So after a month an a half of country hopping, I was beyond ready to come back to Wrocław and have my own apartment, my own bathroom, my own kitchen, my own space. Also, I have to be back at work on Monday and money was running low. But, you know, spiritual longing for a complete wardrobe was a pretty big factor too.
I left Poland on July 1 and went to Sweden for swing dancing camp, where my limited wardrobe really did me in, as I simply couldn’t bring a dress for every day of the week. By July 12, I was off to Los Angeles to visit my friends and family back home. Two weeks later, I was on a flight back to Barcelona, passing through London (btw, why is their allotted liquids bag so much smaller than everyone else’s??? If LAX let me bring all these liquids through, you should too, London-Gatwick!). After my week in Barcelona I moved fast, staying in one place for no more than 3 days, sometimes for as little as 6 hours: Bologna, Trieste, Koper, Pula, Rovinj, Zagreb, Ljubljana, Vienna.
I swear, by the end of July I was so sick of all the clothes I had brought. I don’t know how people can live out of a backpack for months upon months. I brought only a carry-on to avoid Norwegian’s notorious baggage fees (I also packed my own food so I wouldn’t have to buy one of their meals), and as a chronic over-packer this was akin to psychological torture. When you’ve worn every permutation of the outfits you’ve brought, you know it’s time to go home and perhaps never wear those clothes again.
A lot of people write think pieces about how coming back home after traveling is dispiriting, how they’re frustrated by the mundane-ness of every day life, how everyone else is so boring in comparison, and nobody like understands the profundity of what they experienced. Sorry, but no. What a bunch of assholes, right? Your vacation probably isn’t as interesting as you think, dude. We don’t want to hear about how you smiled at some non-white people and it changed your life.
I have never found this to be the case. Non-stop travel is not glamorous and usually not profound. In reality, it’s a lot of waiting–in train stations, on buses, in McDonald’s using the free Wi-Fi and sneaking into the bathroom without paying for anything. There’s the awkward in-between time, where you have time to kill but not enough time to do something interesting. There’s a lot of time spent on your computer planning: booking tickets or arranging couchsurfing hosts or finding the cheapest hostels. There’s the worrying: about whether you’ll get there on time, about where you can store your luggage, about how far you’ll have to drag your suitcase through tourist-ridden streets, about if your phone battery will die, about if you’ll even have Wi-Fi to message the person you’re supposed to meet. These parts of the journey are great, in some small way–they test you, make you more resourceful, sometimes lead to a great misadventure that you can tell people about for years to come. But make no mistake. They are stressful. They take a toll. I spent a good portion of time relaxing, but also a good portion over-thinking.
Maybe some people can do that forever, but personally, I like coming home to my apartment. I like doing my laundry without worrying about someone dumping my wet clothes on the floor. I like being able to walk around in my underwear and cook my own food and not feel rude if I don’t wash my dishes right away. I like seeing my friends and the relationships I’ve built up around me. I like going to work and having a schedule and a purpose every day.
I love going on vacation. But I also love coming home.