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Day #22: The Journey Home

Most of the was written somewhere over the Pacific to the southeast of Hawaii.

We witnessed a rather disturbing scene at the Sydney security checkpoint this morning. As we arrived at the magnetometer, I saw an older woman–likely from some island in the South Pacific, seemingly traveling alone–sitting on a bench being assisted by airport security staff. Another passenger said that she was “having trouble breathing.” By the time we’d passed to the other side, an airport staffer rushed by saying that she’d fainted. Sadly, this wasn’t the case… the woman had gone into cardiac arrest. As I turned around, security staff were already starting CPR. I thought about offering assistance until the cavalry arrived, but a doctor rushed back through security to lend a hand.

I have no idea why she was traveling or where she was going. I don’t know what happened to her. Clearly, she wasn’t going to be flying wherever today. Perhaps, the Sydney airport was ultimately going to be her “final destination.” However, I’m willing to bet that someone, somewhere is either worried about or mourning her tonight. In either case, my thoughts are with her and her family as I jet over the Pacific.

The whole incident sort of underscores a conversation Libby and I were having last night about travel. We don’t think a lot of people “get” our travel desires. Why the 157×50 goal? Why do we go where we go? Why travel with Emerson when she’s so young? Why take expensive, extended trips in the midst of our careers?

The short answer is “because we can.” We might not be able to later in life. We could suffer from illness or injury. We could experience economic or financial misfortunes. We could find the world a less hospitable place due to geopolitical conflicts. Who knows? And, even if we’re fortunate enough to continue traveling well into our dotage (as we would hope), I still have yet to meet a person who told me someone’s last words were “gee, I really wish I’d spent more time in the office or earned more money.”

The longer answer is that I think that the key to happiness on this ride we call life is really about the journey and not the destination. For example, I don’t derive a huge amount of pleasure or even a strong sense of accomplishment from having visited all seven continents. Yes, it’s nice to have ticked the box. But, I’ve loved the process of planning to make it happen most. The same is true of “collecting” countries: it’s the journey and experience that’s cool.

It’s fun to be “kidnapped” and then “hit by a car” in Slovenia. It’s awesome to make friends with a guy in Oman whose looks would cause the average American to think about scurrying for the exit of an airplane if he boarded after them. It’s priceless to take a baby to Antarctica, even if only to suffer whiteout conditions on arrival at the cost of four days in heavy seas. We’re fortunate to have seen and done so much, and we want to do much more. I can honestly say that there’s no place we’ve visited that we wouldn’t return to. Indeed, most places we’d like to go back to visit again and explore in more depth.

In the end, the best part of the 157×50 goal isn’t that we’ll eventually have been to 100 countries, 50 states, and 7 continents. No, the best part is that the goal has forced us to expand our horizons and then keep going. We’ve now been to places that we laughed at the thought of going to not that many years ago!

So, we’re making plans for completing the 157 goal over the next couple of years. And, we’re working on sorting out our future projects.

Enough philosophical musings.

Here are some statistics for RTW 2013:

Continents: 4
Countries (UN): 7 [5 new]
Countries (TCC): 9 [7 new]
Flight Segments: 10
Flight Miles: Approx. 26,000
Flight Hours: Approx. 50


This is something of an homage to our friends Dick and Frank, who write up a fun Q&A summary at the end of their trips


Paul–Maritime museum in Sydney. Vila/private pool in Phuket.

Libby–Natural History Museum in London with Dinosaur-crazy Preschooler; Singapore Zoo; riding with no seatbelt on an elephant in Phuket.
Emerson–Spending time w/ Mommy and Daddy. Dinosaurs and zoos!


Paul–Nagging illnesses and fatigue. Thankfully, we were never overly sick… just enough to be annoying.

Libby–the western toilets in SE Asia.

Best meal:

Paul–Take-out from Singapore’s hawker centers. Excellent flavor; low price; huge value.

Libby–Gomez Y Guzman in Sydney. Killer Mexican!!! Also, I love my cookies and coffee from Ben’s Cookies in London. Look forward to it every year.

Emerson–“Mexico” in Sydney and (gourmet) popcorn in Singapore.

Favorite (new) destination:

Libby–Singapore. Vibrant city with lots to do…. and the cleanest toilets in SE Asia!!

Paul–Shockingly: Bali. While we had some of our worst days there, and I didn’t like the resort’s location… the island has a certain allure and undefinable quality. Clearly, we didn’t see everything anywhere else either, but Bali is the one place I didn’t feel like I “got” in our tapas-sized visit.

Would you do it again:

Paul–Most certainly!


What would you do differently:

Paul–either a longer trip or 1-2 fewer stops. The long-haul flights weren’t the killers. Moving through SE Asia at 3 nights per city was too fast. Interestingly, this is a very comfortable pace when training or driving. With flying? Not so much. I actually wouldn’t have changed this trip, but I won’t repeat this pace with flights in the future.

Libby–more time in each place if I could. Thank goodness Emerson likes going on planes!

Update from Tampa:

Our flights were uneventful. Emerson was golden, as usual on airplanes, despite a lack of sleep and lengthy journey. We arrived home at 7pm on Saturday about 24 hours after our departure from Sydney. While we love travel, it’s good to be home too.

Round the world: done!

Sitting at our dinette table last night munching on our dinner, I said to Libby that “maybe we should make traveling around the world at least a once per decade thing for us? This could be our 30s trip!” Munch. Playful eye roll. “Ok, dear.” :-)

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