Julie Post-Trip 24 Comments

This post was written in July 2016, one year after returning home from our trip around the world.

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.

Seoul South Korea

Thankful

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.

Earth TrekkersThe 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.

Krabi

How Has Our Around the World Trip Affected Tyler and Kara?

Kara and Tyler MyanmarI 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.

Kara Rivenbark Uluru

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 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.

Tyler in YangonI 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.

Sydney Australia

Our Future

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.

Earth Trekkers Kids


Are you considering a trip around the world? Read all of our articles in our How to Travel Around the World Guide.

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Comments 24

  1. Julie, I just found your blog today, when searching personal narratives about trekking to Everest Base Camp . I really identified with your blog on two counts: your travels with your family around the world and dealing with the readjustment of returning to “real life.”

    We lived overseas 18 years in Japan, Venezuela and France. Our two children were with us during the first 10 years I in Kobe, Japan. During those years, our family went to every continent and had so many wonderful adventures. Now in our 60’s, my husband and I continue to explore, in recent years climbing Kilimanjaro, trekking in Patagonia and kayaking 5 days in the Everglades.

    Returning to suburban USA life after the challenges and excitement of living overseas was always anticlimactic for me. Also, my return from my most recent personal adventure has been especially difficult. A month ago I returned home earlier than planned (due to an injury) after having backpacked 1900 miles in all of the nearly 2200 mile Appalachian Trail (900 miles this year). Returning from the previous 2 summers of backpacking had me feeling blue, but being on crutches this time has made it even harder emotionally.

    But will I give up my/our adventures because of the downsides? No way! One thing that helps me get through this downtime is planning future years’ adventures (ie: finishing my final 250 miles of the AT in Maine, Everest Base Camp, and treks in Europe), which I’m sure helps you and others who long for the open road.

    I truly look forward to exploring the rest of your blog and following your future posts. Thank you!

    Chocoholic, my trailname on the AT

    PS. I happen to think the AT would be a perfect adventure for you as either a couple or a family, especially with your tri fitness. I had hoped to do the whole trail in one go as a thru-hiker, but I found that doing it in 4 sections over 4 years better suited my body and my schedule. Feel free to check my blog out at thetrek.co/author/ruth-morley

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      Hello Ruth. Thanks for sharing your experiences and I am sorry that you are injured. I think it is so awesome that you are going to hike the entire AT. Only 300 miles to go! I would love to do something like that too…I have always wanted to do a long distance trek or just “walk across something” whether it was New Zealand, Scotland, etc. The Camino de Santiago is high on my to-do list too. Although right now, with high school kids, I don’t want to be away for them for long…this time is so precious to me. But in a few years they will be off in college…

      It sounds like you have had some wonderful adventures recently. I hope you heal up quickly so you can have many more wonderful adventures! Cheers, Julie

  2. Hi Julie, I just came across your blog and was fascinated at how you settled back into daily life after a year of travel.
    We have just returned from a similar trip (although we live in New Zealand so didn’t count that!) Our teenagers were 16 and 13 and we took them backpacking around the world for a year.

    Where we differ is that I have NOT settled back into life. I almost cried (doesn’t take much at the moment) when I read your “what I miss’ list. I really miss tuk-tuks too.

    I need to find your secret.

    Every day I sit at the dinner table with my now enormous teenagers, wishing that I could put a pair of training reigns on both of them and take them off around the world again.

    Now there are boyfriends and girlfriends on the scene so there is not much room for persuasion – no matter how hard I try!

    I have always homeschooled my kids so the school thing isn’t a problem, for us it’s money. So, I too am working hard on my blog hoping that one day it will make me a millionaire and enable me to fly off into the sunset (dragging my adult kids behind me perhaps?!)

    Thanks for a fab blog!
    Liz x

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      Hello Liz. I had a tough adjustment too. Fortunately for me, it only lasted several months. I walked around in a weird funk that was a mix of mild depression, feeling a bit lost, but also amazement at what we had done. Now, I look forward to shorter trips as a family. Once our kids became teenagers, they want to travel less and spend more time with their friends (at least in our case, and now Tyler and Kara are 16 and 14). Even so, I still really miss those days when we were together all of the time, living out of backpacks, out in the world. Give it some time, plan another shorter trip, and work on your blog. I wish the best of luck on the blog and on your future travels. Who knows, maybe it won’t be long until you are on another long-term trip Cheers, Julie

  3. Hi Julie,

    My boyfriend and I just spent two months traveling around Southeast Asia. I came across your website as I was brainstorming designing a similar website of my own. I have to tell you that this article brought me to tears, I too miss so much about Asia. I sit at my desk and dream non-stop of traveling again. Your trip sounds phenomenal and I hope that one day I am able to do the same. Best, Claire

  4. We have as a family lived abroad as expats in California for 7,5 years and in Italy for 5 years. We have just recently moved back to Germany where we are from originally. I miss the excitement of living somewhere else. Something new everyday. A challenge, a funny thing happening…. I think once you got the travel bug you are done for… no way back. And since we are in a similar situation to yours with kids in high school, we too are resorting to “normal” travels for now. The time living in different countries has for sure brought us closer together as a family! And we are all multilingual now! Hopefully we get to do it again…

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      Yeah, we’re “done for,” too. 🙂 All we want to do is travel. The four of us dream about traveling around the world again, but right now that is on hold…making sure that Tyler and Kara get a good, stable education is our priority at this point in time. Thanks for sharing your story…it’s nice to hear from other families that have similar experiences. Happy travels! Cheers, Julie

  5. Very nice to read this post-one year analysis 🙂 I wish we had thought of a world trip in our younger days ! Now kids are in high school and we cannot imagine doing this ! But what a wonderful idea ! I am a firm believer that travelling the world is a good thing for kids and adults alike — it makes us realize that people all over the world have the same end goals – to have a decent job/home, give kids education and have enough to feed the family ! We do have so much to be thankful for !!

