Post-working-holiday syndrome

Post-working-holiday or backpacking syndrome

Tips to help you settle back in

When I first came across this piece of writing at Funky, I had hearty laugh. Now that I am going through it again, my heart grows fonder. Working holiday is indeed one of the most amazing things that I have done so far. My remarks are in red.


Replace your bed with 2 or more bunk beds and every night invite random people in to sleep there. This will make things seem more hostel like, and will also boost your karma. No, I do not miss bunk beds, especially not upper bunk.

Ensure at least once a week a couple gets drunk and shags on one of the top bunks all night. Remove beds one by one as symptoms improve. Some friends quoted experience like this with revulsion. Driven by curiosity, I always asked, “Can’t we take that as watching a porn movie?” Probably not… Watching porn for the whole night is not pleasurable anymore I guess. :p

Sleep in your sleeping bag, and forget to wash it for months. Hey, since I lost my favorite pink blanket in 2004, my sleeping bag is my blanket! I like the feeling of being like a caterpillar (hehe! That’s when you zip yourself up in the sleeping bag) and that I get to bring the same sleeping bag with the smell of home (and myself) when I am on the move!

Sleep in a different room each day, varying it by setting the air conditioning either too hot or too cold. Sleep behind a pot plant for that jungle effect. Cats also double as pumas with a little imagination. Put up a mosquito net, ensuring that there are plenty of holes, and it falls down at least twice during the night. Very rarely it was too hot in the hostels since I did not spend summer while working-holiday-ing, even if that happened, I just have to wear thinner layer. I slept in the campervan during the winter and the damn heater was too small. I turned myself into caterpillar (zipped up the sleeping bag) and sandwiched the sleeping bag with 2 duvets and I was still freezing and miserable. That was when I wished so hard that I had someone to hug me to sleep!

Enlist help of a family member to set your radio alarm randomly to go off at some time during the night, filling your room with loud talking. Works best if you can find a radio station in Hebrew. With all this training in place, I am still a shallow sleeper: I get awaken easily. BAD!

Slowly remove items of clothing etc. from your backpack, until you are completely using your wardrobe instead. Maybe only one item a day, but remember its one step at a time kids. Don’t forget to smell your clothes before wearing them, and re-introduce the use of the iron SLOWLY. I wrote this in FB the night before I started working (normally, not seasonal) again: I have not finished unpacking everything in my backpack and I am going back to my normal life again tomorrow, a point in life where I left 2 years ago… Sue, read this! Smelling the clothes before wearing is the norm for professional backpacker! :p And I was so used to rolling my clothes to take the form of stick (so that the clothes are compressed, to save packing space), it is just empty pleasant to be able to fold my clothes again…

Buy your favourite foodstuff, and despite living at home, write your name and when you might next be leaving the house on them. This should be the backpacker’s staple diet of mainly pasta, potatoes and beer.  Truly backpacking life! 🙂

Ask family member to every now or again steal one of the above foodstuffs, preferably the one you’ve most been looking forward to, or the most expensive. Oh, I hated this so much! Someone stole my microwave-safe container with the special fried rice prepared by my French friend as farewell dinner in it! The thief not only stole the container and the food, but also the love!!! 😥

Keep at least one item of food far too long or in a bag out in the sun, so you have to spend at least 24 hours within sprinting distance of the toilet. I built up my stomach’s tolerance by eating always almost-expired (supermarket always offer discount up to 50% off normal price for bakery which is about to expire) or already expired food (expired by a day or two, I won’t die I think…), even bread with mold!

Even if it’s a Sunday, make sure you are out of the house by 10am, and then stand on the corner looking lost. Ask the first passer-by of similar ethnic background if they have found anywhere good to go yet. The sight of a familiar face is a pleasant thing indeed to lonely soul!

Once decided to possibly get a job, take a fully packer rucksack to work with you every day. Although it’s perfectly safe next to the coffee machine, watch it like a hawk.

Buy your bus, train ticket or order a taxi in a foreign language. The fact the person behind the counter won’t understand you simply adds to the authenticity. Remember to barter for everything; if the bus driver says 70p, offer 30p. Haha, not applicable.

When sitting on public transport introduce yourself to the person sitting next to you, say which stop you got on, where you are going to, how long you have been travelling and what university you went to. I call this the everyone-could-be-a-friend-when-you-are-travelling-alone-syndrome! Now I feel even more comfortable initiating conversation with strangers! :p

When possible travel everywhere at break neck speeds on a moped carrying as much luggage as possible, without protection.

Shower infrequently, ensuring that you continue to apply deet for that true travel aroma. No, this is not applicable to me. I took shower and washed my hair every day even during winter!


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