Mythbusting the Backpacker Blues

Back in July, I wrote a blog called The Home Stretch. In it, there is this:

Lastly, there’s a newfound interest in just living that won’t go ignored. There will be an eagerness to try some things I dabbled in abroad and to rekindle passions for other hobbies that were rediscovered. There will be more attention paid to the people, places and things I love and less to the things I’m “supposed” to do.

Returning to some semblance of a normal, daily routine in such a familiar setting incites a strange mixture of nervousness, excitement and sadness in me, especially when the word on re-entry after trips like this is all about the post-backpacking blues. I guess we’ll just wait and see.

When I was writing, I remember feeling so gung-ho about this portion of the blog. It really changed my outlook on certain parts of my life. I was ready to dive in headfirst and embrace these feelings when I got home.

And now, about six months later, I’m happy to report that I’ve mostly stuck to it!

Excuse the side of cheese here, but I really do feel like I’ve lived more since getting home (and since leaving on the trip in the first place…) than I had in many years prior.

I’ve been more open to trying new things – whether that be recipes, jobs or experiences – than ever before. I’ve been much more aggressive in growing my freelance writing career, and it’s paying off so far. I jumped back into volunteering and got myself involved in baseball again. I’ve visited friends in New York, Vermont and D.C., Lexie in Denver and have Seattle next on the agenda.

As I promised to myself, I’ve put a huge emphasis on doing the things that make me happy rather than following whatever predetermined path I’m “supposed” to take, and I’m better off for it (thanks to Mom and Dad for being generous with their shelter and company – I’m not sure I could stray so far from the path without your help!).

Now, I’ll be the first to admit I still have things to work on. I still get distracted way too easily. I still procrastinate like nobody’s business. Sometimes I find myself caring too much about winning a pointless argument or a board game. And I definitely still stall when pursuing the goals I set for myself.

For example, I left Europe wanting to learn a new language or two. I haven’t even started. I wanted to make more progress on my novel each week. The mythical writer’s block has a death grip on that. I promised to be more communicative with friends and family, both new and old. I’ve been better, but feel like I could be putting in more effort.

Coming back home did have an effect on me. A lot of travelers return home and have harsh withdrawals about the realities of daily life. I miss the nomadic life every single day, but I wouldn’t say I am experiencing said “backpacking blues.” I prepared mentally for that, and it helped. But I’m still witnessing the positive and negative effects of re-entry.

Every day, I let my mind and body battle between the new, motivated person I promised to become (and have become, in certain ways) and the old, apathetic person that finds comfort in his East Bay bubble.

One thing I can take out of it is my improved self-awareness. I haven’t fallen so deep into my old counterproductive ways that the hole is too big to get out of. I recognize when it’s happening and am able to turn it around.

That’s a good feeling, but there’s still work to be done.

At least I’m living proof that you can drop everything, traipse around the world for a while, live out of a backpack, sleep on trains, return home with an empty wallet…and still thrive.



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