Thoughts on a Year of Travel

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family hike in the Scottish Highlands

Scotland

It has been almost a year since we sold our house, car, and most of our stuff and took flight for Europe. It’s been almost a year of fulltime travel through Italy, Croatia, Germany, Slovenia, England, Scotland, France, Montenegro (plus a little Bosnia and Serbia), Austria, Sweden, and Ireland (plus a bit of Northern Ireland).

In less than two weeks we will be back in Montana trying to transition into another life that isn’t quite the same as the one we left, but is totally different than the one we are living now. I am feeling very bittersweet about it all.

Of course, I can’t wait to see friends and family. I am thrilled with the prospect of getting into the mountains and some real wilderness. I look forward to seeing the kids take classes, play sports, and reconnect with their buddies. But I am going to miss this travel lifestyle, meeting new friends, exploring new places, and learning more about the world.

I think it’s natural to start taking stock of this year abroad as it comes to an end. I asked my family the questions that everyone asks us, figuring you might want to know, too.


Finn (9-years-old)

The Cliffs Of Moher, Ireland

The Cliffs Of Moher, Ireland

What was your favorite country and why?

Scotland because it was easy to get around since they speak English, we could meet people, our apartment was nice, and the town (Callender) was amazing.

What was your favorite activity?

Hiking the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland. It was breathtaking and I played good games with my brother.

Is there a place you wished we visited on this trip but didn’t get to?

Not really.

What was different than your expectations about this trip?

I thought it would be a lot of doing stuff and it is, but then there are countries where we do nothing or work. In Italy we did something every day, but in Croatia we didn’t do much.

What do you do during the slow times?

Read, play with my toys, be bored, play on the iPad, jump on the trampoline (Ireland).

What was your favorite new food? Least favorite?

Fave: Sticky toffee pudding (UK). No go: Cream Tea (England).

How did you celebrate your birthday (August/Sweden)?

Homemade Swedish pancakes with blueberry sauce made from locally picked blueberries, laser tag, went out for dinner.


Anders (10 years old)

Escape rooms for kids ljubljana

Anders’s birthday party in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

What was your favorite country and why?

Scotland. I liked the culture, the language, and the history. Edinburgh was nice, friendly, and pretty. Scotland also felt kind of wild. Ljubljana, Slovenia came in a close second.

What was your favorite activity?

The Dynamic Earth museum in Edinburgh or our long hike in Austria.

Is there a place you wished we visited on this trip but didn’t get to?

Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium, Hungary, Switzerland…(he kept going, but I cut him off – M).

What was different than your expectations about this trip?

I didn’t have expectations, but every time we get to a new apartment it looked different than I expected.

What do you do during the slow times?

Browse the Web, play with Finn, make maps.

What was your favorite new food? Least favorite?

Fave: Escargot (France). No go: Surströmming, but it was fun how bad it was (Sweden)

How did you celebrate your birthday (January/Slovenia)?

Getting out of an escape room, fancy cake.


Henry

Family activities in Florence Italy

Florence, Italy

What was your favorite country and why?

Scotland because of the history and relative wildness of it, the bareness of the Highlands, the culture was pretty cool, enjoyed live music and the friendliness of the people.

What was your favorite activity?

Visiting the Vasa Museum in Stockholm.

Is there a place you wished we visited on this trip but didn’t get to?

So many places, but…Romania

What was different than your expectations about this trip?

It was less like a vacation. I knew that going in, but still had expectations in my head. There are a lot of logistics—from how to get around to how to shop for groceries—and a lot of day-to-day working on projects.

What do you do during the slow times?

Work, read, watch Netflix.

What was your favorite new food? Least favorite?

Fave: Pork knuckles (Germany) No go: Krapfen (Austria/Germany)

How did you celebrate your birthday (March/Scotland)?

Surprise road trip through the highlands and two whiskey distillery tours/tastings.


Melynda

Berchtesgaden National Park, Germany

Berchtesgaden National Park, Germany

What was your favorite country and why?

Germany. I love the Bavarian architecture and aesthetic and there are so many trails/paths and easy access to big, craggy mountains. And though I don’t speak more than a few words, I think German is a fun language.

