Comments on: What A Long, Strange Homecoming It’s Been The Smith family of Piedmont, CA, goes round the world. Fri, 05 Apr 2013 02:52:51 +0000 hourly 1 By: Bob Redpath Mon, 09 Aug 2010 22:21:13 +0000 This is the second time I’ve read this post. I needed a little perspective. Today is our last day away after nearly 14 months — we head back to Los Angeles tomorrow to find cars and a place to call home. I’m terrified… filled with anxiety. Leaving last June was a cakewalk compared to what I’m feeling right now.

Thanks for sharing your experiences, it helps. I hope you do that post on “maintaining change.” I’d love to hear more.

By: Ryan Mon, 09 Aug 2010 11:03:51 +0000 You summed up so well the conflicting feelings of returning home after long-term travel. Glad you and your family made it all the way around the world and home safely. I’ve certainly enjoyed following your almost parallel adventures (we’re in Greece and heading to Italy now).

While these feelings will slowly dissipate over time and you will resolve yourself to a feeling of normalcy, you and all of your family will forever be changed by this experience, that I am sure.

We are not looking forward to writing a similar post in 135 days when we return home. BUT, at least you have a home to go back to – we’re still trying to figure that very important part out…

Really enjoyed reading about your adventures. Follow up, even after the journey is over, is still fun to read about so, yes, don’t abandon this child of yours.

Ryan (

By: soultravelers3 Thu, 05 Aug 2010 18:47:11 +0000 I’m sitting here in Provence & thought I’d check in to hear you latest. It’s always fascinating to read the coming home stories after extended travel and how much it changes everyone & one’s perspective on what is important. Thanks for sharing and I hope you continue the blog (as I’m sure you will) as you have time.

Welcome home & DO retain the values and closeness that you learned on the road! Do share your keys on how you do that in a fast moving, consumer culture.

As we head into our 5th year of non-stop, open ended world family travel, I can’t imagine returning to our life in California now, but I could relate to a lot of your words. ( That bed and abundant pillows sounds like my old life! LOL).

We were stunned when we visited home after two years away traveling the world and found that our little village in Spain and our community there seemed more like home than our old neighborhood in California. ( Perhaps because we add deep immersion with our travels, not sure, but we have fallen in love with the freedom and deep bonding of the travel lifestyle).

I’d like Mihai and others to know that it doesn’t have to cost very much to travel the world very luxuriously. We’ve been to 33 countries & 4 continents ( most of it so far in “expensive” Europe) on just 23 dollars a day per person. I wrote a classic post on how to do extended travel for those looking for tips & resources:

You had a fantastic trip, Sarah and I’m sure you guys will be off to more adventures soon. In the meantime enjoy the adventure of being home and settling in again, finding a new way of being.

I don’t think one can ever go home again, because time and experiences change us. You’ve changed and people at home have changed ( although probably not as much as your family). So in a way, this is just another adventure on your journey! 😉

By: Cheryl Wed, 04 Aug 2010 23:29:45 +0000 While we weren’t gone as long as you were, our family also just returned after a long-planned RTW adventure this spring. We arrived just before the Fourth of July and already had guests in our home! I too am hoping to hold onto the changes that travel brought (while appreciating my own bed and clean water from the tap).
Thanks for sharing your adventures, abroad and at home now.

By: Dee Andrews Wed, 04 Aug 2010 03:01:53 +0000 Hi Sarah,

I hope you keep writing too. I’m curious to know what things you will keep in your lives after your journeys abroad.

We have been home a year now after our year living in Spain, and I’ve come to really appreciate how our travels encouraged so many changes in our lives. One of the most unexpected was the new house we bought; I’ll let you read about it on my blog though if you’re interested:

Good luck with the unpacking and settling back in. I hope you keep sharing your journeys!

~ Dee

By: Kate Mason Fri, 16 Jul 2010 23:18:25 +0000 Hi Sarah,
I loved reading this blog. You are such a wonderful and expressive writer and it is so fun to hear about your adventures. I hope we can catch up futher in person some time this summer or fall.
Big hugs,

By: David W. Lavender Fri, 16 Jul 2010 13:47:59 +0000 Please don’t abandon this child!

Sarah, I agree with those above who found themselves going through a bit of a withdrawal given such a long gap between your last two posts. I love getting your take on the change in everyone’s perspectives (the dresser, the pillows, the tick, etc.) and look forward to hearing more about the disjunction between being on the road and off in the weeks and months ahead!

By: kate Thu, 15 Jul 2010 00:38:50 +0000 Hi Sarah, I have loved reading your blog too. Only wish you had come to stay with us in the mountains instead of continuing your journey to Phillip Island!!
I can really relate to the size thing. When we returned from a year on the road our house just seemed palatial and for about a month we all slept in the kids end of the house…I too had got so used to their every breath and being so close.
I was also overwhelmed by the stuff I had………so many plates,cups,clothes to choose from. Loosing time each day making choices that hadn’t been a factor in our lives as we only carried one mug one plate pair of shorts or longs etc etc.
We are getting ready for October when we head back to Africa for an overland trip Cairo to the Cape. All four of us in a landrover for 4 months so back to the freedom of a small bag each and the fun of life on the road.
Good luck with everything!

