I can’t believe it has already been three months since I came back to LA. I found myself almost out of money upon my return so I had to find a job quickly. Luckily the company where I used to work took me back on a part time basis. I am definitely happy to be making money again but it does feel a bit weird at times to be back in the old routine. People at work are curious about what I did during the past two years. When they find out that I quit to go travel the world, they always ask the same question: “How can you come back to this, don’t you want to travel more?!” aaaaaaahhh… YES!
To be honest I wasn’t completely ready to come home just yet. I don’t feel like I am ready to stop traveling the way that I was. But the reality is that somethings were important to come check in on… most important of all, my family. It had been two years since I had seen my sister, brother-in-law and nephews and I missed them so much. It is hard for them to travel far to see me so it was time for me to come to them. I also needed to figure out what will happen with my property next, to keep renting, to sell it…? and the tenants always pay on time but they continue to be a pain in the a$$. A few decisions (and money) need to be made before I even think of going out there again.
How do you prepare to return home after traveling the world?
You know how you feel when you come home after a two-week vacation? The post-travel blues hit you hard, right?! “Time to go back to reality”, everyone said. I even used to get the Sunday blues pretty bad so I thought coming back after traveling for so long would make me feel horrible, depressed, and completely out of wack! I do admit I was very anxious about my return… having to get a job, going back to my old apartment, getting a car, etc.
So how do you go from traveling through 24 different countries in two years (in my case) to a “normal” life again?!!! I was enjoying new things every single day, stimulating all my senses on a frequent basis, meeting new people, eating new foods, etc. Do I have to give up all of this excitement now?
I think three months is a good time to check in on my feelings. And I am happy to report that I don’t actually feel what I thought I would feel. I don’t feel horrible or depressed. I feel like it has been so easy that perhaps the “reality” of it all has not sunk in yet. Maybe I will feel different in a couple more months when I have adjusted more and the routines have really really really set in. We’ll see…
So why does it feel better than I thought?
I definitely think that getting my job back and surrounding myself with great people like my family, friends, and old work colleagues has helped tremendously. But I think there is another huge reason behind it all. What I considered “mundane routines” before my trip seemed like such novelties upon my return. I was enjoying things like doing laundry, taking long hot showers, cooking, watching Netflix, going grocery shopping, etc. Things that I never considered fun were exciting all of a sudden. Even driving in LA traffic was fun, imagine that! There is nothing better than leaving home for a while to appreciate what you have.
How to help ease the transition from world traveler to city dweller? I recommend a few tips that have worked for me:
- Slow down a couple of months before going home. Stay in one place for a while, rest, and enjoy a slower life. Maybe create some routines like exercising daily, cooking, taking a class, etc. The last two months of my trip I stayed with my family in a small coffee town in Colombia. I was enjoying regular meals with them, going to the gym, buying groceries, doing laundry, etc. This experience allowed me the space and time that I needed to process some of the feelings that I was having about ending my trip.
- Settle into a routine (old or new) as soon as you get home. Upon my return I immediately started a daily practice of meditation. I also created daily routines that included writing on my blog, working on my photos, and exercising. I always ended the day with a walk in the park at sunset. These daily activities gave me some peace of mind and made me feel somewhat productive.
- Take it one day at a time, just like when you were traveling. It will feel messy when you get home. You may not have a job to go back to, or a place to live, or all your stuff will be in storage, etc. You just have to take things one step at a time and cross things off your to-do list until it’s all back to “normal”. Accept and embrace the messiness of it all just like you accepted the unknown during your trip. Don’t expect things to come together right away. Life is a different mess everyday. Try to enjoy learning from whatever comes your way.
- Remember to be grateful. It is easy to get caught up on the negative thoughts of what feels like is going wrong or not working. To focus on the feeling that perhaps you don’t fit in anymore in your old surroundings, or that others around you don’t understand or care to know about what you just experienced. Who cares! What is important is how you feel about it. Practice being thankful for what is in fact going well in your life. Reminisce on the good travel memories but move forward to create new adventures. Travel is not happiness, being home is not happiness, happiness is always inside you. And as bad as it seems, it never really is that bad… If you have fairly good health, a roof over your head, clothes to wear, and food to eat, you are already more fortunate and richer than a large part of the world’s population. Everything else, beyond these basics, is BONUS!
- Keep that spirit of adventure alive. Say YES to as much as you can. Accept invitations to go out, to do small trips, to try a new hobby, to meet new people. Be open to new experiences and possibilities. For example, try seeing your town or city like a tourist by visiting places you’ve never seen before. Try new restaurants, parks, museums, etc. When you were on vacation you were in someone else’s “home”. Now make your home like a vacation place. It is all about perspective, so change yours to make things more interesting.
This trip around the world meant the world to me. It is one of the most spectacular things that I have ever done in my life. But as my sister and my friend Taso say “Life IS an Adventure”. So the way I try to see it is… something good just ended, something good begins now.