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Ambivalence about returning to home routine after a trip is over?

If you're on a long trip and it's coming to a conclusion, do you find yourself with mixed feelings about returning to your home routine?

In some ways you might be eager to stop living out of a carryon and to have your regular habits and haunts back in your days, but then again maybe you question why you've got a closet full of clothing when you managed so well with just one or two changes - it saved so much debate :-)

RS often says that he has a changed perspective on home after a trip, not just new travel memories. What about you?

Honestly, after three weeks of being involuntarily out of my residence, I find myself loving the chance to do some of my own cooking and cocooning, but I also am looking at my stuff and my circumstances with a more critical eye.

(If you don't think this topic belongs in the trip reports section on the forum, please just move along rather than grump)

Posted by
3992 posts

These are a few things I noticed when returning home from three semester long trips:

Less is definitely more and preferred when it comes to clothes.

Cooking is fun again (for awhile) when you’ve been eating at hotels and restaurants for 4 months.

Doing laundry isn’t as bad as I’d remembered and it’s sooooo nice to have clothes return to their normal shapes after much sink washing and hanging to dry in odd places.

A sofa never looked so good. On the 3 semester long trips we only had an alternative place to sit, a sofa/loveseat, in our room in three different cities, one per semester. I can remember exactly the feeling of walking into a room and finding another place to sit that wasn’t a desk chair or the bed.

EDIT: I forgot to add that driving is a bit of a very short learning curve after no driving at all for 4 months.

And one time when we returned home I was walking downtown and suddenly stopped and had to catch my breath when I realized I could understand all the conversations around me. No more walking in my language bubble.

Posted by
1174 posts

Probably different for everyone. Many years ago when I lived in an apartment and would go on a trip I'd come home and really see the apartment for what it was -- small and dingy, worn-out carpet, etc. I'd ask myself "My god, I live here?" I liked the location near a downtown and my neighbors, I guess I just grew inured to the apartment itself.

Posted by
4593 posts

In the past, I returned home and then returned to work the next day. I don't recall ambivalence u der those circumstances, but I seem to ba a person that starts transitioning to home a day or two before I leave my travels.....maybe because I do have to be at work the next day.
However, I did have a major aha moment in 2011 when I returned from a Tanzania culture and safari trip. I lost all interest in TV (too frivolous), and started assessing the value of every purchase and why I was keeping hold of so much stuff. That was more life changing that an average trip should be.
Recently I had a 6 week and then 2 week trip and I remember both times having to resign myself to my own cooking again. I was glad to receive my fresh vegetable delivery at the door but wished I had someone else to do the cooking again. I love the quiet sleeps I get at home, and how perfect my bed fits. I also appreciate a comfy reading or sitting setup. When I travel, that is one of the reasons I chose an apartment....an upholstered seat.

Posted by
2267 posts

I never know if, towards the end of a trip, I'm actually getting antsy to get home, or if knowing I'll be headed home soon makes me antsy. That is to say, does the mindset change after X amount of time away, or is having Y days left creating it?

Posted by
5128 posts

I love leaving for adventures, and I love coming home to my three dogs ( hopefully with a good behavior report.😉. I'm so happy I have both worlds.

Posted by
1033 posts

maybe you question why you've got a closet full of clothing when you managed so well with just one or two changes

I am recently back from a 60 day trip and now have piles of clothes in my spare room to either donate or throw out/upcycle. While I am not going to pare back to just my suitcase outfits I realised that I have lots of clothes that I keep "just in case " (I lose weight/they are back in fashion etc).

But by around day 50 we were starting to miss a lot of things about home - mostly related to food and comfort. Muesli, Indian and Thai food, a nice bathtub, a comfortable bed and my recliner were top of our list.

I realized I could understand all the conversations around me. No more walking in my language bubble.

Oh wow, this was me too. I spent 12 months learning Spanish before our trip and honestly wish I hadn't. I found it so much more stressful understanding about 10% of conversations than understanding nothing. My travel companion expected me to be able to decipher every menu and deal with every non-English speaking taxi driver. The taxi drivers were fine but the menus were difficult as many were in local languages and not Castilian. English language versions were almost as bad - we still have no idea if the "foal burger" in Leon was actually young horse or just a badly spelled attempt at "fowl".

