How To Deal With Reverse Culture Shock

22 December 2016
Read Time: 2.6 mins

Packing up a suitcase and jumping head first into the world is pretty much all we travel writers think about. The anticipation of new experiences, the journey, what to pack, people we might meet, old friends we’ll see, cultures we’ll fall in love with. If you’re going for a particularly long period of time, then there are farewells to bid and loose ends to tie, too. Before setting off, life is laced with excitement, nerves and a sense of unbridled adventure.

Rarely do we think about the return though. When the adventure comes to an end and we land back on home soil, reality sets back in. Your friends and family might think you’re brave for jetting off to live or travel on another continent, but rarely do we talk about how hard it can be to return. That funny feeling you get when you’re at home, but don’t quite belong, things are the same but slightly different and most of all, you’ve changed. That’s what we call reverse culture shock. Here are some hot tips for coming home happy.

Accept That Some Things Change, Some Stay The Same


She would have been so grand, once upon a time.

A photo posted by Vicki Jane Fletcher (@vickijanefletcher) on

While you were gone, everyone else got on with life. Jobs were finished and new ones started, houses bought and sold, engagements celebrated, birthdays had, friends and family moved away, kids grown up. Obviously, the longer you’re away, the more that’s likely to have changed. Be prepared too, that some things might be exactly the same. Last time I returned home from being abroad for a year, I remember being perplexed that some people’s lives seemed exactly the same as when I left. Unlike when you’re travelling, not everyone you see at home will have an epic story of survival, adventure or lost luggage to share at the end of the day. It’s time to relearn how to appreciate life at home and topics of conversation that don’t just revolve around travel.

Embrace The New You


Frolicking amongst macadamia trees.

A photo posted by Vicki Jane Fletcher (@vickijanefletcher) on

Travelling in new cultures and to far flung places is bound to inspire personal growth, push your boundaries, force learning and changing. When you return to familiar places and faces, you won’t just slot back into that old person you used to be. Bring the new you home and embrace it, wholeheartedly. You might have returned to your childhood town, but it’s time to focus on your future and the new, improved you.

Explore Your Hometown With New Eyes


A perfectly overwhelming wall of masterpieces at #QAG @qagoma today.

A photo posted by Vicki Jane Fletcher (@vickijanefletcher) on

After witnessing art, architecture, food, culture, the works in other exciting places around the world, you might just find yourself looking at your hometown with new eyes too. Visit local museums, art galleries, new restaurants and old favourites, climb a mountain nearby, head off on a weekend road trip, anything to reignite your appreciation for everything that makes your hometown great. 

Make New Friends In The Community


Basket beginnings. Thanks @madeinlisaland for teaching us how to weave today! Can't wait to finish. . . . @workshopbrisbane

A photo posted by Vicki Jane Fletcher (@vickijanefletcher) on

Returning home from a trip refreshed is the perfect time to break old habits and kick start new ones. Is there a new skill you want to learn? A language you want to keep up from your travels? An event you’ve always wanted to attend but haven’t got to? Landing back on home soil doesn’t mean you need to slot seamlessly back into your previous life, this is a chance to throw yourself head first into the community, meet like-minded new friends and make new memories and rituals in your hometown.

Know That There’s No Curing The Travel Bug


Dreaming of adventures with @sharkbite_aus

A photo posted by Vicki Jane Fletcher (@vickijanefletcher) on

The more you travel, the more you’ll want to. There’s no getting around this. Just because you’re now on home soil doesn’t mean you can’t keep adding to your travel bucket list. Appreciate the experiences you’ve already ticked off and start planning the next one!

Feature image courtesy of Getty.

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Vicki Fletcher

A writer and photographer for Flight Centre, Vicki loves road trips down unknown tracks, hiking into mountain ranges, following locals to the best food in town, and spending long afternoons people watching in city squares. She's written for publications across Australia and Europe. Top travel tip: always look up. Follow Vicki on Instagram @vickijanefletcher.