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One year ago yesterday I was arriving back in my home country of New Zealand for the first time in over 2.5 years. It was the longest period I had ever been away despite living overseas in Australia, UK and Canada for nearly ten years.
I had just completed a nearly 13 month trip through North, Central and South America. It was the trip of my lifetime, so far, and it was bound to be hard to readjust from constantly being on the move, experiencing incredible new places and meeting amazing people to being broke, looking for work and sleeping on the floor of my Dad’s studio apartment.
Despite being happy to see friends and family, being back in New Zealand felt like such an anti-climax after travelling for over a year, and planning the trip the two years prior to that. With no travel plans in the pipeline other than our move to Sydney a few months later, I felt lost.
It was a strange feeling to arrive back to the place where you were born and bred, somewhere that you had been pining for for over 2 years, to then feel like you don’t belong there anymore. This is how I felt for our first month back in New Zealand. I didn’t want to be there and I felt guilt ridden for feeling like that.
What if I never loved New Zealand again? Where did I belong? Why do I feel so sad when I have just been on the most amazing trip? I was so confused.
I didn’t want to feel this way and I tried to fight it. Some days I felt a sense of joy to be back only to wake up the next morning with a feeling of hopelessness and darkness again. I hadn’t heard of post trip depression a year ago but I have subsequently read a number of posts like this one and this one by fellow travel bloggers referencing it.
I am glad to know that it is a real thing and that I wasn’t the only one to feel that way. I wasn’t alone. That gave me comfort.
We were only back in New Zealand for three months before moving to Sydney. In the last month I started to feel like myself again: real happiness was returning. But moving to Australia brought back the feelings of hopelessness, albeit on a smaller scale. It took me another couple of months to start feeling normal.
In the end it was the passage of time and establishment of a routine that helped me to start feeling truly positive again.
The experience of travelling really does change your perception of the world and the barrage of experiences and sense of freedom it gives you is like a drug. I know now that I can never give it up.
It is a part of who I am and I will not apologise for it.
But I also know that I really enjoy having a base as well, a place that I really love spending time in. A place where I can catch up with friends on a regular basis, revisit my favourite bars and restaurants time and again and live in a beautiful apartment decorated with my own stuff.
I want to really get under the skin of the place I am living, I don’t believe this can truly be done in a week, or a month or even a year. I spent 6 years in London and I still feel there was so much more to discover. I want to feel like a local and get involved with the community.
Being able to have all of these things in a place that inspires me every day with its beauty makes me feel very lucky indeed.
I am so happy to be in Sydney. It is such a beautiful city, geared to people who love nature and the outdoors (i.e. me!) and although I lived here for 18 months nearly 10 years ago, there is so much I didn’t get to see that time around.
So many restaurants to eat at, so many beaches to swim at, so many trails to hike and so many festivals and activities to discover.
We plan to base ourselves here for the next 3-4 years until Trav gets his Australian passport before we move on to the next destination, we really hope that it will be Vancouver. I am certainly not done with that city yet, as living there for six months was nowhere near enough time.
But in the meantime I am going to embrace my new lifestyle by the beach. There are so many things to love about life in Sydney and I intend to enjoy every minute of it while I am here.
As much as I love my life in Australia, I also want to do another couple of long term trips in the coming years before we start a family. I am already planning and saving for my next extended trip from June next year, where I will be travelling for around 12 months. I have a loose itinerary planned and I will share this with you soon.
I am excited, but also scared. I really hope that I won’t feel the same sense of desperation again after returning back to Sydney after my next trip. But I believe that I can come through it again. If I do have those feelings, I know that I am not alone and that things will get better.
It might be hard but I know that travel is worth it for me.