My first long term backpacking journey as a fresh kiddo just turned 18 years old was to South Africa for 2 months. At the time that seemed like a long journey to me. Different story now… I still remember so vividly sitting at the airport in Cape Town after the 2 months was up, waiting for my flight home thinking, gosh, what will have changed at home? What will have become of my family, my friends, my home town and my fluffy and amazing dog Sem? Sure, I had kept up to date with them – at times at least – getting the day to day updates about their lives, but still, in my head more dramatic changes surely lay in store for me when my plane touched down…
You know the most dramatic change that was waiting for me? My dog had a haircut… I know many people who don’t want to travel simply because they think they’ll miss out on so many events and happenings back at home. But the truth is, you just won’t. You might miss out on a party and a birthday or two, but as far as bad luck might stretch, that’s about it. We have this tendency to think all these weird and wonderful things will happen when we are not there. It might even feel like that once you are gone. But this is just down to the simple reason that you have an external outlook on events when you’re not within them. A Facebook photo of your friends at a party might make you feel like you’re missing out on everything back home, (even though you might not even have gone to it if you were home), because you pay more attention to what’s going on there when you are gone. In actual fact you are only missing out on one night, out of a whole lifelong experience that is right in front of you.
Don’t be afraid to leave home, because nothing remotely as dramatic as what you will experience on your travels will be happening at home. While you may have this feeling of missing out before you leave, and it may even hang around the first day or two, I promise, you will soon forget all about it, as you experience the joy of traveling and are blown away by all the incredible things right there in front of you. Before you know it, weeks, months have passed by, your journey has ended and you’ll find yourself sitting at the airport, waiting for your flight with the same thought that I and almost everyone returning home has – what will have changed back home? While returning home is definitely a most amazing feeling, and the excitement of seeing your family, friends and pets again after x amount of months or years away is incredible beyond words, for many however, after the first week or two of catching up with everyone, you may experience a strange and confusing feeling. You start to realize that not much has changed at all, certainly not as much as you thought it would have, and for many people this realization can even bring with it a feeling of disappointment.
You see, the wonder that traveling brings into a person, is change – an enormous kind of change. While you have been out on that whirlwind of adventures, insights, ideas, experiences, lessons, places and people for those months or years you’ve been traveling, your family and friends most likely remained home. Because you changed so much from that trip, you assume the same would have happened to those friends and family you left behind, even to your hometown or city. But in reality, this is hardly ever the case. It’s important to understand this, and to know that it’s normal that you might have these feelings when you get home. Don’t worry though, these feelings will settle down, just give it some time and focus on what’s in front of you.
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