    Great post ! The photographs are beautiful and inviting ! Keep up the amazing work !

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      Thanks. Yes, now that Tyler is in high school now, a trip like this would be much different, and probably not a good idea for him right now. We want him to get a good education (not that traveling is not a good education) and some “stability” right now, so our trips are short and sweet until he and Kara go off to college. Cheers, Julie

  6. Not looking forward to leaving Asia, however our next adventure will take us to living in Vicenza, Italy. we have been afforded the ability to continue working while living abroad. We too try to enrich our children’s lives by giving them opportunities that they would have never gotten while working stateside. We are a military family that has moved around quite a bit, but it’s always been worth it. While we miss home, friends and family this is what we were meant to do.

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  7. hey Julie, your family’s adventure is really inspiring and the photos are awesome! did you learn photography or crash course? What camera and lenses did you bring to capture these moments?

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      I am “self taught.” I read photography books and spent lots of time practicing. As we traveled around the world my photography got better, since I used my camera pretty much every day. I have posts about our camera gear and how to take photos while traveling, see our Photography Page. Cheers, Julie

  8. Hi Julie,
    Thanks for such a wonderful blog and especially this post about your story, and your reflections after one-year post-travels. My husband and I are 10 months into a year-long travel around the world (in Nepal at the moment). No children, but we are mid-career, taking a break from the rat race and the routine at home. It’s been hugely rewarding and a grand adventure. But, not without it’s challenges. I can appreciate and empathize with many of the things you miss about the year-of-travel, even if you never thought you’d miss those things during that time! Thanks for providing both some validation and some inspiration for our continued travels (most of which will be in Asia)!

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      Hello Andrea. Congrats on going on such a big, life changing adventure. It is an experience you will be thankful for, for the rest of your life. I’m a little jealous that you are in Nepal. Nepal felt exotic, thrilling, and a bit difficult while we were there…but it has a special place in my heart and I look forward to returning there again someday. Enjoy the rest of your travels and cherish every moment…the good and the bad. What wonderful stories you’ll always be able to tell. 🙂 Cheers, Julie

  9. This makes for really interesting reading – especially how your trip has affected Tyler and Kara. It’s great that they’ve taken so many positive things from your travels.

    My husband and I want to take our kids through Asia for a year when they’re a bit older – I’ve been inspired by your blog, especially Bhutan and Zhangjiajie which we are both really keen to visit. I hope our journey has the same positive effect on our kids 🙂

    I think I feel something similar to how you and Tim felt before your trip. It’s definitely itchy feet for me!

    Keep travelling!

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      Hello Emily! I miss those days, those years before taking the trip, always dreaming of far off places. I think the anticipation is almost as great as actually traveling. You are already on the journey, although it may not seem like that yet. Bhutan and Zhangjiajie are awesome places to visit!! Don’t let the tariff to visit Bhutan deter you…it is worth every penny. Thanks for reading! Cheers, Julie

  10. Beautiful and wise words Julie!
    What I miss the most from our not-so-long travels is the family time expended together and the learnings that come when visiting other countries and meeting different people.
    You are a very brave family, making real what we just dream of.

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      Thank you, Virginia. I agree, it’s the family time and the learning experiences that are the most precious gifts from traveling. Cheers, Julie

  11. After I read two of your beautiful posts on Scotland and viewed the stunning photos I came to this post, analysis of your year adventure. The fact that you even conceived the world trip, much less you and Tim making it happen, blew me away. Thank you for this touching account of the fruits of the experience. Most of the time I can’t believe that you’re my daughter. My regret is that Bob and Grandmom are not here to enjoy this, but firmly believe that they know.

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  12. Love this! We just returned from our first long trip, five weeks in Europe, and were not ready to come home. We’ve talked about doing a year long trip, but how to decide where to go? There are so many places I want to see. Any suggestions?

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      Hello Mary. Build your itinerary around several “must-see” sights on your dream list. We picked places that were hard to get to from home or would require a lot of time to visit. For example, we trekked to Everest Base Camp. We picked the ideal time to go and gave ourselves plenty of time for this one spot. Then we built our itinerary from there. This method worked extremely well for us. I do know people who just pick their starting point and hop around the world without a set itinerary. There are many ways to do it. In some ways, the planning phase, when you are picking out and researching where to go, can be one of the best parts of your journey. Once you start doing that, you are already taking the trip, although you do not realize it yet. And just know that you won’t be able to get everywhere. That’s fine…you’ll have places to travel to later. 🙂 – Julie

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