Should I stay or should I go???

Australia, RTW: 2007-2008 — By on November 9, 2008 11:24 AM

For the past few months I have been completely conflicted as to what I would do once today were to finally come. Today is the day my return flight to San Francisco expires. My return ticket was only valid for one year from the date of my departure, November 12, 2007. It is so hard for me to believe that a year has really come and gone? As always, time flies when you are having fun!

This past year of travels has been absolutely amazing. I backpacked through nine different countries: Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia! I know I have not yet been able to fully process all I have experienced and learned over the course of the year. While most people see my recent travels as a long holiday, I view the experience as educational and a growth journey for myself. Reflections to come at a later date when I can truly process it all …

Before I began my journey, someone asked me what my biggest fear was surrounding my impending travels. I told him that I feared that at the end of my travels I would have no clearer idea of what to do with my future. A year ago I was in a very different place on many levels than I am today; however, as it turns out my fear was justified. While I did find clarity in many areas of my life this past year, this experience has also provided me with many new opportunities and possibilities for my future. As a result, I now have even more options for my future to choose from than I did when I left a year ago! Through meeting new people and experiencing new parts of the world, I have not only developed new interests but my views and desires for myself and the world have greatly changed. I have a better understanding of what makes me happy and how I would like to spend my time in the future. And without a doubt, this year of travel has increased the “travel bug” within me. While I have crossed off many countries off my list of places to see, the list has gotten longer as I have added many new countries that I intend to explore.

Indecision has always been my worst trait. For the past few months I pondered…should I continue traveling, should I stay in Australia, or should I go home? I hoped that there would be a big sign pointing me in the best direction, but unfortunately I never saw that sign. Instead I was forced to evaluate my options and the pros and cons of each choice.

I considered forfeiting my return flight to San Francisco to stay in Australia longer. As I sit here and type this entry, I keep getting distracted by the beautiful view of the ocean. Summer is just about to kick off in OZ and I was extremely tempted to spend another summer living at the beach! I do have the option to apply for a one year working visa in OZ. After spending the past two weeks in Sydney I was reminded of just how much I love this city and country. I could definitely see myself living in Sydney with it’s beautiful beaches, great city life, warm weather, and friendly people. The only downside…it is SO far away from my friends and family!

I eventually decided that for now, the best decision for me is to use my return ticket to fly back to San Francisco. A few factors played into this decision, many of which were financial: the cost to purchase a new ticket was very expensive, the value of the Aussie dollar is not very attractive at the moment ($0.68 to the USD) which would make it difficult to save money and pay off my US bills. The time of year also played a role in my decision as the holidays are approaching and I want to spend it with my family and friends (not to mention that my family might disown me if I were to miss another Christmas)!

While I have not made any definite decisions or plans as to what I will do once I get back to the states, I do have a better understanding as to what will make me the happiest in the future and I intend to make decisions based only on myself. I do want to continue traveling but I need to work for a while before I can make that happen. So until then I will need to get settled back into “the real world”! I have never lived alone and I am dying to do so in a cute place that I can make my own and fill with all that inspires me. I have come to realize that I must live in a big city, preferably one near the ocean as I am happiest by the sea. I am also happiest when I can get outdoors and enjoy nature and be active. I know that I can make friends and build a life in any city; however, I have really missed San Francisco and all of my amazing friends who still live there. I need to live in a place where people are open-minded and tolerance is encouraged as a way of life.

As I pack up all my belongings I feel blessed for the experiences I have had and for all of the wonderful new friends I have made all over the world this past year. I am happy that I was able to spend the last two weeks of my travels in Sydney, the city where my travels began a year ago. Sydney has become a city in close competition with San Francisco as my most favorite city in the world in which to live. I spent the past two weeks enjoying the parts of the city I love the most. I spent much of my time at the beaches, soaking in the last bits of sun that I can before heading home to winter! I visited the Museum of New South Wales to see a Monet exhibit. I walked along the gorgeous coastal trail between Coogee and Bondi where the “Sculpture by the Sea” exhibit was on display. I spent a wonderful weekend wine tasting in Hunter Valley. I hung out at my old stomping grounds in Coogee and had a farewell drink at the Coogee Bay Hotel. And finally, I could not say goodbye to Sydney without once again taking in the beauty of Sydney’s Harbor, the bridge and the Opera House never cease to take my breath away. It was great to spend time with my favorite Aussie, Danny, who was pretty much like my best friend this past year. I will miss him very much.

As I prepare to head back home I am filled with mixed emotions. I am sad to leave Sydney, a city that I have come to love and would welcome the opportunity to spend more time here in the future.

I am extremely sad to leave this beautiful warm weather and return to winter weather. I have successfully avoided winter weather the entire past year and I fear my body may go into shock!

I worry about the economy and finding a job back in the states. I have followed the news as best as I can but I have yet to feel the effects of the current crisis that we are said to be in today. I am nervous as to what exactly I will be returning to.

I am overwhelmed by the thought of all I will have to do to ultimately “get settled” again in the near future.

I look forward to having a routine again, although I know this will probably be short lived!

I look forward to not carrying my backpack and not living out of a bag!

I worry about adjusting and returning to “the real world” after living the life I have the past year.

I look forward to having a job and saving money for future travels! I hope to be able to attend my good friend Evelien’s upcoming wedding that will be held in Holland this May. My next “big travel adventure” will most definitely have to be to South America!

I am thrilled that Obama won and I am excited that my country will be seeing much needed change soon!

I am happy that I will soon be able to see all my friends and family that I have missed so much. I look forward to catching up with old friends and hopefully seeing my newest friends in the not so distant future.

So with many mixed emotions… I go.

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  1. sue rosenof says:

    Wow — your incredible journey — this one at least — has come to an end! I have truly enjoyed your stories, and know there will be many more to come. If my husband accepts a job in Australia (there’s a company that really wants him there) we’ll be chatting a lot more in the near future! Till then — safe travels!

  2. brian compton says:


    Well written girl. Your first bit was framed as a question, and if we were voting I would say keep going! What will I do for my travel fix now without this blog. You must keep it up in SF.

    When you get back, look us up. We would love to catch up and also, let’s talk about work and job stuff. I will keep my ears open.

    Safe return trip! Are you going to Atlanta first?

    Ciao ragazza, BGC

  3. susan p says:

    Hey Kelly, I’ve been checking in periodically and can’t believe I happened to check in on you the week you returned to SF : )

    Glad to hear you had such a fantastic experience…

  4. Deanna Walter says:

    Hi Kelly! I am so happy to hear that you are returning to the states, even if it is with mixed emotions. I can't wait to talk to you & hopefully see you sometime soon.

    I'm glad that you had such a wonderful time & I'm sure that you are going to make good use of all of those wonderful experiences to decide on your plan for the future.

    We miss you!

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