The Change Just Keeps Coming: The Enduring Impact of the Trip

It’s now been more than two years since we returned from our big trip. It remains a huge part of our lives and will undoubtedly remain so for the rest of our lives. Exactly what it means, however, is hard to nail down. On the one hand I question my recollections and it all appears as a dream; on the other hand it is the year of my life lived to such a vivid extent that I can still choose a date from that 11 months and remember exactly where we were and what we were doing. One of the books I read on the trip was V.S. Naipaul’s Magic Seeds. The main character’s mental trick to stay sane during times of boredom or captivity is to remember every bed in which he has ever slept. I have stacks and stacks of hotel keys which make that an impossibility for my whole life, but I do find myself in times of boredom, not captivity, going through every city and stop on the trip and pondering what each place must have meant for each of the kids. I am sure sleeping in tents and riding camels seemed normal to a 4 year old and playing pool in hostels with travelers from around the world was about the coolest thing a 12 year old could do.

More than being just a source of reflections, I am amazed at how the trip continues to influence our lives. I recently left MySpace and am figuring out my next move. Part of this process is meeting with VC’s, recruiters, and companies. It is the rare meeting that doesn’t include a conversation, usually at the beginning, about our adventure. Unlike the comments we got pre-trip when everyone had doubts about what we doing, post-trip the comments are universally positive. The adventure stands on its own merits, especially since we all came back in one piece, but our Oprah appearance was a big validation. Thanks Oprah.

Even more significant than personal reflections or the interest of others is the deeper changes we’ve experienced: the way we look at each day, the way we think about the world and its people, the way we face challenges, the ways we rely on each other, the way we understand America’s, or should I say, the USA’s, role in the world, the way we look to the future with hope and optimism. I can see these changes in all of us. I can specifically point out the following things that are different pre and post trip:

1. One day is a lot of time and you can pack a lot into it. Rather than plan on getting through the day, I find myself planning on what I can add to a day.

2. Although I always believed in the brotherhood of man, I am less enamored with power, money, and position and more enamored with character, intellect, and personality.

3. I have a greater desire to be green because the American lifestyle does not scale to 6 billion people without serious ecological damage. (Our current home is about 1/3 the size of our old home, still waiting for a plug-in hybrid on the car front.)

4. I am less scared of failure, which allows me to take more risks, like quitting a job when I didn’t have one lined up.

5. There is so much to learn, so many books to read, so many people to meet, I am going to be busy for a long time.
6. Anne is and has been for nearly 20 years my best friend and I didn’t realize how much we help each other be better.

7. I am less afraid to dream and look for new adventures or alternatives.

8. The kids are individuals and we need to expose them to lots of opportunities, let them choose the activities and lives they want, and then support them.

9. Finally the world is really small. People are social and with technology advancing at the pace it is, the future will be insanely great and completely different than the past. (This was only reinforced by the people I worked with at MySpace.) I almost want to do the trip again now because three years later the technology is even more amazing. I would love to incorporate my Iphone, Twitter, Kiva, GPS tracking, AR, and the various social tools we only touched on in 2006.

I have a few other things I will add to this blog and I will encourage the rest of the family to post about their reflections on the trip. (It’s much harder than you’d think.) I keep a personal lifestream at tomandrus.com. This isn’t a professional site but rather a collection of my own thoughts, and things I find on the web that strike a chord in me. It isn’t meant to be anything other than a web version of all the different thoughts and interests that often rage inside my head. I’m sure as the next few years unfold it will reveal the path toward our next round the world trip. 2013 or bust!

27 thoughts on “The Change Just Keeps Coming: The Enduring Impact of the Trip

  1. The world really is a small place today. I remember traveling in my youth and not even being able to call home. Now, mobile phones will work all over the world. Even the deepest darkest hear of Africa.

  2. Tom,
    Nice to have you post here again. I’m sure you’ve been told this many times, but your adventure had an impact far beyond your own
    family.

    When we saw the six of you did, we planned and did an RTW of our own. I have spoken to at least three other RTW families who point to the Andrus’ as a source of inspiration and proof it could be done.

    I wish you and your family the best in everything and look forward to hearing about your next great adventure.

    Best Wishes,
    Craig James

  3. Wherever you land and whatever you do will no doubt be interesting and exciting — you’ve seen and done too much for it to be otherwise. We’re only four months into the (hopefully) year and already wonder what the re-entry is going to be like.

    Thanks for the post.

  4. Wow, another Six in the World post! I’ve been going through withdrawal. And a post from Craig James, to boot … you made my day!

    We followed both of your RTW trips and were so inspired by your two families that we’re planning our own RTW trip once our youngest (2) is a little older – changing diapers on the African plain doesn’t sound too appealing to anyone.

