Success Stories: How Dan Readjusted to Life Back Home

By Nomadic Matt | Published June 18th, 2013

dan slater blogger success storyTwo months ago, Erin told us about how she readjusted to life after spending two years traveling the world. This month, continuing our reader story series, Dan shares his story about how he readjusts to life back home after spending enormous amounts of time on the road. What makes Dan’s story a little different is that he doesn’t permanently return – he comes home, works, then goes out and travels more.

Dan, tell everyone about yourself.
I’m English, and my first trip was a month spent inter-railing around Europe in 1991. I was 18. It didn’t actually go that well and I wasn’t hooked until my trip to India in 1998. There was something about being immersed in the culture of a developing nation that really fascinated me (that and the fact that I could survive on about 5 GBP a day)! That’s where my low-budget ethos was born and from then on I was a bona fide traveler. Now, I move countries every few years with long, overland trips, working in-between. I currently live in Sydney, Australia with my like-minded wife.

What inspires your trips?
We were most recently traveling Southeast Asia. This particular leg was chosen because it was between Cape Town, where we had been living, and Sydney, our current residence. After our last trip through the heart of Africa, we needed a more enjoyable, relaxing trip and we knew that Southeast Asia was going to be a lot more “fun” given that it’s a backpacker mecca.

Where did you go on your trip?
We started in Bangkok and did a clockwise loop north through Laos, Vietnam, and back through Cambodia to Bangkok, then we headed south down the Malay Peninsula, across to Indonesia and along the chain of Indonesian islands as far as Bali before flying back to Sydney. That took 5 months. We would have liked to continue east to East Timor or Papua New Guinea but we ran out of money.

lonely planet guidebook

Were there any scary parts to your trip?
Probably the scariest parts of this trip were the drunken antics of the backpackers in Vang Vieng (Laos) and Ko Pha-ngan (Thailand), several of whom died or disappeared during the respective Tubing and Full Moon Parties while we were there. In terms of traditional third-world scaremongering though, all the people were wonderful and we had no troubles at all. After living on a knife’s edge in Africa for three years, Southeast Asia was a doddle.

Did you have a plan for when you came back from your first trip? If so, what was it?
The first time I went away was only a month around Europe so it didn’t impact much on my home life, so that’s probably not a very interesting answer. My second trip was more major – a year in Australia when I finished university. Before I left, I booked a place on a post-grad course intending to earn the fees during my year away. I slaved in a supermarket for six months earning enough to support me for the next year, but then I went travelling and blew most of it. D’oh!

As far as practical plans went, I was just going to stay on a mate’s floor until I found a room in a shared house, and from there look for a part-time job. It all went as planned. It’s never taken me long to find a job. Despite the unemployment figures, if you really want a job, you’ll find one. My theory is that the sort of person who is willing to drop everything and travel long term will have the same mindset and will rarely have trouble finding work.

lonely planet guidebook

What was the hardest part of coming home?
Having to cook for ourselves again! No, we (my wife and I) move countries entirely so we have to organize somewhere to live, some work, collecting our worldly goods from the port and storing them.

I’m a very practical person so I don’t let emotions interfere with my rehabilitation into society. When the trip is over, it’s over, and it is time to get back to work. Sure, I miss the road but I know I’ll be back and besides, I like living in the city too, so there is plenty to look forward to at home. On my first trip, I met a lovely young lady whom I travelled with for nearly two months, and I missed her enormously when I left. (Matt’s Note: Check out this article on love on the road.)

To be honest, after returning from that first trip to Australia, I went through a period of sadness. Her letters combined with my fabulous memories and new, unglamorous student existence got me down for a while, but I soon pulled myself together. In all the trips I’ve done since, I’ve learned to cope better emotionally. Practice makes perfect, right?

Do you find it hard to adjust to “normal life” after being on the road so long?
I’m pretty level-headed so I didn’t find it difficult, plus I’ve done it several times before. In fact, I love getting back into the city and catching up on the food, movies and music that I’ve missed. Being away for so long means you can miss entire seasons, memes and explosions in popular culture. A news event or trend that flared up and died, then is referred to years later can leave you perplexed until you work out that it must have happened during your year in South America. Imagine if you’d missed Gangnam Style and then saw it on a Review of 2012 five years later. You’d be gobsmacked.

lonely planet guidebook

Did you find employers looked at your travels as a negative or does it help in securing a job?
In my field, it was definitely a positive. Travel shops need staff with world experience who can relate to (and impress) their customers, and so are understanding when you express your need to travel further. I work at an independent shop called Trek & Travel in Sydney, Australia, where we sell hiking and travel clothing and equipment. I’m currently the assistant manager. In Cape Town, South Africa I worked for an outdoor clothing manufacturer called Capestorm that had a chain of stores. Although working in retail is never something to which I aspired, my understanding boss does let me take months off at a time to feed my travel habit, and being surrounded by the paraphernalia of travel and like-minded people every day keeps the excitement of the world simmering. If it gets too boring I’ll just quit, go travelling, and find another job upon my return. Although, I have to say, this process does get slightly more daunting as I get older.

lonely planet guidebook

What advice would you have for people coming home after a long trip?
Don’t panic. Take things step by step. Find somewhere to crash, either with friends, family or at a cheap hostel. Next, grab the first available job. Do anything; don’t be fussy. I usually start work within a week of arrival. Use that money for the bond on a rental place, then look for a better job. Obviously it’s wise to finish your trip with some start-up capital, tempting though it may be to stretch that last dollar as far as possible. Set aside a couple of hundred dollars and don’t touch it. After that, you’re up and running.

