It’s a strange thing to admit to yourself: that you can feel at home on the road and just kind of lost in the familiar place that you know as home.
It’s a feeling that I’ve only just come to realise since travelling home to the UK from Nicaragua a couple of weeks ago. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t like being at home because I do really miss my family when I’m away and I do appreciate the comfortable feeling that comes with being home. It’s just that I never made my home here.
I never got that job commuting into London, I never moved into that first time flat, and I never decided that it was time to settle. When I graduated from university, I moved abroad with Luke almost right away. We spent a year teaching in Taiwan, and sure we worked full-time and lived in an apartment like most people do, but we also travelled a lot.
The more we travelled, the more we wanted to travel. We became freelance writers and house sitters so that we could travel long-term. I started to feel at home on the road. I got used to that constant sense of movement and temporality. Throwing my backpack on just became part of my morning routine. I got my fix of ‘home comforts’ and time to unwind through house sitting too.
Being on the road also means that Luke and I can live together all the time. In the UK, our family homes are five hours apart, and there’s absolutely no way we could even dream of renting a place together on our income. And, after managing to sustain a life on the road, it’s hard to see why we’d want to do that. Our set-up might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it works for us.
This time round though, the transition from long-term travel to being at home has been even harder. I left Nicaragua pretty abruptly after receiving some bad news from home. I wanted to be with my family right away, but this also meant leaving Luke behind. We’d already committed to a house sit in Guatemala, and not wanting to let the homeowners down, he’s staying on in Central America until the end of the sit in April.
When I arrived home, I stopped doing my Sunday evening photo update about what I’d been up to over the weekend on my Facebook page. I’d stopped because I thought sharing photos of being home in the UK was kind of dull, but this week one of my followers said that they missed my “weekend in photos” update, and I realised I was wrong.
While coming home naturally feels strange for any traveller, it’s important not to think of it as a time when your life is on hold but instead as a moment to reflect on the experiences you’ve had and to enjoy local life and local travel. Being at home isn’t a reason to stop travelling, and it shouldn’t be seen that way. Just because somewhere is overly familiar to me doesn’t mean that it isn’t interesting to someone else. Not to mention that there is so much of the UK that I haven’t seen yet, it’s unreal. During my time at home after Taiwan, I discovered some incredible new places that I hadn’t even known existed, and I know there are so many more waiting to be discovered.
For now, I’m content walking in the countryside around my house, scouting out the local vegetarian and vegan cafes, and spending time with my family. I look back on my past ten months with nothing but happiness, and I look forward to my future travels with Luke too, wherever they may be.
How do you deal with long stints at home? And what do you like about them?