Nothing gives you a feeling of freedom like travelling. It's the endless possibilities, the knowledge that anything – anything – could happen today. It gets you hooked.
But there's something you lose with all of that freedom: normality. The routine of home.
It sounds weird that any dedicated traveller would ever miss that, but after weeks or months or years on the road, there are a few simple things from home that you really look forward to being able to do upon your return. Not just the standard catching up with friends and family, but the boring, everyday routines you take for granted.
You find yourself actually excited about it. (But be warned: that excitement passes within a week or so.)
Cook your own food
I realise that if you really try, you can cook your own food while you're travelling. But where's the fun in that? It feels like a chore, like you're missing out on something. When I get home, however, to my own clean kitchen with my own sharp knives, I want to head straight in there and make non-exotic, awesome comfort food. My just-got-home meal of choice: macaroni and cheese.
Drive a car
Again, this is something you can do when you travel, but I usually choose not to. Especially in Asia. Or South America. Or anywhere but North America and Europe really. It's expensive, stressful, and not as enjoyable as a train. Getting home, however, it's one of those simple pleasures – being able to jump behind the wheel and go wherever you want to go for the cost of some petrol.
Sleep in your own bed
Hardly needs explaining, does it? Clean sheets, comfortable mattress, fewer than 12 people packed into the room with you ... it's a nice feeling.
Lie on the couch; watch TV
I don't watch much TV in normal, daily life. I watch even less when I travel (unless I'm in Japan, because it's hilarious). But arrive home from a long stint of travelling and for some reason there seems like nothing I'd rather do than crash onto the couch and watch a few hours of telly. That is, until I realise that Australian TV is nothing but weight-loss competitions, MasterChef rip-offs, and Kochie. Then I go outside.
Throw your wallet on the table; forget about your passport
At this point in time, right now, I have no idea where my passport is. I've also left my wallet on the kitchen bench. And I'm not in the kitchen. These are the things that you can never do when you travel – you have to know where your passport is at all times; you have to take care with security. It can be refreshing to take a break from that.
Hang up your clothes
Ah, the sweet pleasure of unrolled clothes. It's nice to wake up in the morning, open a cupboard and stare at your choices, rather than madly dig around in a backpack between shoes and dirty underwear for the mystery T-shirt you could have sworn was still clean. It's also nice to have more than four outfits to choose from.
Eat varied food – or just junk food
If you're in Italy, you're eating Italian food. If you're in Vietnam, it's Vietnamese for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You'd be crazy not to. But when you're back in Australia you don't have to worry about being all authentic. You can have food from three different continents in a day if you want. Or you can just go to McDonald's, and you're not losing anything. Except maybe long-term health.
Have a chat to someone. Anyone.
I love the language barrier. I love battling through a conversation in a foreign tongue; I love the buzz you get when you make a connection with someone you don't share a single common word with. But I can also appreciate the ease of walking down to the local café and having the barista say, "What are ya havin' mate? Flat white? No worries." It's not exciting, but it's simple.
There are travellers who are fastidious about keeping up an exercise regimen when they're away – but I'm not one of them. My fastidious regimen involves eating to excess and drinking. Plus I prefer team sports to the solo boredom of jogging, and that's not something you can easily organise when you're on the road. Back home though, it's football time.
What are the simple pleasures that you look forward to when you get home from a long stint travelling?
Join Ben Groundwater on a special 10-day cycling trip to historic Myanmar in November. Click here for details.