by Carmel on July 14, 2014 · 21 comments


The past few weeks, I’ve been working on a major photo project – condensing our 11,000+ photos into a more palatable 841-photo slideshow of our round-the-world travels. Starting in the airport in Seattle on September 16, 2013, ending with our last photo in Lisbon, Portugal, just last week. We just returned back to the U.S. after 10 months of international travel. It’s been a good project to keep me sane during this transition.

About half way through our travels, we made a decision to come back to the U.S. instead of our original plan to travel to Mexico for a couple months before heading home. We rarely get a chance to see Shawn’s family back east and we figured it would be nice to fit some visits in while we still had time and a little money left. It’s really worked out well for the most part because not too long ago, we hit a bit of a travel wall. I wouldn’t say we were totally burnt out on travel, but it wasn’t too far from the future and instead of reaching a new city excited to explore, we were spending a lot more time streaming TV shows and making indoor picnics instead of going out. (This could also be because we were in Europe where prices were a little shocking after Asia.) The timing of our return came at a good time.

That isn’t to say that the transition has been easy. We landed in Boston and stayed with a friend of mine for a couple nights before a long travel day of switching buses in NYC to head to Binghamton, NY, Shawn’s hometown. We’ve been enjoying the spoils of staying with his parents’ home – we get fed with wonderful comfort food, they won’t let us do the dishes, we have a comfortable room. It’s been a treat.


Out to dinner with the family the evening we arrived

In some ways, it doesn’t feel any different than any of our other visits.

This is why I’m glad I have the photo project. There’s a part of me that feels like nothing has changed. I still feel like me – in fact, I feel more like me than I ever have been before. We’ve kept in regular contact with Shawn’s parents, so we’re pretty up-to-date with what they’re doing. It doesn’t feel weird. That’s weird. The photos have reminded me that I’ve been places. I’ve done things. Things I never thought I would do. Places I never thought I’d see. They are part of me now. Yes, I am definitely me and that hasn’t changed drastically, but I’m now me with all these experiences.


Being back isn’t all bad

I doubt I have fully comprehended how these things have changed me or what lessons I’ve learned about the bigger picture. Maybe I’m in denial or shock or something. I feel unsettled. We used to have this goal of saving to travel around the world. Then we were travelers, spending a year abroad. We’re still traveling and I believe that the traveler mindset will always be a part of me – but now I’m floating a bit in space. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it is a strange thing. We’re not trying to plan the next steps to get back out to travel. We have ideas, but no plans. For someone like me that can be intimidating. But as I’ve learned over our months on the road, sometimes that kind of freedom can be intimidating, but usually you just have to take a step and see what happens.

Hey, maybe I did learn something.


{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Tyrhone July 14, 2014 at 2:25 pm

Change is always challenging, it doesn’t matter which way the change is, but now you have had a taste of both worlds you are so much better equipped to decide what you want, maybe even a little of both? Good luck with the photos, I am yet to go into condensing mode as it is going to be crazy difficult!
Tyrhone recently posted…Paramotoring at it’s best! with a suptacular videoMy Profile


Carmel July 17, 2014 at 11:51 am

Absolutely. Travel has become a big part of us now – we’re naturally explorers and now that we’ve fed it a bit, we’re going to have to continue to feed the need. I’m ok with that addiction. 🙂


Sarah Somewhere July 14, 2014 at 3:10 pm

Hey, what’s he doing here? ^ Yes, I think you come home and think you should be feeling some great shock and it’s hard to come to terms with, like everything AND nothing has changed? This whole experience, not just the travel but deciding to go after and achieve the seemingly impossible, will inform you for the rest of your lives now. The future is brighter for it, and you will have a kick ass slide show to bore your kids with!
Sarah Somewhere recently posted…Bienvenidos a La Penita de Jaltemba!My Profile


Carmel July 17, 2014 at 11:52 am

It’s a weird feeling, hey? I think that as time passes, the changes will become more obvious, but maybe they’ll always be subtle for people around me. But I didn’t travel for them, did I.

I can’t *wait* to force my kids to look at our pictures over and over and over…


Karen July 14, 2014 at 6:04 pm

“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”
Alan Watts

Had to share another quote…. had to do it!!….Your slide show is awesome, the photography tells the story of your journey. We are thrilled to share our love with you guys and you share your story with us.


Carmel July 17, 2014 at 11:52 am

Always ready with the amazing quotes and support. Thank you!


Sam July 14, 2014 at 11:09 pm

Hi Carmel, I’ve enjoyed following your travels and oh I can so relate to this post on coming home. I’ve been in your shoes, and yes, in my experience, the traveler mindset will always be there! Good luck with the transition!
Sam recently posted…Backpacking Point ReyesMy Profile


Carmel July 17, 2014 at 11:53 am

Thanks for following and support. I think it would be hard to ever leave that mindset behind. I’m glad I have it now and we hope to continue to feed our travel addiction!


Kim July 15, 2014 at 7:09 am

Welcome home guys. I really relate to this post- when we came back for the first time I felt the same way. Not much had changed and I wondered if the whole experience had happened at all. But I see now that it changed me (and continues to change me) in so many ways. Have fun catching up with friends and family and adjusting.


