21 ways life after travel can be difficult

“I wish I could just be normal and be happy with a life in my own home in the one town.”

As a long-term traveller or nomad are you often plagued with feelings and thoughts like this?

I do constantly and it brings me a lot of angst.

how travel can make your life difficult

Travel will change your life and your way of thinking and being, which is a good thing, but it can also make your life very difficult when you return home.

Sometimes long-term travel is not the best thing for you, but like an addiction, you feel your existence is nothing without it and you’ll do anything to have more of it.

You sacrifice a job career to travel. You return home to start work again and can be viewed as flaky and unreliable, with little experience. You may even have to start again at the bottom of the ladder.

21 ways travel can make your life tough when you return home

  1. You won’t own anything.
  2. Getting a loan will be hard as you won’t have any credit history.
  3. You’ll constantly wander around in circles lost.
  4. You’ll find it difficult to connect with people who don’t understand or like travel. Sometimes this will be people who are close to you.
  5. You’ll need things in your life to make it easier, except you won’t buy them because you could be gone in a month’s time.
  6. It’s hard to make plans. Society is a scheduled place and you’re used to just going with the flow and adapting as life moves along.
  7. If you’re not on an exploratory adventure than life is boring.
  8. Sometimes you won’t like your own culture and all you’ll think about is how much you love others more.
  9. You have to learn how to overcome reverse culture shock.
  10. Sometimes you forget how to speak and you mix up languages or speak in that silly stunted talking to non-English-speaking-english form.
  11. You become silent and socially awkward, not because you are, but because no one wants to hear your travel stories and you don’t know what else to say. Travel is all you know and is who you are.
  12. You’re never satisfied and just want to keep trying new things.
  13. You spend too much money eating out because you just want to feel like you are travelling again.
  14. You’ll often feel daggy and unstylish as you are a functional and practical dresser, but sometimes you just want to feel like you belong on the streets of Milan.
  15. You’ll just want to live life by your own rules all the time as you’re used to it. That means finding a way to create that lifestyle – like travel blogging – which brings a whole new world of hard work, sacrifices and challenges.
  16. You’ll make stupid financial decisions because you just want to travel and so you’ll do anything to get it.
  17. You’ll feel resentment at all the social functions and events that require your presence – you’re just not used to being in such demand!
  18. You’ll feel frustrated at having to cook and clean as you know what a complete waste of time this is and no matter how hard you try you can never recreate that amazing Panang curry you ate in that Koh Lanta beach restaurant.
  19. You’ll constantly question your decisions once children come along and the debate will constantly rage in your head as to whether you should settle with the white picket fence or live that amazing travel lifestyle together as a family.
  20. No matter how old you get or how many kids you have you’ll still want to be first to arrive and last to leave a party and most of the time you are!

All of these things have me often thinking of putting the suitcase away and storing the camera in the cupboard for good.

I think of all the things I could possibly have if I didn’t travel and how life probably wouldn’t always feel so strained for me now as I struggle to adapt to a hybrid settled-travel lifestyle.

But then I stop to think of my why.

Why do I travel? Why are my travel sacrifices worth it?

And I remember how it makes me feel- vibrating with life, totally free, and deliriously happy.

I can’t deny who I am and what I was born to do.

It’s not comfort and ease that I really want, it’s purpose and meaning and stretching myself to be more and experience more.

Travel has made my life difficult, but it has enriched it in too many other ways to ever give it up.

How does travel make your life tough?

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44 thoughts on “21 ways life after travel can be difficult”

  1. I LOVE this post Caz! I think my biggest sacrifice is not being able to share my travel stories with my friends and family because I know they don’t want to hear it. I know that they’re jealous and call me ‘lucky’ (even though it’s nothing to dow with luck, just hard work) and I don’t want to alienate the friends that I have but then I feel isolated as I have no one to talk to. I have made stronger connections online than some of my physical friends because we have so much more in common; especially as no one in my world is a traveller like myself.
    I can understand all your worry and angst; I plague myself with these thoughts at times but then you remember that you have to be selfish in this world. You HAVE to search out your happiness and do the things that make you smile no matter what anyone else says. No one’s journey is the same as anyone elses. And ultimately, if you are happy, your children will be happy πŸ™‚

    1. We’ve made a huge effort on this return home to spend time with other travellers both online and off at various travel meet ups. It’s really helped. You should see what ones are on in your area. You’ll love it, you’ll feel as if you are in the right and happy place. It’s all about being selfish and maintaining that happiness and peace.

