How to best return to normal life after the Camino de Santiago

Did you get homesick on the Camino de Santiago?

The question/comment was:

I left for the Camino on May 26 and returned home July 12. Since then I have been writing and rewriting, documenting every detail I can remember of my beautiful journey. Tomorrow I am going back to work after three months away, but I am scared. I don’t fully know how the Camino has changed me and I am worried that I do not have the same passion for my work as I did when I last worked on May 22.

Tonight I can’t sleep, thinking about what tomorrow will be like and what I may continue to discover over the next weeks or months, or rather that the next weeks or months will confirm what I already know.

I don’t know who else would understand. Thank you for being here.

Read the interesting conversation on returning to normal life after walking the Camino de Santiago here.

21 Replies to “How to best return to normal life after the Camino de Santiago”

  1. bonjour il faut simplement voir le Camino comme quelque chose de normal même si la rupture avec le quotidien est très forte il faut revenir dans la normalité de la vie de tous les jours et surtout se satisfaire de ce que l’on regarde tous les jours et peut être mieux prendre le temps de voir les choses et les personnes …. c’est que mon avis buen camino Ultréia

  2. Welcome pilgrim;
    It seems to me like you feel something quite natural. It is normal that after such an intensive and positive experience everything else seems less real and worth to engage in it. My advice to you is this. Bearing in mind that the fear of reality is a bad counselor and give yourself a little more time to adapt. Chersh your memories and share them with people close to you but without regret about the past. Do not neglet daily duties, your job in particular. What you survived while Camino is not more important than anything else but only different. It seems to me than it was so exited because it was unusual. Perhaps a good idea is to get involved in something new. Maybe in planning next year’s expedition. Who knows, maybe next Camino would be a good idea for you. Believe me, I know what you feel and I’m with you in it. Buen Camino!.. Because whole life can be like Camino.

  3. 8/15/2012 12:23 PM

    When MoniRose’s post popped
    up on Facebook I immediately felt connected to her descriptions of behaviors,
    thoughts and feelings. I began the Camino, from St Jean de Port, on May 14,
    2012 with a wonderful friend for a traveling companion. We finished together in Santiago de
    Compostela on June 5th where we parted ways in order to return
    home. On several occasions, since
    returning home, we have discussed being in a post-Camino funk. I mentioned it to another friend who stated
    she felt what I was describing after returning from any trip away from
    home. Another, returning from a long
    trip to a South American country, also related to the “funk.” At this point, having been home since June 18th,
    it is difficult to get myself “in gear.”
    Day after day of sitting in my office produces very little in productive
    activity. There are many hurtles that
    need to be cleared before teaching begins in two weeks, and the start of tax
    season in January. However, my head
    refuses to get down to business and I must force myself to concentrate on any task. Creating Syllabi, as an example, is copy and
    paste at this point yet it has taken three weeks to complete them. So yes, my work seems to have become less
    fulfilling then prior to my walk.

    A blog on the Camino created
    weeks before the trip itself took place sits half completed. All most each day, at the beginning of our
    travels, entries were created and posted.
    Then toward the middle of our travels, entries created stopped being
    posted. Upon returning home, I re-read
    what was written and found that details, slapping my head and thinking “How
    could I have forgotten that?”, had been missed as pictures of a particular day
    flooded my head. I have now rewritten
    the journal four times and not posted any entries knowing it is still not
    complete. The thing of it is that as
    memories grow distant it may never be completed to satisfaction. The pictures taken along the way help but
    then the thought of, Why didn’t you take
    more pictures or you didn’t take a picture of that?, belittles me.

    I’m spending time typing this
    message as my head it yelling at me that there are other things more important. Yet I want to think about the Camino and come
    to terms with the lessons learned while traveling. One person replied to MoniRose telling her to
    treat the Camino as normal. I’m not sure
    that walking over 700 miles, through a distant country, culture, and language,
    with the agony of blistered and sore feet, hot, cold, rainy weather, and sleeping
    with 10 to 50+ strangers can be considered “normal.” Nor is the feeling of being connected to the
    thousands of pilgrims, past, present, and future, anything I’ve ever
    experienced before as normal. Trying to
    bring the Camino home, as some of the sermons suggested, has also proven a
    struggle. Especially when one is unsure
    of what was being brought home.

