Long-term travel is an amazing experience. Rather than getting a snippet of life in another country, you get to immerse yourself in that culture. You’ll do what the locals do, and blend in with the crowd. If you’re in a destination long enough, you stop viewing the place as a tourist. It becomes a home, and a place which will always be in your heart.
Still, traveling is not a forever thing. It’s likely you have a base where you keep your belongings, and you’ll need to return there. Immersion in new cultures is fantastic. But, when you’ve been away for long enough, it’s normal to feel relieved about getting home. Even the most avid nomads need a little nesting now and again. It’s how we recuperate. This time is essential, even if only to allow us to head back on the road.
But, when you touch down in your base, you might be in for an unpleasant surprise. This is especially the case if you’ve been away for a few months or longer. Don’t be surprised if you return and feel out of place. In extreme cases, you may even experience homesickness for the location you’ve just left.
Which is why it’s essential you take a return like this slowly. In many ways, this is no different from arriving in a new destination. The culture will be different to what you’re acclimatised to, and that can take some getting used to. Which is why we’re going to look at a few ways you can ease yourself back into your hometown.
Visit loved ones
Most of us have loved ones in our ‘base’ towns, hence why return to these time and again. This may be friends, family, or even a partner. Either way, it’s important to arrange a meeting with these people as soon as you can. Book a meal, or ask them out for drinks. It may even be worth doing this before you return so that you know you have something to look forward to. After all, you’re going to be leaving behind the new friends you’ve made. Often, this loss is what starts us feeling homesick. But, if you jump straight in with familiar faces, you can at least hold off those feelings for a while.
Familiar faces can also help us get in touch with our ‘past lives’ as it were. They’ll remind you why you have to return to this place. This is particularly relevant where your family is concerned. After all, these people will be in your life no matter what. Heading to new destinations is all well and fun, but your heart will always be where your family are.
Give yourself an adjustment period
It’s also important to give yourself an adjustment period. Aside from making plans with loved ones, it’s worth holding off on doing too much for the first few days. It’s certainly worth setting aside a few days before you consider working, or looking for jobs.
This period will give you time to get over any jet lag, adjust to time changes, and get your footing again. Spend these few days catching up on sleep, nourishing yourself, and exploring the area. When you’ve been away for a while, it’s incredible how much you forget about your hometown. Head out for walks and visit your local coffee shop. You should be able to find your bearings again in no time.
Take it bit by bit
It’s also worth removing yourself from the area you’ve left gradually. That can mean different things to everyone. It may be that you keep in daily contact with friends you’ve left behind. It can also apply to things such as general culture and food. If you’ve come from an area which practices an afternoon siesta, it may help to continue that for a few days or weeks. Bear in mind, too, that it may be necessary to alter your diet in pieces. In an area like Thailand, for instance, food is incredibly different to that in the U.S. Most meals are lighter, and gentler on digestion. As such, diving right into heavy meals back home could cause issues. Instead, take it slow. Visit Lonas Lil Eats and other Thai restaurants like them for at least one of your daily meals. You can reduce this over time, and digestion should adjust back to hometown delicacies.
It’s also worth taking things slowly if you’ve been speaking another language for a few months. It’s incredible how fast we slip into bad habits when we don’t talk our native tongue. As such, you may want to take it slowly with this. Spend some time reading books, or having small conversations in your first language. In many ways, this is like riding a bike. But, you wouldn’t want to go on a cycling marathon after an extended period of not riding, would you?
Accept how you’ve changed
We’ve saved the most important until last. It’s also essential that you accept how your travel has changed you. Too often we make the mistake of thinking we can slip right back to the life we had before we left. And, sometimes that will be the case. But, more often than not, long-term travels change who we are. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, it’s an aspect of the nomadic lifestyle that most of us embrace. But, it’s essential to make room for that in your home life.
It may be that you need to reconsider your career path or the people you spend time with. You may feel the urge to decorate your apartment or get rid of things which no longer suit you. No matter what the change, it’s essential you permit yourself to make it. This is the only real way you can settle back into your hometown. Otherwise, you’ll increase any feelings of not belonging, and feel more homesick for your travel destination. And, when that happens, it can be pretty tricky to find a balance where you are.