  2. I struggle to figure out what direction my life is going in now, and it’s mostly because of travel. I don’t want the traditional life with an office job. I definitely know lots of people who don’t understand my need to travel and don’t really want to hear about my trips. It’s hard to know what’s out there but also know I can’t just hop on a plane any time I want. But I’m also not willing to go back to the life I had a year and a half ago. So I’ll figure something out and make sure travel is a big part of it, even if it isn’t the easiest path. Maybe because it’s not the easiest path.

    1. So understand what you are going through Ali and it sucks. I think travellers need to be more aware of how this can really affect them when the travel stops. We battled with it badly, not understanding what was going on and made some stupid mistakes as a result. Your life changes a hundred times more than it ever would if you never travelled and yet when we return home we’re forced in a sense to go back to that small box we outgrew. Trying to find the bigger box back in society is extremely difficult. Actually it’s not even a box you want!

  3. Caz, I’ve been an expat and a nomad now for 13 years and I have to say that you have summed up all the struggles in one post. Some things I know but don’t care as much about (having NO credit history), while others, like finding it hard to fit in and constantly having itchy feet make me scared to ever actually settle because I think I’ll just ultimately tear up the roots again and go back out there. I love that you are still the first to arrive and the last to leave, even as a busy, blogging mom. I think it just goes to show the zest for life we have as nomads pumps us up with so much energy – the sacrifices are worth it because we live our lives to the fullest!

    1. We have been facing that dilemma all year. Settle down or just run and tear up the roots. I just want to tear up the roots and I can’t ever imagine me being any other way. Scary when you have children. Kalyra starts school next year, which I don’t worry too much about being a school teacher.

      I have far too much zest and sometimes just don’t know my own limits. That wine just keeps pouring out πŸ™‚

  4. There was a point in my life when I was plagued with similar fears. What if it had become an addiction that highlighted my inability to commit and persevere in life?

    I forced myself to stay in one place for five years, with only a few short trips. It was one of the hardest things I’ve done! But happily it helped me waive those thoughts aside, and I became a more carefree traveler once I finally picked up my suitcase again.

    1. I am definitly society commitment phobic. I’ve never held a job down for longer than two years. That’s my limit before I completely freak out. It’s been two years this month in the one place and I’m losing it way worse than a room full of school children during full moon!

      1. I’ve been there! I pushed through it, and eventually everything around me opened up. Without trying, I made new friends, found a new part of the city … it really felt like I had moved, without moving. That’s when I figured out renewal happens whether I stay or go (so I might as well go!). Obviously, everyone’s experiences are different, and that was just mine. Good luck on your journey!

  5. All I could was laugh at who many of these feelings I have had to come to terms with. But then I just remember how much I like the lifestyle that I have chosen and on the other side it all makes perfect sense; even in my maddening mind.

    Oh happy days

  6. Oh for sure there are some downsides to this nomadic life style (2. not owning anything I actually consider to be a plus) and you’ve done pretty good job at covering most of them. But then again for me, life is about constantly experiencing and learning new things; and at least for me, travel seems to be the best way of doing it.

    But you are right, sometimes it can be quite difficult to speak about it with all the people close to you, but in that case, find other travellers (even bloggers) and talk to them; and suddenly wanting to travel constantly seems pretty normal πŸ™‚

    1. Yeah, we tend to hang out with other travellers more than anyone else. I’m actually going on a press trip in a couple of months and it will be with a group of mummy bloggers, not travel ones, and I’m slightly terrified. I feel like I’m not going to connect and I just won’t know what to talk about and we’ll be in the zone I feel most comfortable in!! πŸ™‚ I think life is definitely about experiencing and learning new things, that’s why after a few months of settled life I go a little crazy.

  7. Wow, you’ve summed up the life of a global nomad so well. I challenge anyone who’s moved country not to tick 75% of the points you’ve made here. After 11 countries and well past the age of ‘settling down’, we still get itchy feet and know that from a societal point of view, moving will be to our detriment. But from a personal point of view, we never stop learning and growing and facing new challenges head on.

    1. It’s so hard to balance it all out!! It’s so much harder when children are involved as well, you tend to weigh up societies point of view more

  8. Im pleased to say that, having just started out on our journey, reading this list has not put me off! There are of course difficult things to conside but, like you, I’m not looking for comfort and ease. I just want to do what feels right at the moment, and for me, travelling is definitely that. It’s hard work fitting work and travel together, and it’s not for everyone, but there’s nothing I want to do more right now. Perhaps that will change, but for now this is it. Thanks for your honest post, and other inspiring stories.

