Why We’re Going Home, Why We Haven’t Written About It & What Comes Next

Sunset over Bali

A few months ago, I began alluding to (and explicitly mentioning… subtlety is rarely my strong suit) the fact that Tony & I will be winding up our trip and heading home this summer. I didn’t go into detail about why this was happening, in part because I didn’t really think anyone other than the two of us would care.

But, as it turns out, you did care! Very much, in fact. Many of you expressed alarm/confusion/dismay/concern/shock/horror or some combination thereof at this news and politely demanded an explanation regarding this turn of events. Had there been a family emergency? (Thankfully, no.) Were we no longer having fun? (Quite the opposite, actually.) Had we run out of money/was our Design Business a huge failure? (We still have a respectable chunk of change in our travel fund and actually have managed to secure enough work since officially launching that we tend to break even most months!) Was I pregnant? (I firmly believe that the status of a woman’s womb is her own business and really no one else’s, save her partner’s (should she have one), but given that my response to this question was a horrified, “Gross!” we can safely conclude I am not with child.)

So why are we heading back to North America this summer? And why did I have to be so secretive about the whole thing?

I promised you I would eventually write about both of these things in some detail. Given that we now have a return date set and summer is almost here, it seems time to spill the beans.

Why We Are Going Home

Our dogs

The reasons for our return: Emmy Lou & Rory

I realize that it has been ages now since we left on this adventure and so I forgive you if you have forgotten that we actually have two (mostly) wonderful dogs. I’ve only talked about them once previously on the site, in which I admitted that were it not for the generosity of my parents, Tony & I would not be getting on a plane any time soon because our leaving to travel was contingent upon knowing our two pups would be well cared for in our absence. My parents agreed to look after them so that we could live our dreams, something for which Tony & I have been grateful every single day.

When we initially left, we purposefully kept our end date nebulous. My parents agreed that we could have a year. We really hoped they would come to love the dogs enough so that we could travel longer, but the only thing we knew for sure is that they had committed to 12 months, no take backs. As the deadline of a year of travel drew closer, my parents gave us another great gift: they told us they wouldn’t mind keeping the dogs for another year so we could keep going. It was unexpected and much celebrated news, like an inmate on death row who is given a reprieve just as he’s beginning to ponder “last meal” options.

Those of you who have the good sense to follow our Facebook page know that back in December we were able to have a mini-reunion with my parents when they visited Bangkok. During that time, my parents mentioned that they had booked an extended European vacation for autumn 2014. They had periodically been able to travel during our adventure due to the kindness of my Aunt Edie and Uncle Wes who live in northern Ontario and had given our dogs temporary lodging. My relatives had already been called to bat twice and, with worsening allergies, it was understood there could be no third time. So, my parents asked if we could plan to be home near the end of the summer to resume caring for the dogs while they toured Europe. This was not an unreasonable request, and we figured it could actually be a good opportunity for us: we still intended to visit Europe, but it isn’t exactly a budget-friendly destination, so some time living rent-free and having the chance to continue to build our business (and therefore add to our travel coffer) and catch up on our blog might actually be a boon. Plus, we’d get to see the dogs again!

Emmy Lou
Rory

Initially, the plan was that we’d spend a few months in Toronto while my parents crossed some places off their travel wishlist, and then Tony and I would make our way back across the Atlantic, checking out some places in Europe, maybe (finally!) popping over to India, and then heading back to Canada once or twice a year (while my folks traveled) to care for the dogs, slowly moving towards a full-fledged location-independent lifestyle. Maybe we’d do some HelpXing or some Housesitting. Maybe we’d try teaching in Taiwan or Japan. Maybe we’d become dive instructors and hang out on Bali for a couple of months. Our future was ripe with possibility.

None of this is happening anymore. I mean, we are heading back to Canada as agreed, we just aren’t going to be doing the joint canine custody thing. My parents are both retired and want to use the next few years to do some more extensive traveling for themselves. Having recently survived the coldest winter in Toronto in the past 20 years and not being able to escape it for warmer climes due to these furry ball and chains, they are understandably a bit antsy for a bit more freedom.

So, when Tony & I return, we’ll be resuming full guardianship of Emmy & Rory. Which means any traveling we do henceforth will be as a party of four (or should that be a party of fur?).

Why I Haven’t Written About This Until Now

Rory

Before I proceed, I want to be clear about two things:

1)   I am truly grateful to my parents for their support and selflessness the past two years. They didn’t have to look after Emmy & Rory and give up two years of their own travels so that we could go in their place, but they did and I feel very lucky for this.

2)   I really love and miss our dogs. A lot.

But I can’t lie: the news that we were going home and wouldn’t be able to leave again for the foreseeable future was devastating to me. I haven’t wanted to go home since the day we left, and I still don’t want to now that we have to.

