There’s an interesting travel consequence you might not think of. It hits you when you return home from your first travels.
When we think of traveling, we think of the culture shock we feel as we experience new cultures. However, as a traveler, you come to expect the differences. In fact, you may welcome them and seek them out. But we don’t expect to feel a culture shock when we return to our home country, town, city, or even neighborhood. We expect to feel something… perhaps many things, but I’m not sure we expect to feel… well, read on.
Here’s what reminded me to finally write about this issue.
Recently a woman in an online women’s travel group posted a query stating that having returned to the United States after traveling for 9 months she has felt nauseous, headachy and exhausted. It’s been over a week but she still feels like she is jet-lagged and stuck with a cold, perhaps in an uphill battle getting re-acclimated to her home country.
I’m getting ready to travel again. I’ve really enjoyed having the past year with my family. I must confess I had a bit of a dilemma deciding whether to travel again or to stay put in a comfortable apartment home close to my family and friends. But in the end, I chose the travel my soul craves over the comfort my heart craves.
I have been out of that apartment for a few weeks now and I have my ticket to fly to Europe.
Faced with the impending finality of giving up the apartment that has become my comfortable home over the past year, I am once again feeling the constriction in my throat and bouts of fear of what is to come. I am again starting to wonder if I’m crazy and if I should just stay comfortably where I am.
The reality starts to hit me whenever I leave “home” for the unknown. Where am I going to stay? Will I be invited into peoples homes? Will I be safe? Am I crazy for doing this?
For the most part on this blog I have shown you the places I have been and they are indeed exciting. If I have invoked your wonderlust or wanderlust, then I have done a good job of showing you how exciting travel can be. However. I’m not sure whether I have shown you the other side, the uncertainty of it. If I haven’t, I owe it to you to do so.
Each time someone tells me they want to go to Nicaragua I cringe. I hear the people are lovely, they say, and it’s so inexpensive. Yes, that might be true — but my experience wasn’t about nice people. I was locked in a room at the border and threatened with jail — because of an immigration agent on a sick power trip.
I have long debated telling this story, but I feel it’s important. I’ll never know if I really would have been sent to jail in this Dictatorship, but the Tourism agent at the border certainly believed I was about to land there.
Please read this — and take it seriously.
[I write this while in LA, newly sub-leasing a small apartment. My plan is to stay in LA for a while, enjoying family and friends here for a while.]
Each night now as I go to sleep and look at this red clock beside my bed and I think: “I have a bedside clock.” It’s been a long time since I’ve had a bedside clock. One of these red glowing LED lights that shine the numbers that tell the time. It might seem silly but it’s a luxury I’ve long lived without and a bit of normalcy for me. I haven’t had much normalcy in quite a while — in 4 1/2 years.
…disappointed that she was in China and her friend didn’t want to experience it …couldn’t care less. Then I realized! She wasn’t with “travelers. She was with “travel hackers.”
It’s one thing to take advantage of a great New Card offer and get $50,000 bonus miles — giving you a free flight from say, the USA to Europe. It’s not easy to save for a vacation and we all need vacations. And a new card now and then is legitimate. But go on that vacation and enjoy the place you’d selected! Travel overland while you’re there and see the place. Take a train or bus and talk to the locals! Experience the place! Savor the locale, the people, the foods, the languages, the experiences.
This time 4 years ago I lived a typical American life in a two-bedroom condo. It was home to my furniture, photos … two dressers full of clothes…. kitchen full of fine appliances…home office.
Now I’ve virtually been living out of a 65-liter backpack. If something fit into that backpack, I don’t take it with me.
Sometimes I miss my old stuff but If I still had it I would need to still have a place for it to — and I would not have had the freedom to be in whatever country I happened to be in at that moment.
The truth is, we really need very few physical items to be well-dressed, clean, well-groomed, and comfortable. And your perception or definition of “very few items” will even change as you live the downsize.