What It’s Like Coming Home After Traveling for One Year
Coming Back Home
Many travel blogs I read before going on my trip around the world didn’t tell me what it would be like to ACTUALLY come home from being gone so long. So, after I returned from my 14-month trip, I wasn’t exactly prepared for what was to come…
So, here we go, what it’s really like to come home after traveling for a year.
I consider myself a fairly strong person with a strong personality. I’m pretty independent and am not super emotional, but coming home took a toll on me and I felt weak and helpless.
I became emotional, dependent, slightly depressed, scared, culture shocked and completely shaken up.
Luckily this only lasted about a month, but I thought that upon coming home I’d be beaming like a changed person who had just “found myself”, but instead, I felt stuck.
I felt like I didn’t know what to do with my life. When people started to ask me “what was the hardest part of your trip around the world, I answered with, “the coming home part”. The answer never was, “being sick on the road, or “missing a train/plane”, or “dealing with a creeper”. Who would have thought that coming home would be the hardest part of traveling long-term?
The transition from being on the move constantly to being stagnant was weird. Adjusting to the cultures of new countries monthly or even weekly were the norm for me. I’d hear a different language spoken behind me daily and I “lived” with people from all over the world. Adjusting to hearing only English and talking to people who judged a country based on what they heard on the news or people who had never left their home-state, kinda made me sad.
Little ‘reverse-culture shock’ things like this tripped me up on a daily basis. The realization that my trip was all over and that no one really would ever sit down and listen to my entire story was a brutal thought. Probably one of the hardest things was feeling like my whole trip didn’t even happen because everyone had moved on to something else. I got a little depressed and I cried almost every day for the first month of being back. I also spent the majority of my time looking up flights and trying to find the cheapest ones so I could out of where I was.
FYI: moving locations does not help with fighting off these strong emotions and that’s why I don’t recommend going on a trip around the world to “find yourself”. I recommend being mentally healthy before going in the first place.
After my year-long trip, I flew directly from Singapore to San Francisco and then to Boise where I was to meet up with my entire family for Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving fell on the day after I returned from my trip and I was anxious to be home, excited to see my family, but dreading the question I knew I would start getting constantly, “so, what are you going to do now?”
I’ll be honest, after an epic trip like the one I just had, the LAST question I wanted to get asked was “So, what next?” I wanted people to ask me what I had just done, ask me my favorite place I traveled, my favorite foods I ate, what I learned on the road and how I had changed. I got those questions too, but the “So, what’s next?” is the one that I got a lot and the one that freaked me out the most.
I understand the question, I ask this to people all the time because I’m curious, but the problem is that I didn’t know. I was going through a huge change and needed to just sit with the fact that I was back. I was NOT close to being ready to go back to a career and I sure as hell didn’t have any money to pay rent. I got lucky and had my parents to fall back on and ended up moving in with them for around 3 months.
I’m not going to lie, the transition coming back was sad and lonely, but I got through it.
My advice to anyone coming back from a long trip like this is that, it will be a change, but you’ll be okay. Don’t try to think you have to have it all figured out at once. It will weirdly all fall into place and you’ll be fine. Give yourself a month to mope around and be weird and funky and depressed, but then try and snap out of it. Enjoy your surroundings and explore new places around your hometown so you can still get that excitement back in your life.
Then one day you’ll wake up, living in a city you didn’t think you’d be living in, with an awesome job, an awesome view, friends, and family surrounding you and you’ll have memories and experiences that some people only dream about. This is when you’ll realize it was all worth it. Every second of the unknown, every second of the adventure and every second of the what if’s and the OMG’s because you’ll realize you’re exactly where you’re meant to be…for now. 😉
And since I love making lists, here’s what else I’ve learned since being home on stable ground:
I’ve learned that you don’t have to have it “figured” out. In fact, you never really do figure life out.
I’ve learned that I can relate to almost everyone new I meet now that I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many people from so many life experiences.
I’ve learned to be easier on myself and that I did this trip for me, and not for anyone’s approval of me.
I’ve learned that life’s journey is the sweetest thing. Things really do fall into place exactly how they are supposed to.
I’ve learned that it’s hard coming back from a trip like that, but I’m not the same as when I started my journey and it sure as hell ain’t over yet. 😉
I’ve learned that I have a lot of photos now…and what do I do with them all?!
I’ve learned that I want and crave stability. I realized I wanted to live by myself, somewhere close to the outdoors and close to family. I realized I wanted a place to call my own and want to be able to cook my own meals with food from my own fridge (what a concept)!
I’ve learned that we, as Americans, do NOT do everything the right way. Yes, some cultures eat with their hands instead of forks and knives, some cultures wear headscarves or go naked, and some cultures carry things on top of their head instead of in bags or out in front of them. Just because we do things differently doesn’t mean they are wrong and that is the beauty of the world!
I learned that no one will ever ask to hear about your entire trip and you will never tell someone your entire trip. This is for you to have for your own memories, but you’ll always take them with you no matter where you go.
I’ve learned that after almost one year of being home, I’m happy to say I’m no longer crying all the time and sad. I’m actually happy to be home, settled, with a place to call my own!
Welcome to the Traveling Spud! I’m Katie, a 30 something from Idaho who quit her marketing job in San Francisco, California to travel the world for a year. After a trip around the world, my heart chose Idaho. I'm addicted to outdoor adventures, photography, and inspiring others to get out of their comfort zones and cross experiences off of their bucket lists. Let's explore together! Read more here.