As of December 5th it will have been 19 months since we left Australia and started travelling the world.
1 year, 6 months and 25 days.
Big News: The Aussies Are Heading "Home".
In 19 months we have been to 35 countries, travelled on 34 flights and lived in nearly 100 homes. We have experienced culture, food, art, religion, friendship in multiple languages on multiple continents.
My little brother is getting married. And it’s Christmas. It also happens to be my birthday and Mia’s birthday. It seems to be the perfect time of year to head “home” and be with our family who we have missed desperately during our travels. This became very clear when my parents met us in Rome for a month of road-tripping around southern Europe.
Am I excited? Absolutely. Am I terrified? Definitely.
Let me try and explain my emotions cause I don’t get quite what I’m feeling either.
- I am happy to be seeing my family.
- Happy to be hugging my friends.
- Excited to cuddle our dog.
- Glad to be in our king size bed in our 4-bedroom house.
We have come so far and changed so much that heading back to Australia feels almost like returning to our old selves. I am scared I’ll end up back in our house, back in a job, back in a lifestyle that while very satisfying was also slightly mundane. I’m terrified that the person I have become in the last 574 days may slip away into a past life. I’m fearful that while I have experienced a transforming 19 months my original environment will not have even altered.
Yet we are going anyway.
We have booked an Emirates flight from Prague to Dubai and then direct from Dubai to Perth. The moment I booked it I was filled with an alien emotion of anticipation mixed with abysmal remorse.
Dubai has always been on our bucket list so we are delighted to be spending one week back in the hot sun after those cold Prague days. Then on Friday 29th November we fly direct to Perth, Australia. It will be almost 11 hours of ants-in-my-pants eagerness to bear-hug my best friend, sisters and brothers, grandparents, uncles and aunts and also a long time to lament on whether it’s the right move returning.
Christmas in New York was special, but definitely not the manic family fun-ness we are use to, so yes we are stoked for Christmas. And while my birthday at Disneyland was most people’s dream come true as a sanguine I longed to share it with as many people/friends as I could. And there is no chance I would miss my little brother’s wedding, specially with such a pretty flower girl and handsome page boy involved.
I guess one will never know what it feels like to be home until they do it. And as Lin Yutang quotes “No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until one comes home and rest his head on his old, familiar pillow.”
Perhaps my fears are unfounded and “home” will merely make us realize how much we love our travelling life and we will head back out into the open road sooner than later. Or perhaps “home” will leave us feeling complete and final in our decision.
For now we have no plans. We could be back in Australia for one month, 3 months or the rest of our lives, but that’s highly doubtful. It will be an adventure to be sure either way and I know you, our devoted readers, will for one be happy to finally see me writing about Australia.
I hope some of my mismatched thoughts have come through and you can feel the inner war inside of me struggling to find resolution and solution. I did ask some fellow travellers about their feelings on returning "home" and one of the very first families we met on this epic journey had this to say to me, it's perfect:
"Wow, in trying to write a comment, I'm just realizing how much my definition of home has changed over the past three years! Home to me is that feeling of love and connection with myself and the world around me. I wish I could always find myself there, no matter what my physical location should happen to be, but going back to that "home" always feels amazing.
"And, while it does feel nice to have a physical location to call home, that non-physical home feeling is what I crave the most. I think some of the unsettled feelings we have when we're "going home" from traveling have to do with wanting our experiences to have made a difference in deepening our feelings of love and connection with ourselves and the world around us. We want it to matter and have a lasting impact, and we even want more of the same where that came from. Maybe we fear that by going home, we're going back into our old familiar bubble, and maybe we feel like we'll lose what we've gained outside of that, to a certain extent.
"There will always be more to see, experience, and explore out there in the world, but also within ourselves, which isn't contingent on any specific physical location, and I think that's pretty exciting too." J. Pearce
Reader Comments..."I respond to every comment by direct private email. I look forward to your feedback" - Josh Bender
Nice post, Erin. "Home" is complicated when you've been on the road so long. Best of luck with the re-entry. :-)
You are so blessed to have such an amazing group of family and friends to return home to! They seem like a really fun and supportive group :) What a magical holiday season you are sure to have together. We feel lucky to have met your family along our journey!
I understand your concerns… But you live in AUSTRALIA! There'll be sunshine & heat & beaches to cheer you up if you feel down ;-)
In all seriousness, I travelled for just 6 months and it is hard to adjust back. You do set back in your old life. Then you hit yourself in the head and work on your goals again! :)
Isn't funny you have travelled the world of the unknown yet you are a little scared of coming home to that you know
I so loved reading that ! I can't wait to see you! Lets look at it like your home for summer break he he lots and lots of fun !!!
I know it is a bit cliche, but home is where the heart is. I would have the same thoughts and feelings as you, so we wish you well. It will be good to read all about Australia too. Who knows, maybe we will come visit you there too! :-) You all have that spirit that will keep you going no matter where you are.
I'll watch this space!
I'm going "Home" for Christmas too. Not Australia, where our house of 6 years is, but the UK, my real home. I'm so looking forward to it! Home is where my parents are, where my friends are, where things are done the way I'm used to. Where Christmas involves real trees and log fires. Can't wait! You have an amazing time too, Benders, in your tropical home.But I bet you'll be on the road again soon, I can't sit still, I've tried and failed miserably. I'll raise a glass of red to you over my turkey xx
I think you'll be back on the road soon enough. But it will be good to have a break, and chill with friends and family. Just don't get too comfortable.
I still can't really put my finger on the emotions I felt when we returned home after long term travel. I can tell you it was definitely emotional and there were lots of ups and downs. It will be just as much an adventure as all the adventures thus far. Enjoy Christmas at home!
What an amazing stint you've had! Totally natural to feel the mesh of emotions you are. I hear the same ones from all my friends who have lived away for an extended period. The fear of the ordinary is an overwhelming prospect but non of them have regretted their return. Enjoy Dubai and know the warm embrace of your favourites is going to be the best destination yet xx
Just because you are going home does not mean you are stuck there forever. You've done it once, and you can do it again. That is, take a leap of faith and try something new.
We just arrived home after a year and a half and it too was with mixed emotions. The first week was a blur! It was awesome to see friends and family again and it seems like the next 2 months are already packing up with plans to re-connect with everyone. Like you guys we were not sure what to expect and how we would react. While we love being home, we have already booked our tickets for a March departure back into our nomadic lives. I am sure we will see you again out there again soon - even if it is in the lovely country of Australia! Safe travels and welcome home!
Great post Erin. I think I have a solution for you. Just look at this temporary return to Australia as 'one big summer holiday', with the people you love, in one of the most beautiful places in the world! Enjoy, relax, revive and plan your next adventure, whenever or where ever that may be. But make sure you write some travel posts about your home town and state so that your readers might be inspired to travel there themselves : )
I LOVE that Lin Yutang quote - I didn't know it until I visited a small museum about him in China... But it is perfect and I know exactly what it means - I'll be making a trip home after 18 months away (my longest ever) and I'm excited yet nervous. Have fun!!
Beautiful post. As a traveler, currently in the states for graduate school, it made me tear up. Especially the part about wanting our travels to make a difference. Especially that.
Good luck with it all Erin, I'm sure that even if the spirit of who you've been on your trip is subdued a little bit, it won't be for long!
It's such a mixture of feelings I know, we've booked our flights home for the beginning of June, that will have been 15 months of travel. We will be in Taiwan looking for work to come to start in September before we fly home so that we know for sure we're coming back.
omg so excited and terrified for you love. you know most likely you will experience what i have that it has all stayed the same yet you have changed. yes, wow, omg, overwhelmed with emotions that i feel, deeply know what you are going through. that confused whirlwind of all that one is capable of feeling in the pendulum of emotions, all there, raw and waiting. and you may stay? wow. can't wait to see how it all comes together for you dear. all my love, gabi
Thank you so much everyone for your support and kind words. We have built such a great community there is no way I could tear myself away from it. Looks like Australia needs to be Benderfied! :D
I hope you decide to continue to travel sooner rather than later, I'd loved reading of your adventures and it sounds like travelling I'd what makes you truely happy
You should do a follow up on this blog now that you've been in Perth for a bit.
I hope you find a peace in what ever you end up doing but at the same time I hope when you settle again, whether it be soon or later, it will be with us! :D love you sister xx
I guess I'm a bit late reading this one... I hope you guys had a great trip back home! :D
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