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Posted by on Sep 11, 2013

The Long Way Home – Our Updated Itinerary


“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”
-Terry Pratchett

Much to the excitement of our mothers, we have decided to come home. These two globe-trotting wanderers will soon (in December) touch down stateside nearly 340 days after having left Miami in January.

Our bags packed into the inlaw's car on the way to the airport in Miami.

Our bags packed into the inlaw’s car on the way to the airport in Miami.

It was a with a twinge of sadness that we made the decision to trade in our backpacks for a little time in one place. It is with the hope of adventure though, that we continue to make plans to travel after spending some time back home.

Since leaving our jobs, our home and our California lives in November 2013, we have driven across the United States, visited 10 countries, volunteered in a completely foreign environment and driven 6,882 kilometers while living in a campervan. It has been, and continues to be, a journey that surprises, delights and challenges us. But, with all this comes the constant movement and planning that is inevitable with changing homes every few days and I am ready for a break.

At our friend Sophiep's restaurant in Phnom Penh before leaving Cambodia. The last time we really had a "home".

At our friend Sophiep’s restaurant in Phnom Penh before leaving Cambodia. The last time we really had a “home”.

In the past week, we have made decisions that will shape our itinerary for the rest of 2013. Sitting in our rented flat in Ghent, Belgium, we were wringing our hands (while drinking some delicious Belgian beer) over deciding to go back to the States, when to go and how to get there. Skyping with Celebrity Cruises at midnight on our second to last night in Belgium, we found our way home.

I had read about Transatlantic/repositioning cruises in the past and being in Europe in the late fall proved a perfect jumping off point to take a repositioning cruise from Europe back to the States. Cruise lines offer these long cruises, with many days at sea, to customers at a great value in order to get their ships back to a more desirable location for the coming cruising months. In our case, the Celebrity Silhouette, is leaving its final European destination and repositioning back to Florida to start their winter Caribbean cruises.

Back to cruising!

Back to cruising!

Rather than paying almost $2,000 for two one-way tickets back to the U.S. and in return getting a cramped, economy seat and a subpar airplane meal, we are spending the same amount to take a 14-day Transatlantic cruise that gives us comfortable beds to lay in, great food to eat, stops in some nice ports and days to really relax before arriving home. We couldn’t be any happier with the way it worked out. Who knew we would love cruising so much?

Our upcoming travel plans are taking shape, now anchored by the cruise. The rest of our year will tentatively include:

France (our current stop): 6 nights between Alsace and Burgundy (wine regions) and 3 nights in Paris

Portugal (September 17 – October 5ish): A few nights in Porto, Lisbon, Evora and a week or so to explore some other parts of the country. We also get to spend time with two friends who will also be in Lisbon and see one of our dearest Cambodian friends who just started a graduate program at the University of Porto.

Spain (early-mid October): A tentative addition to the schedule, we may spend a week or so in Madrid.

Eastern Europe & the Balkans (mid-October-mid-November): Slovenia, Hungary, Croatia, Bosnia and Montenegro are all on our list.

Turkey (mid-to-late November): We really want to visit Istanbul and a few other areas of Turkey. We hope it works out given current travel warnings for the country.

Italy (late November-December 1): Wine country, seeing some friends and ending in Rome.

Cruising (December 1-December 15): Starts in Rome with stops in Florence, Provence, Barcelona and the Canary Islands.

The cruise docks in Fort Lauderdale, where we conveniently get to spend time with Dave’s parents before we fly back to Chicago for the holidays. Our current plan is to re-group for a month or two in the States and then jet set down to South America for a few months of bucket list trekking and exploring.

We had been planning to go to Africa at the end of this year to travel and potentially volunteer. We both weren’t feeling overwhelmingly excited about going at the end of our trip so we have decided to go another time and swapped that continent for time in South America. Africa and India continue to intrigue me and I know they are two destinations I will be planning for in years to come.

It is hard to think that the current part of our trip will end in just two and a half months. Time on the road goes by so fast and before we know it, we will be sitting on the top deck of our cruise ship waving goodbye to Europe.

Home feels like the right stop at the end of the year though. We will get to see our family and friends who we have missed, share our stories with them, catch up on their lives and meet our new nephew Ryan who joined our family just a week ago. I’m looking forward to Christmas with my extended family, using our REI dividend for some trekking gear for South America and having the same bed to sleep in for more than a few days at a time.

If anyone will be traveling through our intended stops over the next few months, let us know! We have loved getting to see friends and family along our trip route.

Here’s to a few more exciting months on the road!


  1. Ryan is very excited to meet his jet setting Aunt & Uncle!!!

    • Woo hoo! I can’t wait to snuggle that little love bug!

  2. So excited!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Safe travels and will be counting the days until we pick you up at O’Hare!

    Love you,

  3. Cheers to your exciting way home itinerary! And here’s to your continued adventure beyond your trip! Lots of love to you two incredible people!XOXOXO

    • Thanks Jen! We’re looking forward to the next few months and starting to explore some countries we’ve never been to. Miss you!

  4. Will you be making a west coast swing?

    • Not sure yet, will keep you posted. I want to, but need to check costs before we commit.

  5. Jill, you are so creative and resourceful when it comes to travel and fun-itinerary planning! You could be doing it as a job 😉

    All sounds fabulous 🙂


    • Thanks Robyn, I really love doing it (most days at least)!