In four short days we will be home from this extra-ordinary adventure. I’ve been reflecting on how I felt at the start of the trip, right through to now.
The stand out difference between expectation and reality is not really tangible. Yes we have seen some inspiring sights and done some amazing things (we have the photos to prove it), but less obvious is the emotional growth and the impact travelling long-term has had on us individually and as a family.
Swimming with turtles in Malaysia – amazing
Visiting ancient Cham ruins – very cool
I completely underestimated how emotionally challenging it would be travelling with three others for such a long time (even when they are family). I underestimated how we would get on each others nerves (understandably) – but then we would have to discuss it until it was resolved – instead of escaping to work, school or other commitments.
Exhausted and annoyed – but still having to sit next to each other on a train for seven hours…
I completely underestimated how much our confidence would grow as we time and time again put ourselves in difficult situations and succeeded (or sometimes failed). How the kids would learn hello, thank you, please and goodbye in any language and use it proudly and loudly.
I completely underestimated how good it would feel to find somewhere to ‘live’ for a week and how quickly we would describe that place as home. How we would spread out and settle in within a few hours despite how basic or luxurious our accommodation was.
Washing out and making ourselves at home in the village on the Perhentian Islands.
I completely underestimated our ability to last this long. I secretly gave us five or six months of long-term travel before we would rush home. Before we left I was subconsciously mentioning this to family and friends to cushion my ego should we return home early. I honestly can’t believe that we were able to travel for this long.
That’s not to say I’m not looking forward to going home – because I am – I really am. I’m looking forward to the basic things in life coming easy again. Knowing where we will stay, how we will get there and where to find food we can all eat. I’m looking forward to recognising products in the supermarket, a full size kitchen, an oven and a fridge. But I’m also looking forward to all this knowing that we can (and did and will again) survive without it. That lots of the things we think are a given are actually modern luxuries that make a busy life easier. I’m returning home knowing that a travel life is a fulfilling life.
Most of all I’m looking forward to seeing family and friends..and then we’ll start planning our next adventure.