When you are ready for a trip to end

I got back onto United States soil 2 days ago, and I’m happy to be back despite all of the craziness of Trump. I was ready to be home again, and I was ready to be with family again. Really, I was ready for my trip to end, and I don’t feel bad about that.

It wasn’t that my trip was going badly. On the contrary, my trip was going as well as I could have hoped! I wasn’t running out of money, and I wasn’t getting tired of seeing new places. Wonder was still at least somewhat abundant, although I was starting to feel a little lackluster about some aspects of travel.

Me at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya, Sri Lanka

Me at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya, Sri Lanka

Breaking point?

I think I got to this point when I was in Cambodia towards the beginning of February. I spent 3 days at Siem Reap and saw the ancient temple ruins. I loved that part. The food was generally great at the veggie restaurants that I found on Happy Cow.

Things changed a little by the time I got to Phnom Penh. At this point, I had been traveling in Asia for about 3 and a half weeks (I don’t count the part when I was in Singapore to hand in my thesis). I was ready to stop for a few reasons, one being food. Being on the road means not being able to prepare your own food for the most part. Since I have food intolerances, this makes eating while traveling a little bit harder. After having to do this for 3 weeks straight, I was ready to not have to deal with it anymore.

Thankfully, the worst things that did happen were some surprise garlic or onion in the dishes that I ordered. That won’t ruin me, but over time it can affect how I’m feeling and especially how my gut is functioning.

Long story short, I was ready to stop eating out every day, eating unhealthy food, and having to ask for no garlic and onion and hope that they actually do what they say they will. Even in Singapore, where language is not an issue, I asked for no garlic with my noodles at a Thai restaurant and it still came with garlic. Gah!

Food at Bangkok Hat Tournament 2017

Tournament food in Bangkok

Social exhaustion

The other part about my trip that was wearing me down was the constant meeting of new people. Don’t get me wrong, I like meeting new people. But as an introvert, having to do this every day for extended periods of time is tiring. I had a nice 4 day break in Singapore before the last bit of my trip on the way home, and even then I didn’t have the energy to talk to people staying at my hostels.

I did make some new friends on this trip, some already added on Facebook. Although, I did make the mistake of giving my blog card to a young guy working at my last guest house in Sri Lanka. After being connected on Facebook, he proceeded to message me a few hours later, and then tried calling me through FB messenger a day or two later. I didn’t mean it as an indication of interest in him, but I think he must have taken it that way…Oh well. I won’t make that mistake again.

What I need is a week at home, with no one to talk to besides family. By the end, I’ll be itching to talk to people other than family. Maybe some extra cuddle time with my niece is also in order.

Not quite homesick

Speaking of my niece, I missed my family! It’s not really homesickness, but I did want to see them. I still enjoyed my travels without feeling like I want to go home. Not just my niece and family, but I also miss everyone else in New York.

My niece is the sweetest. I know everyone may say that about their niece/nephew/child, but she really is something. I didn’t even think to book my tickets so that I could travel for even longer because I knew that she’d be having her first birthday party in mid-March. I know she won’t remember, but I will and I wanted to be home for it.

I feel like I have missed a lot of the good parts of my nephew and niece’s early years. I’ve missed some Halloween costumes, some parties, both baptisms, and a lot of cuddles. Although I know I’ll have plenty of time to catch up now since I’m back in New York, it was slowly pulling at me while I was on the road. This was why I ended up not really calling home much, and sent some postcards. Towards the end, I found it harder and harder to not stare at other people’s kids. Am I a creep?

Ready for the next chapter

Another reason I was ready for my trip to end was that I was ready for the next chapter of my life to start. That means hunkering down and looking for jobs. I don’t know what kind of job I’m going to end up with next, but I think it’ll be a good year for me.

I’m excited to get down and dirty with doing something that will have a positive impact somewhere somehow. I do have great respect for research and what it means especially since I’ve been in science for so long, but I also acknowledge that it is quite slow moving in general and rife with issues of its own.

Whatever job I get next, be it in research, or retail, or whatever, I hope to continue working on my blog and Instagram. It’s been a pretty decent few months for me, and I’m happy with the goals I’ve set for myself. I don’t have many expectations for this blog, but I hope that you’ve enjoyed reading it, especially over the last few weeks!

Somewhat inspired by continuing the blog and Instagram, I’m looking forward to getting out and doing things around the city. Though I grew up in New York, there are plenty of things I haven’t done yet. It’s the old problem of not exploring the city you are living in. Now that I have the time, and a little bit of money, I should do and see more of it! Plus, it’s going to be spring and summer soon and that means tons of free events to attend!!

The longest trip

This was my longest trip ever. Sure, I’ve lived abroad for many months at a time. But this trip was the longest time I’ve been on the road, even with the breaks in Singapore in the middle and towards the end. I left New York on 30 November 2016, and I returned to New York on 28 February 2017.

