You’ve just had the trip of a lifetime—your mind’s been blown by some of the world’s wonders, and you’re coming home with the memories of new friends from all across the globe. You probably can’t wait to tell your family and friends all about it—but not so fast! Settling back into real life isn’t always easy, no matter how many hugs are there to greet you at the arrival gate. For seasoned travellers, the struggles of going home are all too real.
1. The celebrity effect doesn’t last
There’s nothing better than seeing friends and family after time spent away—in fact, there’s something kind of triumphant about it. There are hugs all around and loved ones hang off your every word as you tell stories and show them photos of your adventures. Soak it in, because this attention won’t last. Pretty soon, everyone will go back to their lives and you’ll be expected to go back to yours.
2. That lust for life doesn’t go away
Travelling is stimulating. With days on end of new adventures, world-class sights and new friends, you’ll come home switched on and ready for more. Finding everyone at home doing the same old thing is bound to be a bit depressing after having such a world-expanding experience yourself. Somehow, your world feels a whole lot smaller than it did when you left.
3. What’s a hairbrush?
Personal grooming habits can fall by the wayside when you’re away from home—you may have even developed a fondness for that pet dreadlock at the nape of your neck. On the road, wet wipes are better than washing with cold water, and forget fighting for the mirror in your dorm room. Unfortunately, bosses and parents may not appreciate your new shabby chic approach—a long soak and a haircut will do you good.
4. You forgot how good clean clothes feel
Laundry rules are different when you’re travelling: Socks are worn at least twice, jeans are good to go unless you can actually see dirt and shirts get recycled until they’re wrinkled beyond recognition. Clean clothes, on the other hand, are saved for special occasions like a night out or a dinner with friends. You may even forget that clean clothes feel pretty good, so break out the Tide, because you’re back in the real world.
5. You can’t sit still
Prepare yourself for some restless leg syndrome, because you’re bound to be antsy after your travels. You’ve spent days, weeks or months trekking from dawn until dusk, and you’ve got the gams to show for it! Sitting at a desk for seven hours a day will feel like torture after so many adventures, so you may find any excuse for a coffee run or trip to the store until your body settles back into everyday life.
6. Your wallet is a mess
Take those foreign coins and bills out of your wallet already. You’re driving cashiers nuts rifling through wads of useless currency. Although part of you will feel that putting those bills away is admitting defeat; converting the cash or tucking it away for your next trip makes much more sense—those Danish kroner are no good here!
7. You miss your travel friends
Friends made on the road are made fast and hard. Your bonds were forged over shared snacks, drinks, life chats and days you’ll never forget. It’s no wonder you miss them. Although you’ll never remember their birthday or the names of their first pets, you’ll remember the times you spent together for the rest of your life.
8. You’re weird about personal space
Travelling has a way of making you suspicious of strangers. With all your earthly belongings on your back, a stranger wandering too close can mean trouble. Don’t be surprised if you grab for your phone, wallet and passport every time you’re in public. It’s going to take some time for that paranoia to wear off.
9. You’re not used to being alone
Hostel life means never being alone. Whether you’re charging your phone in a café, having some quiet time on your bed or even grabbing a shower, chances are there are people around. When you do go back home to an empty house with a room of your very own, the silence can be jarring. Don’t worry—Siri will keep you company!
10. You miss your backpack
Your pack is your lifeline while you’re away. It’s your most valuable possession, your holder of secrets, the weight under which your body grows strong. It’s tremendously personal, worn down by all your travels and stained with the sweat of your longest hauls. It’s not uncommon to feel sad when you do finally set it down, or stow it away for your next trip. Take heart—it’s a friend who’s always ready for your next adventure.
11. You miss planning
If you find yourself becoming the new party planner in the group, don’t be surprised! You’re probably missing the thrill of planning the next leg. On the road, you research and plan meticulously, striving to create the perfect balance of culture, nature, celebration and solitude. Encourage your friends to tap this new energy—you’ll happily help them plan their next trip! There’s nothing wrong with a backseat vacation guide, after all.
12. You’re a packing pro with nowhere to go
Packing the car and unloading the groceries may become your new favourite pastimes. You’ve learned how to roll t-shirts, stuff sleeves and make the most of small spaces. With no reason to pack, you might tackle your closet—or maybe someone else’s! Just make sure you ask them first.
13. You’re always prepared
You’ve earned your scout badge for preparedness during your travels. You toted camping cutlery, needles and thread, first aid kits and super glue across countries and cities, and you were happily surprised at how useful these items proved to be. Now that you’re home, you may have trouble downsizing. You never know when that roll of toilet paper will come in handy.
14. You’re on repeat
Although the memories of your trip continue to feel as vivid as the day they occurred, you’ll only get away with telling the same story so many times. Friends may start to roll their eyes on the third telling—that’s when you know you need some new material.
15. You have space to spread out
Sharing space with strangers means constantly keeping your belongings close by. Anything that leaves your bag risks disappearing forever. When you come home, it will feel strange to have toiletries in your bathroom, clothes in your drawers and a purse sitting unmanned in your front hallway. You’ve got the luxury of space, so go ahead and spread out.
16. You miss being truly tired
There’s nothing like slipping into cool sheets after a long day spent trekking or wandering a new place. Aching legs, sore shoulders—and maybe a slight buzz from the wine at dinner—make collapsing into bed the best thing ever. You’ll miss this feeling of deep and hardy exhaustion. It’s nothing like the eye strain and sore back you get at home from staring at a screen all day. Take this as a challenge to get outside and seek new adventures at home and away.
17. You’re secretly planning your next escape
Once you’ve travelled, there’s no stopping the wanderlust. You find yourself daydreaming of new locales, and you eye your passport every morning as you get ready to leave to the house. Every backpacker has an escape fantasy but you’ll have to settle for swiping through trip photos and picking your next dream destination.
18. You dread responsibilities
Vacations are an escape from the everyday—from jobs, school, bills, and responsibilities. Unfortunately, these buzzkills are all waiting for you at the gate when you get home—alongside your dwindling bank account balance. Welcome back!
19. You miss going deep
If conversations feel unbearably boring when you get home, it’s because you’re used to going deep with fellow travellers on the road. On vacation, it’s easy to consider the important questions: past failures, dreams and hopes for the future. Out in the world, the opportunities feel endless, so you’re forgiven for tuning out your roommates’ argument about area rugs.
20. You don’t care about things anymore
On the road, you discovered that experiences are way better than things. With everything you needed in one bag, you spent your money on adventures and excursions that were completely awesome and also helped you grow as a person. Now that you’re home, you see nice clothes, cool cars and a whole world of stuff you no longer feel you need. It can be hard to go back once you’ve left that world.