I just watched the movie “machine gun preacher” and besides it being an intense movie based on true events, it also raised another consideration again in me. The main character is helping kids in Sudan against the by-now-famous Kony and LRA, but he is mainly also torn between his family back home and his “new family” in Sudan.
As several of you might know I have already been in several different countries around the globe for a longer time – the US (Texas), Togo and Brazil for a year each. Often people say that it must be quite awesome to get to travel that much. But there are also some rather longer-term downsides. I by no means want to leave the impression that they outweigh the benefits, but they seem to be not so visible to the non-travellers. I already explained the potential loss of a “home” to come back to in another post. It might also have the aspect that you have several homes and obviously you cannot be in all at once – with all the friends you made there.
But I am not talking about the direct impact, like getting Malaria or being stuck in bureaucratic processes – which make life rather more interesting!
Just take relationships e.g., which either become long distance or take longer to build up in my experience – since they often evolve in environments where you are comfortable and can be yourself, which takes a while in new environments. And when you have finally found somebody – they tend to have the same passion as you and are thus probably abroad once you finally got some time back home. But obviously there are also some good side about it as this blog posts beautifully states – “date a girl that travels“. Of course you can also take somebody with you during the journey – but also that has pros and cons.
Then, depending on how much you travel, your best friends might be all over the world, in different time zones and difficult to visit again (although it becomes easier and cheaper to travel these days).
Personality and Understanding
You also change a bit every time you leave, which is not a bad thing in itself, but it may become more problematic blending in again. I always need some internationality in my life now (which is easily served by further travelling and studying an international master), but it also becomes more difficult for people to understand you sometimes. Especially family.
My mother has also already been backpacking in India in the 70ies, hitch-hiking around France with sometimes just about 23 cents left in her pocket, being robbed in Paris under the bridge and asking via collect call for more money from home. She was also hosting international students at her house later, so I think so got the same bug I did, but still sometimes it becomes difficult to really grasp what I am telling her. Might also be due to parents and their kids having generation differences, but still …
For more impressions on this topic also read other interesting blog posts (not by me):
They provide some insights from a constant traveller / nomad. I personally still love more to have a place that I can call home and do not just “check up on” as some other people have the tendency to do after they have been abroad for too long – they simply cannot settle anywhere for a longer time anymore but “have to keep going”. It gives me the impression that the beforementioned blogger already has the tendency to do so. It took me several years abroad and also some good talks with e.g. children of diplomats (that have to change the country every 3-5 years) to see how much I want to be mobile and where I draw my limits. Right now I see that I want to at least have a fixed place called “home” that I can and do come back to at least every week on average. But obviously it also depends on whom I call my family – a wife and such – that I want to be closest to. If they are there it does not really matter all that much …
Sometimes your life might also change forever after your experiences – but then mostly for the better. Check out this blogpost if you want to travel just for some time and then get back on track and really do your thing …
Did you have similar experiences? Did I miss something? Do you have questions? Let me know in the comments! Looking forward to hearing from you!
Sources: Pictures are all my own.