A Passion for Travel, Part 11: Coming Home

Winter sunset, Sydney Harbour

Winter sunset, Sydney Harbour


It’s great to go away, and it’s great to come home.”

This has been our family travel motto for years. As much as Clive and I share a passion for travel and exploring new places, we equally share a love of being home and spending time together in Sydney.

Jet Lag on the Return

Jet lag can occur at both the beginning and end of a trip.

Jet Lag Jambalaya (Part 9 of this series), covers our recommendations for how to manage the often-inevitable effects of jet lag.

Jet Lag Jambalaya 

As Lilly in Australia and Barbara in France commented (thank you both!), sometimes it’s harder to readjust to the local timezone and life back home than it is to adjust to a new destination when you arrive.

Clive attributes this to the fact that on arrival, there’s usually an adrenalin flow with commitments and the desire to make the most of the trip, whereas upon returning home, the body and mind take over and slow down, knowing it’s finally OK to stop. If there’s an important work commitment immediately after arriving home, it may take longer to readjust.

So Much to Do (and how do luggage contents expand so much?)

As with managing jet lag effects, we’ve learned to use common sense with regard to homecoming activities.

Immediate demands stare us in the face, including unpacking, doing ten tons of laundry (even though we try to keep up with it while away and not let this happen), going to the grocery store, restocking the fridge, and wading through piles of snail mail collected by our wonderful neighbours.

We marvel every time at how the contents of one checked bag and one carry-on for each of us explode into piles and piles of laundry and stuff that take up inordinate space in the apartment. And we pay most of our bills online, so why do we still have mountains of snail mail waiting for us? These mysteries are yet to be solved.

It’s about People

Less in our face but so much more important is reconnecting with loved ones, making phone calls, confirming dates to get together, and making sure we see family and friends as soon as possible.

On our most recent trip, we arrived home shortly after the global swine flu outbreak. We had to walk through temperature scanners at Sydney International Airport. Australia family members were concerned, and we agreed with them ahead of time we’d do a self-imposed quarantine, waiting to visit them until a week or so after we returned. We especially didn’t want to risk transmitting flu to Clive’s elderly mother or his very young grandsons.

Clive’s son and daughter-in-law, along with their two little boys (bless them all), surprised us by restocking our fridge so we wouldn’t have to go shopping the day we arrived home. It was incredibly frustrating to be back in Australia but unable to see and thank them in person. The time passed quickly, and soon we were able to see them, as well as Clive’s daughter, before she left on her own trip to Africa. That will be the subject of my next post.

Technology Migration and Trip Papers

I’ve written about the travel technology we take with us on our trips (Part 5 in this series), and when we come home it’s important to transfer files and photos from our laptops and memory sticks back to our desktop machines.

There’s always a pile of trip papers to go through too, despite our best efforts to sort and purge as we go along. So much information is available on the Internet, but we still find ourselves saving selected brochures, maps, and ticket stubs as souvenirs.

Personal Top Ten Lists

My favourite coming-home activity is when we take a few minutes to sit at our desks and write down our respective Top Ten trip lists. We read them to each other, and it’s fun to compare. There are always a few surprises.

I recommend the Top Ten list as an exercise that provides insight into what each member of the family liked best (and worst, if you do a ‘least favourite’ list) as well as a sense of closure and completion to the journey.

Since I started this blog, I also enjoy writing a few final travel posts after we arrive home. It’s often said writers get to live an experience twice, and in much the same way I used to prepare trip photograph albums, I now like reviewing digital photos, selecting which ones to print, and posting a few on this blog.

Stay Cool and Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

For me, this is hardest of all. With so many to-do’s when we return home, I used to get impatient and frustrated if everything wasn’t done in the first day or two we were back.

Gradually I’m learning to recognise self-imposed deadlines do not help, and if it takes a week or more to get everything in order, so be it.  It’s more beneficial to take a walk and reconnect with our physical environment of home, as we did when we went to the Manly food and wine festival

If at all possible, we try to build some recovery time into our schedule. This isn’t always feasible (swine flu quarantine notwithstanding), but we’re at least more aware than we used to be that getting readjusted is a process, not something that happens the first day back.

Where to Next?

I’ll close this series with the same thought with which I opened it, that we are blessed in this life if we have something to do, someone to love, and something to hope for, or look forward to.

After we’ve managed to get our heads above water, our thoughts naturally turn to the question of where to next, and when. Our parents in the U.S. and England ask us before we leave them, “When will you be back?” For their sake, as well as ours, we try to look ahead and form initial thoughts about when we might make our next trip.

For the moment, we’ll just enjoy being home.

Winter sunset, Sydney Harbour

Winter sunset, Sydney Harbour

This completes my Passion for Travel series.  A huge thanks to everyone who read and commented.

Related posts:
 A Passion for Travel, Part 1: Introducing the Series
 A Passion for Travel, Part 2: The Master Trip Calendar
 A Passion for Travel, Part 3: Travel Planning Checklist
 A Passion for Travel, Part 4: Packing without Panic
 A Passion for Travel, Part 5: Travel Technology
 A Passion for Travel, Part 6: Departure Checklist
A Passion for Travel, Part 7: Airport Survival Strategies
A Passion for Travel, Part 8: Top Ten In-Flight Insights
A Passion for Travel, Part 8a: Eleventh In-Flight Insight
A Passion for Travel, Part 9: Jet Lag Jambalaya
A Passion for Travel, Part 10: How to Save Time, Worry, and Money: Managing Personal Business While Away

4 Responses

  1. And what a home to come home to!

    I love the idea of the Top 10 (and worst 10). I bet it’s surprising what you might learn about your traveling partner’s thoughts by taking the simple time to *ask*. I know when we are visiting family and friends there are many things Marco does just as a favor to me, but I might discover better what things he REALLY would prefer not to do and try to protect him from those.

    We are reflecting and realizing we need a non-family vacation. As sad as that makes me. And i just think — how could i miss any opportunity to see my folks? I don’t know how long they’ll be around!

  2. What a great sunset. Isn’t it wonderful to come home to your own bed?

  3. i really like the idea of the top 10 list as well. this is a great set of travel tips! (and returning home tips–my most difficult part of being an expat)

  4. Hi Carolyn, wow what a great post!! Yes it must be so difficult to adjust, I have never lived that far away from the UK..well not as a adult..! So have no problem adjusting to the time zone. I also do not holiday that far from the UK..maybe one day, but as long as Arni is working/flying all around the world for F1, I think my hols will be in Europe.

    I really think that list Good/Bad is a brilliant idea. Arni has a few stipulations, that the apartment/villa has internet being one!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: