649 days. 20 months. 13 countries. 4 continents.

Yes, I am going home after a long trip. It’s time. After postponing this moment and flight three times already, I really am going home. After almost two years exploring this beautiful planet, in a few days, I will be boarding the plane that will take me back to Italy after 20 months of travel and 8 years of expat life. And since I know that it’s going to be weird, emotional, full-on I’ve decided to fully prepare for this moment.

They say home is where the heart is. But my heart is wild and free. So am I homeless or just heartless. Did I start this, did it start me. Passenger – Home

Hell yeah! I am going home after a long trip.

In fact, I decided to come here to Bali, where my wanderlust sparked for the first time five years ago. It is no coincidence that I decided to come back to this island to close the circle that pushed me outside my comfort zone and made me pursue a nomadic/location independent lifestyle. Bali was calling me as a final destination and my time here has mainly been about this. Getting ready to go home. Am I ready? Ah! Of course not, but at least now I am aware of the 8 things I need to know after this long trip:

1 – People will think you are from Mars and you will think they are from another universe

While I was throwing myself off of planes in New Zealand, climbing mountains and volcanos or riding a bike through south-east Asia, most of my friends at home were popping out babies like vending machines and the ones who did not breed got divorced, bought a house or came out gay.

Yeah, it’s really like this. This is to say that people back home have been having an actual life made of food shopping, nappies changes, latest TV shows, electricity bills and not the cross-border-buses-visa-runs-Bali-or-Philippines kind of issues I experienced. You know? Real life vs travel life. So, expect them to be different, expect your favourite cafe to have closed and to see your mates different from whom they once were.

2 – People want to hear about your experiences… but not all the time

Friends and family, but also strangers and new friends you are going to make at home, will be intrigued by your travels. Exactly like when I went on my first solo trip or moved to London for the first time, people were keen to hear more about my experience but not all the time. After a couple of weeks (or less), people will get bored of you starting each sentence with “When I was in India/Australia/New Zealand…” It’s not that they don’t care, it’s more that most people cannot relate to long-term travel or expat life and for some, it’s plain annoying hearing about places they can’t even place on a map.

3 – Bye bye simplicity of living with little

Once you go home, life will start again as crazy as it was before. Suddenly, you will realise that no, you no longer only have 3 t-shirts and 1 pair of shorts, but your options are almost endless in that deep closet. If you haven’t done it before leaving home, it’s time: declutter now. If you are like me, you enjoyed the simplicity of living out of a backpack and not having to waste time to choose and select what to wear, well I have got news: you can do the same at home, by embracing minimalism and getting rid of most of your belongings.

4 –  You will miss the variety of food, stimuli, cultures and languages

Depending on where home is for you, you might have to say goodbye to those exotic foodie explorations, languages barriers and diverse cultures. For me, for example, home is in a small village in the north-east of Italy and I already know I won’t be able to pamper my taste buds with Vietnamese, Thai or Pacific flavours for quite a while. I also know I no longer will be challenged by tricky conversations in Hindi or Balinese. But that’s life and the huge amount of friends you’ve made along the way, at the touch of a smartphone button, will help you feel less lonely.

5 – Oh the same old friends…

Oh come on! don’t take it that way. You know what I mean right? When you go to a new hostel and within minutes you already have a whole new gang of international friends to go out and explore. People of all sorts of background will cross your path while you travel and it’s not as easy when you are back at home. Or I might be wrong, I will see in a week or so when I get there.

6 – Kill me softly

Everybody knows that it’s super easy to fall back into the trap of normal life (whatever that means!!) once you get back. Personally, I will try my best to keep up with the routine that makes me feel A M A Z I N G (which involves meditation, yoga, learning, run daily) and not getting distracted by boring TV shows, sofa life, useless magazines and just random stuff.

7 – Why can’t you be normal?

My mum, and especially my dad, wish for me to be like one of those vending machine, erm friends I mentioned above. I’ve been Ommmmm-ing and zeeeeen-ing for months now to be ready to deal with their “You are getting old!”, “Don’t you want a child?”, “What about a real man?” “Are you gay”? kind of enquiries and questions. I still don’t really know how to deal with them, it’s hard to explain that I am happy alone and childless, but I hope the tattoo I got on my forehead helps them to understand me more. It says: no kids, just waves

8 – Leave your expectations behind and go home with an open heart

This is what I had to struggle the most since I’m the type of person who always sets a million expectations for myself and others. I wanted to go home having found myself -whatever that means – I wanted to be slimmer, darker, knowing how to play the guitar, surf and skate. Do I? Have I completed my journey? Thankfully not since I am not dead yet and I know that this is just a short break from my new lifestyle and I won’t be stopping home for too long. In fact, an Italian summer (and Italian food binges)  is just what I need to recharge my batteries. So, don’t expect your friends or family to change their plans for you, don’t expect them to have the energy to watch all your travel pictures or listen to all your stories. They won’t. Just let it be. Let them be.

9 – And finally… let the simple things surprise you again

After travelling for so long, it’s easy to take striking sights and incredible landscapes for granted. Personally, I have fallen into that trap a few times, when I had no interest to explore or to meet new people. In fact, I made a promise to only do what felt right for me in that moment and I killed the pressure to see everything. After almost two years on the road, I am just in need of simplicity. The simplicity of seeing beauty in the smallest things, in the smiles of my friends, in the well-known landscape around my home, of hiking those hills I used to visit with my dad and sisters when I was little. The familiarity of seeing common products at the supermarket. And smell the flowers in my mum’s garden. And the texture of her sheets. So if you, like me, are about to board that final plane that will take you home, don’t worry mate. Go home and allow yourself to be surprised and amazed by the little things. Let your friends and family spoil you, let them take care of you for a little while. Undress of the I-can-do-this-I-am-a-traveller armour. Drop your backpacker’s defences. But go home and appreciate the little things, the familiar smells of home, the different shades and the comfort that comes with it. You are safe, my friend. This is home. You are home.