Travel, like childbirth, is often rosier in retrospect. We don’t leave for home until later today, but in my mind our 12 weeks on the road already have taken on a halcyon glow.
Our trip, like most long-term travel, came with its fair share of inconveniences. Our house in Llanes, Spain had no hot water. The one in southern France had swarms of mosquitoes that bit us while we slept.
In Tokyo, we learned that if Walker’s bed is within arm’s reach of his sister’s, nobody will sleep at all. There were long lines and tantrums and bumpy road trips and that time we locked ourselves out of our apartment late at night in the pouring rain.
Even now, though, it’s hard to conjure up the frustration I felt in those moments.
Instead, my memories of this trip have become a sun-dappled highlights reel. There’s Walker, soaking wet, sprinting through a reflecting pool in Bordeaux. Harper writing her wishes on a wooden plaque at a Tokyo shrine. There are boisterous times (riding the bumper cars at that mountaintop amusement park in Spain) and quiet ones (watching a monk carve an offering at that monastery in Bhutan) and everything in between.
There are banana milkshakes on the beach every morning in Ko Lanta and mangoes with sticky rice most days in Bangkok. There are playgrounds—so many playgrounds. There are big sighs of relief when the children finally drift off to sleep and Derek and I have some time to reflect on it all.
Mostly, though, there’s gratitude that we were able to have this time together.
We took this trip to give our children a sense of how big—and how wonderful—the world is. I think they understand that now, at least to the extent their ages allow. But more than lessons about other cultures or facts about landmarks, what we got that will forever change us was 85 days of uninterrupted family time.
Sometimes those days felt interminably long, but each of them taught us to be better parents. And each helped our children grow—figuratively and literally. (They both went up a clothing size on this trip.)
In all likelihood, our time on the road has changed us in ways we won’t even realize until we return home and slip back into our everyday lives.
The real world is going to rush in in a hurry, and we’ll be ready for it when it does. But before we begin our 33-hour slog to the other side of the globe, we’re going to take a moment to reflect on where we’ve gone so far.
Our trip in numbers (by the time we land in Nashville):
- Miles traveled: 36,297
- Countries visited: 5
- Hours spent on a plane: 76
- Days since we left home: 85
- Times Harper wore her rain boots: 0
- Flights taken: 16
- Beloved stuffed animals lost: 2
- Boats boarded: 9
- Pieces of restaurant glassware broken: 7
- Playgrounds visited: 19
- Bottles of insect repellent used up: 3
- Visits to a doctor: 0
- Times we feared for our safety: 0