    I’m thinking that part of my
    struggle is a fear of losing what is has been gained which keeps me mired in
    non-doing. Yet there is a major part of
    the Camino experience that, for me, must be labeled pleasant past memory as it cannot
    be continued at home. This saddens me because
    it is missed deeply and leaves me feeling very lonely. So MoniRose I have empathy for what you are
    going through, but no answers as I experience struggles similar to yours. I agree that the future will confirm what I
    already know, but doing something about it…ah there is the rub…

    1. I’d love to read your Blog. I intend to go sometime this spring and do at least part of it. Probably start in SJPdP and go 1/3 of the way this year. I spent 2 weeks in Peru a few years ago and came back feeling my life here was superficial at best.

  4. Hi had posted this on “Why do we walk the Camino De Santiago” I would like to repost it here, because YES it is VERY DIFFICULT to get back to our everyday lives, yet in the same process I don’t want to lose what I felt in the Camino. I BELIEVE that thanks to this website I have been able to balance both. Thank you

    This is my first time posting. My writing skills are HORRIBLE so please forgive my grammar and vocabulary. I arrived from my first CAMINO on July 12th. And it still has not left me. I cant describe it, I cant explain it. All I can say is that I cant wait to go back and do it again. I have visited this site EVERYDAY since my return to read EVERYONES posts and comments. For some reason this site takes me back to the CAMINO. So I just wanted to stop by and say THANKS to ALL OF YOU ON THIS SITE. YOU and this website have made and continue to make me feel like I am still walking the CAMINO. Who knows, maybe in a later date I might build the courage to talk about WHY I DID MY CAMINO. Again thank you all.

  5. I, and I imagine most pilgrims, relate to what you are experiencing. I think about the Camino everyday. When asked what I want to do, my only answers are write, and do the Camino. I woke up during the first cold day on the way from summer to fall, and the Camino wished me a good day and invited me back. And surprisingly, invited me back to the same route, when I thought I’d surely choose another. I think I’m going to answer the call and go again. I wonder what waits for me.

    I think the best thing to do is to look forward to your next adventure, and perhaps make that next adventure a return to the Camino. And your job, however un-fulfilling it feels at the moment, is the means to get there. It helps me to wake up every morning and say, “Thank you, God…I’m grateful.” And to then get excited about going to do that thing that’s going to get me back on the road to my next adventure.

    FYI…you might also like to try volunteering at one of the albergues.

  6. To Moni Rose. you are so not alone. I did the Gr65 in 2008 then the Camino Frances in 2010. The best thing is to start planning your next one. This kind of experience never leaves you. It is almost like a bereavement (and believe me I know what that is like) and does get easier and if you are lucky enough to be able to plan another – then go for it. You will older and wiser but believe me that will not stop you enjoying the next great experience.

  7. I didnt have other option then to adapt back to “real life” asap. Upon my return from Finisterre I headed back to the office from the airport, so I didnt have a real break, only a little adaptation in Barcelona for the weekend. I jumped into real life, without hesitation, without over-complicating things. And I just started to do in the office the very same thing as I’ve been doing on the camino. Instead of going back in my mind to a beautiful time of my life, I enjoyed the days in the office, I was present, and gave myself in whatever I’ve been doing, i gave love to my tasks, to my colleagues… And one day some new colleagues asked me what is so different with you, you are always smiling, not like your fellow-colleagues… I didnt do anything special, just started to love my life. Camino gave me an insight into it, and I tried to bring it along with me into the real life. And that increased energy level lasted for many many months. The camino, as any pilgrimage, retreat, travel, or whatever that gives you an insight into spiritual experiences, (when you peek into the peak experience…- as wilber puts it). You may remember that, and seek to go back and do it again, to have the same experience again. But in case you can bring all that you learnt into your everyday life, your life begins to be a journey and you can walk your own camino and each and every day of your life.
    I walked the camino francés back in 2008. It was just four years ago that I reached Santiago de Compostela. I spent the last weekend at the same place I started integrating my experience from the camino. At that very place I saw coincidently a woman wearing a concha. After four years such a small thing did not only remind me of a great experience, but it flew me back into a different dimension. I am grateful for all the experience I had during the camino, before and afterwards – while I have been walking my path, and for all that is still coming along.

