The reality of coming home after you have traveled the world.

As I write this it has been 6 months & a day that I got home from my 2 year trip around the world. I’m laying here in my bedroom with a million thoughts running through my mind and no clue how to express them in words for y’all to read. I have been wanting to write this post for a while… you know the post about how it feels to be home after you traveled the world. The truth is I have been putting it off because I haven’t figured out what I want to say even though I know what is running through my mind. The most obvious thought is that I can’t believe it’s been 6 months since I got home. It seems like just yesterday I said good bye to him and a lifestyle I was living for 2 years. At that time I had no clue what to expect of my return home and well the reality of coming home after I have traveled the world for me has been quite the emotional roller coaster and sometimes just down right depressing.

I came home to an amazing surprise party where all my family and some of my close friends attended. I will never forgot how strange it felt to be around them with not a clue of what to say or even talk about. I remember standing to the side and just observing. I felt so out of place and like I didn’t belong there. I remember them asking me how my trip around the world was and in my mind wondering how do I explain to them what the past 2 years of my life were like for me in a couple minutes worth of conversation? These are feelings that I encountered time after time as I became reacquainted with my family and friends.

As that happened I realized early on that people really have no interest in what I experienced around the world and were just happy to have me back home safe. I realized peoples biggest concern was, what I was going to do now that I was home? I felt that people were quick to try and put me back into the life I left behind when I took off. The hardest part for me though wasn’t even that it was the fact that after 2 years on the road I was realizing that nothing has changed at home. I was having trouble wrapping my mind around that fact. Yes people got married, purchased home or cars, got new jobs and even had babies, but their ways of life hadn’t changed much. It sounds arrogant when I say this, but the reason I have been having trouble with that is that the core of who am has forever changed because the journey I took around the world. It’s those feelings that have made it difficult for me during the last 6 months.

I have been home 6 months and still haven’t bought a car or even have a cell phone. Those are two items that are essential to live with in Houston. It shocks people when I tell them I don’t have either and wonder how I do it. I explain to them how I do it and that it comes with a lot of sacrifices, but they are sacrifices I am willing to make to continue living the life I want to live. It’s a life on my terms and free of things tying me down when I am ready to take off again. The other thing on everyone’s mind was the job part of my return home and what I was going to do. In that aspect I got extremely lucky that the law firm my sister works at needed an assistant and it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass. I have now been there over 5 months and it’s been helping me reach my goal of saving money to leave again. It wasn’t part of my plan to start working so soon, but I am glad I did because I actually like my job.

Along with dealing with all of the above I have also been dealing with reverse culture shock. I can now say I have seen how a portion of the rest of the world lives and it’s NOTHING like we live here in the USA. It’s shocking how wasteful and what a consumer driven country we are and don’t get me started on how consumed we are in being busy and staying busy or our food portions. It’s also easy for me to see now the bubble we live in here and how we are kept inside that bubble and it’s something you just won’t get until you have spent some time outside of the USA and seen it from the outside in. I also find it annoying at how many times people stress over the smallest problems or problems that if they wanted could easily be solved. It’s the whole #firstworldproblems dilemma that people don’t understand is ridiculous and you can’t mention it to them because they will get offended.  I can seriously list a million things here that just blow my mind about the way of life in the USA that I may never understand again and because I have seen how some of rest live I honestly hate sometimes. Yes I am thankful for what I have and for living in a country like the USA, but I have learned it’s not the best country in the world and has a million flaws (like every country).

Big Bird

Just a random shot I took of Big Bird in Central Park. He looks so lonely.

The things I have mentioned above are things I knew I was going to deal with on my return home, but of everything I didn’t know the hardest part of it all was going to be the battle that rages within. I have lost count of how many times I have cried in the last 6 months. Sometimes they are burst of tears that come out of the blue and unexpectedly, sometimes they are just from laying in bed thinking of how my life was on the road and how badly I miss him/it. It doesn’t help at all that I returned home with a broken heart, but that’s a whole other story for another time. I do wish someone had warned me that the hardest part of a trip around the world was not going to be taking off and doing it but the return home. Yes I mean that, it’s been so hard and it’s something I feel like no one around me understands, because it’s hard to explain to them. Also even though I have many great friends I feel so lonely inside sometimes that it hurts. It also doesn’t help that I have fallen out of touch with some of my best friends because we’ve just grown apart. I know I am the one who has changed and no longer enjoys the life I used to live before I left and that they are still living today. The friends I have kept in touch with though I love them dearly and love that they are supportive of the life I want to live. Now that I am home I feel like I can’t lounge around and do nothing for to long because my mind just doesn’t shut off and I think of him and of life on the road. That’s part of the reason I have taken it upon myself to clean and paint my parents home. It’s been quite the task and taking me longer than I expected, but I’m loving the time I am spending with my parents and am glad I am able to help them out while I am home and keep busy to keep my mind off everything else.

