The Joy of Coming Home

By Nomadic Matt | Published August 20th, 2009

Celebrating Coming HomeComing home from a trip around the world can be a real culture shock and sometimes the initial excitement wears away quickly to reality that you are no longer traveling. It can be a hard transition to deal with. You go from something new everyday to the same thing everyday. It’s not an easy adjustment for people, as the comments in the linked article above can attest to. But there are also many good things about coming home. I’ve been home for two months now, and though there have been severe bouts of boredom, it’s been nice to be home. It’s good to see your family, sleep in your own bed, relax on your couch, and have mom make you breakfast. It’s good to see your pet again and even nicer knowing they missed you too. My dog almost knocked me down when I came home and still tackles me when I get in the door, though I suspect it’s just because he knows I’ll feed him.

Returning home gives you the chance to catch up with old friends. No matter how many people I meet on the road, no matter how many times I visit them on my travels, it’s still nice to come back to people who have known you five, 10, 15 years. People you grew up with and know pretty much everything about you. There’s a nice familiarity to that. There are no constant introductions or explaining who you are, where you are from, where you’ve been, etc, etc. You can just pick up where you left off. It’s always interesting to see how life back home has changed for my friend’s lives. I’ve come back to new couples, new kids, and new marriages.

One thing I love about coming home is that I can see my old haunts. I’m always excited to eat at all my favorite restaurants again. I think I’ve eaten at my local sandwich shop every other day since I’ve been home. And don’t even get me started on the amount of times I’ve had Taco Bell! (I know it’s bad for you but I just love it!) I’m always amazed at all the new restaurants and buildings that spring up while I am away. Everywhere I go something has changed. It’s sort of like traveling all over again. I come home to the familiar but am still exploring the unknown.

I also find you get a new appreciation and insight into your own culture. Being back in America and traveling around has made me realize that sometimes the states get a bum wrap, even from me. There really are many nice places and people here. While there are many problems in the US (I’m especially disappointed when I see the current divisiveness on the news), there are also a lot of great things here that often get overlooked, especially among the discussions about the United States that occur in the hostels around the world. The people are friendly, the food can be great, the cities wonderful, and the geographic diversity is astounding. It may not be perfect but there are certainly worse places to live.

Celebrating Coming HomeMost importantly, coming back home recharges your travel batteries. Traveling for a long time takes the excitement out of traveling. Eventually things just become “another”- another waterfall, another church, another jungle, another beach. You’ve seen it all before. Stopping on the road can help you refresh but it takes a trip back home to really wipe the slate clean. Last year, after 18 months on the road, I came home. I had even cut my trip short to do so. I was burnt out. But within a few weeks, I was ready to go again. Coming back home gives you an appreciation for traveling all over again. After two months of being home, I’m excited to leave on Sunday. It’s like I’m beginning my travels all over again. I can’t sit still any longer – there’s too much of the world to see.

Back home, boredom can happen pretty fast if you don’t keep yourself busy. On the road you move around every day. There are places, food, people, and things to see. It’s constant stimulus. Even if you keep yourself busy, returning home can be a little underwhelming sometimes. But though coming home may be a hard adjustment, it’s not all that bad.

comments 18 Comments

Hey Matt, it’s funny how a bunch of us returned to North America around the same time – Gary of Everything-Everywhere, Kirsty over at Nerdy Nomad, and you and me.

I’ll soon be sharing what I enjoy about being home as well – reconnecting with old friends, coworkers, mentors, and supporters of my travels in person has been wonderful. Getting the chance to start a yoga practice is something I’ve wanted to do for a year since I was in India and didn’t have the patience to join an ashram. And there is always the fun in unpacking your souvenirs! :)

NomadicMatt

It is sort of funny how that worked out and how we are all preparing to leave soon too!

Look forward to your perspective.

b

People tell me that living as expats in places like Saudi Arabia has taught them how to live without. A trip to the local Target just blew them away but they couldn’t make themselves buy anything.

Love the blog and following your travels.

b

NomadicMatt

When I came back I went to supermarket with my mother and I couldn’t believe how much food there was there.

Matt, great article, and I know where you are coming from. Things do look a bit different to me when I get home – and I’m always grateful that I have my Australian citizenship!

