10 realities of returning home from travel / life abroad

Path to Kitekite Falls

Path to Kitekite Falls, New Zealand

A few months ago I returned back to my home country, after 7.5 months of travelling through Africa and Latin America and close to 5 years living in London in the UK. I knew things would be different, I knew I’d have to have the attitude of this being a fresh start. I thought I was prepared for what lay ahead.

Yet, now that I’m back and I’ve had a bit of time (I won’t say to get settled, that doesn’t seem to sinking in), I’ve come to realise a few things. Inspired by an article I read a while ago, I thought I’d share my 10 realities of returning home from time abroad – whether its travelling or living abroad.

  1. Being provided with glasses and cutlery feels weird.

    I’m rather happy drinking out of my drink bottle, so much so that it comes everywhere with me. In the car, gym, work, in the handbag, dinner table, couch, bed. It’s almost my best accessory at the moment.

    Then there the pots. You can actually use more than one. AND… you can put them in a thing called a dishwasher to get clean!

  2. I understand people a little too much.

    While travelling in Latin America and often in Europe I could zone out, no idea what the people around me were saying. Nowadays, I still feel strange sitting on public transport or in a waiting room where I can understand people, sometimes I get confused if someone is talking to me or not!

    Auckland harbour - blue sky days in winter

    Auckland harbour – blue sky days in winter

  3. Space. Empty space. It’s a beautiful thing.

    I have a room now (as of a few weeks ago). After moving around constantly for almost a year (even when I returned to NZ), I now have a space to call my own. It doesn’t seem real. My suitcase is my bedside table, my wardrobe has clothes in bags and I can walk around my bed. I don’t feel settled and I know it’s no wonder, but it’s almost surreal that I don’t quite know what to do with myself.

  4. Food is expensive. Cars are expensive. Life is expensive.

    In London you could get almost any food you wanted, cheap. In Latin America I could eat 4 course meals sometimes for less than $4. Now I struggle with buying groceries – so much choice of items that I haven’t had in a long time and the price tag to go with it!

    Flat White at the Tannery

    Nothing quite beats a good flat white…

    I haven’t had to own a car or really drive in the last 6 years. Prior to that I had my first and only car for 8 years. Now I’m lucky if the car I have will last me 4 months!

    Life gets expensive. Even when I was travelling all the extra activities cost money. I skipped a lot and did free stuff, now it’s like it needs to become a way of life.

  5. Finding a job is hard. Real hard.

    Volunteering in Namibia

    Volunteering in Namibia

    Even harder is finding a job you really want.
 We grow up with the attitude of ‘one day I’ll be a… because that’s what I’ve always wanted to be’. Yet, when you move your life around, you discover that your dream job isn’t possible. You have to reconsider and think your way around where you will spend at least 40 hours of your life each week and how you can be happy doing a job that you don’t necessarily dream of.

    I think the key is finding one you can at least be happy in.

  6. Realising life is really like a house of cards (or dominos).

    We work, save and aim for goals of a house, marriage, kids, then things get thrown in the way and we have to rebuild the house of cards towards these goals. Constantly. Yet, I have realised I want more than that. My life needs to be more than just a house of cards.

  7. No one really wants to hear about your travels.

    No one really understands your travels either, unless you sign up to an OE (Overseas Experience) Group… which I have. Everyone has their own lives and that is great, things happen in everyones lives, travel seems so far removed from everyday life that it doesn’t seem an important topic of discussion. To be honest, they’ve probably read all about it already anyway.

    Salt Flats

    Salt Flats, Bolivia

    Me standing in front of Perito Moreno Glacier

    Me standing in front of Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina

    Iguazu Falls, Argentina

    Iguazu Falls, Argentina

    Breeding herd of elephants running

    Breeding herd of elephants running, Etosha National Park

  8. Baby Baboons

    Baby Baboons, Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary

    Getting back into formal dress clothes again is horrific.

    I almost didn’t recognise myself when I started contracting where suits are common in the work place, you can’t get away with baggy trousers that zip off when you’re hot and wearing the same t-shirt every other day.

    It’s okay, girls, you don’t need to resort to dress trousers and shirts every day – leggings and tunics can make you look dressy and comfortable! There’s ways around it!

  9. Travel is the last thing on my mind

    And that scares me. It’s what I’ve known for the last 6 years. Travel has been my life. Now, after being on the move constantly for 7.5 months I dread the thought. As it is, moving from house to house in New Zealand started making me uncomfortable. Now what?

  10. It’s good to see blue sky, happy people and feel relaxed.

    New Zealand really does have a great lifestyle. It’s just taking some getting used to again.

Trees and rocks along Mt. Maunganui

Trees and rocks along Mt. Maunganui