The Truth About Coming Home

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Coming Home

What is it like to go home after a long term trip?

If you had been looking at our facebook wall for the last few months, I have to admit: you may have been happily misled. Not on purpose of course. I tend to channel positive images and thoughts to a point where people must think I'm living in La-la land. I apologize for painting an all too cheery portrait of life after a life-changing adventure.

It's not really like that. Not at all.

Sure, we've admitted to post-travel depression but never really addressed what kind of scenarios and possibilities await those who take a leap of faith to travel. A letter I got a few weeks back from another traveler Ismail, who came from a round the world trip with a friend, gave me a fair reminder.

I hesitated for a long time before deciding to share it with you.

That's because I don't especially like sharing details of my financial status and personal challenges. But in the end, I think we could all learn from his questions and give ourselves a timely reality check. Read though Ismail's  predicament, then my honest and very difficult reply to his message.

Hi Lois,

How are you ?

I am just wondering how is your life after the trip ?

I am struggling now. I am looking for job but I refused many jobs untill now, some on the phone, some in the interview. I had excuses for rejecting them but the reason behind must be I don't wanna go back to office life. Sometimes I am refused for the job, because I can't convince the company that I will like my work, so they can feel it.

It would be better to earn money myself but in the beginning I need to save some.

How are you surviving after your trip? What are you doing now? What are your plans? Can you share please if not problem ?


It was tough enough to go through Ismail's note, replying to him was double the challenge. I could sense how down he felt and I had to find a way to encourage him without dragging myself down as well. This was my straightforward reply: 

Hi Ismail,

I understand your predicament as I was in the same situation a few months back. It's difficult to come home from a long trip and re-integrate yourself into society. I was faced with a decision of going back to corporate or finding a way to earn an income while still maintaining a flexible schedule so I can keep on traveling. Here's how I'm able to keep myself afloat financially without getting a 9-5 job:

1 I've offered my services to a learning events company by acting as their social media consultant. All the skills I've learned after months of blogging finally paid off. I could easily write about and promote events online through social media networks. I've been doing this for almost half a year and yet I'm not earning nearly half of what I did before (since I used to work for a financial institution). But the flexible schedule more than makes up for that. 

2 I am earning some income through the blog with sponsored links, posts and banner ads. 

3 The blog has opened a lot of unconventional opportunities for me. I have been writing for a few magazines. I have been asked to speak during some events for organizations. I have done some product commercials here and there. These "gigs" provide another stream of income. 

4 I have just founded a digital and social media company along with a small group of talented and passionate people and we are slowly getting clients. 

5 I just got a sponsored certification for a course that I have been teaching in the Philippines.This will most probably be my main source of income in the coming months.

You can try some of what I've done or maybe a combination. You can start with offering your skills and services in a consultant capacity to companies. Offer it for free at first for a few projects and if they like your work, ask them to refer you or give you more paid gigs. Learn to start and grow a blog. Open yourself up by talking to as many people as you can. Never eat lunch alone so you get exposed to more opportunities and ideas. You never know when the next person can give you your next big break.

The key is to have several streams of income.

Honestly, it's not easy. I've never had to hustle so hard in my life! But the more I've done it, the more the opportunities come. Good luck on coming back home. Let me know how else I can help. 

Sole Sister Lois

What are your thoughts on coming home after travel? Do you have any tips and advice to share? 

Main photo credit: twentyonecuts
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9 sole trails

  1. This is a very straight forward post and im sure this will help many people out there dealing with the same situation, im in a similar cycle myself and it is really a challenge to get back in the saddle and not wanting to confine yourself in a cube.

    However, it pays to build support networks that can help you out and can refer you to gigs and rakets that pays extra moolah.. I'm grateful I've met such good souls, hoping to meet more! ^_^. Ps, you're doing great Lois, way to go!

  2. Hi Lois, I hear you about spreading the positive and happy vibes always but thanks as well for sharing this other aspect after traveling long-term.
    Hi Ismail, I agree with Lois's tips. I'm currently on a long-term backpacking trip in Southeast Asia but instead of going out everyday, I stay in the hostel to work. I bring my work with me so I can still get a regular salary through freelance work (as a web content writer). 

    I also earn income through my blog through sponsored links and advertisements. If you can start blogging, it can help you in the future. Heck, I quit my job and I'm relying on my earnings and sidelines to support my travelling. A blog can really help but it's not really for everyone, especially those who don't like to write. Here's an article I wrote about earning online (

    If you have other skills and talents, you can also turn them into something profitable for you. Like photography, or arts and crafts, or if you know how how to juggle. I have friends who are earning a living and getting extra income through their passions. As for the juggling, I met a French juggler who told me he earned 2000 Baht (3000 Pesos) in 20 minutes in Khao San Road in Bangkok. So it's a matter of putting your skills to good use.

    But since you really need the money, I guess it would be good to accept the jobs that you can  handle for the time being. If you can fake it (that you really need and WANT the jobs you're applying for), then do so. Besides, if you're really desperate, then you don't have to fake that you NEED the job.
    Good luck Ismail!Lois, apologies for the long comment. Just wanted to share my thoughts especially since coming home after a long-term trip is not as easy as everyone thinks. But definitely, if you don't want to go back to the same life you've left before, you'll find other means not to do so. Ewan, ang gulo ko na. hahaha.

  3. Hi Lois. I also quit my job to backpack in Europe. But I;m continuing with my online work now, like Edcel. I will never really run out of money here and when I get back, but I will probably diversify my sources of income like you;re doing when I;m back. Thanks for the post!

  4. This is great Lois and thank you for sharing. I've read a lot about people quitting their jobs and selling their properties just so they could travel. But surely there are risks and challenges for doing so and unfortunately not much have been written about those. While the truths mentioned in this post should not discourage anyone for pursuing a travel dream,  they definitely put things in the right perspective.  

  5. Hi Lois! Thank you for deciding to share this post with us. This is one side of the story that does not get written about often. I have always wondered how people cope after their long term travels and you've just answered all my questions. I hope Ismail and your other readers got their answers too. Just wanna share two uplifting quotes with you guys:

    There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind. - C.S. Lewis
    Positivity is always at our fingertips.

    Have a good week everyone :)

  6. Dave (Trails & Lifestyle)March 22, 2012 at 10:20 PM

    Hi Lois,

    This is truly a work of honesty. Unravelling this corner of the risk takers like you gives light to the big dreamers. You are so much appreciated. Quitting my 8-5 job to backpack is a pretty huge dream for me, impossible that is, for now. But these things you are sharing to all of us about the light and dark sides of your plunge wheels is really encouraging. Highly noted. Thanks much!

    Ed, you are truly amazing. Keep going!

    Dave ^_^

  7. For sure it is an honest flow of the heart..
    So far I have no such experience but indeed it is good information.
    Whatever it be..keep travelling..

  8. i too am passing by this stage and many times i thought of should i really begin again with the office life. in the end yes. nice that youve shared this side as it really happens. 

    You can start with offering your skills and services in a consultant capacity to companies. Offer it for free at first for a few projects and if they like your work, ask them to refer you or give you more paid gigs. >>>ive been wanting to do this but had no courage at all to finish. in time. at a right time.

  9. Thanks for sharing this Lois. I also quit my job in the office to travel and am now currently a farmer here in Palawan. It's hard until now as the income is not that well like my income when I was in the office but I'm also planning to offer advertising space and other stuff on my blog and like Dong Ho I'm still collecting enough courage to do it. I'm sure, just like you, when I take that risk, everything will work out for the best.


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