Emmy Lou

The logical part of me always knew this day was coming, that it was only a matter of time before that leash tying us to home was eventually tugged, beckoning us back. It’s actually been one of the things I’ve struggled with the most on this trip—how to enjoy what we have right now all the while knowing it wasn’t really in my power to keep it, that one day this adventure would end and, in all likelihood, it wouldn’t be because I chose for it to. There have been times when the feeling that I am not entirely free to live my life exactly as I want to, that I am helpless, has been truly crippling.

I always hoped that this time traveling and living life boldly without regrets would mean that when the day came for us to head home and hang up our packs, I would do so with a newly discovered grace and dignity. Instead, when my parents told me that they wanted us to come home more permanently this summer, I broke down weeping and proceed to cry for two days and refused to get out of bed.

If I haven’t written about our impending return in great detail and my feelings about it, it’s mostly because it’s been too raw and I have essentially been trying to work through the Kübler-Ross stages of grief. According to this model, people in mourning are meant to transition through five stages:

1) Denial
2) Anger
3) Bargaining
4) Depression
5) Acceptance

I think that for most of our trip I have been firmly lodged in Stage 1, knowing deep down that we would have to go home, but secretly hoping/believing that somehow we’d find a way around it or be ok with it when we had no other choices. So, this change of plans pretty much catapulted me straight to Stage 2, a place where I was firmly lodged for about four months. At times, I would skip over to Stage 3 in which I tried to plot and scheme a way around our return, the futility of which tended to lead to Stage 4, where I would cry and feel hopeless and like I was drowning. Very rarely I would see glimmers of Stage 5, when I managed to tell myself that everything would be ok, that this could actually be good, that this is the start of a new adventure and new opportunities for us.

Emmy Lou and Steph

I actually started to write this post a couple months ago, but at that point, I was still so consumed with anger and misery at the unwanted end of our trip that what I ended up with was brimming with an ugly hateful anger. I didn’t necessarily think it was invalid for me to share those kinds of feelings in this space, but I did recognize that one day—very soon, in fact—these posts will be the most tangible ties to the past two years that I have. And I really didn’t want an experience that has been so beautiful and wonderful to be tarnished by something so bleak and ugly. It’s true that this journey has not always been easy, that while traveling—just as in life—there are ups and downs and it is important to honor the lows as much as the highs. Still, I like to think that even the darkest stories we share here—whether they are about the sorrow of quitting a job, or struggling with depression, or even just a really bad haircut—always have a little bit of lightness and hope to balance them out. For a long time, I just couldn’t find those things when I thought about the end of our trip, and so I simply spewed vitriol and fury, hoping eventually my rage would burn itself out. It was important for me to get it out, but not necessarily on display in a public forum. I’m glad I’ve reached a place now where I feel like I can express these feelings in a healthy and constructive way.

They say that time heals all wounds and I have generally found that to be true. For months I despaired that I would never be ok about going home. I wouldn’t go so far to say that I woke up one morning and suddenly my broken heart was mended, but eventually I reached a point where I recognized that whether I met the moment gladly or not, we would be going home. With that in mind, I could either wallow and mope and rage about things I could not change, or I could accept that yes, this trip will end, sooner than I’d like, but the proverbial fat lady hasn’t sung just yet and we still have time right now. Did I really want my last memories of our beautiful trip to be filled with anger and despair? The truth is, even when it felt like so many of my choices were gone, I still had the choice of how I was going to face the end of our trip: with my head held high, or with shoulders hunched and the Charlie Brown Christmas music playing in the background.

So, What Happens Next?

Steph, Tony, and King Tuk

Three weeks on three wheels! Behold: King Tuk!

In the end, I have chosen to embrace the remaining days of freedom that are left to us. Taking a bit of wisdom out of the Oasis songbook, I decided that I didn’t want to look back (or forward) in anger. I can’t say that I’m anxious or eager to return to Toronto at the end of June, but I have made my peace with the fact that this is what will happen. I can’t stop that from happening, but we can still go out on a high note.

If there is a silver lining to the accelerated end of our journey, it is that it has reminded us that there is a whole lot of world that we still yearn to see and that we need to make every day count. This is why, since getting the news of our impending return, we have made a renewed commitment to exploring as many places as we can. We left Ho Chi Minh City, spent three weeks in Laos and then, following two great weeks in Thailand, we flew to Sri Lanka where we have been racing about at breakneck speeds. It is an exceedingly—sometimes impossibly—gorgeous country and a great reminder that even after nearly 2 years of exploring this part of the world, there are still places that astound and humble us with their exotic beauty, incredible food, and the new surprises and mysteries they offer. We have run ourselves ragged, covering nine different cities in just 24 days, all reached in the peppy little red tuk tuk (named “King Tuk”) that we have driven all over the island. Nine cities seems like a lot—it is a lot!—but the reality is that we have only scratched the surface of what this place has to offer. If we had months to linger and uncover more of its secrets, that would still just be a start, but unfortunately time is not on our side and instead we will have to add Sri Lanka to ever-increasing list of places we’d like to revisit some day.

