You’ve spent the last months carefree with the wind blowing in your face, a pair of flip flops on your feet and a backpack on your back. You’ve roamed through cities and countries with only a vague plan of where you were headed next. You’ve met new friends, eaten strange foods, hiked mountains, swam in multiple oceans and spent many days doing nothing but laying on the beach. But for most, time or money eventually runs out and you find yourself on a plane homeward bound. The first few days at home are generally filled with the excitement of seeing family and friends, eating your favourite home cooked meals and enjoying the luxuries of hot water, soft beds and 24 hours of electricity. But eventually #firstworldproblems become a reality as you adjust back to the modern working world. Here are 7 tips on how to make a smooth transition to adjusting back home again:
- Start planning for your return BEFORE you get home: Depending on what you left behind you may have more or less logistics to sort out ahead of time. Need a new job when you get back? Spend a few of those carefree days at the beach updating your resume, LinkedIn profile and reaching out to past contacts to help land an interview when you return. Most employers are willing to have a first round interview on the phone or via Skype, so there’s no need to wait until you’re back home to send out those resumes. No apartment to return home to? Start hitting up relatives and friends to see where you can crash until you get back on your feet. Most importantly be sure you’ve saved some of those pesos to pay for expenses back home until your first paycheck arrives.
- Be prepared for reverse culture shock: From the shock of enormous groceries stores to what appear to be outlandish prices for fruits and vegetables, if you’ve spent some or all of your travels in parts of the world where your dollar goes a lot farther, be prepared for the shock of returning home to first world prices. Those bargaining skills you picked up in Southeast Asia won’t help you get a better price on t-shirts here and the price of a local bus costs more than the four hour journey you took across Nicaragua. You can also say goodbye to “Tica time” or “Caribbean time” or any other expressions meaning things move at a slower pace. Life back in the modern world moves at a brisk pace with set appointments, rush hour traffic and a daily grind to stick to. It can often take a while to get back up to pace in the modern world.
- Realize nothing has changed: While you’ve been out gallivanting the world, it might surprise you that very little has changed for many of your friends and family back home. While your life may have transformed dramatically in the last year, most people are still working their same job, living in their same house and carrying on the way they did before you left. Don’t expect other people to be able to relate to your travel tales or your new in-depth insights into life. All the more reason to keep connections with those you met abroad.
- But at the same time everything has changed: On the other hand, friends may have gotten married, had babies, moved or started on a journey of their own. You may at times feel a bit out of place trying to catch up on all that time you missed while you were away, finding yourself at different places now in your lives. And while their life adventures might be different than yours, it’s great to catch up on you’re friends adventures too.
- Become a tourist in your home town: After exploring the far off corners of the world, explore your own backyard to keep the travel bug alive. Look up what the Lonely Planet guidebook has to say about where you’re from; it may just surprise you how many interesting things there are to check out within an hour’s drive of where you live.
- Host a Couchsurfer: Even if you didn’t use couchsurfing for free accommodation while you were travelling, that doesn’t mean you can’t sign up to be a host for those backpackers trekking through your home town. Not only will you help put a roof over a backpacker’s head, you’ll instantly become a city tour guide (see above). You can bond over travel stories, share inside jokes only other travelers would get and learn about where they’re headed to next. Not only will you meet interesting people, but by getting great reviews you earn yourself a better chance of also being hosted by the community on your next travel adventure.
- Start Planning your Next Trip: Nothing helps the transition back home than to set your sights on your next travel goals. You don’t need to take another year off to keep the travel bug alive. Plan smaller trips closer to home, find a job that incorporates travel or look for work opportunities abroad that help you further your career. The options today are endless. Where will go next?