‘Coming home’ can be a difficult but inevitable part of any trip. Whether it marks the end to your travels, or rather just a short break in between, it can be a tough, strange but also exciting experience.
After being on the road for 4 months, I have returned ‘home’ for a short period of time. I use the word home lightly as the experience of travelling has changed the perception of this word for me.
What does home mean to you? The city you were born? The childhood house where you were raised? The streets that you ran up and down from toddler to teenager? The town where your parents now live?
For me, home is more about people than a physical structure or a geographical location. I feel at ‘home’ in my parents’ house in Newtownards (where I technically still live); sharing a bedroom with my soon-to-be married older sister, arguing over who will walk the dog, making up over a home-cooked family meal and stealing clothes from the bottom drawer of my youngest sister’s wardrobe.
However, I also feel at ‘home’ in Castlederg. We moved from there two years ago. It was the town I went to school in, met my other half and spent most of my teenage life. I feel at ‘home’ in Adam’s house, making milk filled tea, watching tonnes of movies on the Sky channels we don’t have, hanging out with my second family and raiding the fantastically stocked cake cupboard. I feel at ‘home’ in their holiday house in Portrush, spending long weekends, relaxing, laughing and eating. I feel at ‘home’ in Liverpool, where I was born, catching up with old friends and tingling with nostalgia.
Whilst travelling, the hostel that you sleep in for a few nights begins to feel like ‘home’. It’s multi-cultural and ever changing, but it’s still a little piece of home. It’s the place you come back to to cook a warm meal and recharge your batteries, the place that holds familiar faces to smile and chat to, its where you hang your clothes out to dry and slip into a comfortable bed at the end of the day.
Your backpack soon also becomes your home; housing all of your treasured possessions. You grow an attachment to it. I seemed to put a form of trust and support into my backpack, knowing that it will constantly provide for you as you visit to each new country (even if it is just clean underwear!).
Since returning to Northern Ireland, and it’s only been a week, the one question I am constantly tested with is, “what’s it like be home?” So common is this question I often answer before it’s asked. I smile slightly reluctantly, feigning that ‘it’s great!’ It’s not that being home isn’t amazing; honestly I was so excited in the first few days when I returned that I was hopping around like I’d just drank a life time supply of energy drinks! It is simply that travel has changed me; there has been a shift in what home is.
I am happy to be back in the UK, as it is a land that I love filled with people that I treasure, however it doesn’t necessarily feel like coming home. The phrase ‘I am going home’ is such a definite and scary feeling set of words in the world of travel. It almost acts as if it brutally slams the door shut on your life of exploration. When you mention to someone you meet abroad that you ‘go home’ tomorrow, they look at you in pity and disappointment as if the nomadic life you are living is about to end. That’s not the case.
Coming ‘home’ after a period of travel is like visiting another part of the world – the only difference is that you are more familiar with it. You return to places you know, but are looking at them with another set of eyes. I have found myself with more energy to explore Northern Ireland. I am more inquisitive to find out what lies around the corner, and what beauty this country has to offer. You find yourself appreciating the towns you’ve visited 100 times previous, and noticing areas of the land that you never did before. You stare at wonder and curiosity at the place you called home. There is so much you don’t know. It’s not really like ‘coming home’ at all.
I am constantly making an adventure out of life, and looking for a new story around every corner. You can follow all my adventures here on the blog, subscribe to get a little email each time I post so you can travel along with me. Also, follow of me on my Instagram and Facebook for the latest news and photos.
Inspiring women and showing them that they have the ability to do what they want in the world, is the main aim of this blog. It is the reason I document my adventures and travel stories. I want to show women and girls, that the world is their oyster. Just go out, and grab from it what you want.