Sri Lanka's rice paddies

Why the rush? Incredibly, we head home in just over five weeks. But before we do, we’re FINALLY heading to Europe. On Monday, we’ll travel for 13 hours and end our day in London, England where we’ll be reuniting with friends that we met during our travels in Thailand last summer. From there, we’ll do a whirlwind tour of western Europe that will take us through France, Italy, Spain and Portugal. On June 27, we’ll board our last flight for the foreseeable future in Lisbon and make our way back to Toronto.

That’s what’s happening in the immediate future. As for what comes next, it’s really too soon to say. One of the things I’ve had to embrace with our return home is that I honestly don’t know what life after this trip will hold for us. In part, we’ve just been so focused on enjoying what we have right now and planning for Europe that we just haven’t had a chance to look much further than that. But also, if we’ve learned anything on this trip, it seems to be that the best way we can guarantee that something WON’T happen is to go ahead and plan as though it will. We’ve both committed to figuring out what the next step for us will be once we’re back in Toronto, not beforehand.

For now, what we know for certain is that we really would like to continue trying to build upon the life that we’ve set in motion out here on the road. Traveling has taught us that neither of us wishes to return to the conventional 9-to-5, to buy a house, or to start a family… the dogs will be enough of an expansion! So we’ll spend some time living with my parents and looking after their house while they travel this fall, hopefully continuing to build our web & graphic design business as well as exploring other means of diversifying our income streams. The goal is to replenish our travel fund (Europe won’t be cheap!) and set ourselves up for true location independence. As for what we’ll do with that freedom? Well, it’s too early to say, but if you know us at all, you’ll know that we’ve already started dreaming and scheming for our next adventure.

Steph and Tony in Nepal

Will our next adventure involve more trekking?! No. It will not.

The one thing that won’t be ending, no matter all the changes on the horizon, is this site. We have so many stories and experiences that need to be shared; at last count, in addition to finishing up our adventures in Malaysia, we have FIVE other countries to write about (Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Nepal), not to mention our most recent adventures here in Sri Lanka! And of course, there will be all of the mischief and mayhem we encounter in Europe, and then whatever we happen to get up to once we’re back in North America. We’ve only just started the process of returning “home”, and I have always thought it’s an important and interesting part of the journey to share. In the past two years of constant change, one of the few permanents in our life has been this site. Though the adventures might change (or at least take place on a different stage), we are fully committed to continuing to document them with you here. Wherever life may take us, 20YH is here to stay.

With that said, things might be a little bit quiet around here for our last month on the road. As much as we have loved sharing our stories and look forward to continuing to do so, this site has required an immense amount of time and work. Considering the time required to break each story, write it, select and edit and upload the photos, and then format the post, with the crazy schedule we’ll be keeping in Europe, it’s not clear how we’d reasonably manage it all. I’ve said before that traveling and travel writing aren’t necessarily super compatible (at least not for me), and if something has to give, it will be the writing… for now. With this being our last month of travel for who knows how long, we want to luxuriate in it and feel we gave ourselves over completely to the adventure. Since leaving Vietnam, I think we’ve done a good job of fitting blogging and working around our travel schedule, but we’re giving ourselves these last weeks as a gift, one last chance to put travel first.

King Tuk, Sri Lanka

Once I accepted we were really going home, my biggest hope was that we’d be able to remain on the road long enough to celebrate our five-year wedding anniversary abroad. Alas, we’ll be heading home about one week short of that goal. Celebrating in my parents’ basement makes my soul wither just a little bit, so instead, I’m going to selfishly declare our next five weeks of travel, our last five weeks of travel, our premature and prolonged celebration instead: one week on the road (and one country) for each year of marriage. I like this far better than the traditional gift, which is, apparently, meant to be wood.

I won’t say for sure that nothing will pop up here between now and our return to Toronto (remember what I said earlier about the fickleness of plans?)—if the mood and time to blog strikes, we certainly won’t fight it. (Be sure to add us to your RSS feed and/or subscribe to receive our posts by email to make sure you don’t miss a single article!) We’ll likely be relying more heavily during this period on our Facebook and Instagram streams to give quick updates on our daily adventures; if you’re not already following us in either of those places, we’d strongly advise you do so if you’d like to keep up to speed with our journey. We promise you won’t be disappointed: it’s gonna be one heck of a ride!

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About Stephenie Harrison

In another life, I moved from Toronto, Canada to Nashville, TN to pursue my doctoral degree in Psychology. That chapter of my life is now finished, but I did earn the right to demand you call me Dr. Steph (though I respond just as well to plain old Steph). I am an avid reader whose book collection is rivaled only by my many pairs of cute shoes. I also like to knit, hold impromptu karaoke parties, and try new and unusual foods. Generally not all at the same time. I also really love to learn languages, which may explain why I took 3 years of Latin in highschool. I'm turning over a new leaf, so instead of looking forward, I'm going to work on enjoying the present, so the country I'm most looking forward to is whichever one we're in right now!