    We have been so impressed by your ability to help those less fortunate than yourselves during your travels and to provide your children with memories and experiences that will last a lifetime. We hope we will be able to give our three children an equally rich experience in understanding different cultures and helping others along the way.

    Our oldest is already off to a great start in recognizing that she can make a difference to the world around her … http://tinyurl.com/7xxu4f

    I hope to someday meet with you and compare notes before we set off … Tito’s Tacos, our treat!

    Thanks again for the post, and I look forward to reading more in the future.

    Best wishes,
    Geoff Maleman

  5. Best wishes Tom! I look forward to hearing about your next big adventure, both in and outside of the corporate halls.

    cheers!
    M

  6. I’m with Amy – I am excited to follow your thoughts and such on lifestream.

    My favorite – adding things to each day – you did such a fantastic job at that on my birthday – no wonder I always manage to position myself in your company on that day!

  7. I am so happy to read this post. My life’s journey will not lead me to all of these wonderful places so I am a armchair traveler and your website makes the world come alive. I’ve read the posts at least twice. I too am at a crossroads of life. Looking for more personal fulfillment and less craziness. I know I will enjoy your new site. Please keep posting. We miss you.

  8. I find myself wondering how you are all doing for time to time. Great to see a new post. Our family always enjoyed reading your blog entries from the road and confess that we miss finding them in our e-mail inbox.

    Reading through the comments it’s pretty clear you’ve inspired others to follow in your footsteps. There can be no higher compliment!

    All the best,

    John Higham

  9. Hi Tom,

    I enjoyed reading this post. Our family of 4 returned home July 1 after our first (but not the last) RTW experience. It has been full speed ahead since hitting the tarmack at LAX and this was the first time I’ve checked in on the Andrus family since our trip began in July 08. I share many of your sentiments, especially living with less fear and the desire to hit the road again in a few years. Changes I intend on implementing for our next trip are 1) being of service and 2)traveling with very limited electronic baggage.

    Our blogging was choked off by the cyber police in China in May and June and we have yet to post the remaining 8 weeks of our travels.

    Your family’s travel blog provided much needed inspiration for me to persevere in our pre-trip months when the going got tough. Best of luck in creating your next business opportunity!

    Thank you!

    Tim von Zweck

  10. Well said Tom. It is so hard to put into words how exactly we’ve changed from such an epic trip even though you know you have. I’m reminded every day that I’ve changed either because of my outlook on life, the way I make a decision or how things that may have been a big issue in the past now seem so minor compared to much of the disadvantages other people endure around the world.

  11. This is such a wonderful reflective piece on your trip. I got back from a solo year RTW about two months ago and have been a tad lost now that I’m back state-side. I think I find it heartening that the wanderlust and lessons never end, even once your back :-)

  12. I sit here teary eyed as I read your recent update, relating all too well after being back only three months from our year of a lifetime. It already seems like forever, and we are already dreaming of a next one. I am feeling a bit schizophrenic, living for moments in the darkness, almost grieving for the loss of being on “the trip”, and then the renewed confident me pops out for a minute, with “ta-dah!!! I can do anything”, with little or no fail of failing. (So, yes, I am still working on the transition.)

    I am encouraged that the trip still “lives” on 2 years later as reminiscing is still part of our daily routine. Our family will NEVER be the same again and we are grateful for every day we had together, and experiencing the very big, but shrinking world.

    The most immediate delight I am experiencing is in meeting with people here in Canada who have come from places afar, like the Indian lady from Goa who sold me shoes at the local department store or our neighbour from Laos… the joy and kinship in discussing familiar spots with them.

    Now financially equivalent to church mice, we feel we are living life head on and wouldn’t change a thing!

    We are so glad to hear from you and the other world travelling families.
    Thanks for the update Tom.
    Kim

  13. what great comments. I am always so glad that our trip can be an inspiration or validation.

    I do feel as if we are in a special group of extended travelers and I love meeting others who are in that same league, dare I say, a league of extraordinary travelers.

    I am sure there will be more posts from the others. Dax has applied to college and I think his essays could be modified a little to be blog posts. Anne has started a similar post 4 or 5 times and McKane claims to be too busy with school.

    “go far, stay long and see deep” isreali saying

  14. Great to hear your news.

    You know I don’t think I realised how much this trip has changed us UNTIL now, over a year after our return.

    Sure, when we were there and when we just got back we knew we’d done something amazing, but it’s now that I look at the girls and realise how mature they are, how confident they are, how accepting and worldly-wise they are, compared to their peers. I know how empowered I feel and, just like you Tom, the ‘fear’ is much more manageable.

    Well done for making the change again, spending time with the kids while they want to spend it with you, and making work work for you!