It’s like I know what is out there now and no matter what I do I will always know and that’s what has made it difficult being home and I want more of that at least for now. I know at some point I want to settle down, but it’s not now and not yet. Even though it may not sound like it from what you have read I am actually happy at home and making the most of it while I am here. I know I can easily pack up and leave TODAY… like I really could because nothing is holding me here. I know I could easily find a job on the road, but don’t want that. I have an awesome job that pays well and that will help me reach my goal of saving $15,000 before taking off again. I sometimes wonder how is it that I was able to fall back into the routine of life so easily? It’s actually scary how easy you do fall back into the 9 to 5 routine, but the best part is that I have not fallen back to my old habits and have kept my goal the main priority while I am home. It’s a goal I know is attainable and am going to reach to breakaway again.

The last 6 months have been an interesting bunch and I love that I even enjoyed a bit of travel as well like visiting New Orleans, Austin, San Antonio, Toronto and New York City. Now though I’m switching it to high gear and focusing on my goal to make it happen. While I do just that I am going to enjoy the comfort of my home because no joke it is nice knowing where I am going to lay my head to sleep every night and not have to plan what’s next every few days like life on the road. I will continue to embrace the tears of joy and sadness that fall down my cheeks and enjoy my time at home and make the most of it while I am here before taking off again. With the million thoughts running through my mind I know this post will only convey a portion of what is happening inside me, but for now that has been my reality of coming home after I have traveled the world.

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  1. Thank you so much for this great post. Although it might seem to you as if you just ‘cleared your thought’ please know that is was a great help to me, being back from my worldtrip and experiencing the same. By sharing this, you at least helped a person in understanding that she’s not the only one passing through this. You made my day with this! 🙂 Thumbs up! Thanks

  2. James Alverson says:

    After 20 yeas in army sometimes(?) hard to relate. Definitely a different view of the world.
    Most people have no idea what they have here in US

  3. Kimmy Nguyen says:

    Hi Jaime,

    I was searching for ‘feeling lost in reality in Europe’, and your post came up first. And I cried during reading your post. Our experiences are different and I cannot not 100% relate to what you felt, but I feel the loneliness and being an outsider as you have felt. I lived 26 years in Vietnam, traveled to many Southeast Asian countries, then I moved to Washington, USA for almost a year, traveled around the West Coast. And now I am in Italy. I dont know how long I’ll be here, one year or three, what’s next for me, Vietnam or America. But I’m not wasting time sitting around, I try to travel around Europe as much as I can. Meanwhile, I feel lonely and disconnected with most of the people in the surrounding community. I dont feel belong to any places. Dont get me wrong, I love to talk to locals where I travel, be open minded and friendly. Just not the community I have to live in when I dont travel. I think something is not right, and whatever that is, I have to keep traveling. I am fascinated by new places, new lifestyles, languages, cultures, history and architecture. That keeps me sane and keep on living. And I start to think that’s what I am living for.

    I have read that you are on your second journey. Good luck with your trip. Check out Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines (my favorite beaches & snorkelling spots), and much more of Asia if you can.

    Thanks again for your posts and sharing. It is nice to know there are somebody feel quite the same, and you can share your feelings knowing that they will read/listen and relate.


  4. Im so gad people like you write these feelings on the web. I have been back for just over a week and I feel the same as you. The thing I am struggling most with is my parents just accepting that travel is now a part of me. At the moment they have no idea that my main goal is to now save up again and travel, and I dont know how to break it to them? How did you get over the feeling of being lost in your own home? And minimalise the sense of sadness?

  5. You literally hit the nail on the head for me! I was searching for ‘feeling lost after travelling’ and your blog post came up. I came home 4 months ago from a 1 year trip to South America. I was only meant to travel for 3 months and ended up going for 12 as I met an amazing guy out there and we ended up travelling together – bikepacking, volunteering in hostels and renting a place too. We stayed together for 3 months after I returned home but in the end we both wanted different things. And our lives were too different. Coming home from travelling whilst also having a broken heart feel so hard and sad and lonely and confusing. No-one understands as you said, though you and the other comment-ees on here clearly do!! Which makes me feel less alone 🙂 thanks for sharing your post and your feelings about this.

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