The Dreaded Post-RTW Post

Even before we left for our trip around the world, I was dreading this post. The post-trip, “What we learned from the trip and what we are going to do now” post.

That’s why it took me a month after we got back to sit down and write this.

It might take me another month to finish it (well – 2 weeks actually).

What is it like to be back?

San Francisco tourist bus
I can see tourists from my house!

I must admit, the first week after we got back was tough. I’m guessing that must be what post-wedding depression feels like. Years of planning and saving, years of having a purpose, a goal… now what?

But a true testament to how we as humans adapt, I got over it. How? I kept busy.

I’m trying my hand at freelancing, selling my photos, writing an e-book, panhandling (err, no), buying lottery tickets (not really), and thinking of buying a patch of teak forest in Bali (no, seriously) – and see what else comes up.

Our new home – San Francisco

San Francisco row of houses

After our trip, we landed in San Francisco. Upon hearing about where we are, friends would say “Oooh, I looove San Francisco”.

But we didn’t fall in love with San Francisco as quickly as we expected. Living here is so different that visiting as a tourist. Tourists don’t get the urge to stab their eyes when seeing how much an apartment costs.

($1800 for a studio? Gimme that fork! Aaaaaarcck!)

So life after a long term travel? I wish I could say we feel differently or that things have noticeably changed while we were gone.

But really, it’s kind of sort of the same as before. What’s scary is how quickly we adapted back to life at home, picking things up where we left off as if we had never left.

Sometimes I feel that 2011 didn’t happen at all.

What do you feel after coming back from a long trip?

21 Replies to “The Dreaded Post-RTW Post”

  1. Coming home was tough and still is. Been home for a year now. Living in Sweden and can't wait to head back out again. I agree with the fact that things became back to "normal" quite fast. My only problem is that I don' want "normal" 🙂

  2. I'm not close to finishing my RTW trip – I'm 10 months in and have 2-3 years to go. But ya, right now I can't imagine having to write my post-RTW trip. I can't imagine doing anything else right now or in the future!

  3. I haven't yet started to think about my post trip – but I am sure we will dread it also. Ironic that you ended up in San Fran. We have been doing some thinking about where is next, and it is on the top of our list. We will follow you and hear your stories and you might be seeing us there in 9 months!

  4. We've been living in London for a little over a year now, and every so often we have the "should we stay or should we go" conversation. I miss my beloved San Francisco more than I can express (hopefully it'll grow on you, too), but I also know that it won't ever be the same as it was. All of this traveling can really complicate things, can't it? Good luck finding your place in your new home! A little wine always helps 😉

  5. Welcome to the Bay Area!! We live in W.Oakland. We'll b coming back after 6months of traveling at the end of June. I'm sure we'll have a post or two bout post travel depression. haha.

  6. The problem for me has always been that after big trips, it's too easy to get sucked into drudgery again. So this time when I left Australia to travel… well go and live in Indonesia I decided that it was open-ended in every sense of the word. I was not going to come back unless I had a burning desire to. And for now, I am absolutely loving the journey I am on. Of course Indonesia will one day become the new norm, but as long as it doesn't involve me having to work in an office, I think I can cope.

  7. Hi,

    I can really imagine it is hard to get back and have to settle in "normal" life again. Friends who just got back said that the hardest part was that after a few weeks all your friends have had enough of the RTW stories and just want to talk about "daily business".. We have not even left yet, but I do not think we will ever get back where we are now and settle in the same kind of life. I never want to live the "fast life" anymore. I want to life a more conscious life and take more time for the things I really like to do. Hopefully we can keep up with that thought!
    Good luck there. I am sure you will find a way of living that will suit you!

  8. I can't really relate to post-RTW blues, but I CAN relate to that after-travel feeling that everything you just saw and experienced never really happened. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that the people around you once you're home didn't see/do any of the things you did, and they can't relate to your tales from far-off countries. In fact, sometimes they don't even want to hear about your adventures!

  9. "Sometimes I feel that 2011 didn’t happen at all." — I can relate to this. We just seemed to drop right back in where we left off – same friends, same activities, same jobs, same everything just like we had never left. We were lucky – we came back with a plan; lived in furnished apartments and looked for new jobs in a new city. We moved after being back just 9 months and now we're looking to move abroad as soon as we figure out how. It's hard and people don't get it. We're lucky enough to have been able to go away and just have to suck up the coming home part. Good luck.

