People often talk about how it’s harder to come home from travelling than it is to leave in the first place…
You have spent your time away throwing yourself out of your comfort zone; learning new cultures, languages, tastes and smells. You have met amazing people, probably lived off of very minimal money and out of a back pack. I, for one, got stuck in Belize once and had to collect empty glass beer bottles to raise enough recycling refund money to buy 2 minute noodles so that I could eat… Let alone pay the 30 USD to exit the country!
Then you come home and everything is the same.
Everyone is staring at their phones on the train.
Everyone has the same job.
Goes to the same bar.
If you’re lucky, maybe someone is engaged or got pregnant but mostly everything is the same, you’re really different and that leads to the very real Traveller’s Depression.
How can the same amount of time go by and you learn so much but everyone else on the planet remained doing the same boring shit? It’s almost frustrating! Especially because you are the minority. You are the one who has changed and can’t make sense of anything. And to everyone else it’s not ‘the same boring shit’.
It’s the reason once you take your first long trip it will never be your last.
Traveller’s depression is well documented. A simple google search shows the recently returned traveller that everyone feels the same way.
Some great examples of this for your further reading: Nomadic Matt and Hopscotch the Globe
To summarise, Kristen Sarah, from the above link, says it perfectly:
Traveling opens up your eyes, mind, heart, and soul. It changes your world forever. In a way, it makes you feel like you are constantly traveling and that one place you call home, never really feels the same again. It can be a lot more overwhelming then you expect.
But what happens when you spend so long away that home isn’t home?
I am about to apply for my 2nd two year visa for Canada, a country I absolutely love, and I’m coming up to being away from Australia for just over 7 months. Furthermore, I haven’t lived at my proper home in Australia for longer than a few weeks since November 2014.
Let’s just say it’s a pretty distant memory now.
It turns out that there is this limbo period where, even though I am away from “home” and still on a fun, exciting working holiday visa, traveller’s depression occurs despite still being away.
Essentially what is happening is that I feel completely the same as when I return from a big trip; nothing makes sense, there is nothing new and I am the one who has changed. But I’m away so the solution seems simply to go home right? Kinda wrong.
I don’t want to go back to the ‘same old, same old’ but now being away is the ‘same old, same old’. What is my solution? Travel again? Why can’t I just stay in one place like a normal human?!
I think the answer is that I will never be able to. Once you globe trot you keep on trotting! Or at least until mass adult responsibilities tie me down 🙂
My question is to you, fellow travellers, have you ever been at this point before? Perhaps this is what it feels like for everyone who actually picks up their whole life and moves to a new country.
I discovered some tips for ex-pat sadness and they seem very relatable at this point. I have decided to share them with you in case someone else out there happens to understand the predicament I am in and needs assistance. I’ve added my answers in relation to Canada for your entertainment:
1. Look at how people deal with managing run-of-the-mill depression.
I am keeping active, eating right and staying social; all the classic WebMD suggestions without actually having a psychiatrist prescribe medication for a serious mental health problem.
2. Learn the language.
Lucky for me it’s English, but maybe I should take a trip to Quebec. French is written on everything anyway! Parlez vous francais?
3. Find something you really love about the place.
Skiing. Shit, it’s summer…
Oh yeah, the food. Yam fries, poutine, caesar salad option for everything, every condiment in the world ever in everyone’s fridge, perogies, maple syrup… The list is endless! But also the people and the sheer connection they have with the outdoors.
Just click it.. http://smokespoutinerie.com/menu/
4. Find something your really hate about the place, and learn to laugh at it
People spit too much. Did this come from all the chewing tobacco? Because even if they aren’t chewing, Canadians have no problem with spitting everywhere. Like mid conversation. People actually carry around bottles filled with tobacco spit. I don’t even… I guess it’s weird to me but I’m so used to it that it’s funny now!
5. Seek out something that reminds you of your country.
I have Vegemite and Caramello Koalas. What I would do for Melbourne brunch of smashed avo, feta and poached eggs…
I might have to host a pot and parma (parmi for those of inferior Australian states) night because it is a distant memory of mine and a crisp chicken parmigiana is sooo needed.
Which brings me to my final point. Should I pack everything up and move back to Australia and commit to life there? Do I go home pack up the remaining 50% of my life and move it to Canada and apply for residency OR am I over thinking everything (likely) and I should just continue being 23 running around the world having a great time?
I’ll let you know if I find a solution. For now I’m probably going to spend the morning on sky scanner to find the cheapest flight to a new country..
Until next time,