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Coming back is not all bad: Parties and being darker than your friends

I flew back from Mexico seven weeks ago today. In the few weeks that followed, I set about planning and implementing my self-hosted travel blog. I was full of enthusiasm and excitement for the list of articles that I had still to write, not having had time to finish them all while in Central America.

When I’m backpacking, its all I can do to not write a post every single day about the amazing experiences that I’m having and the sites that I am witnessing. And while the travel excitement did last for several weeks after my return, I have found it increasingly difficult to blog about the rest of my trip.

Blogging is not exactly new to me, I started writing about my travels back in 2001 when I completed a Semester at Sea voyage around the world. However, the idea of continuing to write about travel when I’m not traveling is something I’ve always struggled with.  And it’s not for lack of stories, I have hundreds of ideas that I think of as I am going about my day-to-day life. I just missed how alive and vibrant I feel inside when I’m on the road. How much I want to write about that, every day.

I’m happiest when I’m carrying a back pack

I guess part of this has to do with the reverse culture shock of returning home. I know culture shock is supposed to affect you when you leave home and go to a foreign land, but for me, my time here in Seattle has been so tumultuous over the past few years, it feels more like home when I’m traveling than when I am back.

In many ways I have been extraordinarily blessed over the past two years with the number of travel experiences that I’ve had. This started when I got laid off in January of 2009 from a company whom I had worked for five years. I had dedicated so much of my time and energy to getting my CFP certification, and climbing the ladder in the financial services world, that when it ended I went through an identity crisis. Who was I when I didn’t have that position?

I also learned that the people I had worked with, who had literally been my entire social circle for so long, were not truly my friends – our friendship had been dependent on my continuing to show up at the office every day. To make matters worse, my boyfriend had just left me two weeks previous. So, here I was without my career, my boyfriend or the people I typically turn to for support. It was the perfect time to get away. To get the kind of perspective and clarity that only travel can give you.

Back then I went to Guatemala for a couple of weeks, and ended up returning from Bolivia four months later. It was an amazing trip, but it was very difficult to come back to my empty life in Seattle.

After several months of job hunting I finally landed another position in financial services, which I was then fired from three weeks later due to a personality conflict. That time I left to travel to Nepal, Cambodia and Thailand.

On my return from that trip, I was fortunate enough to land a dream position away from the financial services world that I had grown to mistrust. As many of you know, I landed a position as the Content Editor of TravelPost, the travel tech startup formed by the founding members of Expedia. I was being paid to write about all things travel, and I discovered the wonderful travel blogging community that I now feel a part of.

My last day in Mexico

Just when things were starting to look up, I got laid off again in January of this year, together with another eight employees. Once again, I react to these situations differently than most people would in my circumstances. I don’t panic and start frantically looking for work, I immediately begin thinking about where I should take the next trip to clear my mind, clear my heart, and reassess what is really important in my life.  It’s the pathology of long-term travel junkies, right?

After a Middle Eastern itinerary seemed badly timed due to the political uprisings, I elected to return to Central America and see the rest of Guatemala, Belize and Mexico. It was an incredible journey, and it served to fuel the wanderlust that grows ever larger each time I come home from an amazing journey like that.

I don’t mean for this to be a whine-fest, I’m extremely grateful for the amazing experiences I have had traveling, and in many ways, the three job losses have enabled me the opportunity to travel because of the time it has afforded me to go away. If I had the money, I would probably still be making my way around the globe.  But why do I only feel like myself when I am on the road?  Am I just escaping reality and my problems?  People often ask me how I’m able to just get up and go off galavanting solo around the world at a moment’s notice.  I reply that for me it is easy: what’s hard is making life work staying put in one place.

Must it be so difficult to come back home? And why is it difficult to write about my experiences now?

Anyone who’s been unemployed can tell you that it is extremely difficult to stay upbeat and  motivated when you’re looking for work. This is especially true for me as I feel like being unemployed and looking for work has become my career.  Having only been an online editor for seven months, it seems I cannot parlay this position into another one where I would be writing, even if it wasn’t about travel. Meanwhile, my financial licenses are expiring, and the time it has been since I served in an advising capacity to clients grows longer, together with my doubt as to whether that is the right career for me anyway.

Arnaud and I training for our Mt. Rainier climb

On the positive side, I have been kept wonderfully distracted by training for an upcoming climb of Mount Rainier with my wonderful boyfriend, Arnaud, and by planning a move to the city of Kirkland on the east side of Seattle at the end of this month.  I’m hoping a change of location will do me and my head some good. I know writing this post has already helped – I feel that I have come clean with you, my audience.

For those of you reading this who are travel bloggers, how many of you only write about your travels when you’re traveling? How do you bring yourself to stay motivated to write about your experiences when you’re not?  I would really appreciate any advice you might have, because even though I have been writing for 11 years now, I am new to the world of consistent blogging even when I’m home.

And thank you so much to all of you who have told me that you enjoy my stories, and who have encouraged me to keep writing.

I promise to keep trying.

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