It seems like I just got back. Just two months ago, I was moving back home after living abroad. But now, I’m going back abroad. This time it won’t be in Southern Europe. Instead I’ll be starting out in South Korea, and then headed to Southeast Asia. And then, who knows?
That’s really the most exciting part about free-form travel. But the truth is, it’s harder to come home than it is to go away. Post-travel depression is real, and it’s something I’ve experienced firsthand since I’ve been back. But often, it’s not for the reasons that people think. It’s not because my life back in New York is so terrible. It’s because people perceive talking about your experiences abroad as bragging about travel. Once you get back, it’s harder to reconnect with those that you lost touch with. And it’s hard to relate with those close friends who might not understand why you’re going back abroad.
Still, it’s important to put these things in perspective. Provided you have the work to travel abroad on a budget (and it’s easier than you think), you can travel for as long as you like. Hell, even if you have student debt travel is not prohibitive. But when preparing to go back abroad, you need to be in the right mental and emotional state. You can’t be hung up on the people you didn’t get to see and the normal social experiences you didn’t get enough of at home. The truth is it is never enough. And unless you fully integrate yourself into your environment, it will never be close to enough.
When going back abroad, you need to put yourself into a different mindset. You need to think of travel not only as experiential, but as a physical and emotional experience. Travel is not just a series of sights to see, or a series of events that happen to you. Like anything else, it’s a lifestyle. At least as long as you want to live that lifestyle. But like anything, it can be given up anytime you’d like, unless travel becomes escapism for you. If that’s the case, then it might be necessary to evaluate your life choices.
However, when going back abroad, it’s important to focus on the positives. You might not be able to speak the local language, or have the comforts or luxuries of home, but you are opening yourself up to emotional growth. In essence, you’re widening your sense of what the world could be. Having been to the Pyramids of Giza, you realize that they could, in theory, be around any corner. Your perception of what the world looks like changes, and so does your cultural attitudes.
When going back abroad, you need to be in the mindset to be open to these types of experiences. It won’t always be as nice or pleasant as you’d like it to be, but that’s kind of the point. That’s not to say you can’t afford yourself certain indulgences — we’re going on We Roam for our first three months after all. But when preparing for your next adventure abroad, you need to be ready for it. You need to give yourself time to prepare, both mentally and emotionally. Otherwise it’s just sights and monuments — collected experiences that you’ll get nothing out of.