Dear travellers

Posted on 13 April 2011


Warning: contains angsty ranting

Dear everybody who has ever gone or will ever go solo travelling for longer than a month:

Travelling is awesome. You will see yourself in all sorts of new lights as well as all sorts of other things. Do it.

Just be prepared. Coming home is something you rarely think about when setting off on an epic voyage. Here are a few things I think you should know about it.

Coming home is a bitch.

For months you follow no will but your own and then you get back. Everything is familiar yet feels slightly wrong, like puzzle pieces that have come a bit loose. You can see exactly what the picture is but the edges don’t quite line up.

You have spent all your hard-saved money and quite a lot of MasterCard’s. You have no job and it takes a ridiculous length of time to find one. You discover just how restricted life is without money. Your mind is awash with memories from travelling. You wish you still were. All you want to do is plan your next big trip.

It’s very important to realise that this is normal. You are not a special little snowflake who has had a perfectly unique experience. You are most likely an inexperienced fool who refused to accept you were coming home and are still refusing to accept that you have arrived, constantly wishing you were elsewhere while refraining from doing anything about it.

You might feel like you’re doing something about it because all you can think of is planning your next trip—probably to the exact same place you just came from because you feel oh so connected to it. What you’re actually feeling connected to is the person you were while you were there. It’s not your spiritual home. You had everything you wanted there because all you wanted was food, beer, and new and exciting things (and people) to do. Those things are available almost everywhere on earth, as is being broke and unemployed. Being a mopey moron is free everywhere.

Coming home is a bitch for everyone. It’s worse for those of you who are repressed in your everyday lives and feel you can only let loose while on holidays. For you, travelling is time out from what you think your real life should be. While you’re travelling you can do all sorts of things that the ‘normal’ you wouldn’t do. Now you’re home and you’re feeling all repressed again.

(Aside: Just so you know, if you live like this, you are living my nightmare. Please rearrange your boring life so you stop being the annoying out-of-control backpacker crudding up other people’s countries. Just do what feels right to you, whether it’s having one-night stands or getting drunk on Tuesdays or eating TimTams for breakfast. Don’t wait until you are off the clock of ‘normal life’ to do it. Own who you are.)

If you had a romantic relationship with a fellow traveller*, now you miss them. Yes, it’s sad. Please oh please just leave it at that. Don’t get on your high horse about the amazing bond between the two of you. If it was so amazing, stop moping around and get yourself to wherever your goddamn soulmate is and live your dream already.

If that seems too hard, you obviously don’t want to shatter the beautiful illusion by making it real. If that’s the case, you’re choosing to feel crappy. Take a long hard look in the mirror, step up and honour the relationship for what it was: a mixture of holiday glee, freedom, drama created by constant change and uncertainty, alcohol and maybe drugs, a connection with someone who was also high on all those things and wanted to be close to you. It’s a beautiful thing. Recognise it.

Pretending it’s some tragic perfect-one-that-got-away situation is not only self-indulgent and delusional but also denigrates what you had with that person. Moreover, it makes you completely pathetic.

Here’s a tip: open your eyes, let go, move on. Stop mooning all over Facebook, email, Skype, and text messages trying to keep the magic alive with all your bestest friends you made while you were away. You’re really trying to keep in touch with your past self.

Live in the moment. Stop thinking about what time it is back there. Connect with your current self. It is feeling neglected which is why you feel simultaneously depressed, edgy and bored. Pay attention to your life. Grow up.

Just get a move on or soon you’ll find yourself off on your next trip doing the same completely stupid thing over again.

Plus you’ll be really boring the entire time between now and then.

Yours in my usual state of frustration with the human race,

* Haha! Sucker.

Image credits
O pulo by vana_gwen under a Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives licence
A broken promise left me there by Edgar Dacosta under a Creative Commons Attribution licence
Backpacker friendly by Piermario under a Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives licence