For those who don’t know yet, we are now back home in Canada! We flew sixteen time zones in twenty hours, from Yangon to Bangkok to Hong Kong to Vancouver, all on Christmas Eve. We’re in a bit of shock going from 30 C to 4 C. And the jet lag is killer. But we’re adjusting a little bit every day.
Despite the jet lag, it was lovely to be home in time for Christmas with the family.
But after being away this long, you can’t help but be grateful for all that you have. Our time away from the routine of our life in Canada has been amazing. There are many moments that have left an impression on us that will leave us changed forever.
We’ve often been asked, how do you go from travel and living a nomadic lifestyle back to getting a desk job and fitting back into a 9-to-5 routine life?
Here are our top 7 tips for reintegration:
(1) Always have enough saved for your return
We never spend every penny of our savings. Having “return to Canada” fund is always a part of the planning. It could take you 3 or 4 or more months to find a job. Enough funds to pay the bills until one of us finds employment is important. Be sure to plan for this.
(2) Start applying for jobs before you fly home
If nothing else it will make you feel better that you’ve made some action on your job search. Look online, contact old employers and contacts, let people know you’re return to town. Someone is always going on maternity leave or perhaps a short contract may need filling. Timing is everything with jobs search, so even letting people know you are coming back to town could line you up for the right opportunity.
(3) Gaps on resumes are not a big deal any more
In the past, you would have have to have a really good story for why there was a one year gap on your resume. But now, people take sabbaticals all the time. Travel, international experience, volunteering these are all things that make you a well rounded employee. Time away refreshes your perspective and enhance your creative problem solving making you an excellent team member. Don’t let the gap on your resume worry you.
(4) Investigate your career sector where ever you travel
Where ever we are, I’m always curious about public health campaigns, political organizing, health care systems, media and social services. All the sectors we’ve worked in while in Canada are also abroad. You can learn a lot about your sector while traveling and bring this knowledge to your work when you return. Curiosity is central to travel but it can also help you on your re-entry too.
(5) Have a place to stay is part of the “game plan”
Maybe you’ve sublet your home while you are away, or maybe you’ve worked out an arrangement with a friend to rent a room in their home when you return, but having a plan will make all the difference. You’ll be looking for work, you don’t want to add looking for a place to live too. Have a plan.
(6) Lunches, coffees, breakfasts, and dinner – meet up with people
When you get back in to town, its nice to set up dinners and coffees and catch up visits with friends and family. This will help you get re-oriented back to normal life. This is an important step. Learning about what’s happened while you were away is just as important as sharing all your travel stories. Get reacquired with your friends. It will help you with reintegrating back in to your regular life.
You’ve been traveling around, moving, walking, getting on and off various types transports. It is important that you keep moving once you’ve returned home. Go to the gym. Join a running group. What ever you like doing. Exercise will help you cope with stress. Everyone thinks quitting your job and traveling is stressful, and it is, but you are in control. But looking for work, fitting back in to an old life, is even more challenging. Exercise will help you with that.
Whether you are gone for six months or six years, change can be challenging. But we don’t grow when things are easy. Coming back to your life is part of the learning too. With a little planning you’ll find it’s not as hard as everyone worries about. When your job title doesn’t define your happiness you found a tiny piece of freedom.