Working from the beach in Gili Trawangan

Nothing is permanent. (A big announcement…or two…)

On ending my 'round the world trip and working from the road.

I’ll always remember how it felt to book the first flight of this journey. I was, admittedly, at work searching the interweb for some sort of deal to get me to Europe. I stumbled on a cheap one way ticket to Berlin and, after a little hemming and hawing, after a little hesitation, pressed purchase.

I was all at once petrified and excited. But it still didn’t feel real. After all, all I did was purchase one ticket. I still didn’t have to quit my job. I still didn’t have to travel for a year. All I had really committed myself to doing was going to Berlin. I could just take a week-long vacation if I changed my mind. I could still get out of it. Nothing was permanent.

And so, I’ll probably always remember how I felt clicking purchase once again, this time on a one-way ticket from Bangkok to Chicago.

I was all at once petrified and excited.

While I know I’m not ready to go home, not permanently, not yet, I think I am ready to leave Asia. I love it here, don’t get me wrong, and part of me never wants to leave at all. But it’s also getting too comfortable. Too familiar. And there is so much more out there to see. I think it’s time I explored another part of the world.

Plus, some friends are getting married at the end of October and I always knew I wanted to be home for that.

Plus, I have a job.

Yes world, for the first time in over thirteen months, I am employed.


Working on the beach in Gili Trawangan, Indonesia
Not a bad office, am I right?


Not that I’m going home for the job, per se. In fact, I’m staying in Asia even longer than planned because of it. I’ve started a three-month remote position doing web updates and newsletter design for Meet, Plan, Go! (a website that inspires people to quit their job to travel — I attended their first event when I was planning my trip). The work is pretty much exactly what I’d done for five years at Lyric and I can do it from anywhere. (And I can do it in my pajamas — I knew that old adage always dress for the job you want was true!)

Getting this position, though, helped me make some decisions about the next few months. I now knew I’d have enough money to cover my grad school loan payments through the end of the year. I also knew I wouldn’t be able to handle working while road tripping so I would no longer be able to do my always-planned road trip before the wedding (you know, that road trip that went from being 4 months to 7 weeks to 4 weeks to…). So I’ll be going back to Thailand and staying a few weeks longer than I thought I would, and then will get back to Chicago about a week before this year’s Meet, Plan, Go! to be on US time when work will really get busy (and, possibly, be a panelist at the event…).

My flight will land me back in Chicago on October 8, 3:35pm, more than fifteen months after I left, more than four months after my proposed return date.

But, just like my first ticket to Berlin, nothing is permanent. After my friend’s wedding I’m taking my Saturn to the west coast for a bit. And then, in December, plan to head to Mexico. Though, of course, everything is subject to change. Maybe I’ll decide to stay a bit longer in Chicago. Maybe I’ll purchase a ticket right back to Bangkok. Maybe I’ll end up in Africa or Saudi Arabia. Who knows.

What I do know is that I’m not ready to stay, not permanently, not yet. But I am ready to see my friends again, meet my nephew who will be older than one year the first time I see him, eat deep dish pizza, drive LSD, watch some improv, sleep with more than one pillow under my head. I’m ready for a visit.

But nothing too permanent.

Not yet.

Hi, I'm Val. I spent most of my 20s in a standstill, unable to pick which path in life I wanted to take. I wanted the nomadic life of a traveler but also wanted the husband, the condo, and the kitten. Unable to decide which life I wanted more, I did nothing. When I turned 30 I’d had enough of putting my life on hold and decided to start “choosing my figs.” So, I quit my job, bought a one-way ticket to Europe, and traveled for three years. Now I'm back in Chicago, decorating my apartment in all the teal, petting my cats, and planning my next adventure.

  • Rob Blatt
    August 8, 2012at9:24 am

    Looks like you’re headed towards being a professional homeless person! Congrats.

  • Sheilah
    August 8, 2012at9:35 am

    Hooray for coming home! I hope we get a chance to see you and catch up. If you need tips on Mexico, I’m sure Ken has some good ones he can share. Also, I have family that’s lived in South America, so I can ask for good advice on going there. Can’t wait to hear about your next adventure!!

  • Ali
    August 8, 2012at9:19 am

    Congrats again on the job! I’m sure buying the ticket home was a bit tough, but like you said, nothing is permanent. Mexico and south sounds great. I kinda wish I had gone to South America instead of SE Asia but I can’t change the past.

    I *love* your line about dressing for the job you want 🙂

  • Waegook Tom
    August 8, 2012at12:13 pm

    A job?! Whaaaaat?!? Although congrats on it being location independent! I wish mine was. You know, so I could take students around the world with me.

    Actually that would be DREADFUL.

    Looking forward to seeing where you end up, Val! xoxo

  • Joe Joe
    August 8, 2012at10:12 pm

    Yay!!!!!!!!!!!! I may not have commented, but I’ve read this thing cover to cover. Was only slightly dissappointed when I wiped that Val-Returns-Via-White-Sox-Game off my calendar, but you seemed to be having too much fun elsewhere :). Will be exciting to see you soon.

  • Lindsey
    August 8, 2012at10:36 pm

    I always find myself planning an escape plan when I make big changes in my life. I’m glad you didn’t follow through with yours and didn’t go home after that week in Berlin 😉

    There’s a lot of weird stigma about ‘going home’. Sometimes it’s the best option, and though I love travelling with all my heart, sometimes home is just the best place to be. Have fun!

  • Erica
    August 12, 2012at5:39 pm


    I love Mexico. I could have stayed there forever. Super excited for you lady! Just make sure you have some down time in Chicago to readjust.

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