Carmel July 17, 2014 at 11:54 am

Oh, I’m sure you can. I remember you telling me about your experiences coming home and I can definitely relate to my memory of our conversations. I’m glad we’ve become so accustomed to change that it’s not so shocking anymore – difficult yes, but shocking, no.


Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) July 15, 2014 at 5:01 pm

I’ve found the adjustment to being home a lot easier than I anticipated, but I do understand what you’re talking about here as well. I remember just being absolutely crushed with feelings of disbelief our last evening in Lisbon, like I just couldn’t comprehend that this epic trip we had been planning for years was pretty much done. I definitely felt like I was reeling when I tried to wrap my mind around the notion that the very next day, this very cool thing that we were doing would transition into something we had done. As in finished. Even now I have moments where I kind of can’t believe where we’ve been, what we’ve done, what we’ve seen… or maybe it’s more that I can’t believe that tomorrow, I can’t just be back out there doing it all over again? There’s also the grappling with the passage of time and realizing that yes, two years of our life are over and done.

Obviously I am still processing it all, just as you are. I’m so glad that you’ve had a soft place to land on this return to the States and I’m excited to see how the rest of your travels (and the ones in Europe you have yet to share!) go. New adventures await, that’s for sure!
Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted…24 Hours to AmbalangodaMy Profile


Carmel July 17, 2014 at 11:55 am

That’s a good point about it being weird to not be able to just pick up and leave somewhere. I’m sure I’ll feel that more drastically once we get back to Seattle. Right now, even though we’re at my in-law’s home, I still feel like we’re “traveling” in a way. It’ll be a whole *new* set of changes once we land in Seattle. Oy!


Tyler July 15, 2014 at 7:12 pm

Reading this post and Steph’s recent posts about y’alls readjustments has been a relief. Before our trip, we read plenty of stories of being becoming horribly depressed the second they stop traveling so it’s nice to see a few more positive accounts. Hopefully the transition continues smoothly for you!
Tyler recently posted…Hangi Pies to Human Hermit Crabs – Rotorua and the Coromandel CoastMy Profile


Carmel July 17, 2014 at 11:57 am

I feel like if I got too depressed over coming home, it would be like I had never learned anything. We worked hard and I can’t believe it’s more or less over, but if we really wanted to do it again, we could. We learned a lot about ourselves in the process and know that if we’re determined enough to do something, we’ll do it. So if we want to travel again, we know the process and we know we’re capable, so we can do it. Good luck on your own travels!


Peter Korchnak @ Where Is Your Toothbrush? July 17, 2014 at 1:37 pm

It is, indeed, a little unsettling to return after so many months on the road. I just got back to Portland this morning and I feel like that, floating a bit, even though I’ve been in the States for a week now. I expect the feeling to fade away soon, as the things I wait to see happen do happen. Enjoy the freedom!
Peter Korchnak @ Where Is Your Toothbrush? recently posted…Faraway Feline: Toconao Village, Atacama Desert, ChileMy Profile


Amy July 18, 2014 at 8:14 am

I’m sure you did learn something 🙂 I know exactly what you mean about feeling nothing has changed; we found that when we returned to the UK too. Although we are heading back to Asia in August it will be to work rather than travel in the way we used to so we’re still trying to adjust to this change in identity, it’s hard! It sounds like you have a good adjustment period of US travel to come though so hopefully that will help, have fun being back on home turf!
Amy recently posted…Tips for Travelling in Burma: How to Get AroundMy Profile


Carmel July 20, 2014 at 12:10 pm

That will be an adjustment for you, I’m sure, but at least you’ll be able to skip away for weekends or breaks, right? Then I can live vicariously through you guys and wish I was back there eating amazing food and just wandering. Enjoy the last month of your visit home! Can’t wait to see what’s next for you two!


Bethany ~ twoOregonians July 19, 2014 at 11:53 pm

Oh my gosh, I *still* have photos to sort and edit and deal with. Come hang in Portland with me and let’s have a Lightroom party 😉
Bethany ~ twoOregonians recently posted…World Cup Fever: A Match in Argentina and a Standing DateMy Profile


Carmel July 20, 2014 at 12:11 pm

I transferred all our iPhoto files into Lightroom, so about 2/3 are still untagged, too. Ugh. I’m thinking we’ll need a case of wine and some music. Sound like a plan?


Satu VW / Destination Unknown July 21, 2014 at 2:33 am

Ah, you are home!! Good luck with the readjustment, I know it can be bit tricky but I’m sure you’ll do just fine, you had exciting plans ahead of you, right? 🙂 And you made me feel slightly guilty with this post as I’ve been meaning to clear up my photos (from last THREE years) for a while now but not getting around to it. Just updating my blog seems bit hard these days…. 🙂
Satu VW / Destination Unknown recently posted…The Truth about Bike TouringMy Profile


Carmel July 21, 2014 at 5:47 am

You’re right, Satu, we have lots of exciting plans right now. I think I get too anxious thinking about what to do after those fun times end. Don’t feel too guilty about the pictures. I still have a stack of photos from my study abroad in 2000, just waiting to be put into a scrapbook.


Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge