Everyone tells you about how amazing travel can be – how it captures your soul and changes who you are. Everyone tells you about how your life will be forever altered by travel, and that once you catch the travel bug….there’s no turning back.
But nobody tells you about the return home.
Nobody tells you that when you come home – everything around you is exactly the same. Your friends are the same people, working the same jobs, dating the same people, drinking at the same bars on a Friday night. Your parents are the same, cooking the same meals, in the house that hasn’t changed a bit. Everything looks, feels, and smells the same.
But you…..you have changed.
You have seen and experienced magical places that you’ve always “liked” on Instagram. You have breathed in new air. You have sank your feet into foreign soil. You have been surrounded by different cultures, different languages, and different religions for weeks, maybe months, maybe years.
Sure, it’s exciting coming home. Seeing your family and friends and getting back to work, sharing all of your stories and getting hugs that could squeeze the life out of you.
But then everything goes back to normal. You’re back in your routine. Everyone is used to you being home – everyone is living their day-to-day normal life.
I just want to scream. Everything is moving around me – but I am frozen. The return home is always difficult for me because I can’t relate to “home” anymore.
You see – my home is foreign streets and airports. It’s waking up at 4 AM in Cambodia to catch the sunrise behind a temple. It’s renting a moped and getting lost on unfamiliar roads. It’s $4 hostels and waking up to geckos on my bed. It’s dancing on the street in the pouring rain because it’s the Thai New Year. It’s showering in flip-flops and wondering when the next time I’m going to do laundry is. It’s living out of my backpack and wearing the same outfit 3 days in a row. It’s sleeping on night buses and boats so I don’t waste a day traveling to my next destination.
I come “home” and I am restless. I am anxious. I don’t feel the same – and nobody understands me. I am constantly thinking about the day I finally runaway. Constantly thinking about selling everything I own – packing my bag – and just leaving. For good.
I love my city, I love my state, I love my family, and I love my friends. But this small town isn’t where I belong – and frankly, there’s nothing actually holding me down here.
I dream of waking up in new cities, where nobody knows my name and the possibilities are endless. I dream about working odd jobs and connecting with kindred spirits as I make my way around the globe.
Nobody tells you about the emptiness you feel inside after you return from traveling. That as soon as you land and give and receive your hugs – you’re wondering “what next?”.
My hometown will always hold a place in my heart. But I am sorry – because I can no longer call it home. Home is the unknown – and I will spend the rest of my life chasing it.
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• XOXO, KIM CHARTERS – AS KIM TRAVELS