The Five Stages of Your European Summer Comedown
Stoke’s here to help you work through your post-travel blues.
So what if you’re currently wedged between an overweight man in a Johnnie-Walker-induced coma and a lady reading a volume titled Coping With Flying on the 32-hour flight home you booked with the last of your credit card balance? This is just a necessary evil, and it definitely doesn’t mean the end of your free-wheeling, rash-sporting, deeply-tanned traveller days. You know what life is now, you won’t be another cog in the machine, you’re going to live like this forever. You’ll work three jobs, pay off your debts(ish), and be back amongst your noble pilgrim kindred spirits in just under six months.
Your parents/carers were nice for about three days after your return, after which point they not only asked you to start a payment schedule for the money you owe them but also asked you to start paying board. BOARD. You’re only 24, this is outrageous. You may as well just move out. So you do, but rent is so fucking expensive, and now you have to live with a handful of those friends that you realised that you hate because their concerns are so small and unworldly, and you’ve changed, man. You’ve got two jobs but you get taxed so heavily on the pay from the second one that it’s basically not even worth having, and let’s not even get you started on those boiled-latte-ordering, capri-wearing demons you have to serve all day every day at work, Is this life?
You’re paying the minimum monthly installments required for your various debts, which doesn’t leave you a lot to put away for your nomadic future fund, but that’s okay because you don’t mind not being able to have nice things or getting your hair done ever or being able to drink anything other than methylated spirits or sniff anything more costly than permanent markers. And you have enrolled in uni part-time for next semester, but only because your brain was being corroded by the unrelenting stream of acerbic coffee orders and bad manners funneling through your ears each day, and it will also mean you can get some money from the government so you can probably ditch that second job anyway. It looks like small segments of your identity are breaking off and joining the flowing river of 20-something-conformity, but these are all just temporary sacrifices, and you can travel in the uni holidays and…
Your tutorials are run by postgraduate students with no social skills. All your fellow students are fresh out of school and do not share your worldliness or edge, which you can’t help but demonstrate through sharing the odd irrelevant tale from your time abroad, you are technically a mature-age student after all. You go to work, where you don’t even feel angry at the rude patrons any more – in fact you find yourself wanting them to like you, and feeling flattered when they tip you. 30 cents. Which goes into the communal tip jar which funds the annual staff party, which is always ten-pin bowling in late January. Sometimes at night, after you’ve sniffed too much permanent ink, you cry and you don’t know why. You’re still trying your best to save, but you keep accidentally spending your little disposable income on pingers, because you can’t have fun without them any more.
Five years later, you finish university. You have paid off the majority of your debts and you can now afford to go overseas again. You do. You miss your boyfriend/girlfriend/dog/cat/local supermarket so much that you vow to never travel again. You buy a house. You have a baby. One day the baby grows up and goes overseas. It has to borrow lots of money because it has no idea how much anything costs in life and then it comes home and still wants to live with you, for free, so you start charging that little cunt board in the hope it will move out. If it can afford smashed avocado on toast for breakfast, it can afford rent. You still do drugs sometimes, but only on special occasions, like funerals or office Christmas parties, and it’s always cocaine.
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