In the extensive research I did before starting our Round the World trip, I read many blogs that talked about how much the trip would change me.  How I would be a completely different person when I returned.

Now, after six months abroad, our trip is coming to an end and I have been thinking a lot about this.  Asking myself the question: Have I changed? I don’t think I’ve changed.  I am fundamentally the same person, but I have GAINED AWARENESS.  Here’s what the world has taught me…

THE WORLD IS A SAFE PLACE 

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Shibuya Crossing, Tokyo, Japan

In six months we have visited 23 countries and 68 cities and not once during our travels have we felt unsafe or in danger. Third world or poverty is not equal to danger. Of course, being a wise traveler means being careful and not exposing yourself to unnecessary risks, but don’t be afraid.  Get out there and enjoy the world. There is so much beauty and greatness worth seeing!

THERE IS SO MUCH TO LEARN FROM ONE ANOTHER

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If it were my decision, I would require that any politician or important decision maker had ample traveling experience as a requirement for their position.  Yes, we live in a great country! But Yes, there are great things in other countries too! Why don’t we have the amazing toilets that are a standard in most Japanese homes? Why doesn’t the US have a more advanced railway system? Thinking that we are the best in everything is so old!  It is time to open our minds and start sharing our best practices.  If you need something, look elsewhere in the world.  It’s almost sure someone has already thought about it.

EXPERIENCES FILL YOUR HEART AND CREATE MEMORIES

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Reindeer Safari in Ivalo, Finland

Riding a camel and sleeping in a tent in the middle of the desert, sleeping in an igloo, bathing an elephant, going on a reindeer sled ride, and zip lining over an incredible beach! We will never forget those moments. They are forever embedded in our minds and hearts.  Ask yourself how many WOW moments have you had recently.  Not “wow how high is the electricity bill this month,” but those happy moments that amaze you and take your breath away.  If you haven’t had those recently, it’s time you start to EXPERIENCE LIFE! Whatever it is that means for you.

WOMEN CAN DO ANYTHING THEY DECIDE TO DO (You don’t need a man to travel the world)

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Kayaking in Big Bay at El Nido, Palawan, Philippines

We are a mother and daughter traveling alone for six months and we have managed perfectly fine.  We coordinate and execute our plans and deal with unexpected situations. We handle our luggage, we are tech-savvy and know how to remain safe.  Only in Morocco, a muslim country, we felt more scrutinized because we were two women, alone. Women can do anything they set their minds to because we are organized, determined and persistent.  If you are a woman and want to travel or pursue any other dream, don’t wait and go for it!

I CAN LIVE WITH SO MUCH LESS

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My entire luggage for 6 months.

We have lived with one 50 pound/23 kg suitcase and a carry on each, for six months.  This includes not only clothing but shoes, toiletries, tech devices, etc.  We have learned the importance of the weight and size of every item that goes into our suitcase and how to maximize space.  The lesson here is that we have way too much stuff! When I think about all the clothes, shoes and stuff in storage that I will have to unpack when we go back, I feel dizzy.  Definitively less is so much better.  It makes you more agile, gives you freedom.

A DOSE OF DIFFERENT IS NEEDED TO KEEP US GROUNDED

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Vietnamese man carrying his fruit and the crazy traffic.

Different is good.  It is not always comfortable.  It requires some adjustments on our part but that is how we learn new things and gain new experiences.  Visiting other countries that are more or less developed than ours is a great learning experience!  We learn to aspire to more and to make our own judgment or learn to be incredibly thankful for how fortunate we are.  Either way you win!  Try a local Airbnb and stay in a real home, talk to the local people, try new food, observe how they live, enjoy the good things and quickly forget the bad ones. I recently read that “a traveler needs to be comfortable with being uncomfortable” and I couldn’t agree more.

ATTITUDE IS KEY FOR HAPPINESS.  IT IS NEVER A MATTER OF AGE OR MONEY.

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Woman selling souvenirs in her little canoe in Thailand.

The lady in her little canoe selling souvenirs that approached our tour boat in Thailand really caused a deep impression on me. Her smile was so genuine and authentic. She was happy! I am sure her living circumstances were very difficult but she had a great attitude!  We tend to blame others or our surroundings for not being happy.  We are always thinking that it will come later.  But NO, the decision to be happy is entirely our choice! Our attitude towards the challenges of life is what will define if we have a happy, satisfying life or not.  It’s not a matter of age, generation or how much money we have.  What really matters is the positive attitude, heart and passion each individual puts into anything they do, at any age.

NATURE WILL ALWAYS WIN 

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Amazing sunset in White Beach, Boracay, Philippines

We’ve experienced all weathers.  Fall in Italy, Winter in Central Europe and China, Summer in Southeast Asia, rainy season in Bali and early Spring in Japan.  Never have I been so aware of how the weather rules our lives. I now have a deeper awareness about climate change and its impact in our world.  On the other hand, at least for me, natural sights are always the best.  The immense beauty of Halong Bay in Vietnam and the Li River in Guilin, China.  The amazing sunsets, the waterfalls of the Plitvice Lakes in Croatia, the crystal clear waters of Phi Phi Islands, filled our hearts with joy and hope.  Being in contact with nature heals your soul. 

MOST PEOPLE IN THE WORLD ARE KIND AND WANT TO HELP OTHERS

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Our Morocco guide Mohammed teaching us how to wear a turban

This has been the most refreshing and hopeful discovery of our journey.  We can say it because we experienced it and it felt good! The time when we were standing in front of a flight of stairs with heavy luggage and a random stranger helped us without us even asking. The numerous times we have asked questions or directions and people who speak other languages have found the way to communicate with us.  The smiles, the gratitude. So the lesson here is to practice it more.  Even when our daily lives are bombarded with so much information and bad news, let’s be helpful and kind to one another.  One at a time, we can create a positive chain reaction. 