    1. Oh no! Don’t let it put you off. It is so worth feeling this angst to live that travel life. I’d never trade it for the world, even though sometimes I think about what could of been. What could of been probably would have been empty and meaningless. ENJOY your travels!!

  9. Wow, reading this is like… my deepest thoughts and “internal questions” being laid out in front of me. I thought I was the only one (and my husband as we discussed this yesterday) that feels that feeling of people just simply not wanting to hear about your travels. Even though we only travel Australia at the moment we experience so many of the above experiences on your list. My wardrobe, like yours, is functional – designed for bushwalking, keeping the sun of my skin in the desert and the cold wind of my skin on the coast, whenever I am invited to a social event (and feeling the feelings you described of resenting them because Im not used to being in demand) I have nothing to wear and hate having to go backwards on my priorities and waste “travel money” on stylish outfits. I cant even believe how spot on your list is. I feel bad that you have to experience these things but at the same time I feel glad to know that I am not the only one. We just have to remind ourselves of all the GOOD that a travel lifestyle brings. Plus feeling like a bit of a “social outcast” when we arrive home and are so different – is the best motivation to find more ways to be travelling.

    thanks for such a great and relatable post Caz.

    1. Oh no! The good old eye glaze!! We know that only too well. And it’s just because they don’t understand or can’t connect which is fine, but I can’t really connect to normal day stuff at the same time. It is always great to know that we are never alone. Travel taught me that and I find blogging a great space for those who experience the same thing to feel safe and with friends who understand. That is why I always write posts like this. Thanks for commenting Mel and sharing your experiences with it as well

  10. It is so weird that I should read this post this morning as yesterday, I was experiencing all the above feelings. Been back two weeks now after my last trip and still unable to get into a daily routine. Ended up putting everything else on a back burner and researching on the internet for my next trip. Only thing that stops my emotions from being all over the place

    1. It’s so hard to get back into a routine. I think that is why I’m so involved with the travel blog as it keeps me in that place of travel and sane. We always say to family and friends, you know how you feel after returning home from a two week holiday- imagine after five years!!! Most still don’t even get it.

  11. Fantastic read Caz, and one I can entirely relate to. The world really doesn’t seem to understand the concept of long term travellers.. we essentially cease to exist. Not having a fixed address, job etc.. can make dealing with authority requirements, like insurance, visas and so on a real PITA. I suspect most get around this sort of thing by using a parents or friends address, but seriously… the world needs to stop clinging to the idea that we are defined by what we own and where we are from. Can’t we all just be global citizens, resident on Planet Earth?

    1. Yes agree!! And that is another one I thought of that should be on the list. Spending every day not understanding why we can’t just have global passports, currency and rules because then we’d be free to travel and more people would get along and it just makes sense!! It does feel like you ceasse to exist for sure.

  12. While I agree with pretty much all of your 21 points, I think a lot of people who travel continuously, myself included, were feeling a lot of those things long before we started traveling. In fact, that’s probably the reason many of us set out in the first place and it’s certainly the reason we continue.

  13. I am not a nomad, yet could relate to the post as I am not usually surrounded by people who travel much. Sometimes I think of the expenses of travel vs. what else I could have done with that kind of money, and yet, the experiences in travel are unlike other experiences I had, and if it feels like an investment in yourself, an expression of who you are, if it makes you feel that happy and connected to yourself, I think it’s worth it.

  14. This post really hit home for me, Caz! I’ve been back living in Sydney for about eight months now and I still struggle every day to work out how I can do both – travel freely but also have a strong home base. I hate that I’ve already accumulated so much crap in less than a year after spending a full two years swearing up and down that I wouldn’t let myself fall back into old habits…maybe we just put too much pressure on ourselves? πŸ™‚

    1. Oh the crap. It kills me. every day I complain and no matter how much I declutter it just keeps piling up. I think it could be a little too much pressure but also just knowing and loving another way more.

  15. Although #15 seems trivial, I am glad it made your list because it really does matter sometimes. Buenos Aires is a fashionable city, and I did not want people to think I was a grungy backpacker when I went to wine tastings or dinner parties.

    1. Agree. I find nice clothes are finding their way into my suitcase more. Granted I’m not really a backpacker anymore so I feel it gives me a little more freedom to style it up with at least one nice dress.

