A Family RTW Travel Adventure (2008-2009)
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Letter to Lucy


Dear Lucy,

I am writing to you from my own breakfast table while Maryland songbirds trill a familiar morning soundtrack.

Next to me is our family kitchen, complete with sharp, usable knives and well-worn cookbooks, pages stained with drops of vanilla or soy sauce.

Caroline and Conor are still asleep in their cozy beds on pillows that smell like home; cats curled against them—one for each.

A gentle wash of light spills across our little wooden deck and, after days of drizzle and chill, the sky between the trees’ leafy branches sparkles blue—all the neighbors’ chimneys finally retired for the season.


In my cup, the one I love best with the little place to rest my thumb, steams freshly brewed coffee made irresistible with cream and sugar.

The refrigerator is stocked with milk and eggs and strawberries. Ice cubes (ice cubes!) in the freezer are being made mechanically while I type. I could fill buckets with them and more would spit out.

My computer is plugged in comfortably without an unwieldy tower of adapters precariously held up by stacked books.

All the clothes we stored while we traveled are unpacked and put in drawers. I am wearing new underwear!

And yet I feel unsettled.

Coins from strange countries mix with the dimes and quarters in my wallet.

It’s pampered dogs, instead of sea lions, greeting me with raucous barking on my morning strolls.

I cannot get cheap pad thai, good sangria, or real pita bread anywhere around here.

My children have dashed off in a thousand directions. No one is snapping photographs or posing with a background of volcanos or waterfalls or rhesus monkeys. We are no longer just the four of us in a frame.

The streets are quiet and the only touts and hawkers are on television, easily quieted by a button on my remote.

Remote is, in fact, how I feel.

Away from everything jangly and chaotic and new.

Away from the loud and the dirty and the colorful.

Away from unknown languages and unreadable signs.

Away from overloaded carts, hard-at-work elephants, tasseled long-lashed camels and the crazy rickshaw bicycles careening through it all.

I drive to the grocery store. Choose from among hundreds of brands of dishwashing liquid. Run into people I know on the street.

“How was it?” they ask. “Amazing,” I say and I really mean it.

But I am frustrated by the limits of that over-used word. Or of any I might choose to describe ten months of daily wonder.


Tell me you and Paul and the girls will come and visit.

I will make a touring plan and choose fun restaurants and cook dinner here as well. I will study amazing Washington, D.C. facts and casually mention, for example, that the Washington Monument is 555 ft. 5/8 in. high.

You can add photos of the White House to your vacation book in the pages after the Galapagos.

I’ll see my town and all its pretty and impressive places through the eyes of a traveler.

We hold our memories of the Galapagos tour as some of our very best of the year. How wonderful to have met you and your family on the GAP boat.

Thanks for staying in contact with me as we traveled. Give my best to the gang and enjoy summer in England.




1 Doug Spiro { 06.29.09 at 8:09 am }

Your note is beautiful. In all of my travels to distant land I have also found that the word “Amazing” seems to never sum up what I experienced. The only real way to make people understand would be the Vulcan Mind Meld…It occurs to me that is not real so Amazing will have to do.

I totally agree with you about the ice cubes!!!!

2 michele { 06.29.09 at 11:21 am }

I don’t even know you and your words give me chills. I know how it feels to travel for two weeks and come home to those same feelings. I can’t imagine how it would feel after 10 months of travel.
Some of what you feel will never go away. Every thing you do from this point on in your lives will be different. How will you deal with it? Truly amazing.

I have enjoyed following your family this past year. I has been truly a pleasure.

Thank you for sharing with us all.

3 Mike Pugh { 06.29.09 at 12:02 pm }

Well said.

Here’s wishing you a graceful transition back to “real” life.

4 Kim { 06.29.09 at 1:31 pm }

What a lovely post! I have been following your family’s adventures over the past year in anticipation of my own…my sister and I are leaving on our round-the-world trip in September and are trying to soak up everything we love about ‘home’ before we go.

Thank you for sharing…and welcome back!

5 Kelly Knowles { 06.30.09 at 5:46 am }

Dear Dani,
As I’m sure you are already aware, your family is amazing. I’m sitting in a hostel in China and checking in on your family via your blog as I do a few times a week. We are on our first RTW trip but this is our second long traveling experience away from home. This particular post compelled me to write on this blog after being an anonymous viewer into your families daily travel life. I want to thank you for proving to me that this vagabonding lifestyle does not eliminate the option of having a family but rather enhances it. Your children are beautiful and although I am only 24, one day I dream of taking my (very future) children to all of the sites I have visited plus so many more. I also wholeheartedly echo your sentiment about returning home. What do people want to hear when they ask “How was it?” They don’t want descriptions of the delicious foreign foods, the quiet everyday event of riding public transportation with people who speak a different language, the changing landscapes or friendly faces you encountered. You say something like “Amazing” and they are satiated but you have so much more to tell, but it’s impossible. Regardless, I hope you all continue to check in with your faithful followers and know that I thoroughly enjoyed your journey.

6 Warren McBride { 06.30.09 at 9:39 am }

Yes – you do run out of words to describe a year of daily adventures.
And yes, you can still feel “unsettled” even when you have been back “home” for a year.
It was a pleasure to follow your adventures.
The McBrides (in Ottawa)

7 jen { 06.30.09 at 10:41 pm }

I have traveled neither as far or as long as your family but I know that both the words travel and amazing seem too simple to cover the experience and what you gain from it. A deeply felt thank you for sharing that with us.

8 kopili { 07.02.09 at 7:14 am }

You are already home? And I had just begun to follow you guys – it seems just a few weeks back that you were in India, and I’d extended an invitation to come to Hyderabad.
My prediction – you are going to set off someplace soon. Once you get the travelling virus in you, I don’t know if it will ever go away. YOu have to get the fix once in a while.

9 Cris { 07.06.09 at 11:17 pm }

What a beautiful post, Dani.
I dream with the day one of my next round-the-world trips will be with my future kids too.
And I hope you guys continue putting the four of you in more and more frames!

10 Still Life in South America { 07.07.09 at 10:01 pm }

That is a heartbreakingly beautiful post, Dani.

I have been thinking a lot about these descriptions and the personal concept of home. All of our loved items are in storage at the moment. I miss them terribly, but I don’t want to choose between them and traveling someplace new.

I hope you will keep writing. You are very gifted.

11 Ariel Ky { 06.28.10 at 1:51 am }

I just read the account of how your son nearly got swept off the boat. You must be thankful every minute now that you are home that it didn’t happen. Traveling is an adventure, yes, but it can also become a misadventure in a minute flat. You’re probably experiencing reverse culture shock. I still remember the first time I went through it in 1985 after spending just 10 days in Paris; it was devastating.

Today I’m in the 5th year of my own ten-year trip around the world, presently living and teaching in China. I’ve been working my way as an English teacher, which is my profession. I’m going to Beijing this weekend to climb the Great Wall and on from there for a week in Hong Kong. Next year, I’m planning a return trip to the U.S. to visit my mother, and the summer in Australia. Last year I spent six months in Mongolia, and before I came to China, a year in Andorra in Europe.

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