I’ve been on the same ground now for 3 months. No planes. No hostels. Not setting foot out of the country. Adjusting back to life at home should be the easy part, shouldn’t it? All the hard stuff is over. You’ve travelled across the world by yourself, and been so far away from the people who care about you most. Shouldn’t it be easy coming home to everyone who’s missed you dearly, after a whole year?
I have gone through quite possibly every emotion possible and changed my mind a million times. My big plan was to complete another year of travel but come home for a short visit in between. A few months of seeing the family, catching up with everyone then hop on another plane back to the land of Auz. Yet here I am. 3 months of being home and I’ve applied for college, got myself a job and cancelled my plans of a second year visa. I’m back on home soil for good.
Or at least for now.
There is a lot of advice about how to travel; books and blogs on the secret ins and outs of how to be a proper backpacker; how to do a “gap year.” How do you fit 501 things into a backpack the size of a handbag? I’ve seen it done, but I can not personally vouch for that.
What about the hardest part of it all? What happens when the travelling comes to an end, what then? Maybe your travelling never truly does end and you’ll be one of the lucky ones who is constantly unpacking and re-packing to set off on the next adventure.
But what if that’s not you?
What if this really is the end of your big adventure. The end of the greatest trip of your life. The end of living carefree; your only responsibility deciding where to book your next bus to.
The start of endless responsibilities. The start of becoming an adult.
I’ve had a lot of people asking me if I found it difficult being away from home for such a huge length of time. In complete honesty I can say I didn’t (sorry mum). Sure I missed home at the beginning, but once I started to settle into ‘never settling,’ I realised I fitted in here. I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat. However right now, I’m busy attempting adulthood. I’ll let you know how that goes…
So what happens when you touch down on home soil? For starters, the questions begin to roll in: “what are you going to do now?” (within 3 days of being back). That’s got to be some sort of record?! You unpack for the first time in a year, and you realise it’s over. You are reunited with all your clothes, but nothing quite beats living out of a suitcase.
I expected everything to be the same as it was when I took off 365 days ago. After all, how much can really change in a small town?
Your friends will have carried on with a whole year of their lives without you. They will have had exciting adventures, with new friends and made new memories. All whilst you were doing exactly the same. You will have met new people from various corners of the world, and made unforgettable memories. Yes they’ve been away from your life, but you’ve also been away from theirs.
It has taken me a while to accept this. To accept that people drift, and friendships end. It’s a part of growing up, or so I’ve been told. So far I’m learning that growing up SUCKS, and I’m really not down for it.
The first few weeks of being home will be amazing: gossiping over cocktails with friends and endless family get to togethers. Just like the good old days.
But then one day the fog will lift, and you’ll see how things really are. You realise that the life you had before you went abroad does not exist any more. People have actually managed to get on with their lives without you (shocker). You aren’t as close as you used to be with your old world. The reunions come to an end, the stories have been told a million times and the pictures are now only a memory.
After the excitement of catching up with everyone faded, I was left with uncertain possibilities for my future. What next? I was having to organise my future plans, whilst also trying to remain calm. The remaining calm part did not work out.
I launched myself back into my old hobbies, looking for a distraction from my uncertain future, and thus decided to apply for college. Having to study and rehearse every day before being thrown into auditions all of a sudden was a whirlwind. After thinking I would be flying back to my dream lifestyle by now, the dust began to settle. I was not the empowered female solo traveller I used to be.
You will have met plenty people from different walks of life. Different countries, different cultures and different languages. And funnily enough you got along with these people just as well, if not more, than anyone else. It opens up a new outlook on life and the people in yours. It doesn’t matter about race, culture, background. It’s about the people themselves, and the experiences you shared.
Then you will begin to miss the wanderlust backpacking lifestyle you once had: the lack of real responsibility, and the amazing people you met along the road. There might feel like something is missing, but in reality you are the one that is no longer missing. You are no longer wandering the streets of Sydney, Phuket or Bangkok or wherever you found yourself to be that week. It’s time to come home.
You have a whole new life to adjust to. The one where everything in your town will be the same, but you’re not. You are the one who has changed, and views things from a different perspective now. You’ve grown, and that not only makes you feel different, but people around you notice it to. Whether it be confidence, coming out of your shell or opening up to new experiences, you will have changed.
This is the hardest part of travelling. It’s the non-travelling that makes us realise how far we’ve come. Coming back to a life that was once normal, and now isn’t in our eyes. You’re friends are scattered all over the world, and it’s not as simple as it used to be. You will always lust for travel, and that’s okay. There’s plenty time ahead.