The hardest part about loving to travel constantly is that there is no guide for assimilating back into your home culture. Don’t get me wrong, I could never have trouble coming back to 2 a.m. Taco Bell runs and 24-hour superstores. However, there are six ways that travel makes me feel like an expat in my own home.
1. Being Alone is Now Preferable
American culture thrives on the idea of always having some type of company. Being alone can often be seen as a sign of loneliness, withdrawal, and/or unhealthy seclusion. Before I started travelling in university, I was always surrounded by friends and couldn’t stand to be alone in public. Alas, being a solo traveler has changed that drastically.
Traveling alone has taught me that there is nothing that I can’t do by myself. Being alone gives me more flexibility, like in August when I went to Edinburgh with no accommodation plans and ended staying with a new Scottish friend that I met at a PRIDE parade in Madrid.
I had an amazing time meeting her family and friends plus, I got the opportunity to hang out in quite a few spots that were off the beaten path.
That may be the best part of being alone. The opportunity to make friends with people from all walks of life. I have gotten used to wandering cities alone and finding friends at the local bar. From joining a Spanish bachelor party in Portugal (complete with a matching shirt) to having hilarious talks all night outside of a bar in Belgium (Eyal, if you’re reading this, I still stand by my argument that 50 Cent is not a better rapper than Jay Z).
I have learned so much more about people from being alone than I ever did when I was attached to a group. Believe it or not, being alone is a hard habit to shake.
2. I’m Suddenly Pretentious and Unrelatable
One thing about traveling is that nine times out of ten you are engaged with other people that travel. So, when you say things like
“Well, one time when I was in _______________”
“These tastes waaay better in _______________”
“In ______________ they do _____________ this way”
There is less of a chance that you’ll sound pretentious and a better chance of someone replying with either an argument or an agreement or zealous indeterminate plans to travel to said place.
When I tell stories at home, I realize that I lose my audience as soon as I start with “Oh my gosh, the third time I went to Paris…”
As of 2015, around 39 percent of Americans have valid passports as opposed to the UK’s 75 percent. In the States, you have to work a little bit harder to meet a group of travelers than you would if you were traveling in Europe.
Statistics show that people just can’t relate. How can they add to a story about gallivanting across a continent when the farthest that they’ve traveled is the next state over? That puts an awkward and unintentional damper on many conversations.
My new roommate, Isobel, and her mother even call me ‘Princess Essence’ and I didn’t do much to help my case when I made tortellini for dinner and no one in my apartment had heard of it.
3. I Can’t Make American Friends
I could just be making an excuse for my annoying personality but I find it really difficult to connect to Americans after being immersed in another culture. Other bloggers have talked about travelers’ tendencies to make friends with other expats instead of locals when in new countries. I feel like I could benefit from doing the same at home. I miss the diversity of having friends from everywhere and, to be honest, it’s a lot easier to make friends when you will hang out with anyone that speaks the tiniest bit of English.
4. Post-Vacation Depression is Too Real
Before I have even breached U.S. airspace, I have already mentally
probably physically planned my next trip. There are things that I miss about America as soon as I leave (I’m looking at you 24-hour Super Walmart) but I can’t even enjoy the things that I have missed because I would rather be travelling.
I find myself daydreaming about the food that I ate…
The gorgeous views…
And most recently, my adorable Spanish kids.
Need I say more?
5. I Forgot How to Stay in One Place
Ever heard of the travel bug? I truly believe that there is a little bug that flies around and once you’re bitten by it, you’ll be forever dedicated to roam the world.
It usually takes one little trip to feel the affects but suddenly you’ll find yourself explaining to people why they can’t find you for weeks at a time.
It doesn’t matter whether the travel is international or domestic, even stay-cations are appealing once you’ve been bitten.
6. I Think That Everything is Too Expensive
Nothing is better than being able to survive off of 2USD (US Dollar) a day. When I lived in London, I could buy an entire salmon for about 4 USD which can cost me upwards of 20 USD in the States. Entire meals for less than 1 USD and eating on the streets may not sound appealing to many but I felt like it was a luxury.
It may be hard to get back into the groove of American life but it is always comforting to be boisterous in an establishment without having to worry about being negatively called a loud American.
No matter where I go, it will always be the first place that I called home and where I learned to be a tourist.