‘Not all those who wander are lost.’
– J.R.R. Tolkien
University is over, holidays are ending soon and I am on the verge of starting ‘real life’. When did all this time pass? Where did all the sleepless nights and lazy days go? – Well, this is relative as the sleepless nights will surely come back once work starts and then the lazy days will turn into grumpy mornings, but you get the point. So, here it is: that moment in time when you don’t know what’s going to happen next, where are you going or how will you end up. After being abroad for four years and knowing what will happen every September, here I am, in my room, wondering where life will take me. Should I travel again or should I stay home for a while? They say once you travel you have the tendency to want to travel more – ‘the travel bug’. But is it really this way? We’ll see.
Not so long ago, a friend of mine (also a traveler) sent me an article entitled ‘The Hardest Part of Traveling No One Talks About’. Some of the main points of the article were that while traveling, one overshadows the lows (of being away) with the highs they experience in their travels, then they come back and seem to be ‘Hollywood’ for the first few weeks (as everyone wants to meet them and hear their stories), but ultimately, a traveler ends up lost, alone and deeply thoughtful, thinking where to ‘run away’ next – and this would be the hardest part of traveling no one talks about.
I would be lying if I said I don’t agree with the overall article, but I wouldn’t say that the hardest part of traveling is ‘the coming back’ part; or at least not for the reasons presented in the recommended article. In short, the reason why the author considered the coming back part to be the hardest is that being home and seeing all your acquaintances moving on with their lives (getting married/pregnant or the ‘perfect’ job) and looking like a lot has changed since you’ve left, would make you think that not much has happened in your life and the travels weren’t worth it, given that you return to ‘nothing’. But that ‘nothing’ actually means everything to you, as you have accomplished many other things in your travels that the others haven’t. But the ones at home might not be able to understand it and in their eyes it would still look like you didn’t accomplish anything, because they can’t comprehend how you really feel and what travel has actually taught you – all your stories, impressions and facts might sound like a lot of jibber jabber and nothing concrete like a wedding or a real job. Again, I agree with this point, as it has happened to me several times, but I don’t see it as ‘the hardest part’ – I like to see it more like a motivation both for me and the others, but I will come back to this later.
So, after reading the aforementioned article, I kept thinking of what would be the hardest part of traveling for me, but I couldn’t find it, because the being home part is definitely not the hardest part; for now, it’s actually the best part. Even if people think or talk about you not accomplishing much, you should know that it’s actually not true. But moving from what the others might think or talk or understand or not understand, being home surrounded by family and the small bunch of friends that you’ve managed to keep contact with through time looks pretty cool, after being on the road for a while. You are back to the comfort that might have been missing while you were away, you can catch up with old friends and start rebuilding friendships and most importantly, you can see everything with different eyes, because this is what you’ve learned while you were away. Keep your family and friends close, get to share your experiences and views with everyone and try to make the others see life through your eyes – you might have been away, you might not have a job, but you have the places you’ve been to, the people you met and the stories you’ve been part of. And this is a good thing and sometimes it might be even more fulfilling than the professional or love related accomplishments of others. Try to make this ‘being home’ part a motivation for others, to go explore the world and really understand all that you are talking about, and also make it a motivation for you, to see that even if you want to travel again, sometimes things can look good at home too, even though you might seem a bit lost and alienated.
All in all, I see two sides of the so called travel bug: since I got home, I feel like I would like to go away again, but at the same time I am fine here and I see everything in a more positive way. People keep telling me that it would be better for my future if I go abroad again, but what about my present? There should always be time for travel and everyone should do this if they can. From my point of view, traveling does not mean spending money and doing sightseeing; it means exploring the world, getting to know and understand other cultures and sharing the new discoveries with others. But from time to time, it is good to be home for a while; even if the others don’t understand, even if the others don’t speak the same ‘traveler’ language, even if they don’t see your accomplishments, in the end it’s only ‘the others’ who don’t get all of this, but it’s enough if you see it. Don’t be afraid to stay at home for a while and don’t look at it as ‘the hardest part’. If I have learned anything in all these years, it’s that coming back to my home is the best part of traveling. They say ‘Home is where the heart is’ and it usually means that home can be wherever you travel. I am not saying that I wouldn’t like to travel more, I am just saying that sometimes my heart is at home and it feels good.
By: Ioana-Alexandra Tache