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77 Responses to “Why We’re Going Home, Why We Haven’t Written About It & What Comes Next”

  1. Christine Gilbert May 17, 2014 at 11:46 am # Reply

    I couldn’t even read this entire post, I had to jump down after “I’m angry!” and comment. Listen. We had dogs. They spent two years on a farm where we paid $200 a month while we traveled. Then we brought them down to Central America with us. But at the end of the day? THEY ARE DOGS. Do not under any situation feel like you have to put your life on hold because you have some dogs. I am sure you are attached to them. You love them. Re home those dogs. Or get an RV and travel south. It is okay. Your life as humans is actually more important than your dogs. They will be happy as long as they get fed and petted regularly. Seriously. They are not children. They are dogs. Go travel. Be free. Find a place for your pets, even if you have to pay a monthly rate for them to take them. It’s not worth putting your life on hold.

    • Stephenie Harrison May 19, 2014 at 2:11 am # Reply

      Thanks for taking the time to comment & share your own experiences, Christine. We actually did talk for a little bit about alternatives involving the dogs, including seeing if Tony’s folks would look after them since they’re out in the country (unfortunately, they were dubious about the prospect of taking in 2 dogs) and also permanent rehoming. I’m not saying we would NEVER consider finding the dogs new homes at some point in the future if we felt we had exhausted all other possibilities to balance a nomadic lifestyle with them, but we feel like we need to at least try the alternatives first. Obviously you were able to make it work with 2 dogs & 2 kids (!) so although we might not be in Asia or Europe as we would want, there are obviously options available to us. We have had two years to travel and be free, which is more than many people get/make for themselves. We’re not giving up our dreams of location independence or travel for hte dogs, but we are seeing if we can find a happy balance that includes them. I’ll have to look into whether some kind of monthly housing is available for them, though honestly, if we were going to go that route, it would probably make more sense to just find them new owners. We’re not ready to take that step and think there are options we can explore first, so I guess we’ll just have to see what happens!

  2. Kendra Granniss May 17, 2014 at 11:51 am # Reply

    Thank you for sharing this post! I would be lying if I said this post did not fill me with anxiety. I haven’t even left on my adventure yet, but I often think about the day I’ll have to come home and it makes me so nervous. At least you will have too adoring and slobbery puppy faces to come home to! You guys have had such a wonderful adventure and the transition to having a more permanent residence will just be a continuation of that journey! Good luck!

    • Stephenie Harrison May 19, 2014 at 2:19 am # Reply

      I hope that one thing that came through in this post is that if this journey has taught me anything (and truly, it has taught me so many things) it is that the more you can “live in the moment” the happier you will be. I spent a lot of time on this trip worrying about things that never came to pass and fretting about how our trip would end, when really I should have just leaned in and enjoyed the time we did have. I was so busy worrying about our trip ending, I wasn’t always able to fully appreciate it while it was happening! Talk about silly! I really hate that sappy line “Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened,” but it’s kind of the best philosophy to take on a trip like this.

  3. Katie May 17, 2014 at 12:17 pm # Reply

    I was only away for four months this past winter, but it has been my dream to travel longer term. That was just a taste. I have a husband and FOUR furry friends which means there will be no multi year adventure abroad. I tried to convince myself that coming home would be a new adventure (my family moved while I was in India, so I was coming home to a completely different life) but in reality I was not remotely prepared for the soul crushing depression. I’ve been back in Canada for two months today and it’s been a real struggle. I’m just coming out of it now. I hope you have an easier time than I did! I still dream of India every day and I hope I’ll be able to travel again this winter. You just never know what life has in store!
    Katie recently posted..Restart

    • Stephenie Harrison May 19, 2014 at 2:23 am # Reply

      Wow, Katie, thank you so much for sharing your own experiences here. I’ve dealt with reverse culture shock in the past (Tony hasn’t, though, so this is sure to be the exact opposite of fun…) and know how frustrating and isolating it can be. We’ve been warned by other long-term travelers how hard merging back into “home” can be, so all I can hope that by going in optimistic but realistic about the challenges that they will be somewhat lessened. Also, we’re hoping that this time back in Toronto will just be temporary—six months max—before we can figure out a new way to travel with dogs in tow; that dream/goal will hopefully pull us through some of the tougher times. Thank you again for sharing your own experiences and I hope that each day gets a little bit easier for you! Remember: even when you’re not traveling, you’re still on a journey…

  4. Emily May 17, 2014 at 4:33 pm # Reply

    Ugh – I am so not looking forward to the return home. We aren’t working as we go, so there is definitely an end to our journey, and I am definitely in the denial stage – not wanting to recognize this reality. Sigh.

