We’re home and our one-year, RTW trip has officially come to an end. Cuba marked the 52nd country we visited together over the course of the past year. I notched up an extra one with my visit to Turkey (53 countries in total) and Chris visited three more countries (55 countries in total) during his solo visits to Iran, Kuwait, and Qatar while I was home for a wedding. Over the course of the year, we visited more than 100 cities, stayed in 50 different Airbnbs, and took dozens of flights. We used about 1.5 million miles and points to help us travel and stay cheaply in expensive cities or splurge with business class flights and luxurious hotels. We visited five of the seven New Wonders of the World (here, here, here, here, and here).
We came back to the states on May 18th but didn’t return to the Detroit, our new home base, until May 30, which happened to also be my 30th birthday. My birthday provided wonderful bookends for our year abroad: 29 fell on our first full day of our trip and 30 on our first official day back home. I’m not sure I could have dreamed up a more spectacular way to spend the last year of my twenties. In twelve months, I visited over fifty countries, met people from all of the world’s major religions, made wonderful memories with all the visitors from home that joined us along the way, and got to spend nearly every waking moment sharing the whole experience with my husband. We truly took on the world together, and—rather than getting sick of each other or running out of things to talk about—we emerged even closer than I could imagine and with a rock solid foundation to build the rest of our lives on.
In addition to bringing Chris and I closer, traveling the world and living out of a backpack for a year helped me appreciate home, family, and the simple things more than ever. After over 300 days in hotel rooms and Airbnb rentals, I couldn’t wait to just sit on the couch or take a shower in a bathroom that I knew hadn’t been used by hundreds of people before me. And after dining out nearly every day, I couldn’t wait to go grocery shopping and cook at home. I had a bit of a shock when we arrived in Tampa on May 18th and went grocery shopping with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law. There were so many brands of cereal! And real drip coffee—no more instant! After two months of speaking Spanish, Chris accidentally said “¡Hola!” to the greeter at Publix.
We spent the next two weeks bouncing around the states reuniting with family that we hadn’t seen in awhile. We started in Tampa and had a few wonderful nights hanging out with Chris’s dad’s side of the family. Then we flew up to New York to see my sister graduate from medical school (so proud!). Then it was down to Nashville to spend time with Chris’s mom and stepdad. On our last night before heading home I insisted on going to Broadway to see some live country music, which had been sorely missing from my life over the last year. We returned to Michigan on May 30 and I was able to spend my birthday with my family and friends. This past weekend, we decided to rent a cottage on a nearby lake to have some quality family time before we loose my sister for a few years to residency.
And on top of all that, I’ve had to start looking for jobs in earnest. The last three weeks have been a blur of reunions, celebrations, and conversations about where our life will go next. I hope to write a few more articles on this blog summarizing the highs and lows of our trip and putting together a few overarching travel tips. But in the meantime, it sure is good to be home.