Sitting in a hostel in Bangkok, making conversation with another solo backpacker as I have done a million times. This time though we are on different ends of our trip. Bangkok is his first stop and today. Well today is the day my two years of travel comes to an end. The conversation shifts, as it always does and the question comes out that everyone has been asking me this last month. ‘How do you feel about going home after two years?!’
I never know how to answer this question. Maybe it’s because I have chosen to go home. I haven’t run out of money – almost, but not quite – I have no commitments at home to go back to, I have an incredibly vague life plan and I could have easily hopped to Australia on a Working Visa if i wanted. So why am I going home? Well after two years of backpacks, moving around, buses, new friends and goodbyes I need something stable for a while. But those are my reasons for going home, not my feelings about coming home.
I told you it’s hard to explain. So let me break down and give you an insight into ALL the feelings you’ll have going home after two years of travelling.
Who knew the prospect of having cupboards and being able to hide the backpack under the bed could be such an exciting thought! To be able to pin everything I’ve collected on walls, wash clothes in my own washing machine, lazing on the sofa. Having my own shower without sharing it with a rotation of ten different strangers and have a kitchen full of food that’s mine! – I’ve also really missed peanut butter, so I’m pretty excited for some ‘home comforts’.
But lets not forget, you’re about to see, speak and touch people you haven’t had much contact with in the last two years. Other than the occasional Skype call or Whatsapp message!
My friends and family couldn’t make it out to visit me in the last two years. It was simply too expensive for me to head back home for a visit. The thought of laughing, watching tv and catching up with familiar people, with no pressure of ‘getting to know’ or making conversation is so exciting. To be with people you’ve known for years. People that know you and have kept in regular contact with you. Offering support on the bad and good days, understood your lack of communication for the last two years. But are still stoked you’re coming home, makes going home so exciting.
‘What If’. The little phrase that can cause so much fear and doubt in a person’s mind and decisions. But equally can inspire and spark positive change or actions. This little phrase, is running riot in my brain. As much as travellers constantly say – oh, you’ll go back home and realise nothing has changed. How can that possibly be true?
Just as you have grown and changed – or in the backpacker world ‘found yourself’ – so have the people you’ve left behind. We’ve all been growing and changing, pursuing things we love, meeting new people and – hopefully – focusing more on what makes us happy. So it’s normal to have (massive) anxiety about coming home.
Will I still have things in common with my friends I loved so much before I left. How different will I be to them? Will the ‘new’ version of me still have the traits of the old one they loved so much before?
Told you. Endless what if’s and questions. But it’s not just people. Going home has a stigma attached that travelling is now finished and ‘home’ is stepping back into the ‘real world’. What the fuck is the real world?
Jobs, Apartments, Responsibilities. These are all things that creep back into life after not really needing to worry about them for the last two years. Everyone gets terrified that home suddenly means being swallowed back into the daily grind they hated before they left. But why does it have to be? For the last two years I’ve worked when I’ve needed, in jobs I’ve enjoyed. I actually even forged a freelance – can I call it – career(?). So refuse that draining desk job and do what you love! If you can do it abroad, it’s likely you can do it at ‘home’!
Talking, reminiscing, or just putting into words my experiences over the last two years reduces me to (sometimes) tears. The thought of this journey ‘ending’ is almost heartbreaking. Saying goodbye to incredible friends I’ve met, travelled and lived with in the last few months was painful – to say the least.
The realisation that some people I’ve met a long the way, come with a high chance of never actually seeing them again. Places that stole my heart enough that I stayed there for longer than expected, may be places I never return too.
But sadness really hits when Anxiety does. The life I’ve lived over the last two years is interesting and relatable to other backpackers. But will it be interesting to the people back home? Will I have to avoid talking about it too much because I sound like I’m bragging? Will anyone even care after the initial welcome home dinner?
Sometimes I fall deep enough down this hole that although this first long trip stint has finished, what if this is the last ever long-term travelling trip I take. Now that, is truly terrifying. – and one which is definitely not one to worry about!
This is probably the most frequent word I use to describe how it feels to go home after two years of traveling. A mixture or almost, an expectation of worry about returning home. Not really knowing how to feel, but not feeling a hundred percent positive about it.
The combination of the stigma attached with going home, the ‘what if’s and general what the hell do I do next. Is all rolled into one nice package offering me this lovely feeling. Out of them all, this is the main feeling, but also the one in which I hate the most. Not being able to pinpoint the reasoning behind feeling like this, or knowing how to overcome it sucks. If you don’t get apprehensive about going home, I’m so jealous!
In amongst all of these uneasy feelings, overall I am damn happy to be heading home!
Travelling for two years, although awesome, is exhausting. I am burnt out and so ready for a rest. Traveling has not finished, taking a break to head home and stay put will hopefully recharge my batteries enough that when I venture back out, it’ll be with wide eyes and hunger. Rather than glazed and unappreciative eyes – yes, it happens to everyone. I bet you’ve told people you’re ‘templed out’ at least once!
I can’t wait to laugh with my friends. Take the dogs for walks and feed the chickens. Eat way to much junk food with my sisters and share stories with my parents. To be back in Scotland, a place I’ve come to really appreciate since leaving. With plans to fully explore it when I can and Europe just an hour flight away; adventures really aren’t stopping here.
To be in one place, with familiar people who I love and have missed. To not have to pack and unpack, hand wash my clothes and share a toilet with strangers fills me with all the happiness. I appreciate ‘home’ now that I’ve not really had one for a while, so maybe being at home will make me appreciate the country hopping, backpacking lifestyle I’ve been living the last two years.
Although I worry and get anxious, remembering that it was MY choice to come home makes happiness overrule any of the scary feels.
How did you feel going home after traveling?
Did you feel differently to me?
Let me know in the comments below!