Traveling is one of the greatest things one can do in this world. Jetting off to new places, while meeting new people, is an experience that will change our lives forever. To call ourselves travelers is an understatement. We are adventurers and thrill-seekers. We are fearless. We are lovers of life. But above all, we are free.
We travelers speak a special type of language. A dialect only we can understand. We see the world in a different light than most people. We spend hours talking about places we have been and the ones we hope to visit soon. Sharing our stories helps us understand one another. They connect us, giving our travels meaning and significance. We believe fate has led us to one another. Our paths have collided for a specific reason.
One thing travelers neglect to speak about is returning home. We all realize it's part of the journey, yet do not spend much time dwelling on the homecoming. Returning home from traveling is by far the worst part of our entire trip.
While traveling, we experience life to the complete fullest. Nothing is impossible or off limits. The sky is our only restriction. The world becomes our playground, and we never want to grow up. Our lives are filled with new adventures and our days are meaningful. Unfortunately, usually due to lack of money, our time always comes to an end. We board that last plane back to a place we used to know.
At first, returning home is exciting. Seeing our family and friends is refreshing and comforting. Sleeping in our own bed — in a room to ourselves — is true bliss. Home is familiar and safe. We might even start to wonder why we left to begin with.
But slowly, as the excitement of it all fades, we find ourselves a bit lost. Suddenly, home is no longer recognizable. Everything appears the same, but it doesn't feel that way. Something major has changed. And it involves us.
We have changed. Traveling has destroyed the person we used to be. It has created a better version of ourselves. Things that used to matter to us no longer do. Our priorities (the things we want out of life) have changed entirely. We begin to crave the unfamiliar. Waking up without knowing the direction of our day. We miss submerging ourselves into diverse cultures and constantly meeting new people. Reminders of our travels haunt us almost everywhere we go.
We're stuck between two worlds. A world we don't know how to navigate anymore, and a world where we feel the most alive. We return as a completely different person, and this new person is expected to fill the role of the person we used to be. We are outsiders looking in on a world we used to understand, but no longer can. The person who left months ago does not exist anymore.
To our loved ones, we look just the same. Maybe we're a bit more tan, with lighter hair. But no one can comprehend the change that has occurred within. We cannot relate to our family and friends like we used to, even though we wish we could.
All of this makes us want to leave again, to run back to a place where people can actually understand us. We want to go find a new place to call home. We crave a place filled with people who we can call our own.
As more time passes, we realize we do not fit in here anymore. Although, we are not really sure where we do truly belong. Sleeping alone in our own bed becomes the loneliest thing in this world. Home is not as familiar and safe as it once was.
So, we do what needs to be done. We work hard and save money. We do what we have to do, so we can return back into the big, open world. We crave to go back to a place where we can breathe again. Back to “Neverland," where we're free to be whomever we want to be. This travel bug of ours is vicious. It completely takes control of us, driving us back out into the land of the unknown.
We are nomads. We belong to no city. We belong to no one.
Our “home” is not a home anymore. And that's the worst part about our return: the realization that home is not the place you returned to.