Planning your dream trip is exciting. Where will you go? What will you see? How long will you stay in each place? Who might you meet? What modes of transport will you use? There are so many questions and limitless possibilities. Will you quit your job or can you take an extended sabbatical leave? Will you set up a business and work whilst you move around? Have you saved up and plan on just enjoying yourself? All this planning, and yet the hardest thing about travelling is returning home!
For me, I've had the dream to travel since being little and hearing stories of far-flung places from the adults in my life. I have two lists... places I've been to and places I haven't been to yet. Basically everywhere in the world is on my hit list! I want to see new cultures. I want to see first hand how people treat each other and animals in different parts of the world. I like looking at buildings, old and new, and seeing how they fit together along a street or throughout a village. I like to hear different languages, and laugh at how a word in one language means something completely different in another. I like looking at beaches and seeing how the waves break differently in different locations. Or how clouds roll around mountains.
I am fortunate to have found a partner who wants to explore and experience new things too. My fiance and I have lived and travelled outside our home country for five and a half years. We've spoken very simplified English so people can understand us. We've used sign language to have whole conversations. We've used a separate bin for toilet paper. We've used bum guns. We've driven on the opposite side of the road. We've had no idea what train station announcements mean. We've had an amazing time, been to some fantastic places, and met some wonderful people, all of which have changed our lives.
We've also missed friends and family. We've missed milestone birthdays. We've missed births and deaths. We've missed specific foods. There have been times that we have yearned to be home, like when missing the 7th family Christmas in a row. Yet, coming home and settling back into a "normal" life feels a lot scarier and much more daunting than packing up our lives and getting on a plane to the other side of the world.
I have been offered a job in a city I swore I would never return to, a job that means I have had to leave my best friend in another country and live without him for two months. For five and a half years we've lived and worked together. That will take some adjusting to!
The job, however, means a new challenge and some much needed mental stimulation of a different flavour. Accepting the job was no easy decision and in a lot of ways scarier than deciding to leave in the first place. Will I like it? Will they like me? Can I keep up with the pace? Where will I live? How much do they want for that tiny, smelly place? That has to be an annual pass train ticket for that price? No, just the day!
Something inside has changed and home will never truly be home again. It's very strange to feel culture shock in a place I used to call home. When you have a gypsy soul, there is always a longing to be on a distant shore or up the side of a remote mountain. Once your heart has felt at home somewhere else, how can it truly feel home at "home"? The sometimes loneliness of travel may be hard, but you know what's harder? Coming home to find that nothing has changed, when everything about your internal world has shifted.
How am I going to cope? By seeing this in exactly the same way as I have looked at positions whilst being in other countries. As an excellent opportunity to meet new people and create new challenges for myself, both in the workplace and life. Cities, although scary places are transient. People come and go. This creates a lot of interaction and new people to meet and learn from. I am also thinking I might buy the latest Lonely Planet and view the city as a tourist rather than a miserable commuter who is always in a rush. This way, I'll still be hanging out with travellers and the energy they exude.
Although I believe the hardest thing about travelling is returning home, I also believe in the power of positive thought. So, if you don't like something, change your mind set. Nothing is permanent, and one of the things that travel teaches you is how easy it is to relocate when you need a new landscape. We've lived in some places for a year or two and only stayed in others for a day. We may stay here for six months or three years, who knows at this stage! What I do know is, home is wherever I lay my hat!