Being stationary is a weird feeling. Even now, after being stationary for seven months, I still can’t quite get used to it.
I didn’t think returning from long-term travel would be this difficult for me.
Since I’ve been home I have gone through various stages of long-term-travel-decompression.
First, it was that stifling feeling of not being able to breathe. Walking through customs, passport colored with stamps in different languages, alphabets, visa stickers and stamps … handing it over for inspection.
Then, it was the overwhelm. Being in a car, stuck in traffic on a six-lane highway, wrapping around Washington, DC. Getting behind the wheel of a car. Driving.
Even the little things I didn’t think would bother me made my shoulders tense: walking into Target for the first time; wheeling a shopping cart through a super-sized grocery store.
Were stores always this massive? Did people always rush around like that? Have there always been 500 varieties of corn pops?
There were days that would go by where I would do nothing but sit silently with all of this excess energy, unsure of what to do with all of the stimuli surrounding me.
After the overwhelm came frustration.
I had just returned from an experience I could never sufficiently sum up in a conversation over coffee, over a long, drawn out meal.
And yet, for some reason, all I could think about was my journey. How I wanted to tell people, but had not a clue where to even begin.
With the return home also came another frustration: what the hell was I going to do now?
For seven months, I had grown accustomed to not having a routine. To waking up every morning and relishing the fact that this beautiful world was my oyster.
And post-travel? Shit. No job, no belongings, no money … it felt like the future I was searching for just dripped through my fingers.
To fight the sinking, I decided to search out my next adventure. My next high.
Yes, the city I had loathed once upon a time was suddenly my knight in shining armour … the copper of Wynn and Encore twinkling in front of snow-capped mountains, beckoning to give the town one more try.
So, I did.
Because, after frustration comes desperation. Desparation to figure out what the hell to do next. Desperation to get situated. Desperation to get a routine.
Then comes satisfaction.
After I got a job and moved my life, I felt satisfaction. Relief.
I did it.
There I was, waking up in a place where red mountains, blue skies and fat palm trees make everything just a little prettier. I felt great. The pride I felt in my job, the comfort I felt in continuing my story from a fixed address.
Traveling long-term helped put everything into perspective once I got back to Las Vegas.
I didn’t care what parties I got invited to.
I didn’t care what celeb was where.
I didn’t care that my backpacking wardrobe didn’t translate into Las Vegas Cool Wardrobe.
But, I did care that I wasn’t traveling.
And, that’s the problem with long-term travel: it’s like a drug. Once you’ve gone and experienced something like that, you just don’t feel right until you are doing it again.
I needed that high.
I catch myself all of the time.
I’m in the moment, and then suddenly, I am wistfully brought into my old life … recalling moments in time, images I chose to stand out in my internal photo album, friends whose faces I yearned to see.
Lately, as I grow more accustomed to the routine of life I am now living — waking up, making breakfast, driving to work, working, going to the gym, coming home, making dinner, wash, rinse, repeat — I grow hungrier for the what I used to have.
Don’t get me wrong — I am here. I am happy. But, there’s this big chunk of my heart that craves my drug of choice. And all of its glorious paraphernalia.
So, I’ve done what any Travel Junkie would do after returning home from long-term travel: I’ve gone and booked another trip.
No, it isn’t another doozy of an adventure. Its more tame. And certainly shorter.
I’m headed to Thailand and the Elephant Nature Park for two weeks this autumn.
And, I’ve started saving my pennies (hello, advertisers!) so I can put it into my Travel Funds (Virtual) Jar.
I guess I won’t know the long-term effects of returning home from a RTW yet.
Or hopefully ever.