By: Sarah Wed, 14 Jul 2010 12:31:07 +0000 Hello there and thank you so much for this message; I appreciate the feedback so much!

I really need to write a post on the money/budget aspect of the trip, since many people want to know what it costs. Truthfully, though, it’s hard to put a price tag on the trip because I’m embarrassed to admit we didn’t have a real budget, so it’s hard to say how much you should save. We just tried to do the best we could — that is, spend as little as possible without making too many sacrifices to our ability to fully experience a place — wherever we were. The reason we didn’t have a set budget is because the costs varied wildly depending on destination (e.g. Argentina vs. Switzerland) and type of accommodation, and whether we were renting a car, and it felt too difficult to make a detailed budget since our itinerary changed quite a bit. We just kept an eye on our monthly balance, tried not to spend too much more than we were receiving in rental income for our house (4900/mo), and transferred money from savings as necessary. That said, I really need to add up the costs. In the meantime, here’s some advice:

– check out the airline site for a sense on what RTW tickets cost
– if you need to rent a car, as we did off and on, that adds up, so that’s another major cost to factor in
– Know that cities are always more expensive than outlying towns, so we tried to limit our time in big cities. Also, hotels are much more expensive than apartments or condo-type hotels with kitchenettes. Our food costs varied hugely depending on whether we were renting a place with a decent kitchenette so we could cook meals, or whether we mostly ate out while in hotels.
– We tried to spend 200/nite or less on average for lodging. Sometimes this was very easy; for example, our cabanas in Argentina or campground units Down Under cost less than 100/nite. But in places like Hong Kong, Venice and London, it cost way more than that (beware of hotels in big cities, too, if you’re traveling as a group of 4 or more because they’ll make you rent 2 rooms or get a suite-size room to hold all 4, which gets very expensive). We could have saved money by moving around less and renting apartments for longer term, but we wanted to be on the go more in certain places such as New Zealand and Switzerland.

We were not real budget travelers — we could have gone cheaper, that’s for sure, and we occasionally splurged (e.g. staying in a nice hotel in Hong Kong and visiting HK Disneyland) — but we did a pretty good job, in my view, of spending money wisely and frugally so we could really appreciate the occasional splurge. Also, our “splurges” were always on experiences — i.e., places to visit or things to do — not stuff that we bought. We spent virtually no money on shopping for souvenir-type things.

I hope this helps as a starting point. I’ll try to pull together something more specific about the costs for a future post. Thanks again!

By: Mihai Wed, 14 Jul 2010 04:53:06 +0000 I followed you quietly for the past year and I never realized how much I’ll miss your posts. So glad to see an update after almost 3 weeks. Congratulations for your trip and the outstanding quality of this blog and hang on things are definitely going to get better, I’m sure you’ll get used to the pillows. Please keep us updated in the following months on the reentry process. Would you mind posting (or sending a private email) at some point about the financial aspects of your trip. I want a clue on how much I should save… Good luck and thank you again!

By: Karen Tue, 13 Jul 2010 17:04:43 +0000 I’ve been following your blog for a while now and just wanted to say how much I’ve enjoyed reading your posts. I look forward to reading your thought-provoking posts – thank you for sharing your experiences with us. And good luck in your new transition!

By: Chris Becker Tue, 13 Jul 2010 13:59:20 +0000 Welcome back! Great article. I can relate to the size issue and weirdness of being back. Although not quite the same it took about a year for me to feel “normal” after living abroad in London for 3 years. Our flat was about a quarter of the size of this house in Orinda. We had stuff when unpacking we didn’t miss one bit. Funny, I just visited friends who live in Vail who I jealously admire- they live in a simple 2 bedroom “apartment” and live well below their means and travel all the time. I wish we had started our new life back in America more like that instead of living here in Orinda where you have to consume and value things that really aren’t of much value.

By: Tammy Tue, 13 Jul 2010 12:06:06 +0000 I have tears in my eyes and goosebumps….I’ve been following your blog for awhile now, from the comfort of my office chair, and have enjoyed the expressive way you write, you’ve given us some ideas for the RTW we’re planning, so thank you for allowing us to travel vicariously through your experiences. It sounds as though you won’t be likely to forget what you’ve learned or fall back into former habits anytime soon, and if you find yourself doing those things, just start planning your next trip!

By: Mike Hedge Tue, 13 Jul 2010 09:51:36 +0000 welcome back! you guys had a super awesome experience! it’s been a blast following along.


By: Martha Howard Tue, 13 Jul 2010 09:14:57 +0000 Hey Sar – You’ve captured so well the feelings you were expressing when we were together over the 4th. This is a funny, yet sad post. I hope you can find happiness in being rooted and see home as a foundation, not a noose. The kids are so happy and it was wonderful to see them with their friends. I hope they will still be best buddies now that you’re back. So many things for you guys to process. Selfishly, I and so many others are SO happy you’re back, close by and safe.

Love you –