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Dan’s story shows that while coming home can be an adjustment, you learn to adjust quickly and returning from subsequent trips becomes easier and easier. Thanks for doing the interview, Dan!

You can read more about Dan on his blog and in his self-published book about Africa, This is Not a Holiday.

Become the Next Success Story

One of my favorite parts about this job is hearing people’s travel stories. They inspire me, but more importantly, they also inspire you. I travel a certain way but there are many ways to fund your trips and travel the world and I hope these stories show you that there is more than one way to travel and that is within your grasp to reach your travel goals. Here’s another example of someone who readjusted to life after her big trip:

We all come from different places, but we all have one thing in common:

We all want to travel more.

Make today the day you take one step closer to traveling – whether it is buying a guidebook, booking a hostel, creating an itinerary, or going all the way and buying a plane ticket.

Remember, tomorrow may never come so don’t wait.

comments 25 Comments

It is definitely hard to come home after that much traveling, and sometimes it is easier to just pack up and go again! The beauty of creating such an independent life for yourself, is that you can make almost anywhere home.

I love traveling but always seem to have too many excuses to make a life out of it. I admire the courage and resourcefulness of people like Dan who can happily live this lifestyle. And it offers hope and good ol’ “how to” info for when I do muster the courage.

Love Dan’s spirit! It’s so magical to see so many people living by their own terms. Obviously, life is only limited by what you allow it to bring you. Thanks for the inspiration!

Sounds like Dan has it all together. He is able to do what he loves best, and isn’t that what life should be all about? Very inspiring words.

John Travolting

I find it hard to believe this man has a real wife. Who on earth would put up with this nonsense?

lisa corbett

me.

It’s always inspiring and encouraging reading about other people travel experiences. Me and my boyfriend sold everything we owned, quit our jobs and start traveling a year ago, it was the best decision we could have made and we are still enjoying it.
Thanks Dan for sharing your story :)

I have come to know several people who turned to be world travelers AND have a significant other by their side willing to go where they go. I tell them that is like finding hens teeth – Very very few people around get that lucky. I think it all comes down to the idea of accepting a nomad life as your “new normal” or something like that. And that’s something not too many people are willing to do. But it is good to read about those who are brave enough to try.

Great tips for settling and finding a job. We are in the Dominican Republic now and I started here by working at a Surf school. It was great because it was a chill job and it paid the bills =). Also, I got to surf for free!

Great read and some good advice!

Great and inspirational interview Dan. Excellent advice about getting a job right away. I think I should go take that advice.

It’s always motivating and encouraging reading about other persons travel familiarity. But it is good to read about those who are audacious sufficient to try. Thanks for sharing this.

NomadicMatt

You’re welcome.

Great post and advice from a fellow Englishman! Dan’s spirit is contagious and inspires us all to believe that you can live the dream for as long as you like, if you’re prepared to work for it.

Crystal

I love hearing these stories, they help me see that my dream to travel is possible. I will be leaving for Southeast Asia in February for 6 months then going back home to work and save to volunteer in Africa for a couple months. Great advice for those aspiring backpackers!!

NomadicMatt

There are more on the way!

judy

I enjoy your newsletter but your pop ups are getting to me.

NomadicMatt

On this site? If you click X, it will only ever appear once unless you clear our your browser cookies. You shouldn’t be getting it all the time. Let me look into it.

Great post. Always interesting to hear other’s perspectives on returning to their home country. I find myself constantly travelling…leaving and re-entering American life (my birth country) over and over again. Thanks for sharing.

I love Dan’s story and agree with some of his quotes, particularly “don’t be fussy” – I meet too many people on my travels who think they are “too good” for a certain job and don’t do it and end up without a job. The truth is if you’re willing to do the first available job like Dan says, a better job will come up later, or even better you might like the first job you get! I also love to travel and take any job going to fund my next trip! Safe travels Matt and Dan and good interview. Jonny.

mal

I usually enjoy other peoples follow up stories on travel but i was expecting a more emotional and personal account of life after travel and all i can see here is a long extended holiday. I’ve heard so many stories of se asia and the australian route i really don’t find it anything special anymore especially when people usually hit the check points with no intention to discover places inbetween for example cambodia siem reap-phnom penh route for vietnam , Infact i almost see it now as a comfort route since the path has been hugely covered , there is a 90% guarantee you will come across other english speaking people and their is an english speaking country and job prospects at the end of the road in australia, now if the person decided to take an off beat approach through sumatra and papua i would have more respect for the journey and attempts to actually explore but as he stated he never actually cooked for the majority of the journey i think that kinda says it all and if he did i’m sure he would have had the money to visit papua even though i don’t truly believe he was actually strugglimg for cash given the comfort of travel for so long . Travel is not an extended holiday it’s embedded in your roots and there is lways somewhere new and different to explore,the thought of coming back and settling down doesn’t even come to mind when your actually living the lifestyle and not a gap year or extended holiday.

NomadicMatt

This is just one of many stories. There will be more coming – all with different angles.

It’s good to read things like this because my conundrum will eventually be what to do when it’s time to stop traveling. I can’t imagine being anywhere in the US other than Los Angeles- home for me. That means I need some serious cash AND a car! Still stress about that even though I try not to.

don’t know if i could do it, have tried a few times but its always so boaring and i can’t relate to any one

After travelling for 4 months and counting I am dreading having to readjust to normal life. Perhaps I’ll have to keep going after all…

Thanks for the reassuring advice

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