By Alison Jones
Six months travel under your belt – Check. Life changing and soul-defining experiences – Check. Back home living with your parents because you’re so broke – Check and Check.
People have been saying it for years; traveling is good for the soul. Writers such as Mark Twain felt it way-back-when and described it perfectly, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” It shapes a person, opens your mind and gives you more self confidence in those few months than any number of years on the hamster wheel in your native country does.
My travels began 19 months ago. After slogging it out at Northumbria University in Newcastle, England and working in an office for a year afterwards, I felt like there was more to life than the small pond I was living in. So, with an overstuffed 120 liter backpack and my passport in my nervous hands, I set out on my solo journey to the Canadian Rockies.
My goal? I wanted to travel for at least six months. What I actually achieved? 19 months filled with the most amazing memories, experiences and friends who have become my family.
I’ve been back home since I first started my journey and the reverse culture shock that came with it was something I hadn’t been prepared for. But it’s something that is easily managed.
So what happens when you return home from traveling? Unless you’re blessed with having an infinite amount of money, your great traveling adventure will come to an end at some point. You come home broke, bored and browsing for jobs. The three primary realities you will most likely face are:
- Lack of funds and no job to come home to
- Lack of freedom living under your parent’s roof (and rules) again
- Lack of motivation as the post-travel blues really set in
Knowing what to expect when you return home makes the reverse culture shock a little easier to deal with. So here are a few proactive moves to stave-off those post travel blues.
Find something that pays
Whether you’re saving up for your next round-the-world adventure or looking to get back on the career ladder after your travels, you need to focus on how to move forward. Take whatever you can get to begin with. It provides an income for you. Whether its admin work in an office or if you score big with something more in line with your career path, getting a regular paycheck will not only boost your self-esteem, but it will also bring structure to your day so you don’t find yourself on the couch at 2:00 p.m. watching daytime TV as you scarf down a bowl of chips.
You can get that feel-good factor at home if you put your energy into something that gives you that warm fuzzy feeling inside. Single out charities, non-profit organizations, or even activities that interest you. So, get Googling! Serious bonus points if you can tie it into the above task!
Get in touch
Chances are while you were traveling you weren’t able to get to a computer every day so you may have lost touch with close friends. Re-establish those firm friendships you had before you left. It’ll make you feel like you never left. It’s worth noting as well that some friends might feel a little like you left them behind so make the extra effort to get back in touch. This also goes for family members.
Keep looking forward
Bonnie Tyler once said ‘Turn around, every now and then I get a little bit nervous that the best of all the years have gone by’. Even though these are words from an 80s one-hit wonder, they are words many should heed. Don’t mourn good times gone by, be happy they happened in the first place and start to plan more memories for the future. Set yourself a series of obtainable goals to keep you moving. For example:
What do you want to achieve in the next month?
e.g., Secure an income
What do you want to achieve in the next six months?
e.g., Save X amount of money and to have booked my next flight
Where exactly do you want to be in 12 months?
e.g., Sun tanning and surfing on a beach in South Africa or working for a law firm in the city.
Set as many goals as feels right to you. Three or thirty, there is no divine number. It gives you benchmarks and an ultimate goal to work toward. Boredom will never set in if you’re constantly moving forward.
Exercise body and mind
Sitting at home surfing the Internet for jobs and future plans can mean many hours hunched over your laptop. Bad for posture, terrible for fatigue and fatal to how you feel. Have you ever felt drained after four hours at your laptop? Tired eyes, restlessness, trouble sleeping and irritability are all symptoms of too much computer time. So make time in your day to get out in the fresh air. It doesn’t mean running 12k a day (unless you like that kind of thing), but a simple walk will invigorate your body and your mind. It increases blood flow and subsequently oxygen to your brain, providing the perfect recipe to get inspirational about where you want to take your future.
Just because you’re home after traveling doesn’t mean the adventure is over. It’s simply a new chapter in your life and the exciting part is that you can choose exactly how you want that chapter to read.
Read Alison’s blog by clicking here.