7:00am… this is actually happening. I checked out and hit the streets of Bangkok. My head still fogged from my late last night on Khao San Road. I think I tried to hard to rid myself of Baht on buckets. I hailed a cab and was officially on my way to the airport. Avoiding this moment like the plague, it was time. I was homeward bound, a temporary detour on my way to Australia. Only an overnight layover in London, many hours and there I was. Back on Canadian soil for the first time in 16 months.
I remember how I felt after returning home from my first backpacking trip and it was only 7.5 weeks. I was sad to leave, not necessarily ready to go home, but excited all the same. Excited to catch up with my family, grab a pint with my friends and shoot the shit. Tell them all about the experience I had. What I saw, did, ate, the good and the bad even though it slowly begins to fall on deaf ears. This time was not the same. I was almost nervous to return. It was my country, but was it still ‘home’. I felt out of place, like I didn’t quite fit in here anymore. Quite possibly because I didn’t really want to be here yet, but I knew this was just for a short intermission before I was off again. 6 months give or take and I was looking forward to seeing my family/friends again so I think there was more to it. Something had changed and that something was ME.
The first couple weeks is a honeymoon period full of reuniting with everyone from your old life. I constantly was trying to sum up 16 months of exploration around the world and through myself in a few words. Most of the time I was asked how my trip was all I would really say is, ‘It was amazing!’ I never knew which stories of the hundreds in mind would be relatable and generally speaking, very few if any were. Only a short grace period is granted before being back is normal and regular life ensues. Meanwhile, the fire inside threatens to consume, burning your feet until the unknowing road of travel is once again in front of you.
I kept having this feeling that I was right back where I started. Was it a dream, nothing had really changed here to make me feel otherwise. Maybe a job, house, relationship or child. In the grand scheme of things though, nothing except my sense of belonging. I found that now being back in Canada for 6 months, I actually had more contact with my family/friends while half way around the world than a mere couple hour drive. These feelings are brought on by myself I know, choosing to leave in the first place, but the ups of this life massively outweigh the downs.
In an attempt to slow the inevitable monotony of the regular 5 day work week life, I found a couple 3 month gigs to try and keep things interesting. One in Toronto, a city I’ve always lived close to but knew virtually nothing about and the other was at my old job. This helped to some extent but at the end of the day routine was still slowly sapping away at me, biting at my heels as I just managed to stay ahead of it now.
While I am grateful for my time to recharge, reunite, restock the bank and get my fix of the odd western food I’d missed, I knew I had to start making my own trail again. I came to realize that I was much more comfortable in cities that are ultimately still foreign to me. Being surrounded with the unknown and the people who embrace it had become my new home for now. Living for the spontaneity of each day without a clue of what the next few hours might hold in store let alone next week.
They call it the travel bug, but I believe it’s more like a drug than a ‘sickness’. It’s addicting. When it’s in my grasp I’m happy, without it results in boredom and withdrawals. I spend just about every dime on it including some I don’t have yet. I’ll do just about anything for it. My mind rarely strays from it. Ultimately it has become the essence of life for me. Good or bad I embrace it and with that said my next flight is bought. I need a fix.
Is this relatable as a traveler? Let me know how you felt after long term travel?