The Best and Worst of Coming Home After a Long Trip

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The Best: Eating Your Favourite Foods

Trying new and exotic flavours is certainly one of the best things about long term travel, but there comes a point where you’ll find yourself thinking something along the lines of:

I would punch a stranger in the neck for a fucking sandwich

I always come home from a long trip with a veritable shopping list of things I’ve missed while I’ve been away.

Pepperoni pizza at Frankie's Pizza in Sydney
Having some delicious pizza was high on my list of priorities when coming home from a long trip.

My first trip to the local Woolies ends with a shopping trolley like something out of a diabetic’s worst nightmare: Vanilla Coke, Starburst Babies, Cookies & Cream Kit Kat, Peppermint Crisp, Twisties, bacons & cheese rolls, red licorice, [V] Energy Drink, Golden Gaytime ice creams, Tim Tams, and a jar of Vegemite big enough to choke a goat.

I don’t even end up eating all of it. It’s like obese tapas, with me just sampling a bit of all of the flavours I’ve missed before putting them aside like harem girls who no longer please me.

And don’t even get me started on home-cooked meals. It’s often hard to find the energy or ingredients when you’re on the road, so there’s something really special about looking down at something delicious you’ve created and savouring the fruits of your labour.

Or, if you’re like me, ducking over to your parents’ place for a free dinner every night and enjoying the flavours you grew up with.

The Worst: Sticker Shock

Unless your travels took you to Dubai or Singapore, chances are you’re going to be returning home to a place where prices are quite a bit higher than you’d become used to.

$5 for a train ticket seems like highway robbery when that fetched a round of beers and some chips mayi (a Swahili mix of an omelette and French fries), and don’t even get me started on the price of a decent beer in Sydney. $42 for two pints? Get the hell out of town!

The Best: Being Able to Focus on You

A lot of things tend to slip by the wayside when you’re exploring a new country and meeting new people.

Maybe you’ve put your studies on hold.

Maybe you weren’t as true to your diet and workout regime as you’d have hoped.

Maybe you used travel as a way to distract yourself from a bad breakup.

Whatever the circumstances, chances are that your home time will be a good opportunity for you to focus on the things that matter most to you.

For me, it’s been getting back to the gym, playing squash twice a week with my father and brothers, and focusing on my writing again.

Being home and (hopefully) away from distractions is a great opportunity to reinvent or refine yourself.

Home gym
My humble home gym where I will (hopefully) carve out a less husky Aussie on the Road.

The Worst: Missing Those You Left Behind

As much as you’re going to enjoy having time and privacy to focus on the things that matter most, there’s also the inevitability of quite a bit of loneliness once the novelty of being home wears off.

Not being able to relate as well to old friends certainly extends to trying to meet new people, and you might find that it’s incredibly difficult to strike up friendships with those who have never travelled and perhaps never intend to.

You doubtless met some amazing people while on the road. Maybe they were just drinking buddies. Maybe they were good friends and wingmen.

Maybe you fell in love and had to leave somebody behind.

Bearded man and two pretty Asian girls
Two of my dearest friends from my time in China.

You miss the people who made your travels unforgettable, and you’re struggling to meet new people to fill the void. You’ve got a recipe for post travel depression.

We’re all guilty of looking back at our time abroad and conveniently forgetting the parts that we didn’t love, and it can be a real challenge to take off the rose-coloured glasses and accept that old adage:

Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened

Next: The absolute best and worst parts of coming home after a long time on the road

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  1. Find myself sitting at my desk, 16000km away from home, which isn’t THAT far from where you are now, nodding. Missing births, weddings and funerals all plague us, and sadly the more we travel, the more we miss.

    Growing your own experiences is something special, but finding people that support and understand that is a different story.

    Traveling long term… It’s not wrong, but you’re right, it’s a choice. And not an easy one at that.

    • It used to feel so much easier. When I was young and everybody else was too, it felt like the simplest decision in the world. Of course I want to see the world! My family isn’t going anywhere!

      But every time I come back I’m reminded that my folks are getting older, my siblings will only become busier, and that the carefree days of messing about as a family are all but gone. One sibling already doesn’t come home for Christmas, and it won’t be long before family gatherings are a rarity rather than a weekly occurrence.

      And I just made myself cry thinking about that.

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