Posted by
8630 posts

Every time i come home, I think I need to get rid of stuff that just seems to tie me down. But yes, (just came home from a trip yesterday) I appreciate home more.

Posted by
337 posts

I like to get back into routine-- on my terms.

I block off two additional days on the calendar so I don't get back and have 5 client meetings to be prepared for the day after I return. The out of office reply had been set and takes into account these 2 additional days.

I start organizing pictures. I buy little things that I put on my souvenier shelf. Putting them out is like a ritual. I vow to shop like a European and only buy fresh, whole foods for the rest of my life. I start planning the next trip.

Posted by
8058 posts

No ambivalence; it is good coming home and sleeping in my bed and recounting my trips to certain coworkers who are fans of the print photo scrapbooks that I have been making since 2002.

Posted by
51 posts

After my RS tours in France, I always feel a bit ambivalent about my breakfast table with no fresh croissants on it 😏

Posted by
2582 posts

A lot of what's been mentioned so far resonates with me, too.

Let me put out another thing - it seems easier to avoid dwelling on loneliness in your own place than in a hotel room or temporary accommodation. Maybe it's easier to be distracted? The travelers doing the various pilgrimage trails and staying in spartan conditions are challenged to be disciplined, perhaps. That's why many of us bring along paperbacks or Kindles? I brought this up with a friend and she said that's what good television series are for.

Posted by
7447 posts

I do get those mixed feelings. When I return home, our house & yard seem huge.

Positive feelings:
Being back with my hubby if I was traveling solo.
Sleeping in our bed again.
Cuddling & playing with our dog.
Having a piano in the house - oh, I really miss it when traveling!

The opposite pull of wishing I was still traveling:
Having breakfast ready each morning - such a nice way to start the day!
The ability to walk to everything.
The ancient architecture & beauty everywhere.
The excitement ahead of discovering something new during a train ride to the next city.

Posted by
755 posts

We all need to count ourselves so lucky to have the best of both worlds! Travel can be hard, challenging in so many ways, and yes! It is exciting to think about the possibility of that way of life lasting longer and we may think of home being so boring, but the reality is that we are probably better off accepting our lives at home .and appreciating our vacations.

Posted by
465 posts

I find that returning from travel is a very mixed experience. I have had some trips that I really did not want to leave and I was almost crying when they ended, and I have had other trips that although I very much enjoyed the experience, I was ready to go to the airport and come home. I always try to have a "cushion day" at the end of a trip so I don't have to go back to work the next day but can have a day to decompress and get my head wrapped around being back before I need to be back in "U.S. mode."

For many years, we have had dogs in our family. That was mostly what I felt good about coming home to. In the years that we did not have a dog, there were many trips where I would not feel like coming home to US work + responsibilities, and I was very much "Can't we just stay in _________ and not go home?"

The longer I am away, usually the more difficult it is to come home, and the less I like the idea of returning to the US, and all its issues. This was certainly the case with my exchange programs in high school and college, and my whole perspective on my country, who I am, what matters and doesn't matter to me, my priorities, and where I am in the world was of course totally transformed by serving in Peace Corps (of course that was not a "trip" or "vacation" but a life chapter.)

I always like to make photo books of my trips as well, and spend a lot of time on them, but I find many people (unless they are really travel people) aren't that interested and will sort of flip through them, them put them down, and not really delve into the images from my trip. I actually came up with a "three request rule" several years ago--I will wait until someone has asked three times on separate occasions to see the photos from a trip before I bring out the book to show them.

Posted by
7447 posts

@Pete, ” I always like to make photo books of my trips as well, and spend a lot of time on them, but I find many people (unless they are really travel people) aren't that interested and will sort of flip through them, them put them down, and not really delve into the images from my trip. I actually came up with a "three request rule" several years ago--I will wait until someone has asked three times on separate occasions to see the photos from a trip before I bring out the book to show them.”

I have a bookcase shelf with our travel photobooks and change out one periodically to view the front cover photo. As much as I treasure those books (I’d grab them on the way out of the front door if our house was on fire!), I also realize that as soon as I die, they may be thrown away. There’s a lot of gorgeous photos in them, but they don’t have the same meaning for someone else as when I look at them & remember everything about the day.

