When is it Time to Go Home?

“I asked an impulsive question… what if we did not go home, what if we kept traveling?  Should you not listen well to the questions you ask out of nowhere?  Only in looking backward do you find those crumbs you dropped that marked your way forward…” -Frances Mayes, A Year in The World

Adorning the cover of my travel journal, this quote carried me through my first independent trip to Europe.  Freshly graduated, naive and hopeful, its hypnotic power grew stronger as that post-diploma vacation turned into a long-term lifestyle choice.

“What if did not go home…?” 

Kalaw, Burma

Kalaw, Burma. Photo taken by Hadyn Fitzpatrick.

Now, five years later, I once again asked the question.  Posting a casual status update on Facebook, I was floored by the speed and quantity of responses.  Some from old best friends and new travel companions; some from classmates I hadn’t talked to in years.  Some had visited 30 countries; others were still saving up for a big move.

But all of them understood the gulf between staying and going.  At some point, everyone must choose between a new destination and an old haven.  It is a choice – in my opinion – infinitely harder than the one we make to leave home, in the first place.

So, when you you reach that inevitable crossroads, perhaps my friends’ wisdom will help you as it has helped me:

Sunrise over the Pacific

Is anything more promising than watching the sun rise from an airplane, on your way to a new day and destination?

  • Motives-  Is there a bucket-list holiday you’re dying to take, or do you simply want to get anywhere else? Question your motives.  Consider carefully whether you’re traveling or running away…

“Do the thing you know you will regret if you don’t” – Luke

  • Fears-  And while we’re all running from something – a committed relationship, a house mortgage, income taxes – we must try to diminish the influence that our fears have over our decisions.  Are you avoiding home because you’re frightened of what you must face when you arrive?

“…your love of chasing the horizon will chaff if left alone.” – Greg

  • Goals-  Will going home, for whatever length of time, negatively impact your long-term plans?  Keep you out of graduate school or stop you from a particular volunteer placement?  Ask yourself which should come first, right now: career, family, future…

“Sometimes, it’s just what the soul needs before bounding off on another epic adventure.” – Allison

  • Choices-  How do you lay these various, assaulting thoughts into a neat, orderly plan of action?

“Ask yourself what makes sense and then listen to the answer.  *Simplify.” – Nolan

“The scary part about the truth is how obvious it is when your mind’s not making a muck of it.” – Joe

No matter what you chose to do, or where you chose to go, make sure you carry optimism and an open heart.  Then every location will offer you the excitement of new things, and the comfort of familiarity.  Because…

“Either way, nothing is permanent.” – Katie

Coming home, 2007

My travel companions, Kelli, Carrie, and I, home after our first independent trip through Europe, 2007.

10 responses to “When is it Time to Go Home?

    • Yes, it’s quite amazing living in the age we do that we have the opportunity of extended (indefinite?) travel…But also at the same time we are faced with this exact question…I say trust your gut/intuition.

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  2. I’ve been on a trip for almost four months and for the last week or so, I’ve been asking myself this same question. Now I’ve just “stumbled” across your article on Matador and then read the full post on your blog and was surprised to see that the date of submission was today. I guess my answer to this question is…just look for and listen to the signs! I’m going to start looking for a flight home:)

    • I’m glad my friends’ advice helped, Emma. My best friend and I started believing in “signs” a few years ago, and they’ve never led me astray. Good luck with your decision!

  3. Good luck on the rest of your adventure- no matter where it takes you. You seem to have good and understanding friends that support you no matter what.

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