It has been one year since we took that final bus journey from NYC to Maryland. One momentous, lightning fast year, full of readjustments, new beginnings, and plans for our future.
Not a day goes by that we do not reflect on the trip. Even now, I can pick a date and relive it in my head, almost as vividly as when we were actually traveling. Each day was so unique and so memorable. What a gift we have given ourselves…396 days of incredible memories, life altering experiences, and time to grow together as a family.
We are different now. Sure, when you talk to us, we may sound like anyone else you know. But there have been deep, fundamental changes to how we view the world and go about our daily lives.
Now that we are home, not a day goes by that I do not give thanks for the life that we live. We have much to be thankful for…our jobs, where we live, being surrounded by family and friends.
But it goes deeper than that. The things that move me now are so simple.
The simple beauty of a sunrise can move me to tears. Mundane tasks, such as washing the dishes or sweeping the floor, seem almost enjoyable now. The things I once hated (grocery shopping, cooking dinner, doing the laundry) are no longer the frustrating chores they once were. I can easily find joy in the simple, little things that make up daily life. It is a wonderful appreciation for the ordinary. It is weird, I know, but I just feel so fortunate, to be alive, to have this chance to live. So, I take the good with the bad and I am thankful for all of it.
Fortunate. Sure, we feel fortunate for things like our house, our cars, our way of life. But I think we now feel more fortunate for the smaller things, the more abstract ideas of life. We feel more fortunate to be able “to do” than “to have.” Life experiences are much more important than driving a fancy, new car or living in an oversized house.
Before the trip, Tim and I were always searching for something more. There was a void in our lives, a feeling that something was missing. A feeling that we were failing in not doing more with this one chance at life. Well, there’s nothing like a trip around the world to fill that void. Taking this huge risk on our lives, and succeeding, has quenched our thirst for that “something more.” For now, we are content and happy, and that truly is something to be thankful for.
How Has Our Around the World Trip Affected Tyler and Kara?
I see a lot of changes in both of them. The most apparent is their education. They have always been very bright, but since returning home, their education levels have increased. They get better grades (Tyler had straight A’s for the entire year) and their study skills are amazing. In the mornings, they get themselves up, take showers, pack their lunches, and get themselves on the bus. Tyler and Kara are incredibly responsible and mature.
Tyler is driven. He has huge plans for his future and already talks about going to college or studying abroad in Asia. He has seen the growth and development in that part of the world, sees the potential, and wants to be a part of it.
Before the trip, Tyler was shy. Now he is confident, worldly, and driven to get the most out of his life. I cannot wait to see where he is going.
Since the trip, Kara is much more empathetic. She helps kids in her classes that are struggling with course material and gets together after school to help those who need a little extra assistance. Kara is the creative one, always painting, sketching, and now, cooking. Most likely, Kara will take a different career path than Tyler, and again, I cannot wait to see what she does with her life.
What Do I Miss?
When we traveled, everything was always new. New places, new food, new people. I miss the newness and the challenge of figuring out another place, over and over again.
I miss not being unique. We spent nine months in Asia and during that time, we were always stared at because of our blond hair and light skin. We were “different” from everyone else, and in some way, that made us feel very special.
I miss the food.
I miss not being able to speak the language.
I miss walking in the streets because the sidewalks were so packed with motorbikes.
I miss having each day be different.
I miss walking through the streets of Kathmandu.
I miss listening to Tyler speak Mandarin in China.
I miss our first days in Rome when the trip was brand new, fresh, and exhilarating.
I miss being burnt out from travel, because we had done too much for so long.
I miss sharing all day, everyday with Tim, Tyler, and Kara.
I miss being on the journey, and then sharing our experiences on this website.
I miss the work of it.
I miss tuk-tuks.
I miss soup for breakfast.
I miss carrying everything we need on our backs.
I miss Asia.
I miss the feeling of freedom we had.
I miss hearing lions at night in Africa.
I might even miss those long, torturous bus journeys…maybe just a little bit.
Would We Do It Again?
13 months around the world…again? If you asked me one year ago, my answer would have been an emphatic “No!” I think we all felt this way. Well, maybe not Tyler.
Lately, the idea of another long-term trip sounds enticing. Just maybe not 13 months. Four to six months sounds perfect, but it will not be anytime soon. If we do it again, it will be years from now. High school is just around the corner and this is a time that we do not want to pull Tyler and Kara out of school.
Where to we go from here? We are in a good spot in our lives. There is work and school and (almost) enough travel to keep us happy.
From here, we are going to balance our very busy work and school lives with as much travel as possible. For us, we are always looking forward to that next plane flight, new city, and new place to explore.
There is still so much in the world that is new for us and just waiting to be explored.
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