I’ve come to find that there’s two opposing feelings when travelling – that elation and excitement about heading off on an adventure and the sheer apprehension of returning home. The former, that feeling of uncontrollable joy before boarding a flight to another destination, is understandable and easy to relate to. But what about when you return home after your travels? How to you begin to articulate some of the ways in which traveling abroad has changed you? And how do you go back to fitting in when you feel left out?

Despite the inevitable good-byes being incredibly sad when leaving family and friends to travel, there is also a simmering excitement behind the nerves for the adventure that lays ahead. For the most part, you have had time to come to terms with leaving; and you have planned and prepared as best as you can for your departure date so that bittersweet feeling is expected. You are able to brace yourself for that initial feeling of trepidation; and you reassure yourself by knowing that heading off into the great unknown to explore the world will be an eye-opening, empowering, once-in-a-lifetime experience.

So, we head off not with sadness, but with the confidence in knowing that we are ready and raring for whatever adventure awaits.


And then you are finally out exploring the big wide world, experiencing new things and meeting interesting people and that feeling of freedom and vivacity becomes all-encompassing. Traveling really teaches us to live in the moment and so that’s what we do – we embrace wholeheartedly any new experiences that come our way, building confidence in our decisions and we find that we are much more capable of handling unexpected challenges and sticky situations than we ever thought we could. Travel broadens not only our literal horizons, but also the boundaries of our mind and our thinking.

We unintentionally learn and grow, taking in different cultures, languages and local practices that allow us to become more appreciative, tolerant and understanding of a world beyond that of our hometowns.

We learn to trust ourselves more as well as put our trust in strangers and we become much more flexible and patient as we find that sometimes things are simply out of our control, despite how much we plan and prepare for the unexpected. And while all these things are happening, you do have moments when you miss home and wonder what you are missing out on but these feelings are fleeting and somehow feel far in the distance.

Soon enough, your departure date to fly back home looms ever closer and then before you know it, you’re on your flight back – excited to see all your friends and family; and to tell them about your amazing experiences abroad. Your adventure has come to an abrupt end. For the first few weeks back at home, everything is awesome and you tell and retell your travel stories – you become the centre of attention as everyone is so thrilled to have you back. You feel totally revitalised and buoyed by everyone’s attention and interest in your travels. However, you also learn that not a whole lot changes at home in your absence.

Then the initial excitement starts to wear off and you are finding it harder to communicate just how much traveling has changed you – not physically, but rather that something inside you has shifted and perhaps your outlook on life is a little different than before.

You feel like no one really understands this – this dramatic change that might be about who you are, or what you want to be or how your once deep-seated values have changed. It’s an odd feeling because you can’t quite comprehend it yourself and you definitely struggle to explain it. But once everyone and everything in your hometown goes back to normal and the routine of life starts to settle back in again, you feel profoundly isolated. Because, in truth, you don’t quite feel ‘normal’ anymore, nothing about how you see the world now is normal as traveling has allowed you to open up your mind to new things, beyond that of the regular boundaries of your life before your adventure. And it’s really not that you don’t love your hometown; because you are, for the most part, happy to be home, but there is something within you now that is perhaps aware that there is way more out there than just the routine of everyday life.

Maybe we have discovered new passions or maybe we realise our full potential when we are not restrained by the expectations and pressures put on us when we are home; and it’s these feelings that are not easily ignored.

And this is when one of two things happen. You admit to defeat and fall slowly back into your old habits while desperately trying to cling to every last shred of the person you morphed into while you were abroad – that new part of you that you discovered and learned to lovingly embrace.

Or, you catch the travel bug and eagerly await your next trip so that you can be reunited with that free-spirited wondrous person you found while traveling and allowing that side of you to flourish around like-minded people, new experiences and the ever-present pull of the great unknown.