Now, don’t get me wrong, the ways traveling reminds you about home are not going to be a list of ways to be homesick! I have actually come to realize as I get older, I appreciate travel more, but, it is also a fabulous reminder of everything we should appreciate about home. Many travelers arrive back home from a trip and count the days until the next time they go away. I think the ways traveling reminds you about home actually enrich the times you aren’t traveling and helps you appreciate your home life as much as your nomadic life. So, these ways travel reminds you of home are definitely not to make you feel homesick, but to bring balance to your life and reconcile time at home with time away.
One of the most visible ways traveling reminds you about home is that at home, almost everyone speaks the language. Of course learning at least the basics of the language they speak at your destination will open many doors for you and will enrich your traveling experience. However, even if you’re quite fluent in another language, you’ll also hold back a little part of your personality because it’s not as easy to express yourself in a language if it’s not your mother tongue. Your conversations tend to be about mundane things like where to find the bus or what the weather is like. But speaking the language also stretches much further than simply being able to communicate: It’s also about the cultural references only people from back home will get.
It only takes one time finding yourself in a strange city and wondering how to make the bus or cab drivers notice you by the side of the road to appreciate home again. There you understand how things work and you probably don’t even think about the uniquely local quirks of, for instance, the public transport system or how to get service in shops. You also know where to find the best nightlife, the best shopping and the best food. You’re clear about the neighborhoods where you need to clutch your bag just a little more tightly. Most importantly, you have an insider’s knowledge about the hidden gems you won’t read about in the guide books, such as that magic little local park or that great surf spot only the locals know about. There’s something very satisfying about being in on the secret.
Part of what makes traveling great is the chance to try all kind of exotic food. However, every traveler sooner or later starts craving food from home, whether it’s a particular brand of chocolate, a home-cooked meal just like Mom makes it or a sandwich spread that everyone else finds plain weird. Traveling allows you to appreciate those familiar tastes again, but it also helps you become more inventive in your cooking. Before you know it, you’ll be adding elements of other cuisines into your fall-back-on favorites.
As you travel, you become an ambassador for your country. Some people will ask you about where you come from. Others will tell you that they’ve been to your country and they’ll share their impressions and experiences. Sometimes you may even have to defend the way things are done in the country that defines you. Either way, you get to see your country through others’ eyes. It may even inspire you to go explore your own proverbial backyard and visit all those places you’ve always avoided because of the tourists.
When Dorothy clicked her heels together and said that ‘there’s no place like home’, she was thinking of people like Aunt Em and Uncle Henry. A very profound way in which travel makes you appreciate home again is that home is where your people are. Of course you’ll be making wonderful new friends on the road but these bonds tend to be quite superficial and normally don’t last much longer than your holiday tan. Besides, travel allows you to wear a mask but the people waiting for you at home are the ones who love and accept you for who you really are. Travel also makes you more outgoing, so it becomes easier to meet new people in your hometown afterwards.
After weeks of taking ‘suicide showers’ or dealing with weird-looking toilets, you start realizing just how lucky you are when it comes to those little conveniences of daily life. A long soak in a hot bath becomes the ultimate luxury and a glass of tap water tastes like nectar when you know it won’t make you sick. However, you also learn to get by with much less, and traveling may inspire you to simplify your life.
You can’t always take your hobbies with you on the road but you sure appreciate them when you get home. For example, when you’ve been going for months of reading bad novels just because they were in English, you might become best friends with your local librarian after your trip. But traveling also allows you to rediscover old hobbies you haven’t thought of in ages. On a rainy night when the power is out, you find out again just how much fun a game of cards is. Upcycling cheap second-hand clothes from the market after your own have fallen apart may inspire you to start sewing again. The possibilities are endless!
I used to be one of those travelers who marked off the days until my next trip on a countdown calendar, and couldn’t wait for my next adventure. These days though, life at home and time traveling are both adventures. I have a greater appreciate of my own town and country, but am still very much someone who soaks up the lessons other cultures can teach me. I’d really like to know if this resonates with my fellow travelers. Do you appreciate your time at home as much as your travels?