What was your favorite activity?

Hiking. And meeting people. We met a lot of great people this year, and I hope, many of them are friends for life.

Is there a place you wished we visited on this trip but didn’t get to?

Like the rest of the family, I have a long list of places I’d like to visit, but the Faroe Islands tops the list.

What was different than your expectations about this trip?

I wasn’t expecting how tiring the constant logistics of planning where to go, what to do, how to get there…would be.

What do you do during the slow times?

Work, watch Netflix, read, puzzle, walk, play Gardenscapes.

What was your favorite new food? Least favorite?

Fave: Cream Tea (UK). No go: Irn-Bru, the national soda (Scotland)

How did you celebrate your birthday (December/Germany)?

Hiking to an ice cave in Berchtesgaden National Park.


What’s Next?

We don’t know exactly what our future looks like. Who does? We have housing in Montana through the middle of January, possibly longer. We definitely want to continue to travel, but maybe not for such long chunks. In my dream world, I see us having our home base in Montana and frequently traveling, maybe in one- to three-month stints.

Maybe we buy an RV and travel around the U.S. and Canada. That was the plan several years ago. Maybe Anders and I hike the Pacific Crest Trail–a dream I have had for twenty plus years. Maybe….???

After spending a month in each country we visited and still not feeling like we had enough time in any one place, I can’t imagine taking a one or two week trip somewhere. Especially, if it involves a long flight. But maybe that’s what the future holds.

I don’t know what’s next, but as soon as I do, you’ll be the first to know.

If you have other questions, leave them in the comments and we can do another Q&A!
Hvar, Croatia

Hvar, Croatia

21 thoughts on “Thoughts on a Year of Travel

  1. April

    So happy you all made this dream a reality! I know Montana will be waiting for your arrival with open arms!! Thanks for taking us along!!

  2. Sara Barlow

    Love this reflection! I would love to do the PCT, too!
    I hope we get to see you guys again when you are back. Barlowland PNW is open for reservations anytime you want to explore Washington!
    Safe travels, happy memory making and welcome home soon!
    Sara 🙂

  3. Becky

    We are so happy that our paths crossed on your adventure and that Montana is very close to Alberta and BC! Too often we meet people on our family adventure that we aren’t likely to meet up with again. Hope the rest of your trip is great, and I plan to pick your brain on places to go during our school breaks this year and next. Sounds like Scotland needs to be one of them!

    1. Mel Post author

      You are one of the families I hope to stay life long friends with! And BC and Alberta is close, so let us know next time you are out that way and we will meet up. We all LOVED Slovenia. It was Anders’s favorite place until a week ago (I don’t know what changed :)) And I am always happy to recommend places!

  4. Christine Carpenter

    Wow! Can’t believe it’s been a year. Excited to see what’s next for you. And my mom will be excited that 3 out of 4 family members chose Scotland. Aye!

  5. Nancy

    I’ve enjoyed following along with you. Thanks for sharing. I’m going to be in Yellowstone tomorrow for a couple days – I’ll make sure the springs stay hot and the weather is cool.

  6. Nicki

    I am so thrilled you and Henry made this past year possible. I loved seeing you in Provence France and am anxious to see you all soon.
    Love mom

  7. Edith H Conyers

    As always a terrific tale of my favorite roving “Family Harrison “. So much to learn by following you guys—it has been a wonderful “ride” following you.

  8. Nancy Roney

    The wind up of your awesome trek was wonderful. Especially enjoyed everyone’s answers to your questions. Are you temporarily back home, close to Henry and Mogie? When we retired, I thought how fun it would be to sell everything, except what we’d put in storage, buy a house on wheels and travel around our beautiful country. Hoping to find just the right place to live. But at 53 and 55 the idea seemed too radical a move and it was wiped off my bucket list. I wish you luck in coming back to reality and in whatever comes next for Travelin’ Mel and your family. Just be sure you take your ardent followers/admirers with you!! Thanks so much for your of travel in photos, videos and history lessons. It was ALL SPECTACULAR!

    1. Mel Post author

      Thank you so much. We will be home in Montana tomorrow– not far from Mogie and Big Henry. We plan to keep traveling so stay tuned!

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