And so we come to the end of another globetrotting adventure! Another January (and/or February) spent gallivanting around the globe completely oblivious to general winter nonsense like ice storms and the occasional “snowpocalypse.” Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past 9 years: When summer abandons you…hunt it down.
And that’s just what I did, spending this year’s round the world trip safely below the equator enjoying the sunshine and warmth of southern Africa and Southeast Asia. While the continents were fewer on RTW 9, the experience was no less rewarding.
A passport stamp in Malawi unceremoniously marked my 150th country and by the time I was welcomed back home last week by U.S. immigration, my country count stood at a very respectable 152. Surprisingly, after a thorough headcount of the remaining countries on the map, I’m not sure I’m all that inclined to reach 200 so this just might be my last major milestone on that front. While there are definitely more countries that remain on my wish list, at some point I want to focus on returning to the places I loved the most rather than simply continuing to pursue a number. And honestly, 200+ countries is really just showing off now isn’t it?
Most memorable experiences from this year’s trip? Well, to name just a few: sleeping in a hut in Swaziland, sliding down skyscraper-sized sand dunes in Namibia, playing with pre-school kids in a Cape Town township, getting caught in a storm on Lake Malawi (I said memorable, not favorite), swimming with sea turtles in Lombok, an epic sunrise at Borobudur and a champagne-accompanied sunset in Fiji. So many incredible places, so many new friends in far-flung corners of the globe.
In case you missed any of the above adventures, here they are again in gloriously vivid and potentially long-winded detail:
Stop #1 – Layover Luxury in Paris
Stop #2 – Off the Grid in the Kingdom of Swaziland
Stop #3 – The Township Legacy of Cape Town
Stop #6 – Cruising to Mozambique on the MSC Opera
Stop #9 – Yogyakarta & Sunrise at Borobudur
Stop #11 – Blissful in Bali
Stop #12 – Idyllic Indonesia: Lombok & the Gili Islands
Stop #13 – Jetlagged in Jakarta
But despite the non-stop fun of the past few weeks, sometimes the best part about travel is coming home. Ironically, it’s one of the things I love most about my trips. The longer I’m gone, the greater the joy of coming home. I miss my family, my friends, my house and even just the casual ease of a day to day life that doesn’t involve taxi negotiation, time-difference calculation, currency exchange or airport security.
After 9 round the world trips I still don’t really understand people who travel full-time. I know a number of people who are full-time nomads and they love it but the end of each RTW trip reminds me that I just don’t think it’s for me. What’s the fun of being gone if not coming home? If you don’t have a permanent home, it’s not so much “traveling” as it is just daily life. And to me that would make it all a little less special.
So I’ll continue my month-long journeys (give or take two weeks) and I’ll continue to savor every global adventure while cherishing every homecoming. Because while travel opens your eyes to the world, it also often teaches you to appreciate the country you call home.
Thanks, as always, for following along and for sharing this journey with me once again this year. Stay tuned for details on this year’s big summer trip, I’ve been having a serious craving for Europe lately.
‘Til next time…