Mark Twain Travel Quote

There is no doubt about it: travel is dangerous.

And I’m not just talking about going into war zones or taking that unlicensed ferry across a dark and stormy sea. Travel is dangerous to your perspectives, your opinions, your outlook on life, hometown and friends and family. There is something about traveling (especially long-term) to an unfamiliar place that changes you.

When you return to your home country, you may (as I did) experience a sense of relief followed by a strong sense of nostalgia and then a lack of belonging. Relief because being away from the traditions and cultural norms of your home country can be taxing, can make you feel like an outsider, can make you long for the familiar. Nostalgia because you will likely have grown accustomed to your new residence – even picked up some of the same habits or accents of the locals, or begun to think of the place as your new home. And finally, a lack of belonging stemming from your new international perspective on your home country, your friends, your family, and your country’s cultural norms.

Cultural Differences

This lack of belonging, I’m afraid, is the hardest to deal with for those who have lived in other countries for long periods of time. You begin to adapt to a new culture, and when you return “home”, you realize that you have changed while home has gone on without you. Your perspective is different: you may find yourself disagreeing with locally accepted opinions that before you had no problem with (or no opinion on). You may wonder how people can go on here without a care for the greater problems plaguing the world. You may suddenly find your friends to be bigoted, close-minded, and/or stuck in their ways.

So what’s the solution?

Find a way to move back abroad? But the problem with that is, the people in your second (or third, or fourth) home also do not have the same perspective as you. You may find them to be overly critical of your home country, close-minded in different ways, lacking in one way or another in which your home country does not.

This is why travel is dangerous.

It gives you worldwide perspective and forces you to feel like an outsider wherever you go – except among other travelers. You become a one-man or one-woman melting pot of culture, never fitting in in any one place, though the desire to do so may grow stronger as you age, finally forcing you to settle down and forget your desire for adventure like some childish dream that could never happen in “the real world”.