10 Weird Things that Happen When You Come Home After Long Term Travel…

Coming back home from a long stint backpacking can be very strange indeed. At times you feel like an alien in your own country! (Cue Sting). You’ve forgotten so much about what life back home is like and picked up many weird habits while you’ve been away. Are you still the same person that you once were? Here are 10 symptoms of extreme reverse culture shock…

Have YOU Experienced 10 Symptoms of Reverse Culture Shock?

1. You get nervous when people serve you in shops and restaurants as they can speak the SAME LANGUAGE as you! They speak so fast, they are so polite, you can ask them anything you want! It’s almost too much to handle. 2. You make SMALL TALK with anyone, everywhere. On the tube, in a café, walking down the street. So what are you up to tonight? How long have you been in this city? Where are you from? Life outside the hostel isn’t quite as friendly
On a songthaew in Thailand.
Making friends was always so easy in South East Asia!

3. You’ve developed a form of Tourette Syndrome when buying train tickets and snacks, “F*** OFF, it’s HOW MUCH?” No matter how much you try to brace yourself, you can’t help but be shocked at the cost every time, expletives shooting from your mouth.

4. You are walking around bowing at people in a Thai style ‘wai’, saying gracias to some people and performing the Indian head shake at others – you’re a CULTURAL MESS and you’re getting funny looks. It’s embarrassing.

sawasdee macdonald
Sawasdee Ka Ronald! The Western version just isn’t the same.
5. You’ve forgotten all the little silly etiquettes and SOCIAL NORMS of pretentious society. Waiting for everyone to be served their food before you start to eat, putting your napkin on your knee, queuing for toilets and lifts… not putting your toilet paper in a bin at the side of the toilet at someone’s house. Stop being so rude and uncouth! 6. You suddenly have SO MUCH MORE TIME in your day. Things just seem to go according to plan, all the time… That half an hour bus journey you planned, well it took… half an hour! No break down, accident or delay. Bus journeys get you from A to B. No story to tell.
Our Bus is Stuck
That time when the “VIP” Bus got stuck in the mud – for four hours.

7. You become gushy and overly emotional about the things other people find normal. Hot showers, soft pillows, real cups of tea, real chocolate… You’re smiling so much at your bagel right now that the woman who served you thinks you are simple. Every missed experience is relished like a precious rediscovery. You will NEVER TAKE CHEESE FOR GRANTED again!

8. You realize you may need to BRUSH UP up a bit. You look like shit. People around here smell nice, they have clean hair and no three-week-old dirt underneath their fingernails. They’re looking at you like you just crawled out of a backpack… erm, ‘cos you just did.

Smelly Feet
No one around to smell your feet out here!

9. You wonder why no one is pestering you. “Tuk-tuk, taxi, massage, cambio, my friend…” it all seems well, KIND OF LONELY and quiet without the constant chatter. You miss it. You always felt so popular and desirable.

tuk tuk 2
Hey Mister – where you go!?

10. You resist the urge to tell everyone… “Do you think I’m acting weird?” Do you? Well, it’s actually because I’ve just got off a flight from Bangkok… This one time when we were on a bus in northern Laos…” Your adventures mean so much to you, but guess what? When you get home, you will slowly realize – NO ONE CARES! Life goes on as normal. There’s a new character in that reality TV show, Man U just bought a new player, it’s Steve’s stag do next week, whatever you think you may have done that is more adventurous and better than everyone else, if other people can’t relate to it – they won’t want to know.

ONE FINAL TIP: Resist the temptation to try to fit ‘sticky rice’ into every conversation…

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Weird things that happen when you come home after long term travel!
Nikki Scott - Founder South East Asia Backpacker
Nikki Scott | Founder & Editor

Nikki is the founding editor of South East Asia Backpacker and The Backpacker Network. In her early twenties, she left her home in the North of England on a solo backpacking adventure and never returned! After six months on the road, she founded a print magazine that became legendary on the Banana Pancake Trail. The rest is history.

Find me: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

35 thoughts on “10 Weird Things that Happen When You Come Home After Long Term Travel…”

  1. Love it. Man the price of everything was so horrendous I must have saved a fortune not buying stuff when I got home. Can do with way less…for a while

  2. hahahaha no one is pestering on you! this is correct! everyone here in singapore is an island, they have their own world. if i’m walking towards them in the mrt, even when they’re busy looking at their phones, somehow they manage to deflect me hahahaha

  3. 11. On those first shopping trips upon returning you find yourself struggling with the urge to bargain down prices in H&M, Starbucks and in your supermarket.

    1. Bargain down prices in Starbucks? You must be kidding! There are Starbucks
      all over South East Asia at least in the large cities.Even in “communist” Vietnam, I went to Starbucks in Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi. They all have fixed prices, there´s no bargaining. The same applies to supermarkets.

  4. Dan Cummings

    Accidentally throwing your TP in the bin when you get home hahahahah!! Totally did that.

  5. Andre Machielsen

    I am not really a backpacker, that was in the 60’s, I live now 40 years in Thailand thus…. when I go “home” every number of years this is my situation…
    11 When going for a walk for whatever reason my companions seem to want to run all the time. Ones pace slows down considerably while in Asia.
    12 Get angry eyes when having dinner with family, I seem to politely burp (for my feeling), they are totally surprised as if I farted or so.
    13 They are using huge plates with lots of food, over here one is consuming much less. I once had an argument in a Pizza Place, they only served one size, huge that is, I requested one Pizza and two plates, one for my wife, the waiter wend berserk.

  6. Too perfect. Oh the prices horror when you return! I found food so incredibly boring when i came home, but i do not miss being constantly bugged by tuk tuk & the like and the scammers. Such a fun article. Plus it’s just about the greatest thing ever when someones traveled where you have & you can talk endlessly about your trips

  7. Love it! Especially 2. Takes me weeks to start minding my own business again.
    Travel has ruined me. My normal life is so uninteresting. All I ever want to do is talk travel and philosophy, but not too many people care about those kind of things.

    1. I’m totally agree. I come back to my country 3 years ago, and still want to talk about travels, geography, cultures, religion……. but like you said, nobody cares

  8. Gwen Haandrikman

    Hahaha I have this already after one month and having ‘a break’ in Singapore! It’s so organized here and nobody looks at me funny here or tries to sell me something.. strange thing is.. I feel kinda sad about it..

  9. Richard White

    Number 11. And after ten days of adaptation to life in the ‘civilised west’ you open a new bank account and deposit s much as you can afford (I started with just one pond – but that was a long time ago) towards your next trip.

  10. That is all so true! Still looking out for tuk tuks and som tam in Germany. Whats wrong here?

  11. Sarah Whatmough

    We were only away for 3 weeks, but can relate to most of these!! Especially number 7 hahaha!!!

  12. You continue to wear your awesome travelers getup (fishermans pants, tie-dyed full moon party singlet, handmade leather sandals and some kind of ethnic handbag and/or floppy hemp hat)…. until you realise just how ridiculous it was in the first place 😉

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