On another note, I did a satirical take on the issues of coming home after being abroad for a while, titled ‘The Top 10 Signs You’re Suffering From Culture Shock After Coming Home From Travelling.

Happy travels!

Lauren

I just returned back to the US after my 6.5month RTW trip. It has only been a week, and I am ready to hit the road again!

NomadicMatt

Welcome to the club of nomads! :)

The best part of going home for me, is that everyone makes a huge effort to come and see my wife and I. When you live in the same city there is no urgency to meet friends and family. It is easy to postpone until “someday.”

When you are coming from the other side of the world there is an urgency and limited time frame because you will be gone again soon. I believe I am closer to my friends and family now than when I lived in the same city.

NomadicMatt

Ya know, interestingly, I speak to my parents more when I am away than when I am home so I understand exactly what you’re saying.

I’ve been on a {home 6-12 month : road 1-6 month} cycle for a while now, and I try to carry over the mentality of travel into home life.

The best way I’ve found to do that is to live in a new American city/town every time I come back to the states. This forces you to meet new people, discover new places, stay sharp about work, and keep your possessions at the level of what can be packed into, say, a VW Jetta.

For many people, there’ll be lots of interesting town-work options within a 3-hour driving radius of family and old friends, so you get to see everybody and make lots of weekend road trips for quick snacks of travel–you know, that packing it up and hitting the road feeling.

I like how you refer to what you enjoy about being home and seeing the changes. Looking forward to exploring this further.

Brett

whenever i’ve been gone for a long time, it is always bittersweet to be home. lovely bc of all the good things that you’ve outlined above, and sad bc i’d rather have the excitement of living in a new culture. good luck on your travels! i am sure you’ve noted this – where are you off to next?

I think you’re addicted to traveling – you go through withdrawal when you come home!
The thing about coming home for me was it was still like I was on vacation – because no one had seen us in so long, everywhere we went was an event. And, when people are working so there’s boredom potential, there are DOGS TO WALK!!! Dogs make sure you’re never bored or lonely.
And since I was on vacation when I was home, I have to remember that THIS home – sitting on the deck, hiking in the woods, eating eggplant parm – is not the normal home. Normal home involves a normal job and normal chores. Every place looks better when you’re on vacation.

I know exactly what you mean about coming home. It is difficult and there is always a reverse culture shock in my experiences. I do love seeing everyone again and how friends and family are so happy to have you back. You feel a euphoria for a week or so catching up with people.
But like you said, it is always an adjustment. Once the “vacation” is over and you are back to real life, it is a big adjustment. Everyone has their own lives and things quickly go back to normal, just like you never left.
We have been home for almost a year, and are back at work and reintegrated with friends and family. This entire year has felt as if something was amiss. Maybe we are addicted to travel like Laura says above but is that a negative thing? (I couldn’t tell from Laura’s exclamation points and capital letters if she was angry or not…sorry) There is a great big world out there to explore and some of the greatest people in history were explorers.
We have noticed that we are actually closer with friends and family while we are traveling. We keep in touch more intimately. Here in Canada, everyone (including ourselves) is just too busy to really connect. While we are away we all make the extra effort to keep in touch and to tell each other how much we care about one another.
I think that when you have the Wanderlust in you, it never goes away and I can’t wait to get back on the road in 2 months.

Brilliantly put!
I am finishing up a 6 week sojourn back home to Toronto Canada, and have experienced much of what you (and other readers) are explaining. I’m also excited to hit the road again in a few days, despite the number of “goodbye for now”s I’m doing right now.

Well put. We’ve been living abroad for 2 1/2 years and will soon have the experience of transitioning back to the U.S.

We too have become burnt out in some aspects. Nature hasn’t bored us, the mountains are and will always be breathtaking, but temples, pagodas well, let’s just say we can live without seeing them for awhile.

Looking forward to reading your posts..

There’s something special about coming home. I actually love all parts of a trip; before (the anticipation), during (the excitement of discovering new places), and afterwards (having such great memories to look back at, photos to sort through and experiences to write about.

And, like you said, most of all, it helps you recharge and get ready for the next adventure.

Taco Bell is the bomb – when you come back this time around, you need to try the new Doritos taco – it’s a taco with the shell made out of a dorito!! Yes.

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