When I first told friends that I was going travelling I got mixed reactions but the only reaction that annoyed me was ‘are you going to find yourself?’ I was not going to find myself. I knew who I was and I wasn’t lost. I was quite sure of this and got quite angry when self-assured friends patronisingly asked me that question as if I was having some kind of personal crisis.
Of course, I was having some kind of personal crisis. I just didn’t want to admit it to anyone, including myself. It was only after I’d come home that I realised that there were almost two versions of me. I knew which one I liked the most. I knew which one my boyfriend liked the most. And I knew which one my parents liked the most. Unfortunately, we didn’t all like the same one.
The original version of me had a life plan that was favoured by parents and followed the usual path: go to university ⇒ get a job ⇒ buy a house ⇒ get married ⇒ have children ⇒ be happy. This version of me decided to take some time out to travel when the plan wasn’t really achieving that end goal of making me happy. It was only when I came home that I realised that despite me resisting the concept of ‘finding myself’, I had, in fact, done just that. Being away had calmed my demeanour, re-evaluated when I considered to be important and changed my attitude to life. I had become more spontaneous and worried less. I took risks, jumped off high ledges (with ropes – I hadn’t had a complete personality transformation!) and became less concerned about money.
Version #2 – Traveller Me – was fun to be around and I liked her a lot. I only realised she was different to the original version when I returned home. Almost like relapsing, the longer I was home the more I realised I was converting back to Version #1 – Home Me. As I’ve now been home for nearly a full six months I’ve totally lost sight of the favourable version of myself. I’m tense, worry more and am all-round more grouchy and less fun to be around. I feel it when I talk to friends I met whilst travelling, when I’m with my boyfriend and when I’m alone with my thoughts.
I’m wondering if I’m alone in these thoughts. When you’re away from home and staying in hostels you hear a lot that going home is the hardest part. But no-one talks about what it will be like when you get there and how you will feel. Do people that embark on long-term travelling have different personalities to those that don’t? Do personalities change to match the situation you’re in? When will I stop being annoyed that people were right when they asked me if I was going to find myself? And why does the thought of travelling again scare me a little even though I’ve done it before? I guess that’s why, for now, I’m a Rooted Traveller. But that doesn’t mean I have to be happy about it 😉
It’s not that I don’t like being English. I actually like it quite a lot. Other nationalities seem to like our accent (why?) and our native language one of the most widely spoken languages in the world – which is handy if, like me, you’re terrible at learning new languages.
It’s just that I’ve never really understood why people from other countries around the world want to come here so much. Maybe it comes back to no-one ever being content with what they have but I just don’t understand why the UK is deemed to be such a great place to move to. I’m clearly biased but I’d take a New Zealand winter over an English summer any day.
One huge benefit of living in the UK, however, is the ease and relative low expense involved in leaving the country. Yes, one huge benefit of living in the UK is being able to leave. Hello, budget airlines. The greatest invention in travel since the neck pillow (or maybe the neck pillow came later. Either way, they’re both excellent inventions). It costs less to book a return flight abroad than it does to get some trains within the UK. In about the same amount of time too. The UK is fantastically placed in that a two-hour flight or less will get you to lots of destinations in Europe.
Finding weekend getaways becomes the mission of the rooted traveller. Especially if you’re surrounded by like-minded people who send you messages such as ‘there’s a flight sale on’. Two hours later you’ve booked the flights and just need to find somewhere to stay. Easy.
So this is my ode to and personal thank you to the budget airlines of the world. You make international travel entirely possible on a small budget. You allow moping post-travellers that have returned home to relive their most exciting days and sneak away for a weekend. You make life more fun and you bring the world together. And for this I thank you.
I don’t know if you knew this but I went to New Zealand. “I did not know this!” I hear you cry. It’s true, but I hardly ever mention it. To be fair, I don’t; except on this blog which is my outlet for ranting/moaning/being a princess.
Being in New Zealand was the best time of my life. With scenery like this, it’s not hard to see why.
I had everything I wanted and it was relatively easy to come by: a job, friends, my boyfriend, sunshine – it was all right there and life was lovely. Of course, it came to an end eventually and I left New Zealand summer to return to rainy British winter. While it was fantastic to see my family and friends after nine months away there were several thoughts that I had on landing and returning to ‘normal life’ that I just can’t be alone in, yet, there was no-one around me in my situation to moan to.
[on landing] Perfect, it’s raining. Thanks a lot. It was gorgeous sunshine when I left and look at that greyness
It’s cold too.
I can feel my tan fading already
I am so happy that I won’t have to carry this bag around anymore, it’s so heavy
It stinks too
WAIT, there’s a washing machine at home. That I don’t have to pay for. That actually washes clothes
Well this is looking up. Actual clean clothes
Come to think of it, there’s a shower too. With hot water. I won’t have to wear flip-flops in it!
I’m so excited right now
[on seeing family/friends that have come to pick you up at the airport] I didn’t realise how much I missed them
Yes, admire my tan, thanks
Your car feels bigger than I remember. Oh that’s because it isn’t full of stuff and food wrappers like I’m used to
[on the car radio] Wow they have this song abroad too. What a small world
Traffic in New Zealand is sheep on the road. Where have all the cars come from?
So sleepy. Might just close my eyes…
YAY home already! That was quick
Oh, I slept all the way, soz
Was my bedroom always like this?
Ooooh look, my old wardrobe. More than five outfits to choose from!
The shower. I love being home. This is the best shower in the whole world
You made dinner? This is incredible, food that isn’t pasta? Why did I ever go away?!
So sleepy. Might just close my eyes…
Oh, I missed dinner
I missed dinner??!! NOOOOO
I just got back from seeing the world and all you’ve done is tell me about work. Seriously?
Ok it’s night-time, I should go to bed
I’ve never been more awake in my life
I’ll just message a few friends
They’re having a party without me? Well, I guess they would, I don’t live there anymore
I’m missing such a good time
My own space though, that’s good too
I can’t remember the last time I slept in a bed that wasn’t a bunk bed
I can sit up in it, this is great
I love having my own room
I miss having people around
Ah, morning, should probably get up
ARGH it’s 3pm!
All my friends are on a night out at the beach, waaaah
It’s raining. Standard. I hate British weather
No, I don’t have a plan for what to do now I’m back
Can I go back now?
And repeat the final three points over the coming days 😉
*I hate that phrase. My spirit is vodka and is definitely not free