Finally you pursued your one dream. You bought that plane ticket, said goodbye to your life back home for a while and now you are having the most amazing time abroad. But all good things come to an end and it’s time to go home. You’re happy that you will see your friends and family again and make exciting plans with them. Then you’re coming home after the most fantastic journey… and it feels like someone just punched you in your face. Welcome back.
For many of us traveling is one of the most exciting experiences in life. You explore the world, experience what freedom is, learn about the most particular cultures and make friends for life. You also learn a lot about yourself in a very short time. Traveling made me more independent, social and venturous. It taught me that I don’t have to be scared for the unknown and that it’s not scary at all to travel on your own. It made me feel ultimate happiness while being on the road and I was convinced I could take that feeling of happiness straight away home. Boy I was wrong.
After six months of traveling through Asia and North America it was time for me to pack my back again and catch a flight back to the Netherlands. I was looking forward to it, after having such an amazing time. I had seen so many beautiful things, lived so actively, felt so happy and had met so many incredible people, I was simply grateful for it. But it was also good to see my family again. My friends. To start my life in the Netherlands again. Coming home. So it was not a problem for me at all to buy that plane ticket. It was also not a problem to catch that plane, although I took it with mixed feelings. But at the moment I stepped into the car at Brussels Airport to drive back home, I felt panic shivering through my body. What the heck was I doing?
I was home. Back in reality. Reality was no longer something that belonged to the future and it was suddenly there. I realized that the days with pure excitement, being social a lot, living from day to day and exploring were over. That meeting up friends had to be scheduled. There was no space for spontaneity anymore. I felt like someone pushed the pause button and that my life was put on hold. Experiencing something new everyday was out of the question. I didn’t had my own place to live. I didn’t had a job. And maybe the worst of all: I had no clue what to do now with my life. Which direction I wanted to go. What I wanted to do in the Netherlands.
I am not going to lie. The first two weeks after coming home I felt devastated. I stayed in bed for days, not knowing what else I had to do. I didn’t enjoy anything and I didn’t had any energy to do something. My days I spent with this weary, unknown feeling in my body I didn’t know how to deal with. After a day or ten I slowly started to do some freelance work again. I started to search for a place where I could live on my own and was lucky to find something straight away. That’s how I started to live again. Or, with other words, I did something in my life. That says it all. The annoying feeling slowly vanished away, but it got stuck in a corner of my body. And it stayed there for months.
Just continue on
In the meantime I got angry with myself. I felt spoiled. Wasn’t it my own choice to go traveling in the end? And besides that I truly had a fantastic time while traveling. Why couldn’t I simply be happy with that and continue on with my life? Not everyone gets the opportunity to do what he wants in life. And I was just staying in bed at the same time, feeling all depressed, while so many people are dreaming about doing the same thing without having the opportunity to pursue that dream. I didn’t really talk about it with other people, because no one understood it. Just continue on with your life, that’s what they said. Nothing terrible happened, right? No, nothing terrible happened. That wasn’t the case. But I never expected to come back home and to feel so devastated after traveling.
The weird thing is actually that you can never really say anything negative about traveling. People always complain about their boring jobs, that their job is not making them happy for example and that they have the feeling their life just consists about work. They can talk about the negative sides of work for ages. But at the moment you say anything negative about traveling, about the fact that something didn’t go the way it was supposed to go or that you don’t feel well after traveling, it’s your own fault. Because it was your own decision to go on an adventure. You have to feel the consequences, so better shut your mouth. Therefore you simply decide to continue on with your life. But reality was that my life in the Netherlands as it once was, didn’t exist anymore. I just couldn’t suddenly continue on with my old life. I already changed my life drastically before I left home. As a result I came back home without having any direction to follow. It made it even harder to find the way in my life again.
Impact of traveling
In the meantime my first long backpack trip is already a while ago but I am still astonished by the impact traveling had after coming home. I am truly surprised how much it can change your life for such a long time. But I also realize more and more that feeling devastated after traveling isn’t that weird when you just experienced one of the best times in your life. On the road you get to know so many people. People who think the same about life as you do. People you connect with way faster than people back home. You learn to appreciate the good things in life. You learn to enjoy life as it is and to be happy with simple things, like having a hot shower after showering with ice-cold water for weeks. Those are things you never think about when you are at home.
Life back home is complicated. There are so many rules you have to follow. We need to make a career, to always look awesome, to find the perfect partner, to be better than anyone else. We must, must, must. But wherefore? It’s a concept you look at as one big joke while being far away from home. Life on the road is simpel. You life from day to day and the only thing that matters is how to get from a to b. Meanwhile you look for accommodation and food and you enjoy time. Coming home in a world where life isn’t that simpel anymore is pretty difficult. In the end you get used to it again, like you can get used to almost anything, but it takes time.
Simply don’t travel?
So can this be a reason to not travel around the world? No, absolutely not. No, no, no. Please jump on that plane. Follow your dreams. Explore the world and yourself. The amazing experience of traveling made eventually way more memories in my head than the negative feelings afterwards. I left it behind me. It took me some time – months and months. I won’t deny that. But traveling around the world was so much worth it. Even better, I am exploring the world again! And I would never do that if it wouldn’t be that amazing.
Maybe I would still have that restless feeling in my body if I wouldn’t be on the road at this moment. But I am sure I would feel it less than ever before. You build up a new life and you make new memories. You develop new opportunities. And so in the end it will be alright. Don’t let my story scare you. There are so many people who travel the world and just continue on with their life back home, appreciating the fantastic time they just left behind.
What I learned
Traveling is fantastic, otherwise I wouldn’t travel around the world again. Therefore I didn’t write this story to scare anyone. Because if there is one thing I would like everyone to do, is to explore the world. It’s beautiful. Please go. I wrote this story because I found out I wasn’t the only one who experienced this feeling after coming home. And because I learned so much from it and I would like to help you as well, I can just give you one tip: have a goal in mind for the moment you come back home and pursue your next dream. Coming home will be much easier.
I decided to not go back to the Netherlands unless I have a plan for the time after traveling. Because that was the moment it went wrong in my case. I thought I would come up with some plan while traveling, but at the moment I left my country, I didn’t spent a single moment thinking about the future. Traveling is a good distraction, but when you arrive back home again, reality is waiting for you at the front door. I think traveling should be a part of your life, your life should not only be about traveling. That’s what I learned. And that I have to be grateful for everything I have back home. Sometimes it’s hard to see the small things in life, especially when you feel devastated after traveling for months, but they are there. And in the meantime you learned a lot about the world – and yourself.