  16. Interesting post and comments! We’ve been traveling the world as a family non-stop for the last 7 years ( 44 countries on 5 continents so far on $23/day pp) and I must say I have never had ANY of these feelings. We find endless slow travel makes our life MUCH easier, freer and more rewarding.

    Perhaps it is because we are older, retired early, introverts, just have one kid who was 5 when we began and soon will be 12, our family of origin understands why we do this and we don’t need to depend on our blog for income so do exactly as we please. I find it the best possible way to educate her, have so much more time with her and together, lots more freedom and quality of life. We do it in a way that nurtures all of us and gives her long term friends ( in several languages). We love being together 24/7/365.

    Maybe it’s because I’ve been traveling for 60 years and saw much of the world before we started our digital nomad life. Travel is in my DNA, not so much my husbands, but he loves it too as it’s long been a dream for him. It’s more about freedom, plus more loving and TIME for us than just travel.

    I love living with few things now, but then I did have my life as a clothes horse when younger. I love that I can teach my daughter the value of minimalist living and to think deeply about each purchase and how it affects one’s freedom. I love having many luxury homes around the world so we can raise our child as a fluent multilingual, even though her parents are monolinguals, but she did have the first 5 years in a large dream home with acres of land so has a since of home and we get to return to those friends and family there to keep those relationships.

    We’ve done the settled life and high paying jobs and enjoyed that, but life has many phases. We do mostly slow travel on our own terms and only go where we want to go when we want to go…always as a team.

    Certainly we sacrificed things to live this dream life of travel, (lived under our means and saved for years, gave up our dream home etc),and no life is perfect without some challenges, but we LOVE this permanent vacation lifestyle and never consider going back home for a “settled” life.

    1. Such a great story jeanne and I completely agree. These feelings I have come once I stop travelling and return home which is why I just want to be an eternal nomad. It’s great how you have managed to make it work for your family. We’re still working on it as we are climbing out of a big hole, but it is getting closer.

  17. Love this, especially 15. I always feel unstylish and I just want to dress up and look oh so chic, but I don’t have it in me anymore. I’m a slob and I know it:) Heels kill me and my eyes dry out when I wear makeup. I fit in better when I’m on a mountain or in the middle of a desert or something.

  18. Love your blog! I am new here.

    I would love to travel but right now my goal is to pay off my house, then buy another with a ton of land, pay that off, and then TRAVEL. I also want to build my side hustle income so that this is sustainable.

  19. I just stumbled across this page, and I can completely relate! It’s so nice to read. I have to go home for a month or two in December before my next trip, and all my friends seem to have suddenly, simultaneously settled down this year – with engagements, houses and cars. And I feel completely out the loop! I started wishing I could feel happy in the one place, with the one house, with everything they had. But I really, really wouldn’t.

    I love travelling, and no matter how much I feel I should be following my friends, in my heart I know I can’t! There’s too much to see in the world.

  20. I’m surprised that missing loved ones’ special events did not make the list. Since I live in another country, I have missed weddings, meeting new family members (babies), and was unable to visit my mom when she was in the hospital. Your list is very spot-on, but a little selfish. Sure it’s fun to travel, but we miss the joys of a settled life, including deep relationships and being there for someone when they need us. My best friend is moving in a couple of weeks and I won’t be there to help her. That all on its own makes me regret choosing to live in another country far from home. I don’t want my relationships to fall stagnant, not because they do not understand me, but because I have failed to understand them.

    1. Hi Kristina,
      The list I created was about how travel can make your life difficult when you return home. Therefore missing loved ones special events is not on the list because I am home and so not missing them.

      If you miss the joys of settled life when you are away then that is your miss and your opinion and not necessarily mine. That’s not to say that that wouldn’t be on my list, but who are you to say what should and shouldn’t be and I’m selfish if I don’t include what you think should be on it.

      I wouldn’t tell you what you should put on your list because I don’t know you, your values, your background, what’s important to you or what is not. For all I know you could be an orphan who has no family around to care. So calling someone selfish is really not appropriate because you are assuming they are just like you, which is never the case.

      In creating this list I am not casting judgement upon anyone or saying that should think like me I’m just saying this is what’s on my list.

  21. What a thoughtful post.Really love it.All the points are so true and exactly relating to the life of any traveler.But i am little scared to travel now after reading your post because i don’t want to face such problems after my traveling.

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