A friend of mine is coming back to Australia this weekend after almost 2 years out of the country travelling and working. Last time we talked, she told me she wasn’t sure if she is ready to come back – a feeling I have had when each of my trips has come to a close.
Every long term traveller returning home will encounter the question at some point whether they want to pick up and head off again. The answer to that question for me was a definite “yes” before my second and third trips to Latin America, and it’s always an appealing option. But when you choose that option, it’s important to make sure it’s for the right reasons. My “yes” decision before my fourth Latin America trip last year definitely wasn’t. So here are my 10 recommendations of what not to do when you return home from travelling!
1. Don’t confuse a travel romance with a potential real relationship. If the only way you communicate is on Facebook, it’s a travel romance.
2. Don’t hold on to your travel romances, they will never turn into relationships. Connections formed with your fellow backpackers on the road operate in an endless honeymoon period. And I can guarantee that the [insert activity] instructor you had a fling with in [insert exotic country] has met a hundred other girls since you left.
3. Don’t plan to go back and work in a certain city or country if any part of the reason for going is to see one of your travel flings again. I know that you have totally always wanted to live overseas, and you were totally thinking about it before you met him, so it totally wouldn’t be a big deal to pick the dirty, dodgy city in his country over the far more appealing, cosmopolitan capital next door, right? Wrong! Only go if it’s completely for your own reasons.
4. Don’t fork out a decent amount of money for an ESL teaching qualification to create your own reason. (And if you do, at least make sure you like teaching so you can use it at home!)
5. Don’t lie to yourself about 1, 2, 3 or 4.
6. Don’t start dating someone who reminds you of the guys you met travelling. Just because they speak a certain language, like to dance and know all the songs on your playlist, doesn’t make them the right person for you.
7. Don’t rush into booking your next trip. In the few weeks leading up to going home, all you will be thinking about is when you are going back. Another trip might be the right decision, but you don’t need to put your next flight on your credit card just after you come back because there was a sale. If you really want to go, you will still want to go when the travel bubble isn’t clouding your judgment.
8. Don’t actively try to stay in the travel bubble. Just because someone doesn’t speak a certain language, doesn’t like to dance and doesn’t know a single song on your playlist, doesn’t make them less interesting.
9. Don’t be indecisive. Once you have made a decision to go, don’t complicate it by looking for reasons to stay. If there is any part of you that would wonder “what if..?”, you’re not ready to hand in your backpacker card.
10. Don’t be too hard on yourself when you realise how delusional you were for breaking the first nine rules!!
Despite everything, my last trip ended up being pretty awesome :) And funnily enough, nothing on this list was a problem when I came back!