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In this post, I am going to share with you 5 mistakes that people accidentally make when they return home from traveling, so that when you come back home after traveling, you have a better sense of how to take care of yourself – mentally and physically – as you navigate the cultural, personal, and physical transition between different lifestyles, routines, foods, schedules, and mental space.
My intention with this post is not to make it so black and white that if you do one of these things mentioned in this post, you’ll suffer hard consequences on your return back home.
However, these are suggestions coming from someone who has been through the process of returning back home after traveling – whether it was a short, but impactful trip abroad, or it was moving back to the States from living abroad.
I get it. I’ve been through it, and I understand how you may be feeling.
Here’s the thing – there really isn’t a way to deny or swerve the uncomfortable feelings that may arise from returning back home after an impactful time abroad.
Things such as reverse culture shock and/or the post-travel blues may creep up, misalignment to your surroundings, the feeling of not being able to snap back into your home culture, and any other kind of unpleasant feeling that comes with the transition of life abroad to life back home.
However, there are things you can avoid doing in the efforts to help curve these emotions that oftentimes, I don’t think are talked about in the travel community.
So let’s start the conversation!
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Whether you’re returning home after a long time abroad, maybe you’re moving back home after living abroad for 20 years, or you were away for a really impactful week in a country so different from yours that opened your eyes and mind to something never experienced before, this post is for you. Let’s get started.
Burying yourself with work and to-do lists
I know that in an ideal world, you would take a “vacation from your vacation” or a few personal days after moving yourself and all your belongings back from traveling or living abroad.
But that may not be the case for many people, and I get that.
However, creating heaps of to-do lists, overwhelming yourself with things you have to go buy now that you’re home, and scheduling visits with people you haven’t seen yet from relatives to friends, as fun as it may sound, can be overwhelming to plan.
And the thing is you don’t have to. Not right away anyways.
This is your permission slip to relax, wind down as you need to, not as you should or think you should, but rather how you feel.
You just came back from literally living a different day-to-day routine, eating different foods, and sleeping at different times.
Have some compassion with yourself and give yourself time to re-acquaint yourself back to your home surroundings.
This means getting behind the wheel of your car slowly, especially if you didn’t drive while you were traveling/living abroad, it may mean bracing yourself in the overwhelm of picking up a box of cereal in what feels like an endless aisle of choices at the grocery store.
It could also mean being aware of the feeling of the hustle culture, but not responding to it right away, as it tries to sneak back in because everyone is busy, and that’s just the norm. Especially if you’re from the States. I know I felt this one.
Avoid talking about the struggles of returning back home after being abroad
Not honoring yourself, how you feel – mentally and physically – will lead you into an inner fight within yourself of tossing between what you should feel vs. what you may actually feel.
It’s completely normal to feel the post-travel blues or misalignment with your home culture.
Because for many, coming back home after being abroad is not just about physically going home and that’s it. It may also feel like going home to what may feel like a previous version of yourself.
Maybe you were a shy, reserved person before moving abroad, and traveling has broken that shell a bit to allow the social butterfly from within, out.
Going back home may feel like a sort of a symbolic transition back into who you once were, which you may be reminded of by the way that you get treated by everyone you know, and as you start to see friends and family, and you begin going into the same shops that you frequented before.
It’s important to talk about whatever type of shifts, thoughts, and emotions that come up during this transition of returning back home – especially after living abroad or traveling abroad extensively, can be an emotional process.
I’ll be one of the first to admit that.
Rush back into home living
It’s easier said than done, especially if you have commitments and people waiting on you for something, but there is so much power in at least, slowing down the process and rate at which you try to get back into the home life, running errands, meeting people, and creating endless to-do lists.
What about slowing down, taking a moment to reflect a bit (even if it’s at night before sleeping) on life abroad, what you learned about yourself, perhaps you even “found yourself” or as I like to refer to it, you uncovered who you truly have always been, through your travels.
This is important stuff too, that is especially fresh in your mind in those first few days after coming back home from traveling.
Give yourself a chance, and set aside a few minutes a day to reflect a bit on your travels, and what they meant.
To do this, I created a FREE Transformative Travel Journal, which guides the process and questions to ask yourself when you come back from traveling, in order to see what golden nuggets come from your travels that will last long beyond the trip is over.
It’s yours for free, just leave me your name and email to send it right over.
Going back to your usual eating habits and routines
You always hear tips from other travelers to take it easy on the food when you first arrive at a new city, especially when it comes to street food and foods with different ingredients from what you’re used to.
I would strongly argue that the same goes for returning back home.
According to doctors, they speculate two causes as to why travelers deal with unpleasant stomach issues while traveling (and even when returning back home after living abroad) which are change of schedule and dehydration.
When you’re in a different country, you’re eating different types of foods that may be higher in carbs, or fattier, or the portion sizes may be different. Not to mention you’re eating at different times, sleeping at different times, and engaging in different activities, which all lead to shifts in the body and digestion.
So when you return home, back to your home country, don’t go too heavy on foods that maybe you weren’t consuming abroad.
Let your body breathe a bit, let it physically reset itself to the different time zones, in order to avoid stomach issues.
Thinking that your travels and the learning is over
Spoiler alert: it’s not.
Here’s the thing, when we travel, we learn something new, or a couple.
Whether it’s interesting facts about the destination you traveled to or the city you called home while living that expat life abroad – you also learned things about yourself that maybe you never really had the opportunity to explore any other time, other than when you were away from your home country.
The deep learning experiences, the inspiration of beautiful new surroundings in nature and architecture, the variety and choices of different types of ingredients and foods, and the amazing people you meet while living or traveling abroad, changes something in you.
It expands your awareness.
It makes you question things when you are suddenly in a different environment, and it becomes apparent especially when you move back home (however you define the place you were born).
When you give yourself the time to think back, as you allow your mind to catch up to where you physically are (hello jetlag), you come to uncover some pretty amazing things, and questions you never thought of before.
How do you feel now that you’re back home, and what does that mean going forward?
The truth is, your travels are full of teachings for you to uncover, and in my humble opinion, that’s the best souvenir type of gift there is. The one that keeps on giving.
Concluding thoughts on returning home after traveling
As you know, your travels changed something for you, whether it’s your self-awareness, a question someone prompted you with, or a breathtaking view that made you contemplate life a bit and be present with it.
Coming back home can be rough for many people, and I want to offer this post to those who may feel that sense of reverse culture shock or post-travel sadness.
I have felt it, more than once, and I know what it’s like. I hope these points help you if you find yourself in a similar situation when you return home after traveling or returning home after living abroad.
You’re not alone, your feelings are valid – it’s time to see what the root cause of them are.
To more travel moments like these,