The Post-Travel Blues
I hate coming home.
I hate having a numerical limit placed on the numbers of holes and suspicious stains my clothes are allowed to have, or how long I can grow my leg hair. I hate the completely unrealistic expectation that now that I’ve travelled and come back, I’ll settle down and make responsible decisions about my future. More than anything, I hate it when people ask stupid questions like “How was your trip?”, somehow expecting you to sum up a year in a Twitter-friendly 25-words-or-less, but not really giving a shit anyway ‘cos they noticed they could see the girl on the other side of the room’s nipples through her shirt.
Post-travel depression is as inevitable a part of arriving home as weight gains, jet lag and getting your excessive amounts of duty-free alcohol confiscated by Keith at customs. In fact, PTD is so common that it’s recognised as a genuine mental health condition. True story.
And why wouldn’t it be? One day you’re spiking fresh coconuts with vodka, dancing on beaches and waking up on dirt floors with people you’ve never met before, and a week later you’re home trying to calculate how many packets of two-minute noodles the money left in your bank account will buy.
When you’re on the post-travel come-down, everything seems duller. The colours are less colourful; the culture is less cultural. Sure, your king-sized futon’s comfy, but you miss the bedbug colony who made you their queen in Goa. Your mum’s cooking might be nutritionally balanced and taste like the springtime, but your body’s evolved by now to exist only on alcohol and stolen bread, so it’s wasted on you. Hot, tinea-free showers are all well and good, but you and your foot odour had started to get along just fine, thanks.
Whether you’re gone a year or a week, the transition from a lifestyle of adventure, experience, and irresponsibility back to the real world is always gonna be a hard fall. Never fear though, heartbroken hobos – we’ve got a foolproof three-step plan to cushion the landing and get you back on track.
1. Accept that nobody at home has been where you’ve been – and they probably don’t care.
One of the hardest things about coming back is trying to reconcile yourself with the terrifying realisation that no matter how much you might have changed, absolutely nothing about the real world or the people in it has. Even if they try to understand, the people you left at home weren’t there the time that one kid in a market changed your entire perspective on life, or when Steve ran through the fence of the backpackers with only a tiki mask on. They didn’t see the sights, they didn’t meet the people, they didn’t taste the sea cucumbers. And after four months, when every sentence you’ve spoken started with the words, “This one time, when I was in ____”, they probably don’t care. Expect them to and you’ll always be disappointed; treasure it yourself, and take them back one day.
2. Bring the hobo life home.
Just because you’re in a familiar place doesn’t mean you have to fall back into routine. The homebound hobo doesn’t need to stop doing things that are challenging or blatantly socially unacceptable, or start showering more often than every second Friday. Talk to strangers. Explore. Try new food. Drink. Dance. Get lost just to see where you end up.
3. Dig the rucksack you still haven’t put away out of the pile in the corner of your room, stalk our website for a bit, and then leave again.
If it’s that hard, you’re not meant to be here. Go, be free, send us a postcard.