How to settle back in after a long trip away from home

I don’t know about the rest of you but every time I come home on a trip after months, there’s this heavy feeling in my heart and a huge sense of displacement. Whether I’m back for a week, for a layover or even just for 2 months without settling, it always feels as though the weight of the world is about to swallow me whole, and that all the liberation that I’ve had disappears. The commitments, the reality of life consumes me, and having to step back into the routined life that I once knew all so well becomes a foreign thing entirely.

Settling back at home feeling jaded is possibly the most challenging thing while recovering from post-travel blues, and as much as I’m still trying hard to do so, it’s all about determination, consistence and perseverance. Remember to breathe and give yourself space. Nobody can step out into another world and go back to the old without any repercussions. After all, travel changes people and we come home a completely different person.

These are some things that can help with settling back in:

1. Time alone
Having personal space to think through the journey you’ve just taken will help in sorting out the full range of emotions in your mind. Time alone leaves room for you to appreciate, smile and remember all that has happened while coming to a slow self-realisation that all this is over. Gather that tinge of sadness, embrace it and remind yourself that this feeling is impermanent and will fade with time.

2. Acceptance
It’s difficult to leave a lifestyle that you loved so much. But accepting the fact that traveling is over is SO important. But without accepting that fact, there will be many emotional nights where you can’t understand why you’re feeling so jaded about it all being over. When that happens, all your thoughts go to escaping, and that vicious cycle will repeat.

3. Gradual adjustment
Don’t jump straight in back to what you did before you left. Any attempt to revert back to the lifestyle you used to know is only going to make you feel displaced because of the shift in mindset, time, space and reality. Gradually pick up things you did – whether it’s a new job, or going places that you used to frequent, or starting the usual routine in your life. Because an overload of the old things you knew so well can be more overwhelming that you think.

4. Meet friends, bit by bit.
You’re back in your home country. All your friends text you excitedly because they missed you, and want to catch up, or hear all about your adventures. I find myself shunning everyone when I return because if I had to accept every single brunch/lunch/coffee invitation with the people I love, it doesn’t leave me any room to breathe. Work out a comfortable schedule over the next couple of months to meet up with people bit by bit, or you may feel suffocated from everyone asking the same questions and a sudden overload of life information during the period of your absence.

5. Sleep, rest, rejuvenate
Timezone difference, lifestyle swap, jet lags. Getting sufficient rest is really important not just physically but mentally. Contrasting activities are about to come back into your life in full force. The relaxed mode and traveling mentality that you had on the road is now gone and resting is the best way to relax your mind.

6. Pace your wallet
While backpacking, being frugal has become a part of your lifestyle. All the comfort that comes with being home has a huge price tag as well. Everything is going to suddenly seem very expensive as compared to the cost of everything on the road, and you wonder why you ever paid 4 times more for something back home when that kind of money would never be spent in this manner while backpacking. Control your spending so you don’t wake up one day to find that all the indulges in comfort food and little material needs have suddenly snuck into your bank account and bled you dry.

7. Planning
So a good amount of time has passed and you’re feeling more rooted. Planning what to do next will keep you motivated and move on to a new chapter of your life. Traveling around aimlessly can often land you in spontaneous situations and nice surprises. But not setting goals when you’re home is going to leave you wandering like a lost soul.

8. Go forth
Find a drive to meet your goals. Procrastination and escapism will obviously still linger around like a persistent leech but pushing yourself to be determined will help greatly in settling down once again and having a life that’s comfortable.

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Some people never stop living on the road, but for those who have to go home eventually, don’t beat yourself up for being in a constant state of wanderlust. At the end of the day, we all have different chapters in our lives. In order to progress we have to move forward instead of looking back and brooding about what’s already over. I would hope that all our travels stay etched in our minds, with unforgettable memories and imparted life lessons. And someday, when the chance comes around again to pack our lives in a backpack, we’ll have new stories to tell and yet another adventure to look forward to.

Dara

Wanderer of lands, searcher of souls. Last seen tree hugging and running wild into the mountains. Might have eaten all the ice cream in the tub.

2 Responses

  1. ilhan says:

    My closest attempt to backpacking is to Singapore (I’m Malaysian) for 7 days (I know, i know, I’m a beginner!) But I already get that glimpse of rot trying to resume back to normal living. Couldn’t imagine for those vagabonding for months and years. Bittersweet all over I guess.. Thanks for the post.

    • Dara says:

      Yeah it can sometimes be overwhelming no matter how short the trip, especially if you’ve had a different kind of lifestyle while away! Glad to know you could relate to this and thanks for stopping by! 🙂

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