I was lucky in that I could have a little bit of a home base in Singapore, where I have several friends I could stay with. I could chill in Singapore, and have a pretty normal day to day life. I didn’t do anything tourist-y at all, beside a few nice meals and fancy cocktails. But I was only in Singapore for about 20 days total in these 3 months. Other than that, I was on the move every few days or so.

Now I’m pretty sure that I will never attempt to be a full-time traveler. But then again, I’ve never thought that I would be able to travel full-time. Even without my food issues, I don’t think I would want to try it. Traveling is a special event to me. It’s something that adds spice to my life, but if I had too much of it then that would defeat the purpose of travel for me. I like having travel as a way to step away from my normal life, to learn about other places and cultures, and to reflect on life and ideas.

Travel for me is about discovery. It’s not necessarily about seeing everything there is to see. When I got to the end of this trip, I felt I had done what I could for the moment in terms of discovery, and was looking forward to applying it and putting it in action in my life.

Me on the beach at Gold Coast, Australia

Me on the beach at Gold Coast, Australia

Life is somewhat put on pause when you travel. It’s hard to avoid that kind of feeling that when you return you are resuming whatever it is you are doing. It might be the nature of our perception of time and place. Unless you come from a nomadic culture, movement is a temporary thing that disrupts regular time. I was ready to get back to being still for a while before moving again.

Going til the end

I’ve never cut a trip short, and probably won’t ever because I’m too cheap to change my flights. But I did think about it this time. It would have meant changing several flights, though, or booking a new one completely. I’m stubborn in some ways, and this was never going to happen. I would go through the rest of my trip no matter what.

I spent my final week in Australia, which was pretty easy and a nice last bit of beautiful summer before heading into the end of winter in New York. This meant soft sand and beautiful ocean views. I think I could sit by the ocean for days on end! I also really like Australia, and I think I could potentially live there at some point. Although it is far from everywhere else, there is a nice vibe.

I kept myself pretty busy the last week, moving from hostel to hostel, and spending a few days in Melbourne with new and old friends. I also needed this to stay distracted and not miss people too much. I had a thought last week that if I saw another photo of my niece before I see her in person, I might cry.

Growth through travel

I’ve learned a ton about myself on this trip!

Starting with the 6 minute presentation at the conference in December, my self confidence has gotten much stronger. I still feel that it was amazing that I was able to make everyone in the room laugh. The control that I felt in the situation is something that I had never quite felt in previous public speaking situations. I guess it was the casual nature of the content and the event, and it was a topic where I could make fun of myself. It was really fun! Getting compliments from people throughout the rest of the conference was pretty encouraging too!

I’ve been a bit rusty on the dating scene since my long distance relationship failed early in the PhD. Besides a few dates in 2015, I haven’t really had any luck. (I mostly blame Singapore and London.) But, I met some interesting people on this trip, or got closer to people I already knew. Someone close to me is going through a rough breakup, and I hope that I can help them through it. I don’t know if having dated on different continents makes me especially good at giving advice, but at least my years of experience will help. I think this trip has helped me to realize that I’m not a dud and that I’m not done with meeting new people or finding love. It can be hard, but it is worth the effort.

I also learned it is always worth it to try to meet up with old friends. It might have been a gamble to meet up with friends I haven’t seen in 8 years and commit to traveling with them for a week, but it was so worth it and amazing. I also met up with one friend from high school, another friend from college, and a friend from New York. I wish I could reunite with more people this way! I learned that, yes, people change and grow, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t the same people.

I learned that I might have bad knees. Going down from Adam’s Peak on all those stairs, my knees hurt a lot and they did for the rest of the day. I was literally hobbling from the van. And any time there were stairs? Oh gosh. I may have to talk to a physiotherapist. Bad knees could mean needing a rest from sports, but maybe I just need to do some strength work. I have a feeling that it might be rest though.

Adam's Peak (Sri Pada) in Sri Lanka

Near the top of Adam’s Peak (Sri Pada) in Sri Lanka

Lastly, I could try to be a little more adventurous or less cheap when I’m traveling solo. I tend to chill and not do much when I’m on my own, whereas when I’m with others I’ll do more. I like learning new sports, so I may put more effort into doing more of that on my next trip.

My home, the concrete jungle

Oh New York! How I’ve missed you! You are the place that dreams are made of. You are by no means perfect, and I’ve tried other places, but I will always come back to you. I knew that before, but now I really know.

In the coming weeks, I look forward to doing things like go to Secret Science Club with my friends and nerd out while having a cocktail. Or I may hit up some museums that I haven’t been to in a long long time (MoMA? The Met?). Spring is about to hit New York, and it’ll be a happy time!

Even though I was ready for this trip to end, it didn’t mean I wasn’t looking forward to future trips! I am applying for some opportunities in the travel arena that could mean some interesting trips. I don’t know what my chances are, but I’m applying anyway! There’s also the wedding in July in the UK, which afterwards I may try to do some traveling! My next trip will most likely either be to Colorado to see the friends I met up with in Sri Lanka, or back to Singapore for my thesis defense. Either way, I’m looking forward to both being back in New York and to more traveling!

Have you ever wanted a trip to be over before it was time?

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Ready for a trip to end