The Beauty of Traveling...and Returning Home
Updated: Apr 13, 2019
Many of us have experienced the emotional swings of traveling, whether it be to a family members' house for the holidays or around the world on a month long adventure. The joys and excitement of new experiences as well as the struggles and difficulties of being uprooted from our daily routine are all part of the journey.
The first day (sometimes plus a few) of a trip is always a shock to the system. The stress of physically traveling (traffic, making flight times, time changes) often leaves us depleted and a bit rundown. It is a lot to ask of our mental and physical bodies to come out of our habitual daily lives and expose ourselves to situations we cannot control (travel delays, unforeseen traffic, etc). However if the trip is long enough to recover from this experience we can often find ourselves in a whole new world...engulfed by the beauty of traveling.
Anyone who has traveled for more than a week or so is aware of this feeling (whether or not we are open to experiencing it is another question). Because we are removed from daily schedules and "to-do" lists we feel a new sense of freedom and surrender. Sure the lists of tasks to accomplish that remind us of life back home may still exist but we are not fully immersed in it every minute of every day. This surrender into a new schedule with a different daily routine (trail-life while trekking, activities while visiting family, beach-life while in Mexico) is often stressful in the beginning because we don't know where to be, what to do, etc.
However with time it becomes refreshing as we relax into it. We still have moments of elevated stress and anxiety and that is to be expected any time we remove ourselves from our "controlled" environments and venture into the unknown. But these other moments of freedom, relaxation, and surrender to the present are truly some of the most beautiful elements of traveling.
As we get used to surrendering into this traveling flow and daily life in our new environment we become more accustomed to and comfortable with it. Depending on how long the trip is this can start to become our new daily routine and begin to feel "normal."
Elizabeth and I have seen this time and again on our international adventures. Upon arrival people feel exhausted. Once recovered from this exhaustion, feelings of nervousness, stress and anxiety take over due to a lack of ability to control the environment or know exactly what to be doing in every moment. As the trip progresses (usually within a few days) we can physically see the relaxation and surrender set in. The shoulders drop down the back, we are able to pause and take a deep breath and a look of peace and happiness rests gently on our faces as we get comfortable with the idea that all we have to do right now is be.
Then just as quickly (and sometimes with as much shock) as the trip began it comes to an end. As the "new routine" is broken we can again feel a bit unrooted as our environments and daily routines have again changed. However this time we are returning home to a place and routine we know well. As Elizabeth and I have always said..."one of the best parts of traveling is getting to come home."
We often hear from our clients after trips that it was difficult to assimilate back into everyday life at home (we try to prepare people for this but there is only so much prep work possible). Luckily the "culture shock" of the US wears off quickly and we are able to fall back into their daily routines (with a few positive shifts here and there). However most of the time the routine feels a little different than before the trip. There is a deeper sense of appreciation for seemly mundane items (central heat, electricity, driving a car) and everything around appears a little nicer than before they left. Our minds feel a bit lighter and freer, no longer carrying the full weight of the world on our shoulders...or if we still do we know deep down that all will be okay.
For many of us the idea of an international traveling trip seems overwhelming and mountains of excuses jump into our heads as we let our mind drift to the trip possibilities. My experience has been the more overwhelming the travel idea appears, the more these benefits are magnified during and after our trip. Perhaps it is time to take the first step toward post-trip bliss and start planning your next adventure.