Everybody knows that guy. He gets back from a study abroad trip and suddenly, everything reminds him of that sandwich he had in Barthelona, or the unbelievable coffee he tasted in Italy. He doesn’t want to visit the MoMA with you because it makes him miss the Louvre, and we could all benefit from the spiritual practices he picked up in India.
As annoying as constantly talking about your travels can be, it’s true that travel transforms us, and wanting to share those new parts of yourself with people back home is totally natural. However, doing so without coming off as pretentious or making others feel bad can be a bit of a challenge.
Try these tips to share your new experiences, without making it all about yourself.
Keep a travel blog– Sharing your stories while you’re traveling can provide a way for your friends to stay up to date on your travels on their own terms and lessen the amount of catching up you need to do when you get home. It’s also a great way to organize your thoughts on your experiences. Your friends really do want to know what you’re up to, they just don’t want to hear about it constantly for the next six months when you come back.
Share an experience– Many people from the countries you’ve visited are already sharing their culture right in your hometown. Invite your friends to go share a dish you’ve tried that you think they might enjoy, or do an activity that reminds you of your travel days. The trick is to make sure the focus is on sharing, and making this person a part of the memory too. It’s okay to connect the experience with a travel memory, but stay away from comparing the hometown version to your time abroad, and don’t venture into conversations on its authenticity. Instead, explain what the experience meant to you and why you’d like to share it with them.
Throw a welcome home party– If you absolutely need to share all of your experiences, then try to get it out of your system all at once. Invite your friends and family over for some casual drinks and food and take the opportunity to tell your stories while you’re the guest of honor. You can even set up a powerpoint with some of your favorite photos to display during your event. Just make sure that once everyone has heard about your travels, you start transitioning back to regular life again.
Give gifts– If you really feel like somebody needs to hear a particular story, consider bringing them home a small gift to remind them of it. People enjoy gifts and like to know that you were thinking of them during your time away. Tell them the story and what it meant to you while you share the gift to ensure that your friend knows that they are as important to you as the memory.
Transitioning back to regular life after travel can be difficult, and the urge to share your new experiences and transformed worldview can be tempting, but doing so in a way that doesn’t alienate your friends is incredibly important. Remember to police yourself and avoid making your less worldly friends feel left out or ashamed of their less exciting experiences, and try to use coming home as a way to strengthen some of the bonds you left behind.