A MOTHER AND DAUGHTER CAN BE TOGETHER 24/7 FOR SIX MONTHS

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Article about us published in Primera Hora newspaper in Puerto Rico.

Every time my 22 year old daughter told her friends she was going to go travel the world for six months with her mom, the reaction was the same.  Travel the world, how cool! … but with your mom?  Well, we can say now that we did it and it was wonderful (most of the time.)  Of course, we had fights, we had disagreements.  I am a virgo and my favorite word is “productive,” so you can imagine I am a compulsive doer.  My daughter, on the other hand, is a millennial, more relaxed and calmed.  So we had to find a middle point and compromise, we complemented each other.  The love and respect for one another has grown.  Our journey as Mari and Val Round the World will always be a part of our story and that is a wonderful thing to share.  

ANYTHING WORTH HAVING REQUIRES HARD WORK 

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Me after an entire day of climbing stairs in Sintra, Portugal

I have known this all my life.  This 6 months journey has just confirmed it once again.  Yes, we were not working in an office but I can promise you we worked. A LOT.  Before leaving we had to do all the planning, packing, storing.  During the trip, the constant planning process continued, making sure we covered every detail of our movements from one place to the other.  Since we didn’t have that much time in many cities, we had very long days.  Walking from morning to night trying to see everything and finding the time to write our blogs and post in our social media. Getting to places meant constantly packing and unpacking and taking dozens of planes, trains, buses, ferries, taxis, tuk tuks and tricycles.  Did we have fun?  Was it worth it?  ABSOLUTELY YES!  

TAKING CONTROL OF YOUR LIFE IS EMPOWERING

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Maya Bay, Phi Phi Islands, Thailand

Making the decision of quitting my job to travel the world for half a year was probably the bravest thing I have done in all my life.  Of course I was scared and doubtful but I took the plunge.  It felt so good! Feeling at peace with the consequences of my actions and not worrying about what others think, has made me feel so liberated and FREE for the first time in my life.  Now we have to go back, find jobs, set up a home again, etc. but I am confident we will be fine. So, my message to you is the following: if you are not happy in your job or relationship, change it now!  If you want to start a business, if you want to travel or do whatever it is that makes you happy, work for it and do it!  Take the plunge.  It is Ok, you will be fine.

So, in conclusion, NO, I am not a different person because I traveled the world for six months.  I continue to be the same person, who tells her daughter to “do something productive” all the time, but I have gained awareness that I hope will make me a better, happier person for myself and others. 

DON’T WAIT, MAKE A PLAN, POSTPONE NOTHING.

-MARI

We are Mari and Val,  a 53 year old mother and a 22 year old daughter who left everything behind and traveled the world for six months.  Our blog is called Mari and Val Round the World and it is where we have and will continue to write about the places and experiences during our journey.  You can follow us at:
https://www.mariandvalrtw.com
https://www.facebook.com/mariandvalrtw
@mariandvalrtw

16 thoughts

  1. I think already told you, you have become such an inspiration for many people. The best thing is you acheive being the same peson with a broader point of view (awareness). This can be called “growing”. Not for the other people to see but for you to feel and live. Life’s about awarenes! It’s your personal quest with no destiny at all.
    Keep walking my friend! (stolen from a Johnnie walker ad) Ja, ja!
    Proud of you girls!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Have a safe trip home! Thanks for sharing all your adventures…it’s been a blast following you! And I’ve been inspired to start downsizing stuff at home and start traveling more. 1st stop, Italy in May!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for sharing your experiences and all that valuable information with us, your followers. And I need to tell you, that believe it or not you changed. Yes, you changed, because you have more wisdom and knowledge about life. And that makes you a better person, sensible to the wonders of the world; and to love and appreciate more all living things in this big blue marble, called earth.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. To my dear friend:
    First of all I am so very proud for executing this so awesome journey and great accomplishment. I have to say you have made all of us change with you and I’m really looking forward sit and see more pictures and hear stories. Xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Mari and Val,
    Well you have certainly inspired many of us who followed you and maybe you have changed a bit…certainly you have learned and experienced so much. I love your first point…the world is a safe place. That is an important lesson. And your ability to organize and plan so you could get from point A to point B… You are both amazing. Thanks again for sharing and for helping me to start planning for my next trip.
    Welcome home.
    Iliana Okum

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Queridas Mari y Valerie: Estoy a punto de lagrimas al ver que nuestra aventura llego a su final. Con ustedes, he recorrido el mundo y siento que sus experiencias han sido las mias. Felicidades y que tengan un placido regreso a casa. By the way, por un instante pensr que este era em ultimo capitulo de tu libro porque es una maravillosa forma de terminarlo. Pero se me ocurre que ultimo sea de comentarios de los que como yo, hemos visto el mundo a traves de sus ojos!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gracias por tu mensaje Fernando. Mas adelante seguire escribiendo sobre los lugares que visitamos. Si estás registrado a nuestra página web, te llegarán los blog posts por email. Saludos y muchas gracias por seguirnos. Marisol

      Like

  7. Hi, great post and I particularly agree with your point that happiness is all about attitude. If you’re open minded and look for the positives in life, happiness is there to be found. Glad your RTW trip went so well. Just starting on our own voyage and looking forward to visiting some of the places you’ve seen. Cheers, Dan

    Liked by 1 person

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