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Me standing in front of the royal palace in Mafra

What I Have Learned Coming Home After Months Abroad

Coming Home Is Amazing...

In October of 2018, we dropped off the last of our charity donations, packed up personal items in our Golf, and left Kingston Ontario. A couple of days later we flew to Thailand as brand new digital nomads. Since then, our travels have taken us to China, Costa Rica, Panama, and now back to Canada before heading out again to Europe.

So, what is coming back home like after months away?

Amazing...But Weird

Travelling full-time is incredible. Being able to roam, visit bucket list places while we are still young, grow our remote business, and make memories as a couple is something we don’t take for granted.

Now that we are full-time nomads, our trips have gotten longer and we are spending less and less time in familiar surroundings. So. What I have learned coming home after months abroad? Well, I am still figuring that out. There have been amazing things about coming home, and also challenging and weird things about being back in North America.

Me in our Airbnb in Toronto Canada

Belonging Everywhere and Nowhere at Once

An article has been going around about travelling full time and the harsh reality that, despite what you may think, no one really wants to hear about your travels once your back on home turf.

Ouch.

Your travels force you to feel at home anywhere you go and for us, have made us feel less connected to one specific place and more connected to...everywhere, to our routine, and to each other. It's hard to explain.

It's a feeling of being a citizen of the world as opposed to feeling completely tied to one spot.

The article made some great points about coming home from long trips abroad and the bizarre feeling that begins to set it, especially when it comes to a sense of belonging and connection with friends, family, and place.

I can confirm that some of these are true, at least in my own experience. A lot of these feelings are rooted in a limited shared experience between you and the people you are coming home to.

Me at Kensington Palace, London

Limited Shared Experience

One of the challenges of coming home as a digital nomad is a lack of shared experience with those you left behind. In a lot of instances, you have been off having new and exciting experiences and likely, you have changed a lot. Maybe a little braver. Maybe a little stronger. Hopefully more tanned!

Your frame of reference and experience has expanded and you are forever changed by that. It can be a challenge to reconnect, share, and bond with people by discussing your travels and adventures, where there is no common ground or shared experience there.

This doesn't mean they don't care about you, or that you don't remain close, just that there can be a barrier when it comes to investing in your travel story.

As your travel story and your identity become increasingly intertwined, it can be hard to see where that line is. At what point is someone not caring about your travels, not caring about you and your evolving identity, at least on some level?

If you want to see a nomad a few years in and get their honest opinion on how this lifestyle has left them wanting more, click here.

Looking at a golden temple in Thailand

Culture Shock Is Real

We have all heard of culture shock when visiting a new place. You head about it from people who visit the vast cities of India and Asia and are overwhelmed by what they see, experience, etc.

Well, culture shock when coming home is also a reality. Returning to a place that once felt familiar and having it feel foreign is an odd mix of emotions.

I think our home culture is always supposed to feel the safest and most familiar, but when you're gone for a long time, you change and the place you left behind changes too.

I think one of the major reasons we have found readjusting odd at times is that we went from one very different culture to another. Living in a small town in Costa Rica for months and then coming back to Ottawa, the capital city of Canada, is a major shift. The amount of people alone is a big change, let alone the pace of the culture, the weather, the consumerism and so on.

Coming back to my home town of Ottawa has also made me see it with fresh eyes. While it doesn’t feel so much like home anymore I am able to see and appreciate all of the little things I missed about it and maybe even took for granted when I was here. We have been hitting up local spots we love, from bakeries to bars, to farmer’s markets, and loving being in familiar surroundings.

It's a mix of nostalgia and distance at the same time.

Ox Cart parade in Atenas Costa Rica.

Family and Friends are Awesome

One of the greatest things about coming back to home base is seeing family and friends. This is the main reason we came home at all.

Though we are back “North of the wall” for a short time, we have been lucky enough to see lots of close friends and family members so far. Sharing stories and gin with my grandma, snuggles with my new niece, shopping and endless cups of tea with my mom, to birthday celebrations with my brothers and sisters, it’s so important for me to have time with my fam jam when I’m home.

It's people. That's what it comes down to. The people you care about that anchor you.

When you have a short amount of time to visit it helps to crystallize who and what is important.

Me looking at flowers in London.

Will Home Ever Feel Like Home Again?

Don't get me wrong, home is still homey to a certain extent. It just doesn't feel like a place we want to settle down at this point. There is a whole big world out there and we are nowhere near done exploring it.

So, will home feel more or less like home when we come back in a few months? Hard to say, but I will be sure to keep you updated as we go.

Do you travel a lot or live abroad? If so, where feels the most like home to you now that you are abroad? Let me know!