    But I am glad to hear that you have accepted things and so don’t feel as terrible about it (And honestly, Toronto is a good place to return to!). I am glad you guys will take the time to treat yourselves by taking a break while you waltz through Europe. Congratulations and good luck you two!
    Emily recently posted..Paris Je T’aime

    • Stephenie Harrison May 19, 2014 at 2:27 am # Reply

      We weren’t intending to work at all on our trip either and, in fact, didn’t work for the first year we were traveling. But once we realized that we weren’t ever going to want to go home and transition back into our old lives (or some version thereof), we realized we needed to start making plans for ways to keep us going. In a way, although adding in that work certainly changed the way we traveled in our second year abroad, I think it will be the thing that keeps us sane when we head home because it gives us hope that if we keep at it, we’ll be able to pack up our bags and leave again! :)

  5. Jessica Hill May 17, 2014 at 7:58 pm # Reply

    I feel your heart strings pulling. Even when Christine says “they’re just DOGS,” I can totally understand what you’re going through. I left my dog behind while I traveled for nearly two years, and it broke my heart every time I thought of him, which was often. I tried telling myself that he’s just a dog, that it doesn’t matter. But he does matter. He’s like my child. And as much as I want to travel again for a long period of time, I tell myself I’ll just take him with me and I know that’s unlikely. When I think about giving him up, my heart breaks even more. It’s not easy, but I have faith you two will figure it out. Maybe a short break with the dogs will be nice, and then something else will work itself out. You could always host couch surfers (shoot – Toronto is on my list!), and get a taste of travel that way! When I feel like I’ve lost my way, I always try to remind myself that everything happens for a reason. Whatever that may be…

    Enjoy Sri Lanka for now, and good luck on the return. I hope it’s not too difficult.
    Jessica Hill recently posted..Visit Colorado: I’m a Whitewater Raft Guide!

    • Stephenie Harrison May 19, 2014 at 2:32 am # Reply

      Jessica, thank you for so clearly expressing how we feel about our own dogs—especially because we don’t have human kids, our dogs are our babies. We always said we would never be the people who got rid of them because they were “inconvenient”, like people who move into condos that don’t allow pets and so rehome their furry companions. I guess I feel like when you agree to have a pet, you are agreeing to the responsibilities that go along with it and even if it means making some sacrifices, we’re willing to find a way to do right by our dogs. I think it’s also especially difficult because our big dog, Emmy, was a rescue in the first place and so suffers from abandonment issues. I know she’s adapted to having my parents be her support system, but I would feel terrible giving her away…

      I agree that things do seem to happen for a reason. I tell myself that there must be some really great opportunity waiting for us in Toronto/North America that we just don’t know exists right now… but I really believe that it will find us once we get back (and if it doesn’t, we’ll find it!).

  6. Amy May 18, 2014 at 1:13 am # Reply

    I’m glad that you’ve been able to put your anger and disappointment aside to really enjoy these last few weeks of your trip but I can totally understand why you felt so upset; I would feel the same if our return to England in June was semi-permanent. You guys have made a great start on your business and I’m sure you’ll find a way to get back out on the road and realise your location-independent dreams in the near future. Enjoy your time in Europe – especially London!
    Amy recently posted..After the Storm: Volunteering in the Philippines

    • Stephenie Harrison May 19, 2014 at 2:36 am # Reply

      I’m glad I’ve been able to push through the bad feelings, too. I’d hate to cast a pall across our last few weeks on the road. And honestly, I know that the human spirit is resilient, so even though a few months ago I was really cranky about having to leave Asia and not looking forward to Europe much at all, now that we are (quite literally) hours away from a new continent, I’m so excited for the new adventures & memories (but not prices…) it will bring. I’m confident that if we want to build our business to the point where we can get out and travel again, we’ll be be able to do so… I mean, we traveled the world for nearly 2 years just because we had the desire to do so. If we can do that, I have to think we can make anything happen!

  7. Gillian May 18, 2014 at 2:07 am # Reply

    Enjoy the next few weeks guys. I know how hard it is to be going home before you’re ready (even for the best of reasons) but try to make peace with it – do as you say and spend your time building for your future! Good luck!
    Gillian recently posted..Cycle Tour Europe: Let’s Get Started!

    • Stephenie Harrison May 19, 2014 at 2:38 am # Reply

      Thanks for the words of support, Gillian! We know you’ve done this all before, so none of this is new to you. It’s been so inspiring watch you build towards a semi-nomadic lifestyle so if we can follow in your (giant) footsteps again, we’ll be very happy!

  8. Carmel May 18, 2014 at 3:28 am # Reply

    I know you’ve been struggling with acceptance of this for awhile, but who knows what opportunities and adventures await? You’re lucky to have done this so young. Not that 34 and 40 are so old, but certain decisions (ahem, family) get accelerated with that 4 year difference. Anyway, I hope that your travels and lessons from the road will help you navigate and build your new life. It’ll be nothing short of spectacular, I’m sure.

