Reverse Culture Shock and Returning Home

August 25, 2017 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Tips and Resources

Returning home

Did you ever come home from an extended vacation or a long trip abroad and feel as if things were not quite right?  Do you feel it hard to go about your old routine and feel like anything you do is worthwhile?  On the run up to a long trip, all your time seems to be spent organising things to go away, making sure classes are cancelled, someone is organised to cut the grass – feed the pets.  All your mental energy is taken up preparing for the future event and all your physical energy is used up running around getting suitcases, looking for suitable water shoes and sun hats.

You then have this most amazing time, away from your usual life, you have experienced new cultures, eaten amazing food and met many interesting people.

Then the trip is over.  You come home and there is nothing else to do.  Everything is the same as it was but at the same time, everything is now different.  Life has gone on while you were away but it still all feels the same.  How can you manage day to day doing this when now you know there are far more exciting things out there you would rather be doing?

You have seen sharks in the sea, you have swam with the wild dolphins. Ospreys have screeched overhead through the day and frogs have lulled you to sleep at night. Days have been spent doing nothing but watching your children play contently in the pool in their back garden.  You have eaten the most fresh fish straight from the Gulf – and you know it was fresh as you watched your husband catch it that very afternoon.  You have so many stories to tell but no one really wants to hear them.   Other than the usual greeting of “Good Holiday?” they don’t really want to hear all the details of your trip or be forced in to looking through your entire holiday photo book.

Reverse culture shock

I have felt this way before after our long 1.5 RTW trip 18 years ago.  But this time it is different, it has a name: “Reverse Culture Shock”.

This time I know what the problem is.  When we first experienced it I was fresh out of University with a degree, travelled the world then decided that it was time to come home and get a “proper job”.  Not quite knowing why but being told it was the right thing to do – we had bummed about long enough.  It was time to put my degree to good use and make some money.  Trouble was I didn’t want to live in suburbia, it didn’t want the commute to work, and waiting for the weekends to come round to be able to do the things that I enjoyed doing.  I wanted to be free to spend my days doing exactly what I felt like doing as I had been the last 1.5 years.  However, I did what had to be done and I was miserable but I couldn’t figure out why?  I had a good job, a nice house a good car.  I didn’t feel like I fitted in.  Why wasn’t that enough?

This time I know I need to be on the road – experiencing new places and new cultures.  Eating new and exciting foods.  I know I can’t settle for suburbia life.  I am not the same as my neighbours.  I don’t fit in as I am not career driven.   I am the odd one in their book, and I suppose I am.  But this time it is OK, because this time I know that I won’t stay for long.   I will start to plan the next adventure and try to make it a more permanent feature so I don’t have these periods where I have to try to be a ‘normal’ working suburban housewife.

What is “home”?

What does ‘Home’ mean to other travelling families and how do they adjust?  You can read more here:

The Sullivan family has no home! They are planning to be mobile for as long as possible. Slowly travelling and exploring the world renting other people’s homes. With roots in the UK and 4 children born in New Zealand and Australia they are a mixed bundle of accents! Surviving earthquakes, floods, tropical cyclones and car accidents gives them a zest for life and exploration. Home is where my family is! You can read more on Samantha’s story here – Going Where the Wind Blows

Jessica  Palmer and her family from Travel with Jess always return to their home town of Hervey Bay in Queensland, Australia in between exploring all that this world has to offer. Here are her reasons for why Hervey Bay is a fantastic place to visit with your family

Hear Jessica Covington’s story from Magnets from Everywhere.

Essie Argent from Lots of Planets have a North, talks about her home in Victor Harbour In New South Wales, Australia.

Gillian Donovan, who describes herself as a ‘Third Culture Kid From Edinburgh’ tells her story.  She currently lives with her family in rural France. Gillian has a very strong attachment and affection for Scotland and shares why she considers Edinburgh to be her hometown. Read here for her top favourite family friendly destinations and activities in the capital city: The Little Den



  1. MagnetsFromEverywhere said on August 25, 2017 5:47 pm:

    This is great! You’re lucky that you went on that RTW trip right after college. Did you feel like it helped you take the leap as a family that you already knew you loved extended travel?