    1. That's very true. That's one good thing about San Fran and California in general – so many places to see. We'll definitely won't just end up staying still but be taking advantage of what the area has to offer.

  10. Since I was a little kid I've felt a big let-down whenever a trip or visit ends. I can't imagine how it will be after the trip of a lifetime. But I guess if it's not seen as settling back down, but rather continuing the adventure closer to friends & family, it doesn't have to be 'the end' at all…

  11. It took me about six months to settle in and get my head straight after being on the road for three years. I remember I wrote a blog entry about how I felt like I had taken my brain and smashed it in the blender turned on high. It was crazy. I was confused. I had no idea what was happening.

    Amazingly, after a while I settled into my new normal and realized that I really, really wanted this new normal. I was tired of traveling the world on bicycles. Biking had become normal for us and it would have been easy to continue on – just as it is easy to continue on with your typical 9 – 5 because it's easier than living your dream. For us, the biking had BECOME our 9 – 5 and moving back to Idaho was exciting and nerve-wracking. And wonderful.

    If I've learned anything this past year since we've been home (wow – I just checked the calendar. It's been a year TODAY since we got back to the USA!!) it's that it's all about living consciously. By that I mean that if you wake up every morning and say, "What I'm going to do with the next 24 is MY choosing" then it's all good. You may choose to go to a job you don't particularly like, but you choose to do it because it'll provide some greater benefit that you enjoy more than you dislike your job. It's all about knowing that it's your choice and that you can change it any time you want.

    I am now absolutely deliriously happy here in my little house in Boise, Idaho and don't have any desire to go traveling. I might change my mind tomorrow, and it'll be OK if that happens, but for now we're enjoying life here.

    I hope you reach this same place in time.

    1. Thank you so much for the inspiring comment. It's been nice to see that we're not the only ones feeling a little derailed about coming back. Making your own decision and knowing why you do so and live with the consequences is a powerful feeling indeed.

  12. I've been traveling full time for a year and a half now. In March I went home for a month to Miami to visit my family and I hated it. I missed cheap street food, I hated having to use a car to get around (although I loved driving as it had been a while) and I did love seeing my friends and family.
    That said, that life that I used to have was no longer for me and I was glad to be able to say I was leaving again soon.
    I am now in Australia for a year on a working visa and I almost choked when I went to purchase a coca cola and the girl told me it was $4 bucks.
    At that instant I missed my old bed in my mama's house and the free dinners I got every night, and being able to gossip with my old girlfriends every night.
    And a room in a house here in Melbourne costs about $900 bucks. I don't know how I am going to survive it.
    At least you're living in a fabulous area with tasty food and great views.

    1. First time I went to Jamba Juice after I get back, I almost walked out. Having used to pay at most $1 for a glass of fresh juice and now having to pay $4 for a smoothie made out of frozen stuff – ugh. It's tough.

  13. We finished our RTW in December and then just got busy looking for work in a new country. We're in Norway now to live and it's all exciting and new. We don't miss schlepping our stuff all over the world but I'm sure once we get settled in we'll be back to a bit of the boredom sans travel we had when we weren't on the road. We plan to keep travelling on shorter trips so that will keep us busy.

    I hear you on San Francisco rents – I lived there for two and a half years and loved it, but it really is more expensive than New York City.

    1. Knowing that you guys are now in Norway made me feel embarassed for whining about the rent in San Francisco 🙂 It makes SF a budget travel destination by comparison.

  14. So much to celebrate – world circumnavigated, budget un-busted (enough), and San Francisco inhabited!

    We got back from our RTW going on 3 years ago and, while the return was bumpy (http://bit.ly/HGr1NW), the glow of long-term travel has yet to leave us. We've even started traveling again and blogging about it.

    Welcome to SF! If you want to ever meet up for some burrito therapy, let us know.

    And if you are looking for fun cheap things to do in SF to offset the crazy rent (it's insanely and unusually high right now), check out http://sf.funcheap.com/

  15. I really struggled coming home and I am still kind of dealing with it. Writing about it actually really helped as it was a way to gently tells friends what I was going through but it also made me realize everyone goes through a bit of depression. I was gone 18 months but it felt like just a few. Everyone went on with their life and they were as different as I was.

    It does get better. I promise.

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