    I was just commenting to my aunt yesterday that I don’t know if I can ever go back to a week long vacation! We spent 3.5 weeks in Malaysia and I feel like we barely did anything!
    Carmel recently posted..ENJOY THE RIDE

    • Stephenie Harrison May 19, 2014 at 2:43 am # Reply

      You know, I’m glad we went on this trip when we did and didn’t keep putting it off, but I really wish I had done something big like this when I was even younger. I wonder in what ways it might have changed the course and scope of my life… Still, better now than never, and there’s nothing like a trip like this to help you crystallize your priorities.

      And word on the week-long vacays. I was saying to Tony that we really shouldn’t be grumbling about “only” having 5 weeks in Europe. For one, we couldn’t afford to stay much longer, but also, that’s about three-weeks more than plenty of people ever get in one go. We are so spoiled now!

  9. Franca May 18, 2014 at 3:36 am # Reply

    I know that returning home might seems not a very nice perspective, but as you said the future isn’t set yet and I’m pretty sure that you (all four together) will find the best way to keep traveling and make it work. I had some similar feelings when we had to go back to Italy last year for different reasons, and even if my hometown isn’t where we were living before starting this trip and isn’t where I call home, I felt like we were making a step back by returning to Europe and leaving our Asian trip unfinished. But new trips and opportunities to see our own continent came out and after a short break we got back on the road. I know ours was a very different situation from yours, but I’m positive you’ll find the way to make it work ;)
    Franca recently posted..Planning? We’ve Never Been Happier To ‘Unplan’ Our Travels

    • Stephenie Harrison May 19, 2014 at 2:46 am # Reply

      Franca, thanks for weighing in, since I know you guys were thrown for a loop when you had to return home last year (and for far more stressful reasons). In some ways our situations are similar, though, since Toronto is the place I technically call home, even though the truth is that I haven’t actually lived there since the summer of 2005… nearly 10 years! It’s probably the place that least feels like home at this point, so our return will certainly be interesting. I have resolved to approach it with as open a mind as possible, and really to try to see it as just another stop on our trip. The reality is, I don’t know the city very well at this point, so we should use this opportunity to explore it and blog about! After all, plenty of people head to Toronto on vacation… Perhaps you & Dale should plan to do so in the coming months?!? ;)

  10. Casey @ A Cruising Couple May 18, 2014 at 5:15 am # Reply

    Thanks for sharing this post. I can’t even imagine how difficult it must be to balance your love for travel with your love for your furry friends. Enjoy these last few weeks of travel though, and try not to think of it as coming to an end but just a new chapter! Just because you’re going home for now doesn’t mean you’re going home forever. Also, I saw Christine’s comment below, and I thought it would be relevant to mention that we met the most awesome couple traveling from Canada through Mexico and Central America with a large dog. They said it was surprisingly easy, and they actually had less trouble with crossing borders with the dog in tow! Maybe after you’re done housesitting for your family that would be a good way to travel without leaving your pets behind- and I know you have been wanting to get to Mexico :) But I’m sure everything will work out as it should. You guys are amazing and inspiring and I know you’ll make your dreams happen, whatever that looks like!
    Casey @ A Cruising Couple recently posted..Hiking Pulpit Rock—An Unforgettable Journey to one of Norway’s Best Views

    • Stephenie Harrison May 19, 2014 at 2:49 am # Reply

      If only loving dogs didn’t make travel so difficult! But as you point out, it’s NOT impossible, just trickier. We’ve already started to scheme potential “south of the border” adventures that involve the dogs, so we’re certainly not counting ourselves out of the long-term travel race for good. Whatever way we figure out to travel with the dogs will certainly be different and not without its own set of complications, but we’re confident that if we really want to make it work, we will!

  11. Julia May 18, 2014 at 6:30 am # Reply

    Again, it’s like I could’ve written this post myself! After two years, the good nature of Scott’s parents ran out after having looked after our pooch that whole time. Although we felt as though we weren’t really ready to stop, we really wanted our dog back and to have a bit of a domestic life again. As someone who had to re-home her dogs before we set off travelling (our current dog was originally Scott’s), I can honestly say that I could never have done that again. I love travel and every moment it’s given me, but I’ll never fully forgive myself for having to give my doggies up. It’s bad, but it’s true. I just learned to be thankful for what I’ve had and look forward to the future and I know whatever future you carve up for yourselves as a four piece family will still be an exciting adventure.

    • Stephenie Harrison May 19, 2014 at 2:52 am # Reply

      Thanks for sharing your own story, Julia. It’s nice to hear that we aren’t alone in facing these kinds of challenges and that there are other dog-loving/owning travelers out there who understand our tricky situation. I know from following your own journey that things have wound up working out in a way that you’re incredibly happy with, so I hope that this is something we’ll be able to work towards as well.

