We knew we wanted to take an around-the-world trip as a family. It would be the trip of a lifetime and we couldn’t be more excited to plan and take our 9-month adventure. But, like all good things, the trip had to come to an end and we had to return to Charlotte, North Carolina, and settle back in.
After living out of a suitcase, moving every few days, spending days at leisure, and seeing brand new things at every turn, we discovered coming back home was harder than leaving! If you’re considering taking a sabbatical with your family, here’s how we dealt with the return — hopefully we can help make it easier for you.
How to Mentally Prepare
We’ll be honest: It’s really difficult to prepare yourself for how you’ll feel when you come back from a trip like this. You may be happy to be back home, or you could go through some serious withdrawal. All you can do is come home and push through it, really, but people often wonder how we felt when we got back.
AJ’s Perspective: I absolutely loved the trip and would have stayed on the road forever. The sadness began to set in toward the end of the trip, knowing it was soon to be over. As my lifetime dream to travel around the world with my family, coming home was the end of the dream. I wondered what was I going to do after spending so much of my life planning for the trip. I found a way to keep the trip alive and continue my passion with the 2 Idiots Travel Blog and writing our book, How to Travel With Kids (Without Losing Your Mind). The trip had such an impact on me that I want to share and inspire others to travel with their families, especially when kids are young.
Natasha’s Perspective: It was easier for me than for AJ. I loved our trip but I really missed my friends and had experienced homesickness on the road. I had a great trip but coming home meant returning to a routine, which I sometimes craved while we traveled. It took about three months to find a job after coming home, but I absolutely love it.
Aarav’s Perspective: The hardest hit was our son. He went from having both of us in his life 24/7 for 9 months to daycare. While any child going to daycare for the first time struggles, we think his struggle was exemplified because of how much time he spent with us.
We didn’t put him in right away, we introduced him to it about a month after we came home, allowing him to get adjusted to home first. But, he absolutely hated it. He hated being left with strangers and not being with us. Once he adjusted, we took another vacation and when we came home, he hated daycare all over again. It’s was an adjustment for him, but now he loves school. He talks about school and his friends and what he’s learning.
How to Logistically Prepare
Unless you had an official sabbatical from a company that held your job for you, you should budget for your trip as well as for at least three months finances (six would be better!) to have when you arrive home. It’ll take the first month just to get reacclimated.
Coming home means turning the utilities back on, going through months and months of mail, getting your house cleaned after being closed off for months, and — surprise — doing your taxes. All of the things you weren’t home to do needs to be done, unless you were managing things while on the road.
Your friends will be lining up to see you, as well, wanting to stop by and to catch up and ask you about your trip. You may feel a bit overwhelmed with trying to get adjusted at home, finding work and balancing your friendships, so give your friends a heads up that you will catch up as soon as you can, or consider having a welcome home party, where everyone comes to see you at once.
And, of course, you’ll need time to get back into working. You’ll need money for utilities, bills, food, and you’ll be running around, interviewing for jobs. Having the cushion when you get home will give you time to ease back into regular life, and help you from feeling stressed as you find work again, or even as you resume working at your old company.
It will take time to settle back into your former life, yet, you’ll never be the same after a journey of this proportion. It’s a life-changing experience to travel the world together, but as much as it’s wonderful on so many levels, there is so much value in returning home.
We don’t want to be the type of family who spends all of our years traveling. We like being at home and having a routine, our friends and coworkers around us, seeing Aarav growing socially as well as intellectually in school. For us, we’d love to take another journey together in a few years, when Aarav is older and our experiences and takeaways will be different.
The travel was a gift, but so is the return home. If you take a similar journey, you’ll miss the road in the beginning, but the adjustment period is brief. It’s the memories that last forever.