Why do my travels feel like they never happened?

On returning from your eye opening, life changing and character affirming world adventure, why does it feel like you never even left? It seems hard to remember details of what you did, how you felt whilst exploring and your carefree mentality.

It is a pretty normal response to get back from your world tour and slip back into your old reality. When nothing major changes at home, you fall back into your old way of doing things. You will have seen so much, learnt lots and changed your outlook on life. However, when chores are needed to be done, phone calls made and  bills to be paid, the idea that you wondered through forests, mountains and beaches seems bizarre.

I have been back for just over two and a half months. Aside from five days of Netflix binging I have not stopped being busy. Frantically catching up with everyone while applying to jobs and getting through numerous to do lists. Whilst travelling I had no obligations or plans, not to mention so called lists of things I had to complete.The fast paced life I have in the UK is a total contrast to the slow, independent travel life. Is it this stark change in lifestyle along with bad British weather that makes us blank out our adventure?

Don’t get me wrong I do talk fondly of my travels, remember the wonders, sights and magic. However, sometimes it feels as if it was not me that went on the adventure. When traveling nothing phased me, I climbed an 3,976 m  active volcano, couch surfed with complete strangers, ventured alone off the beaten path not speaking the local language and spent entire days on scorching hot buses not knowing where I would sleep that night. Since being back, why have I been nervous about my alarm not waking me up? About what I will be doing on the weekend or next month? These things seem somewhat trivial, yet have the capacity to inhibit my sleep. I managed not stress about trusting strangers to host me or walking with my backpack for long stretches of time. That is not to say traveling is totally stress free. Of course things can be disconcerting at times, especially when overtired, alone and lost. All I am trying to say is, if you can trust total strangers in foreign countries surely you can trust your alarm will go off.

If we can remember how we felt on our trip we can use this in our everyday lives back home. Here are some tips to remembering your trip and incorporating it into your everyday ‘normal’ life:

  • Take time out of your busy day to think. When traveling you will have lots of thinking time be it on a bus, hike or in a hammock. With everyday life there is always something that needs to be done. Set aside some time without technology and think about all the good things you have in your life at that moment. Remember some of the amazing things you saw and dream about your next voyage.
  • Look through your pictures, diaries and mementos. Reading through my blog has reminded me of my adventure. While, you need to live in the present and enjoy the now. It is important to treasure fond memories too.
  • Next time you are stressed or worried, think of the craziest thing you did while traveling and realise you can do anything.
  • Next time you think you are in a bad situation remember: you have running clean drinking water, hot water to shower in and a tasty variety of food. All problems are relative and you should not compare your self to others. But just remember you live a life of luxury and have more than just a roof to live under.

Once you realise that is was actually you who went travelling and not some double-ganger on a parallel universe, you need to overcome the hurdle that is the travel blues. Everyone warned me about these. I took their cautions with a pinch of salt, concluding that everyone is different and it would be fine, just like my entire journey was.

From other travelers stories and my experience I can say there are different stages concerning your return to your homeland. Firstly, the utter excitement of coming home, being reuniting with your loved ones, welcome home parties and sharing stories from your crazy time away. Depending on the person this can last from one week to a month. After this dies down, no one really asks any more questions, talk turns to life stresses, dramas and gossip. Then its time to sort your life out. Maybe you have university to go back to or a job or maybe its time to job hunt. Either way its a busy time to get ready for your next step in life. Then its doing it, the five day a week job, long lectures or what ever your life now involves. After the initial excitement of returning home the travel blues has a way of creeping in. It may be when you realise you have to find a job or when your life is now in one place, doing repetitive things or when you see pictures of your travel buddies chilling on beaches still. Either way it is totally normal. It is important to talk about it and appreciate the fact that all other travelers you talk to have been through the same thing.

So now you realise travel blues is a thing how do you overcome it without jetting off again to get another travel fix.

  • Focus on the positives – you have a wardrobe, a base to live in, you are no longer a poor, scavenger traveler. Having things which are yours is nice – your own bed, personal space, more than two pairs of shoes.
  • You are near your loved ones. Enough said.
  • You can still have your independence and explore nearby areas.
  • Routines can be fun too, gives you a structure, purpose and makes you appreciate free time more.
  • Take up new hobbies, make new friends (ones which will actually be around and not leave to another country tomorrow).
  • Give it time. I know its a cliche. But seriously time heals everything. Soon enough you will get used to your new life.  Its hard not to wish the present away in order to get to that time when your all set in your routine  and travel blues are a distant memory but try to ride the stormy wave.

What ever you do, remember travel blues are normal and you are not alone. Do not be scared by them just recognise them, embrace it and try to enjoy every moment. Do not overthink things. You didn’t whilst travelling so don’t now.

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