  12. Lauren May 18, 2014 at 5:45 pm # Reply

    I can totally understand having to return home and care for your doggies! They’re quite cute, btw! I know that your days of travel and adventure won’t come to an end! In our case, we have an adorable little kitty and we’re thinking of the options we’ll have to take when we travel – who he can stay with, if we’ll have to get him a spot at a cat hotel ;) Our travel styles are a bit different in that we travel on road trips within driving distance of the Toronto area as much as we can, taking one larger trip a year overseas…we both don’t have conventional 9-5 jobs but we do have jobs here that help us save for our travel. I like having an apartment instead of a house because it does save us money, and we don’t have to worry about a house when we’re away! I’m sure you can evaluate the situation more clearly once you arrive back home. There will be plenty to explore and you could bring the dogs with you! (If you’re ever interested in getting together with a couple who love to travel when you’re back, we live in Mississauga and it would be great to meet you!)
    Lauren recently posted..Happy Rolph’s Bird Sanctuary and 9/11 Memorial Walkway

    • Stephenie Harrison May 19, 2014 at 2:56 am # Reply

      We would never split up our dogs, but if we only had one, that would certainly make things easier (and less expensive!) to tackle traveling with (or even without) them. And cats, though they still require love and care, are a lot easier than dogs since they don’t need to be walked multiple times a day and are fairly good at being independent/self-sufficient. If we had known years ago that we would wind up wanting this kind of lifestyle, we probably would have acknowledged that having pets doesn’t really make the most sense, but we have these two dogs and we love them, so we will make it work!

      For the time being while we’re based in Toronto, I think we’ll have to start exploring easy road trips that we can tackle with the dogs alongside us. In truth, I’ve explored way more of Asia than I have my own country, so I know there are still plenty of adventures to be had!

      And yes, once we’re back in Toronto, we should definitely hang out at some point! Hopefully we’ll be able to meet up with many other travelers just as we did while out on the road—always happy to make new friends! :D

  13. Cassie May 18, 2014 at 6:05 pm # Reply

    Hi Steph, I think I’ve told you before that our pets are the #1 reason why we have no interest in ever traveling long-term. They ARE our family and I miss them when we are gone. Personally, the time spent with them is just as important to me as travel.

    That said, you can still travel long-term by getting housesitters! We use and like TrustedHousesitters to arrange these trades. Obviously you have to pay rent during that time (so basing yourself somewhere cheaper than Toronto may be good long-term!) but we’ve had great luck with that when we are going somewhere for longer than week — any shorter and it’s too much work to clean the house and move out for them. I actually just sent this link to a woman who contacted me for a reference for our lovely, former housesitters mentioned here: http://www.everintransit.com/what-to-do-with-pets-when-you-travel/

    And if your dogs are good in the car, you can definitey do long-term road-tripping with them! Come to NorCal, we have a place for all four of you guys to stay :)
    Cassie recently posted..Strawberries, Shibas, Fuji-San, and the Nicest Highway Rest Stop in The World

    • Stephenie Harrison May 19, 2014 at 3:03 am # Reply

      Probably the hardest thing about taking this trip was acknowledging that the time we spent away from the dogs was time we would never get back. That hasn’t been a happy fact to deal with, but we knew we needed to do this for ourselves and we’re glad we did. That said, even if we’re not super excited about returning home, we are legitimately excited to cuddle with these guys again!

      I’m not sure if we’re hoping to ever base ourselves long-term somewhere so that having housesitters would be an option, mostly because we can’t think of anywhere in North America that we like enough to plant roots. I did float the idea of getting housesitters to my parents, but even if that would work for longer trips, it wouldn’t work for when they just want to get away for a quick weekend or stay overnight at friends’ houses.

      We definitely want to explore traveling with the dogs, but for us that will mean roadtrips as we aren’t comfortable flying with them (we don’t want them put in the cargo hold), so overlanding it will probably be our new focus. And we have many friends based in California and on the west coast, so I think it is only a matter of time before we make it there! Whenever that happens, I’ll be sure to get in touch!

  14. Kellie May 18, 2014 at 7:57 pm # Reply

    One of the reasons Rob and I didn’t get a dog is because we didn’t know how we could ever leave it and that would all depend on us having someone to leave it with, which we didn’t. I totally get that as much as you’re looking forward to seeing them, ending your journey must be really difficult.

