Learning to appreciate home
As I come to the end of my current trip and prepare to head home, I am reminded of that amazing ability travel has to help me appreciate what I have waiting for me back in Portland. I am one of those very fortunate people who, despite my love of travel and new places, is always really excited to return to my wonderful hometown. I have deep roots in Portland, a wonderful community of friends, amazing and supportive parents, and so much delicious vegan food!
Before this trip, I was feeling restless and needing a change. I was excited to get out of Portland for a while, learn some new skills, visit some new countries, and connect with new people I would meet along the way. Even though it was only four months, it seems like a lifetime ago that I began my trip in Cambodia, eventually making my way through Thailand, India, and Nepal.
In the past four months, I have visited countless temples and holy sites, forged meaningful friendships, completed a yoga teacher training, traveled hundreds of miles on trains and buses, gotten into and out of multiple sketchy situations, eaten delicious local foods, met up with several old friends, spent a lot of time in coffee shops, and have literally climbed mountains.
As much as I love the adventures I get into while traveling, I am always ready to return home by the end and I am so grateful that I have a home I love returning to. (I mean, just check out the beautiful family that I get to return to in the featured photo!) While being in one place sometimes leaves me restless and longing for a change, constantly living out of a backpack makes me long for stability and familiarity.
I can’t wait to get home and have some small semblance of a routine again. Of course, I know from experience that even my life back home is never THAT routine, but it is nice to know that I will at least be living in one room without having to constantly unpack and repack, that I will be surrounded by my flourishing community of amazing friends, and that I can always rely on PDX Sunday Night Dinners.
I wouldn’t appreciate all of these things nearly as much if I never went away from them. And the more places in the worlds I explore, the more I realize how special it is to have what I have in Portland. I have met many people throughout my travels who don’t really feel connected to their home, who are either aimlessly drifting or are actively searching for somewhere new to feel like they belong. In some ways, I envy their detachment and ability to travel for years on end without the pangs of homesickness, but at the end of the day, I know that my homesickness means I have a home worth going back to and that makes me happy.
Tying it all back in
Throughout all of this, I have done my best to learn from my experiences and use them to continually become the best version of myself possible. I have used this time to work on letting go of old habits, thought patterns, and resentments and I feel like I have come a long way in four months. The key now is to tie all that growth into my life back home, which is not always that simple. It’s easy to be all mindful and spiritual when you’re spending your days going on fun adventures in new places and meeting lots of other travelers, but it can also be easy to get sucked back into old patterns once we are again surrounded by the things we left behind.
While I often crave familiarity and stability when I am traveling, I also sometimes get anxious that I will become stagnant or revert to old ways once I have them again. For me, one way I try to make sure this doesn’t happen is by writing about the changes I have made or want to make, talking about it with good friends who support me, and by continuing to learn and grow through consuming mindful materials: good books, podcasts, documentaries, etc.
The nice thing is, you don’t always have to GO somewhere in order to learn something new. If you live somewhere that doesn’t have a lot going on, you can always search for classes, videos, tutorials, or communities online! You can read books on topics you are interested in or listen to podcasts. There are so many endless sources of inspiration out there, none of us has any excuse in this day and age not to constantly be learning something new.
There is a reason I continue to write my blog even when I’m home, because I am constantly looking for new sources of inspiration and ways to grow, even if I am not in “travel mode”. There is no reason that being in one place for a while means you have to become stagnant. Travel can certainly provide a lot of inspiration and excitement all in one big chunk, but it is up to each of us to harness that energy and bring it home with us, to bring that adventure mentality into everything we do!
For me, it is also important to remember that it is ok not to make huge changes all at once. It is inevitable that some of my old habits will come back and that is ok. My goal this time around is to focus on a few small changes in my daily life that will add up to bigger change over time rather than stressing myself out by trying to overhaul my entire life all at once. I’m grateful that Portland is a place where I have a huge support network and is a city that generally encourages a healthy and mindful lifestyle!
Of course, there are always trade offs and there are things I really miss when I am in Portland. Usually the first thing I notice when I come home is the lack of diversity. Portland is a wonderful city, but it’s pretty homogenous. Whenever I travel, I get so used to hearing multiple languages a day, to constantly meeting people from all over the world, to not being able to expect that everyone I interact with will speak English. In Portland, these things are the exception rather than the norm.
It’s also harder to meet new people on a daily basis when you’re not in travel mode. It is so easy to just walk up to a group of people at a hostel and ask to sit with them, or start up a conversation with someone who is on the same trek as you, or go out for drinks with the people you were in a cooking class with earlier that day. But when you’re just hanging out with locals all the time, people are a little less open to just striking up a conversation or making plans to go on a mini-adventure together. Luckily, people in Portland as in general pretty friendly and open, but it’s still just not quite the same as when you are surrounded by other travelers who are looking to make new connections.
I guess all of this is pretty much just to say that I’ve had a really awesome four months of traveling and now I’m super excited to be returning home and to use all the motivation and inspiration I’ve gained to create new things in my life. I’m so grateful to be able to call Portland my home and if you’ve never been there, you really should come visit (but don’t move here, we have plenty of people as it is…but do come visit)!
See ya soon, Portland! (ok, so, technically I’ll be in LA for two weeks visiting my sister before I get back, but soon, Portland…soon…)
So, where do you consider home? Is it where you grew up, or is it somewhere else? In which city or state do you feel the most comfortable, connected, able to put down roots? What makes it “home” for you?