Over the past year I’ve been away from home for 8+ months. After touching down in Vancouver, Canada last weekend, I’ve been riding a wave of appreciation for my home and native land like never before.
Maybe that appreciation comes because it’s summer, and the place looks like it has an Instagram filter over it. Or maybe it’s because I feel deeply comfortable here, something that’s hard to achieve while in a different land.
Now this isn’t the first time I’ve returned home after being away for an extended period. In 2015 I lived in Bali for almost the whole year. And when I returned home I sure felt good, but definitely not THIS good! Weird, eh.
It’s clear that returning home doesn’t always feel the same. Sometimes you are super happy and joyous to be back, and other times you long for the excitement of life on the road.
But one thing is for sure. There are certain things you can do to help facilitate a smooth transition back to pre-trip life. In no particular order, here’s what works for me.
Avoid jumping straight into work
I know I know. With work comes money which can buy avocado toast. And if you’ve been away for a while, the chances are your war chest may be a little low.
But if you can put off work (that is, work that feels like work) for a week after returning home, you will be in a much better position mentally and emotionally when you do return to working life.
The reason is that you need some serious time to decompress, reflect, and reconnect with your people. Skipping this will leave you feeling exhausted, and wishing to book a ticket on the next flight out. Let’s go a bit deeper.
Take Time To Reflect
Why reflect you ask? Reflecting on your experience allows you internalize any lessons and experiences. Education systems everywhere place a high importance on reflecting. Except they call it studying. Your memories will be more vivid and stay with you longer if you take a little time for reflection when you return home.
The other benefit of reflecting is that it can provide closure to a trip. Taking stock of what happened while you were away is a great way to ease out of trip mode, and transition to your life at home.
If you’re not sure how to reflect, or if it sounds really boring, worry not. There are many ways to reflect on your trip. You can talk with friends, journal, lay in bed and think back to your favorite experiences, look at your photos, or even blog about it.
One of the best parts of returning home is seeing old familiar faces. It just feels so good to be welcomed by people who have known you for a long time. There’s also something about returning home after being away for a while that breathes new life and energy into old relationships.
However, chances are that a lot of people in your community would love to see you, but have no idea that you’re back. So reach out! Make those phone calls, and send those text messages the first few days after returning home. You and the people who care about you will greatly appreciate it!
Do things you love
This the second part of not jumping straight back into work. For the past week and half I’ve spent a lot of time going on photo missions (I took the picture above a few days after coming home), and riding my motorbike. It’s been so nurturing to give myself the time and space to do things I love. Doing this has given me a lot of energy, and made me not miss life on the road so much.
Some parting advice
They say the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence and that often sums up traveling for me. When I’m home I’m excited thinking of upcoming travel, but when I’m away I often long to come home. At the end of the day, it’s about being appreciative each morning you wake up and try to find joy in the present moment. It’s too easy to dwell on the past or worry about the future. Teaching myself to be present in the moment has become something I’ve focused on a lot as I get older. Each day is a chance to do something enjoyable for yourself.