Our neighbors fulfilled your “three request rule” when I returned from my solo trip to Italy last year. They knew I went to several less touristy locations and really wanted to see my photos. After they asked the third time, we had them over. I had prepared a short and a longer summary set of photos to show on our tv, and they wanted the longer set and actually enjoyed the stories that went with them!

Posted by
484 posts

I generally find that, no matter how long or short the trip is, by the last day, I'm ready to go home.

Then I'm home and we're greeted by our cats. I'm excited about the trip just concluded for several weeks, and full of ideas on how to bring the trip to my daily experience. I find my bed to be a bit foreign, but that passes after a few hours. I want to cook things I ate while abroad, but I also want a taste of home. I want to plan my return or my next trip.

I also want to plan what I do after my career is over, and where I want to live that next stage of my life. It's looking more and more like it will be in Europe, somewhere somewhat rural, and easy to get to interesting places.

Posted by
4593 posts

@avirosemail, as to your second question, certainly loneliness may be curtailed at home as we have more familiar resources at hand. Though I will admit, I am rarely homesick or lonely. I have a creative mind and many hobbies so there is always some distraction (often to the detriment to chores or to-do lists). Even when traveling I would take some sort of sewing project 'just in case. Over time I realized I never needed to get into the projects so left them behind. Because I plan for rhe next day, read, get distracted on line, even in bare bones lodgings I am not lonely. I don't watch TV at home, and certainly don'twatch it when traveling. I also birdwarch, so small binocs easily lead to enjoyable distractions. I will be heading to 9 weeks away next winter. A chunk of that time is in one place. There will be day trips, but not everyday and that may lead to loneliness and boredom....two rare feelings for me. I have been thinking of what to do if those set in, but I suspect I can find some craft store to find a new project, or green space foe the occasional bird. Otherwise there will be a lot more trip reports on this forum to maintain my sanity and connection with others🙂

Posted by
1393 posts

Years ago my grocery shopping habit changed after my return from staying in an apartment in Paris. I no longer shop to fill my refrigerator, I buy what I need for a couple of days. I have noticed I don't waste as much as in the past and I don't mind stoping by the store on the way home from work a few times a week.

Posted by
2127 posts

No matter where the travels, how modest or grand, it is ALWAYS good to return home :)

Posted by
1033 posts

Let me put out another thing - it seems easier to avoid dwelling on loneliness in your own place than in a hotel room or temporary accommodation. Maybe it's easier to be distracted?

I find the reverse. On holiday I am busy and distracted, then when I get home I have time on my hands and familiar places that remind me of the losses in my life. As I am immune compromised COVID has significantly curtailed how much I have been going out at home in the last few years and some friends have drifted away during this time.

Posted by
3234 posts

An interesting topic.
Today is my last day in Sicily, and although it’s been a wonderful trip, I can’t wait to get home to raw fresh fruit and vegetables at every meal.
Of course I I know they are in all the fields and markets, but when they arrive in restaurants they are in sauces, oil, dressings.
The food is great here, just a lot of carbs and fried things!
Now to pack my bag……

Posted by
4325 posts

Well, Avi, I am glad you are back home and getting settled in.

But to your question, an interesting one, Honestly, after three weeks of being involuntarily out of my residence, I find myself loving the chance to do some of my own cooking and cocooning, but I also am looking at my stuff and my circumstances with a more critical eye.

I come home to my big house and wonder why I have so much “stuff”. It probably all had a purpose at some point but much no longer does. But the impetus to change is lacking…. This is because I would rather be traveling.

But I am also finding when I travel (for a number of weeks) that on my last day, I am finished - maybe because I know the end of the trip is here. I have no desire to use that day to see anything else - and often don’t. I am recognizing this is a pattern and learning to adjust my planning for that.

Posted by
14580 posts

Basically, "mixed feelings about returning to the home routine"...... (1) grateful that nothing happened to our place while on the trip, (2) nothing amiss happened health-wise, etc on the trip,

(3) Sad too , which is always present upon return, regardless after a 2 week trip or one of 2 months.

Posted by
2016 posts

I get sad after a vacation. Why doesn't the US have great transportation?Where are the bike lanes along with the sidewalks? Why are there so many cars and no one uses public transit? I miss seeing the business women commuting on their bikes and seeing whole families bike to work and school.

