Can you go home again? A question for the long term traveler

There’s the adage “you can’t go home again” that does bear merit, particularly if one has been gone from home for years. Perhaps you traveled back to your hometown for Thanksgiving and have a mental checklist for just how much the town has changed.

Certainly you noticed changes in yourself. Or maybe you noticed that even though you’ve changed, your trip back home was an indication that some things never change–family dynamics, perhaps? But let’s not go there. In the case of this post, let’s expand home past a person’s hometown to a person’s country.

I’ve moved out of the United States four different times for a variety of time periods. The first was on a study abroad program to Denmark for four months. The last was for four years that were split between Taiwan and India. Each time I was gone, I needed to readjust to life back in the United States. As I discovered, readjusting to ones own country can be more difficult than getting used to living in another one. Even after a short period of time of traveling, we change. Once you’ve made another country home for awhile, there is a disconnect between how you’ve changed and what your expectations are for life back home.

This disconnect is wonderfully highlighted in “Some Indians Find it Tough to Go Home Again” in the New York Times. The article looks at what happens to Indians who grew up in the U.S. and moved back to India several years later with the notion of helping out their home country. In general, what people find out is that who they have become and how they do business does not match up with India’s culture. What they expect is not at all what they get.

Interestingly, as the article points out, expats who are not from India often have an easier time fitting into Indian business culture because they are able to adjust to the Indian system more easily.

This phenomenon is not only common to India, I would guess–or to people who have lived in the United States. I have friends who have lived overseas for years who I can’t see living in the U.S. again because they have become absorbed by the cadence of living elsewhere. The U.S. would not be a great fit.

How to Travel the World: website with the nuts and bolts

Although the focus of the website How to Travel the World is to help folks plan for long term travel, also known as a gap year trip, the information is useful for anyone. Whether you’re a person who is going to travel for a few days or months–years even, browsing the site is a place to start planning.

Various links provide info on everything you need to consider from how much money to budget to tips on what to pack.

Before you buy a plane ticket, the budget page can help you decide where to go on a trip in order to match your cash flow. Thailand is cheap. Australia is expensive.

Buying a plane ticket and packing are obvious details. The site also includes those items that you might forget to consider before leaving home, particularly if you’re going to be gone for a long time. The page “Pre-Trip Planning” offers a handy list that ranges from bank accounts to wills.

Anyone who has traveled for an extended period of time knows about the almost certain let down that happens once a trip is over. Reading the section “Coming Home” is one way to ease the transition. Personally, I think it’s helpful to know these details before heading out on a trip in order to be prepared ahead of time.

Another helpful page is the F.A.Q where readers submit questions and receive answers. Any travel jitters you might be having could be calmed by browsing through this one.

The How to Travel the World is written by folks who are long term travelers and edited by Matthew Kepnes who also writes the Nomadic Matt Travel Site.