As a few of you will know, I now have a set return date for my flight home. When I booked this trip I knew it would be a case of not knowing what my next step would be or how I would feel about everything until I was actually here. I could make a prediction, but that was about it. I quit my job because I wanted the freedom to make that decision myself – to keep my options open with no pressure to come home and no commitments, and I still think that was the right thing to do.
However, one thing I’ve learnt about life is that plan things all you want but it has a way of surprising you. I spent months planning and practically obsessing over what to do with my time here – where I might want to go, if I would want to work here and how long I would spend away from home. I’m happy that I was realistic in thinking I couldn’t make a lot of those decisions until I was here. For that reason, I did a TEFL course before I left (incase I decided to teach English), told my job my reasons for leaving instead of just using holiday time and most importantly, I only booked one return flight.
That wasn’t an easy decision to make as at the time of booking I was pretty certain I would want to go to either New Zealand or Australia to work after spending time in South East Asia. If that were the case then booking an onwards flight in advance would have worked out a lot cheaper than booking it last minute. But for some reason (I call it intuition), I just knew booking that flight wasn’t the right thing to do and that I should wait until I got here to make that decision. So I stuck to a flight to Bangkok with the option to change my return date for up to a year and left it at that, thinking that I could still go anywhere else I chose to with a last minute flight, even if it cost me a lot more. That’s a decision I’m glad I made, because after coming out here and for several reasons, I will be flying home in May with the intention of once again finding a job in the UK. My reasons are complex, but I’ll give you a list.
After struggling with the heat for months, I have come to the conclusion that I could not work and live in a hot climate. It’s one thing travelling here, but, being a red head, I just don’t think I was made to do anything remotely strenuous in the heat – I just couldn’t handle it and now I’m here I don’t have much desire to try.
Although on this trip I’ve found it substantially easier than last time in terms of missing home, I’m more homesick than I thought I would be. After spending almost 8 weeks in South East Asia around their culture, climate and customs, I miss the UK. I miss little things like not being hassled 24/7 and basic manners that Asians don’t always possess. I don’t miss it enough not to totally appreciate my time in a different country and I love travelling here, but again, it just reinforces that I couldn’t live here. I want to leave before these things start getting to me so much that I start to hate it here, and I think after 2 and a half months I’ll be ready to do that.
Some people love immersing themselves in a different culture and becoming completely at ease with it and I think that’s brilliant, but I just don’t think it’s for me. I’ve realised that I could never feel completely at home anywhere other than the UK – mainly because it’s somewhere so far from the people that mean so much to me, but also because cultural factors make me more homesick than they might to someone else.
I think coming to this conclusion is just as valuable as deciding I would like to stay and work somewhere. Now I can go home safe in the knowledge that I’m not missing out. It’s natural to always want what you can’t have and if I was forced to come home I’d probably convince myself that working abroad was something I wanted. I tried going away – I had the option to find work on the other side of the world, I learnt that it wouldn’t suit me and made the decision not to do it. A lot of people don’t have that luxury and will always wonder ‘what if?’ – I don’t have to do that.
The people that I’ve left behind
I have to admit that I don’t miss my friends and family as much as last time (it’s a lot easier the second time around and it helps that I’m travelling with an old friend) but when things like engagements start to be announced my desire to be at home becomes stronger. I don’t want to be out of the country for massive developments in the lives of the people I care the most about. I mean this is just one example, but after finding out I will be the maid of honour for my sister, the person I’m closest to in the world, it gives me all the more desire to be in the same country as her.
That leaves me with one last reason:
Long distance relationships are not easy
I’ll try not to go into this too much as it’s that little bit too personal to plaster all over the internet, hence why I haven’t explicitly mentioned it before now. But I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t a factor in my decision to leave. When I said life has a way of surprising you the main thing I was talking about was when you’re so adamant that you want to go travelling single and are actively pursuing not meeting anyone and not being in a relationship, that’s exactly when it happens.
So I’ve found myself in a long distance relationship for the past 2 months. Missing friends and family is one thing, but missing a boyfriend takes it to a whole new level. I admire people that claim they can do it, but I believe it is difficult to fully immerse yourself into travelling when there’s someone at home that you want to be with. Of course, although unexpected, this is a positive factor in my life and I’m lucky enough to be with someone that has made a less than ideal situation as easy as it could be. He’s also put no pressure on me to come home and it’s a decision I’ve made completely on my own. It has just ended up changing my perspective on things quite a lot, and making this a very different experience, but by no means a negative one.
So, after a hell of a lot of thinking time (that’s one luxury that travelling definitely gives you – and what I think is one of the most valuable things about it) I have followed the same gut instinct that told me not to book an onwards flight in the first place, and decided to go home on May 4th. My boyfriend will be joining me for 2 weeks before that (possibly the thing I’ve been most excited about for this whole trip) and then I will be flying home the same day as him.
From there, who knows. I’m not done with travelling yet and I’m not ruling out going again down the line. I still have a strong desire to see the world but I realise, as I did before, that it doesn’t have to be done with long-term travel. Maybe next time it will be an extended holiday or maybe for other reasons I might find somewhere other than the UK I want to work. Nothing is set in stone. But I’ve always followed my gut instinct on decisions and I’m completely happy with this one. I’m not naive enough not to realise things such as finding work again and basically sorting my life out might not be tough, but I believe things happen for a reason and I can’t see myself having any regrets.
So I’ll enjoy my last few weeks here and then I’ll see you all back in the UK from May 4th, and from there on, who knows what will happen. I might not be in an exotic country, but that doesn’t mean that all the excitement is taken out of the unknown – bring on the next chapter.