Depending on how long you travel and how far, you will – eventually – hurt.
You will feel pain from leaving a place that has become a home. You will feel pain from leaving people who have taken you in without hesitation. You will want to stay and stop moving, stop exploring, stop pushing. And just stay.
But you have to keep moving, because you are travelling.
Big backpacks break through language and cultural barriers. You’re a traveller and it’s obvious, but it’s a good thing. People will understand and give you food or a place to sleep. You’ll start to be able to tell just from a conversation what person will invite you, a stranger travelling whom they just met, into their home.
Sometimes you’ll stay just the night and bid them farewell in the morning to never see them again. But they’ll remember you, and you’ll remember their kindness.
Sometimes you’ll stay a second night because you aren’t rushing and they don’t mind. You talk more, they talk more, you learn about each other a bit. Then, maybe you leave to move on, or you stay again because they said they’d make dinner.
Then you stay a third night and maybe a fourth because you’ve become friends. And why would you go back to the streets and stand outside for five hours in the heat or freezing rain when you have a warm bed and food and a friend?
But eventually, maybe by the fifth night, you know you have to go. They’d let you stay another week if you wanted, but you’re a traveller, you have to keep going. It’s painful, because you feel at home. You feel welcomed and comfortable and you’ve started to get to know the city and meet more people – some local bars, local stores. And this is all happening again.
No, you have to go on. It’s what you’re here for. To explore and push on and see all you can. But this is another home you are leaving. It feels the same every time. Walking down the familiar street for the last time, walking out of their house but with your backpack. You have to leave your new old friends.
As you walk onto the street and stick out your thumb, you feel something. Not the burning heat or freezing rain and wind. Not the dozens of cars that pass by without a glance. Not the rumbling in your empty stomach. But being alone again. No friend beside you to say, “We’ve got this.” No one cracking jokes. Just the weather, the cars, your thumb, time, and the crushing of leaving home for the fifth time.