Makgadikgadi

The Hardest Part of Travelling that No One Talks About

This piece was not written by myself but I couldn’t have said it better. The words epitomise a strong undercurrent I have been feeling for a while. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, that yearning I still feel five months after completing my trip.

If you’ve ever traveled extensively or taken a journey into the unknown, welcome to the group of lost individuals who will never be truly understood.  Read below…

You can stay up to date with my adventures right here – http://www.facebook.com/london2cape Twitter or Instagram @sharkydillon or see my videos of Africa on YouTube

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The Hardest Part of Travelling that No One Talks About by Kellie Donnelley

You see the world, try new things, meet new people, fall in love, visit amazing places, learn about other cultures – then it’s all over. People always talk about leaving, but what about coming home?

We talk about the hard parts while we’re away – finding jobs, making real friends, staying safe, learning social norms, misreading people you think you can trust – but these are all parts you get through. All of these lows are erased by the complete highs you experience. The goodbyes are difficult but you know they are coming, especially when you take the final step of purchasing your plane ticket home. All of these sad goodbyes are bolstered by the reunion with your family and friends you have pictured in your head since leaving in the first place.

Then you return home, have your reunions, spend your first two weeks meeting with family and friends, catch up, tell stories, reminisce, etc. You’re Hollywood for the first few weeks back and it’s all new and exciting. And then it all just…goes away. Everyone gets used to you being home, you’re not the new shiny object anymore and the questions start coming: So do you have a job yet? What’s your plan? Are you dating anyone? How does your 401k look for retirement? (Ok, a little dramatic on my part.)

But the sad part is once you’ve done your obligatory visits for being away for a year; you’re sitting in your childhood bedroom and realize nothing has changed. You’re glad everyone is happy and healthy and yes, people have gotten new jobs, boyfriends, engagements, etc., but part of you is screaming don’t you understand how much I have changed? And I don’t mean hair, weight, dress or anything else that has to do with appearance. I mean what’s going on inside of your head. The way your dreams have changed, they way you perceive people differently, the habits you’re happy you lost, the new things that are important to you. You want everyone to recognize this and you want to share and discuss it, but there’s no way to describe the way your spirit evolves when you leave everything you know behind and force yourself to use your brain in a real capacity, not on a written test in school. You know you’re thinking differently because you experience it every second of every day inside your head, but how do you communicate that to others?

You feel angry. You feel lost. You have moments where you feel like it wasn’t worth it because nothing has changed but then you feel like it’s the only thing you’ve done that is important because it changed everything. What is the solution to this side of traveling? It’s like learning a foreign language that no one around you speaks so there is no way to communicate to them how you really feel.

This is why once you’ve traveled for the first time all you want to do is leave again. They call it the travel bug, but really it’s the effort to return to a place where you are surrounded by people who speak the same language as you. Not English or Spanish or Mandarin or Portuguese, but that language where others know what it’s like to leave, change, grow, experience, learn, then go home again and feel more lost in your hometown then you did in the most foreign place you visited.

This is the hardest part about traveling, and it’s the very reason why we all run away again.

725 thoughts on “The Hardest Part of Travelling that No One Talks About

  1. I have traveled alone for over twenty years. I wouldn’t give anything for the experiences that I have had. I have been to every continent except Antarctica. What keeps most people from traveling is Fear. Of the unknown or of people different than they are.I haven’t found people to be different any where. It’s what you make of it. If you are going to judge, stay home. It has done more for my self confidence than anything else in my life!

  2. Post travel blues eh? Fully sympathise with the sentiments in this piece and after completing a 35,000 mile motorcycle trip through the Americas my wife and I underwent the same emotions on our return. We even began to dread the question “so what was it like?” It is so difficult to explain or portray what the trip ‘was like’ to people who want only really a short answer before they move on to the next topic of conversation. My solution was to prepare presentation material to depict the journey and then offer this to anyone was interested. This then led to two books on our travels and through all of these mediums I was able to get across ‘what it was really like’, the highs and lows, the excitement, the bruises and so on of a trip of this duration. To avoid turning the whole show into some business activity we decided from the outset that it should not be something that we would profit from financially but would do for the love of it and to inspire other people into going out and chasing their dreams. We continue to donate all speakers fees and book sale profit to Cancer Research UK, our nominated charity for the trip. This has brought untold personal rewards (mental and emotional) that we never could have predicted before we decided to embark on the venture in the first place. Would highly recommend recording your travels in writing / photography / film and even art / poetry – whatever floats your boat. There is a huge audience out there of armchair travellers who will never get the chance to do tread the paths that some of us have chosen to travel and others who just need a gentle shove to get them on their way! BE INSPIRED!

  3. I sold up and started traveling at the age of 48. I’d never thought about it before but it seemed like a perfect solution for being tediously bored of the old routine but wanting more. I now don’t have a home to go to and the sense of freedom is incredible. I have met so many amazing people along the way, people I would have never met otherwise. You don’t meet amazing people on the tube going to work, they’re out in the world having adventures….just like me.

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