  8. Yes that´s part of the magic of the Camino – a life changing experience. So please be thankfull that you were able to do that wonderful journey and carry the positive, loving spirit of El Camino with you. This spirit will be picked up by all those you come into contact with….and influence their behaviours positively. In this way the spirit lives on….and on….and on. 🙂

  9. Dear Ivar, nice to read your story, the only comment to your question how to return to normal living, i can answer: you can’t! i know by own experience, your life has been changed so dramaticaly and nobody will ever understand what has happenend to you. even for you it is hard to understand or to explain. The only advise i like to share with you is : keep your promiss to yourself to be the change you like to be. Never give up because the move to Santiago was just a beginning of a whole new experience. So your trip did not end in santiago, no it just has started when you came home. The hardest strugle just began, to be the one you like to be. Enjoy your freedom, because once you tasted it, you will never forget the beauty of life. you met yourself on that trip and that never happenend before. I wish you all the best dear pilgrim, because once a pilgrim, always a pilgrim for the rest of your life, namasté !!!

  10. I finished on October 11. I am still traveling and even that is difficult because it’s not the Camino… I think going home will be tough…

  11. I came from Australia to walk my first Camino in 1999 which was completely life-changing. After living for 2 years in Europe, I’ve since walked again from Roncesvalles in midwinter in 2001, from Aire sur l’Adour in 2005 and bits and pieces in between. You have to accept that things change, that it’s never the same river into which you dip your toe and best of all, that it’s real ‘people’ and not ‘things’ that are the most important in life. Have met many others who have had trouble re-adapting to what is laughingly called ‘normal life’ since the Camino – just take it all with a sense of humour and accept that it’s all pretty zen really – nothing is permanent. Buen Camino!

  12. When a Canadian friend returned from her Camino, her employer said tartly: “Before enlightenment, chop wood, draw water – after enlightenment, chop wood, draw water.” She doesn’t work there any more.

  13. I had so much energy when I returned that I continued walking 7-10 miles a day for almost a month. All the while, I wrote, organized pictures, shared my stories with friends, and summarized the lessons I had learned. After a month, I was able to adapt a bit more to the hectic pace back home and assimilate my new lessons with the old life without compromising my deep sense of peace. Remember that everyone has their own walk in life, just like the Camino. But we don’t know what their exact path is, unlike the yellow arrows of the Camino. Be tolerant and let others tell their story, too.

  14. I am struggling to adjust to life post-Camino. Everything got so complicated and overwhelming so quickly. It is much easier to walk 22K with blisters in the heat than to deal with life back here in the U.S. For one thing, the Way is clear and the other pilgrims aren’t out to get you. I am trying to integrate my lessons from the Camino into my everyday life. I like the idea of planning the next walk.

  15. We’ll never be the same. We left the old life in Santiago and now we have to figure out what we’ll do in our new life. That’s not easy, not at all.

  16. The true camino begins when we go back home. Re-evaluating your life is the whole reason behind doing the camino in the first place. Have courage..sometimes, that’s easier than physical and emotional trials on the Way.

  17. Upon my return I was shocked that everyone I came in contact with just looking at me knew I was different. My spiritual growth was showing on the outside and that was the greatest gift! Physically and emotionally I was lighter and adjusting back wasn’t as hard as I thought, in fact it was actually better! Now I’m fortunate that I love my job and my team is amazing so returning to this was easy for me. I’d suggest holding your experiences and the feelings you encountered close to your heart and never letting them leave! If your day to day leaves you feeling empty, it might mean it’s time for a change.

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