    Love to Anne and the rest
    Rachel x

  15. Hellooooo Andrus family! Great to hear your news.

    I don’t think I really realised how much our trip has changed us until now – over a year later.
    Sure, on our return we knew we’d done something amazing and hoped that we wouldn’t forget that, but now as I look at my children -so much more adaptable, confident, accepting and worldly wise than their peers. I think how empowered we adults still feel – the fear factor well and truly in check.

    It sounds as though you have the same feeling Tom, and I commend you for taking the lead, to spend time with your family while they want to spend it with you and to live for now as well as retirement.

    We are with you – moving to Spain in 2010 to redress the work life balance and keep doing all the things with the girls that we started in other places than this.

    Take care, keep in touch
    Love CRFS xxxx

  16. Try to take off before 2013. The longer you wait, the more complicated things will get. Also, why not plan on permanently relocating overseas?

  17. Thanks so much Tom! We’ve wondered how it has impacted!

    I just saw this as we are still traveling on our family world tour that we began in 2006 and I DO always wonder what happens to families when they finish.

    Funny, but I’m always a little sad when people end their RTW trips and miss reading the updates. There IS a great connection between RTW’ers & we feel very close to your family because we started the same year, went to some of the same places & we both did it with a little blond girl! 😉

    We decided to do ours in an open ended way and think more families will be doing that now that so many of us can work and school ANY where. We live large on just 25K a year, so travel the world for MUCH less than living at home.

    We’ve really loved adding immersing deeply in other cultures/countries to our travels, through participating in local schools,life and festivals. There is really no better or easier way to learn other languages/literature/cultures which tomorrow’s global citizens will need.

    We’re not tech guru’s like you, but totally geekless, yet travel 2.0/3.0 has had a HUGE impact on our travels, life & our daughter’s education.

    Tech & the economy has changed everything. By the end of the decade 60% of all schools will be virtual & this change (& others related) already has made a BIG change in travel,education,work and RTW trips. It’s a VERY different world than it was in 2006, and I think the exponential changes will continue.

    It’ll be interesting to see where things are in 2013 & we STILL plan to be on the road as there is so much to see, learn and experience & we adore the travel lifestyle and freedom. 😉 Hopefully, this time we will be able to meet in person!

    There is nothing quite as fun as listening to kids who have been on RTW trips gab, play & compare notes! 😉

  18. Hi Tom,

    Thanks for writing such an inspirational post. I’m 26, and along with my partner and our toddler we’re doing everything we can to save up enough money for a round the world trip in around 18 months time. I only hope our dreams come true and we’re able to save enough money.

    I’ll certainly be bookmarking your site, I can see there is going to be a lot good reading here for me :)

  19. thanks for the note. It is great to keep up with your family as well. We all get to see the changes in technology real time as you adopt them.

  20. OK – now you are leaving us hanging. How are things going now? What are you up to? I hope all is well and I understand many of the things you discuss in the post. Best wishes and I hope our paths cross again.

  21. Wow! This is a brilliant post to stumble upon. My son and I are in the early stages of a long-term RTW, and it’s great to see what’s out the other side, though I have to say a lot of me wants to just keep going right now. Really inspirational, and I’m glad it worked for all of you. Do you still talk about it regularly? Is it a highlight for your children? I’d love to know…

  22. That post was really enjoyed the read, I see why quite a few people read it. Apprecaite you taking time out your day to write that. I am currently traveling the world for 3 years on month 18 right now come check us on our blog. See you soon looking forward to next post.

    Unstoppable Family
    Brian and Rhonda Swan

  23. A superb trip, a great blog, and I salute you for your daring and adventure. My only comment is that most people reading your blog are not in a position to quit their job and take one or two years off from home and family. Does that mean then that the types of adventures you described so vividly are beyond their reach? Absolutely not. My wife and children and I did a variant of what you did–an around the world trip (Australia to Zimbabwe, Mauritius to Mongolia, Turkey to Tibet) but in 3-4 month chunks. While most of us cannot get years off, we can get months off (e.g., summer vacation for a teacher) and can use those months to find a short-term overseas posting–what I call a working vacation. Our family has been on 15 of these working vacations and they provide a superb cultural and professional experience but, and this is the best part, when it is over you will come back to your regular home, job, and paycheck. I describe how we did it on my blog, otherguysdime.wordpress.com, and I would invite your readers to check it out.

    Congrats, and welcome back!

    Michael

  24. I can only hope that traveling the world is in my future. That said, I have learned many of the things the list you created described simply by living in the present. If live in the moment that I am with the people that I am talking to fully, I admire everything about my surroundings, and I feel a sense of completeness with everything I do.

    I can’t wait to see the world, and when I do, I will be present in mind and spirit.

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