I miss the food. Going into a German supermarket and finding produce, the best bread rolls and cheap wine and beer. And no Whole Foods.

It is nice to get in my own bed and bathroom with a tub-rare in Europe. However, it always seems I do three loads of laundry and look at all my stuff in my closet and realize I don't wear half of it.

I miss using Euros. Paying in 2 euros coins is something so basic and that I wish the US had. Plus when dining at a restaurant in Europe, the waiter actually brings the credit card machine to your table. In the US, they take it away.

Finally, I miss paying for a meal and rounding up to tip the waiter. "Stimmt so." became my favorite phrase.

But I will say the milk in the US is better. I don't know whether it's what they feed the cows but milk in Europe always tastes funny. And it's not the hormones as I drink organic milk.

Posted by
4292 posts

do you find yourself with mixed feelings about returning to your home
routine?

It's my first full day back after 2 weeks in Sorrento, I missed my pillow and after two weeks I'm happy to be back to my routines. I'm a creature of habit and while being away and exploring is a great break, I have yet to regret coming home. As retirement gets closer and dreams of longer trips start to become reality, I do wonder how well I'll adapt to being away for 4-6 weeks at a time.

Posted by
14580 posts

With some room for disagreement, 98% of Heather's observations and assessment are so very accurate as they pertain to Germany. My views exactly. A good number of them apply to France as well. Most often as the last couple of trip days approach, I'm not anxious at all on the last day looking forward to be returning to "the home routine" , more exactly. That accounts for the sadness factor.

Posted by
496 posts

i hate returning home. Home is routine and comfort but I live to be travelling, to be lost, to be having novel experiences. At home a week goes by in an instance but on holiday a week seems to last forever because of so many new experiences.

Unfortunately my partner likes to come home every few months - but I'm working on making sure we leave again after a few months rather than waiting a whole year :-(

Posted by
9855 posts

For me, my favorite things about getting home are seeing my kitties and then having that first cup of tea in one of my own mugs at the breakfast table* my first morning back. I don't know why — I take my own tea on the road with me, along with an immersion heater if necessary, so I am not deprived of it when traveling. But I take real pleasure in the preparation and sitting down with my cup that first morning back.

*I say breakfast table as if we have any other table in our apartment. It's the breakfast, lunch, dinner, mail holder, working table. But in the mornings, it's the breakfast table.

Posted by
2225 posts

Like many of you, my feelings are mixed. A great vacation will always linger in my mind, but coming home to our dogs is the best. We will be gone for close to 3 weeks this summer and our daughter will be watching them. They are very comfortable with her and her dog, but we will miss them. I even booked one place on our trip because they have a golden retriever, so we can get our fix for a day, lol.

I do love coming home to a clean house, fresh bedding, and being able to lounge in the morning with coffee. The only drawback is I hate going grocery shopping right when we get back. I think on this trip, I will ask our son to do that for me the day or so before we get home. One friend always makes sure we have stuff for tuna sandwiches for the night we get home from international trips, which is very sweet of her.

I know that coming home from our big trip this summer, I will be especially thankful for our own bed. We will be in a camper van for 10 days of our trips, then a hut for a few days and only in a hotel for 3 nights. So our bed will be very much appreciated!

Posted by
7447 posts

@mikliz97, for groceries if both of us have been traveling, I load an Instacart order and hit the “send” button when we’ve landed at our home airport. If your family isn’t able to shop for you, this is a great alternative. Groceries arrive about an hour after we’re inside our home. I can order through Instacart from Safeway type grocery stores or Costco.

Posted by
14580 posts

RE: "hate returning home"....Yes, I know the feeling and can easily identify with it. I most definitely have experienced that, not on every trip coming back but certainly a good number of trips. You get this feeling of dread as the return flight date approaches, ie count down to the last full day. No matter if I was away for 2 weeks or 6-7 weeks or more.

Posted by
359 posts

No ambivalence here! Except for missing my dog, I might never get on the return flight. I'm surprised that (so far) hubby hasn't had to drag me onto the plane like a 3 year old having a tantrum. However my situation is a bit different because there are people I love in Belgium and France, and I know that it will be a long time before I see them again.