Twenty-one countries and that’s a wrap. Who knew that 12 months abroad could go by so quickly?

Our trip four years in the making is now over. It turned out to be far easier and much less scary than we ever thought.

We all agree that the first six months in the developing world held the most sense of adventure. Europe really doesn’t seem all that different when you’ve been to India.

We travelled by train, bus and plane. We rode camels and horses, hung on for dear life in tuk tuks, and boarded several sketchy boats.

We feel like we’ve seen a lot, but realize we’ve only scratched the surface. My bucket list has grown; not shortened.

Sophie and Claire have learned so much from their experience

Sophie and Claire have learned so much from their experience

I feel proud that both my girls have been to four continents in their tweens. They can carry on conversations without a common language, have seen children go to school without electricity or running water, and know just how little stuff you really need.

The time I’ve been able to spend with my kids is what I cherish the most. We’ve bonded over the worst toilets, looked on the most beautiful sunsets, and experienced being the only Westerners for miles.

Our first night home was a scorcher, so we opened all the windows and slept with our doors open to let the breeze flow through the house. With each kid in their own room, it felt rather strange to have so much space. Sophie called out that we all seemed so far away.

Many people have asked us how we feel about going back to the daily grind. It’s not as daunting as you might think, because there is something to be said for routine. The girls need to be back in school, and we are looking forward to reconnecting with colleagues.

(But ask us again when we return to work next week and school starts up!)

Claire plays with kids in the school's makeshift playground

Volunteering at a school in Africa taught us much about ourselves

We feel so lucky to have won the birthplace lottery with our health care system, clean drinking water, garbage disposal, emergency services and so on. We can all vote, and our politicians leave office with a handshake.

True, equality needs to be achieved on several fronts whether we are talking about marginalized people like First Nations or the working poor, or women’s issues. But at least we are not starting from ground zero.

We’ve seen how governments impact citizens, for better or worse. A professional public service is so important for society, and I’m coming home with a clear sense of the importance of my work.

We have such beautiful spaces across the country that are so amazingly uncrowded and clean. It’s places like Peter Lougheed Provincial Park in my cover photo that make me excited to be home.

But the places we’ve been and the experiences we’ve had will always be with us – so much better than any stuff you could buy.

If you have the chance to go, don’t pass it up.

7 Comments on “Coming home

  1. Welcome home Heather and family! I will also miss reading your page of all your travels….. such an interesting year eh! Hope to see you soon and connect!

  2. Wow my Thursday lunch partner will soon be back, so hard to believe the year has come and gone. I totally look forward to your return and conversations with you. Most importantly, you are all back in good health and safe. A trip well planned and deserved. Welcome back!

  3. I am honestly sorry that I won’t be reading about your adventures any more, but am glad that you arrived back home safely. Thank you for sharing your experiences so interestingly Heather. I look forward to your second world trip 🙂

  4. Welcome home! So glad you are all back, safe and sound.

    Thank you very much Heather, for sharing your adventures, your insights, and your pictures with us this last year.

    Gord and Joyce

    • Thanks, Gord & Joyce! I’ll probably do a presentation at work one of these days if people are interested!

      – Heather

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