.
Take some time to go through your pictures, videos, and diary entries as they’ll bring back memories from your past adventures. Look at them, remember how they helped you grow as an individual, and be grateful for all the experiences you had.
Take Care of Yourself
While it’s entirely possible to keep a healthy diet and exercise during your trip, the reality is that most travelers don’t really take care of themselves. They live on a diet of beer and noodles. More often than not, they come home in bad shape.
Considering your life is more stable, it’s a lot easier to get back into a healthy routine and slowly return to your pre-travel body. Focus on exercising regularly, eating healthy meals, and having a good night’s sleep. With this regimen, you’re going to feel amazing sooner than you think.
Help Other Travelers
You’ll be surprised by how many people will come to you asking for advice about a certain destination. At the end of the day, you went there, explored it, and now have fresh information about what’s worth doing or not.
Many travelers tend to create a travel blog or vlog to help other travelers with insights and personal tips. If that’s not your thing, you can always sign-up to travel forums and spend some time answering questions from other travelers.
Start Planning Your Next Trip
If you’ve tried all the tips above and still feel out of place, then planning your next trip is your best bet. Whether it’s another long-term adventure or just a weekend camping trip, it’s enough to get you excited about going back on the road.
Make a list of all the places you’d like to visit or return to, check your friends’ itineraries to see if it’s possible to meet them along the way, and slowly decide how long you’ll be away and how much money you’ll need. Find a job, save money, and start your new adventure!