Today’s Guest Post was written by Melanie Colby – a first time traveler come backpacker from Plymouth, England. During Melanie’s working holiday she traveled a lot, worked a little, and even gave Wwoofing (Willing Workers on Organic Farms) a go. Melanie has guest posted for Backpackingmatt previously and was recently featured on the front page of Backpackers News – a backpacking publication found throughout New Zealand.
After six months in Kiwi land I had convinced myself that I was ready to return home. As much as I loved New Zealand, I loved home just that little bit more – or so I thought! How wrong I was. I felt a longing pang for New Zealand the very moment our Royal Brunei flight took off from Auckland airport – destination Heathrow. Staring out over the Land of the Long White Cloud, I knew instinctively that something fundamental had changed. From now on I was also going to suffer from itchy feet. Lamisil was unlikely to solve this itch.
The flight was painless enough. It was reasonably comfortable for 26 hours of air time. The problem was that there were just too many stops! First Brunei and then Dubai, every airport that we landed at either for a refuel or stopover; I wanted to make a desperate run for the exit doors. I wanted to explore and experience everything that was new, unique, and cultural. Lucky for the custom’s officials, I had a very tried boyfriend in toe who kept me in check. There was no possibility of escaping the fast approaching reality of home.
As the plane descended over the south of England, the cloud cover closed in sparking a rather gloomy and ominous feeling that gnarled in the pit of my stomach – we were home!
The grey tarmac and concrete buildings of Heathrow airport did very little in making the prospect of my homecoming any brighter. Coming through arrivals, my family gathered outside waving frantically as we walked through the arrival doors. There faces beamed with excitement and anticipation, my face however was not beaming or bright. I still can’t decide whether my pallid complexion was due to a reaction to the UK or the fact I hadn’t washed for 26 hours.
A few days have passed now and slowly I am beginning to feel a little more settled. I am still pining for New Zealand, although I am inclined to believe that at this point any form of travel would suffice. Having spoken to friends and relatives, I beginning to understand that what I am suffering from is a very bad case of the ‘holiday blues.’
It is not uncommon for people who have travelled, to feel dejected after their experience.
From what I can gather the following are the biggest culprits in instigating the ‘travel blues.’
1) Money Either you don’t have any or you’re very lucky. In my case I don’t have any; this can be difficult to deal with when returning home. You need money to pay for your basic needs – food and accommodation. A lack of funds can cause a feeling of lost independence. This is not an easy change to except especially as travel can give you a huge sense of freedom.
2) Employment – or lack of. In order to gain an income you are usually required to have a job. This is not an easy task to achieve, particularly in this economic climate.
3) Debt Many travellers can accumulative debt whilst backpacking, sometimes through no fault of there own. In my case this was particularly true. I had to borrow money in order to pay of food and accommodation when our flight was cancelled due to the Icelandic volcano. Our insurers are unlikely to cover.
4) Loss of Independence Relying on other people’s kindness is always a difficult thing to do. However many travellers are required to rely on their friends and family. I am very lucky that my mum and her partner have taken me in; they are currently providing me with food, clothes, travel, plenty of wine, and much entertainment. As much as I am eternally grateful for their hospitability I feel I have experienced a loss of independence.
These are the some of the obstacles travellers experience when returning home. However it is not all doom and gloom, there some things you can do to help during this time of transition.
What You Can Do:
When it comes to employment, a pre-emptive strike can help. Start looking a month or so before returning home. Why not send out speculative emails to companies you would like to work for? I did exactly this – although I have not secured a full time job as of yet. I have drummed up interested from employers and received some great feed back. Give it a go you have nothing to lose.
It may sound silly but exercise is a good remedy for the ‘travel blues.’ Exercise is said to help people who suffer from depression by allowing the body to release endorphins ‘the feel good chemical.’ A brisk walk a day can help improve your mood and keep you motivated.
It can be very easy to feel overloaded with the realities of being home, so make a plan. Writing a simple list of objectives can help organise your thoughts, when they are in black and white, in plain sight you can start to prioritize your goals. Whether it is to plan your next adventure or simply get a grip on your finances, a list is a really useful aid.
Surround yourself with friends and family. They are there to help! No doubt they’ve missed you like crazy whilst you’ve been away. You have probably stockpiled a few good hours of air time, recounting your tales of adventure before they get bored.
Last but not least, communication. There are thousands of people who travel, have travelled, or are about to travel. I am very sure I am not the only person who is experiencing a difficult period of readjustment after backpacking. The online travel community is vast, so why not share your experiences; there is a lot of support to be had at just a click of a button.
Do you have any advice on dealing with the end of travel blues? Share it in the comments section below.
If you’re interested in guest posting on Backpackingmatt, send an email with your idea to matt [at] backpackingmatt [dot] com