But what to do now? All you know is travel. Will you stay for a few weeks and fly out to your next adventure, or settle for months, even years, before making plans to backpack Kilimanjaro?
You should be prepared for how such an extended stay at home will change you; all your experiences traveling up to the present have rewired your brain chemistry for the better, but it’s only a matter of time before you adapt to the comforts and trials of the domestic life.
How can you tell you’re really planning to stay home for a while?
1. You speak about your countrymen in the first person again.
No longer do you engage in conversations abroad with random foreign travelers and speak of the people with whom you share nationality in the third person, strangers detached from your days on the road.
You find yourself empathizing with their domestic struggles as you eat the same foods, enjoy the same entertainment, and live in the same country once more.
2. You actually try to get a regular job.
The horror, the horror.
You can’t make part-time hours at a hostel fulfill your needs for things like food, housing, clothes, and Internet.
Maybe you want some stability; maybe you feel this job will be the one to take, the one to make you realize that the 9-5 isn’t so bad… nahhhh.
3. You buy laundry detergent.
Gone are the days when you simply stop by friends or family for a visit and deposit your backpack next to the washing machine to ensure a speedy load. No, you’re planning to stay long enough to use all 60 loads’ worth of detergent. Feel grounded now?
4. Your Couchsurfing profile is confirmed at home.
Now a Couchsurfing host, a surfer no more.
5. Food from home is not considered a “treat.”
You don’t have wander into a McDonald’s in Agra to satisfy your hamburger craving. You indulge at first, then realize that this food is nothing special, available everywhere and in bulk.
6. Driving feels more like a chore than a release.
Granted, some of us drive even when we’re traveling abroad, but it’s often in a new environment in lighter circumstances; rarely would we be that concerned with getting into work by 9:00, fighting traffic, and stressing over “making good time.”
7. You don’t read as many travel stories.
It seemed like you had all the time in the world to read those books you let pile up. Now you’re once again surrounded by English bookstores, and all you want to do is get distracted by YouTube, Hulu, friends, parties, work, significant others. Reading takes a backseat when you stop stretching yourself.
8. You settle for less.
It’s the subtlest change of all to come to your attention. You start eating healthy; soon you’re consuming a few fast food lunches a week. You look for employment and settle for something that pays rather than a job you’d enjoy. You have friends, and don’t feel compelled to reach out of that circle to find new ones.
And, the worst of all… you understand why some people feel compelled not to travel. After all, everything you could possibly want is here: stability, good food, people who speak your language, familiarity. Why leave all that behind to see some distant corner of the world? Scary concept.