Bleary-eyed, clutching my passport and a mass of belongings predictably tumbling out my overpacked day bag, I step off the plane and am instantly hit with a rush of cold air. An icy, British winter morning after 10 weeks in South America. I’d left temperatures of plus 25 degrees back in Lima, but secretly, I was thrilled to be back for the tail end of winter.
It was one of those frosty, sparkly magical winter mornings.
On short term trips, the end of a journey is usually met with sadness, wishing I had just one more day, to see just one more places, enjoy one last local dish before getting back to reality, back to the ‘mundane’ of life back home. But I’ve often found on longer trips, I love the thrill of coming home.
Perhaps it has something to do with my style of budget travel – for everything I love about hostel life – the engagement with new, often fascinating people, a convivial, friendly atmosphere – nothing beats getting back to your place, not having to share your bedroom with 7 random strangers who may or may not get up at 5am and start rustling plastic bags, or even, the putting the big light on before morning light or snoring with a fog horn.
Because returning home after a couple of months away, the acts that are every day familiar, routine, become noticeably wonderful.
The feel of snuggling into your own bed, of taking a long, hot shower knowing that you’re not using all the hot water up for the next person. It’s using a big flurry towel instead of the microfiber travel towel.
It’s being able to cook a meal which doesn’t consist of pasta, or eggs or some random meat that looked cheap in the supermarket, but you’re not quite sure what it is. It’s about the insane amount of choice we have in our shops and supermarkets. It’s British cheeses and smoked bacon for breakfast (instead of endless white carbs).
It’s not having to tell an edited version of your life story over and over again whenever you arrive at a new hostel – where have you been, how long have you been travelling for, where are you going next, what do you do?
It’s the familiarity of going on that local walk, down to the fields or streets you’ve always known, which this week for me were peppered with signs of spring, crocuses, and snowdrops in full bloom.
It’s the feeling of not doing anything, and not feeling like you’re missing out. Not needing to be somewhere new. Being comfortable right where you are.
And of course, these things that feel so quirky and new the first week back from a trip will eventually fade back into the familiar and the mundane. I’ll slip back into work, the regular pace of life, longing for a time when each day bought something new.
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