Going home can be a bittersweet experience.
You’ve had a fantastic time, but now the trip, and the adventure, are over. Part of you might be looking forward to going home, returning to some of your loved ones and your familiar comforts, foods and drinks. You might be a little tired of figuring out how things work in other countries (it never ceases to amaze me how many different ways have been invented to turn on electric lights, showers, ovens and televisions). You might even have had enough of your hotel buffet breakfast, and queuing at the communal mega-toaster that always seems to under or overdo your toast.
Returning to reality
At least, you might THINK you are ready to go. Until you’re on the plane home, enjoying your last glass of wine and taste of freedom. Sunshine and palm trees disappear into the distance. Routine and reality lurk behind your front door, along with an awful lot of washing and ironing. You’re still feeling quite rested, refreshed, alive with the liberation and new experiences you’ve been enjoying. Yet you know that within a few days of getting back to work and facing your responsibilities and overflowing inbox, you’ll feel like you’ve never been away. Before you know it, you’ll be searching the internet and planning your next holiday.
British singer Dido sings about the going home blues in her song Sand in my shoes, reflecting on what she’s left behind – and what she’s come back to:
“Two weeks away it feels like the whole world should’ve changed
But I’m home now and things still look the same
I think I’ll leave it till tomorrow to unpack
Try to forget for one more night
That I’m back in my flat on the road
Where the cars never stop going through the night
To a life where I can’t watch the sunset…”
Time for change?
For many of us afflicted with wanderlust, going home and re-adjusting to normal life is a challenge that never really goes away. I’ve been trying to find the answer to it for as long as I can remember! Travel can be very unsettling. When we escape from our usual environment, it gives us a rare opportunity to look at our lives from a more objective distance, and critically assess whether they are truly what we want them to be. The conclusions can be discomforting.
I think this is a good thing. One of the benefits of travel is that it shakes us up and gets us unstuck. We can go home determined to change what’s not working, or to improve things that we know could be better. As long as we commit to implementing those plans, and don’t just get sucked back into the same old routines all over again – and do nothing. That would be a lost opportunity.
Beating the blues
It may be that there’s nothing really wrong back home. It’s just that we don’t want the good times to end. Which is only natural.
When I feel this way, I tell myself that I have to let good times go, in order to make room for even more good times to come along in the future. Another technique I use is to remind myself of all the great blessings that I have in my ‘normal’ life, that I sometimes take for granted. There’s always a lot to be grateful for, and it’s hard to feel down when you’re feeling grateful.
I find that I can keep my holiday spirit alive by incorporating little reminders into my daily life as much as possible. Keeping a few special photos in places where I’ll see them, and on my phone, is helpful for re-living magic moments. Bringing back some small items for my home, or some artwork, clothes or jewellery that are typical of the country I visited, also helps.
Where the heart is?
Of course, not everyone suffers from holiday blues. Sometimes, travel serves to convince people that there is no place like home. Author Charles Reade, writing about travellers in 1909, wrote that “…tired of the pleasures of travel, they return to their native land, rightly believing it to be for themselves the best on earth.”
I’ve certainly witnessed this. A young South African girl once asked me for directions to Heathrow at Kensington High Street tube station. She was going home after months of travelling around Europe. Although she’d loved every minute of her travels, she admitted that she’d come to realise that Cape Town was the only place she ever wanted to live.
Thinking about it, I was usually happy to go home, even if I was sad that my adventure was over. That is, until I first discovered New Zealand – the only country in the world that made me feel like I wanted to tear up my return ticket. But that’s a story for another blog post!
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