As a traveler there comes that moment when you have to return home; when the visa, money or luck runs out. Sometimes all three. But while you may look forward to going home, it’s not always easy to pick up where you left off. Like an astronaut orbiting Earth, the world continues to turn without you, and while you, the returning voyager, may be keen to share your trip with friends and families, the truth is no one wants to hear about it as much as you want to talk about it. And instead of “how was it?” you’re more likely to hear the dreaded, “what are you going to do now?” You may have given up a job, house and anything else that anchors you to one spot, so you can be faced with the daunting task of rebuilding your life upon return.
Is it any wonder some travelers become permanent nomads? Given that humans are tribal, the traveler by default becomes part of a nomadic tribe; a tribe of outsiders. No one but another traveler can understand their “language,” and it can be difficult to try to assimilate back into the former, village-based tribe.
There’s a Buddhist saying, “you can’t step in the same river twice.” Life moves on, people move on, all while the traveler is off somewhere else. People get married, divorced, have babies, move and even die, all without the traveler. And the world doesn’t stop turning for your homecoming.
The digital world can create a false sense of connectedness, with the ability to post images on social media that draw raves, make Skype calls with video and yes, post adventures on blogs. In reality the medium has changed, but they are still just postcards. (And judging from the visitor count, very few people are reading them anyway.) And of course digital photos make sharing more difficult. It’s not easy to whip out the laptop and flip through pics anywhere, anytime.
People who don’t travel may have trouble relating to your experiences, and not even know what to ask. Conversations in which you want to share your adventures can devolve into talk of local gossip, which now seems inconsequential in your larger world view.
There is also a tendency on the part of the traveler to maximize the good times and minimize the bad, or the boring, which can make your trip sound a lot more exciting than it actually was. This in turn can make people feel their life is not as interesting as yours. So FYI, travel is not all fun and games. There are plenty of boring times, lonely times and, depending on your location, scary times. They just don’t make good reading.
The returning traveler basically has three choices: One: put away your passport and try to assimilate back into society, i.e. don’t talk about your trip unless asked; Two: find other members of the Travelers’ Tribe who can relate to your lifestyle; or Three: start planning your next trip.