    Whilst housesitting in Mexico our housesitter neighbours had travelled from the US with their 3 dogs so that could be an option. On the other hand Emmy and Rory look adorable so if you ever need 2 dog loving housesitters you know where to find us…
    Kellie recently posted..Live the Life You Love

    • Stephenie Harrison May 19, 2014 at 3:10 am # Reply

      They are adorable and love all people! My parents have admitted (in writing, no less, so it’s binding!) that they will cry whenever the day comes that we take the dogs away, and my grandma & aunt & uncle who have looked after them from time to time have said the same. If we do ever wind up with a semi-permanent base and are just dying for some time away, don’t think I won’t take you up on you offer! ;)

      We’re definitely bouncing around ideas of budget-friendly places that we can roadtrip with the dogs, and Mexico is certainly at the top of our list. We probably wouldn’t be able to see the country exactly as we would if we were by ourselves, but it’s certainly better than not going at all.

  15. Jessica May 18, 2014 at 9:43 pm # Reply

    This sounds like such a difficult situation for you guys. But traveling has taught me (and I’m sure you too) that there are a million different ways to create the lifestyle you want. Even if taking care of your dogs and continuing to travel seem mutually exclusive now, I’m sure there’s a creative solution in there somewhere.
    Jessica recently posted..Month 1 As Digital Nomads: How It’s Going

    • Stephenie Harrison May 19, 2014 at 3:13 am # Reply

      You’re so right, Jess. Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and there’s no reason why the dogs have to put an end to our travels permanently if we don’t want them to. It might require some creativity and flexibility (and a lot of hard work!) on our parts, but I think we’re up to the task!

  16. Tara @ Two Travelaholics May 19, 2014 at 8:49 pm # Reply

    Those ears! Your dogs are adorable. I’m sad to hear that your grand adventure is ending, but it sounds like another one isn’t too far away. We felt the same as you guys when we were returning home, and it isn’t easy. The good news is that you have each other, and you’ll need each other once you get nostalgic and itchy feet and no one else understands. I wish you guys the best, and hope you have a great ending to *this* adventure :) Safe travels in Europe!
    Tara @ Two Travelaholics recently posted..Positive Personal Changes After a Year+ of Travel, Part 2

    • Stephenie Harrison May 24, 2014 at 2:57 am # Reply

      Yes, thank goodness we didn’t embark on this adventure alone! Landing in London, I’ve already experienced a bit of culture shock because it is SO different here than anywhere we’ve been in the past 2 years, so it’s been great to have Tony by my side who understands when I just need some time to sit on a bench and take a time out. I have no doubt that once we arrive in Toronto and our adventure is well and truly over, it will be even more difficult (after all, we actually WANT to be in London!) and I know no one else will get it. Thanks for sharing your own perspective and I hope life back home in the U.S. just keeps getting better for you guys!

  17. Katie May 19, 2014 at 9:21 pm # Reply

    Ah, I can totally relate to this post. I’m not a dog person, but I had 2 cats before I left on my RTW. About 6 months before I planned to leave, one cat got sick and I ended up putting him down. I found friends to take the second cat, but several months into my trip, they emailed me to let me know he had also gotten sick and they put him down. I was devastated. I wrote about it on my site and while most people were quite supportive, I also got some nasty comments telling me I was a horrible person for giving up my cats and that I should never have pets again.

    I’ve been back almost 2 years now and 6 months ago I got two kittens (clearly disregarding that suggestion that I never have pets again!). As much as I absolutely adore them, I remember getting them and thinking, “ok, this means I won’t be doing another long-term trip anytime soon.” 95% of the time I’m totally fine with that but every now and then I wonder “what if.” But, I can still take shorter trips and I’ve decided that’s enough for me.

    Good luck and I hope you find the right balance for you between the dogs and travel.
    Katie recently posted..Maybe Backpacks Aren’t So Bad After All

    • Stephenie Harrison May 24, 2014 at 3:07 am # Reply

      You can’t please everyone, that’s for sure… especially on the internet! I suppose that one thing we need to remember is that in life there are always sacrifices—we made them to go travel, and now we’re making them to be with our dogs again. If we had known 10 years ago that we would be going on this trip and that our life would go in this direction, we probably would not have brought pets into our home, but… we didn’t and we do love them so we are committed to making this work. As you say, it’s all about finding a balance, and I’m confident we’ll be able to find that. Thanks for sharing your own story and for your words of support! It’s very helpful to hear from other animal lovers who know where we are coming from.

  18. Tim | UrbanDuniya May 19, 2014 at 10:50 pm # Reply

    That is a fantastic reason to return home, and a surprise too – but lovely to read about that!! And I totally understand that you are putting travel first – sometimes you simply have to. Safe travels in Sri Lanka, and when you get around to typing about it, I can’t wait to read about it :)
    Tim | UrbanDuniya recently posted..Experiments with Gelato at The Lab in Melbourne

    • Stephenie Harrison May 24, 2014 at 3:13 am # Reply

      Thanks for your kind words, Tim, and thank you for understanding why things will be a bit quiet around here for the next few weeks. We have not had ANY down time since landing in London, so I think we made the right choice. To be honest, we have done so much stuff, it’s going to be difficult to figure out how to write about it since my head is just brimming with sights, sounds, and culture shock. It’s fantastic, though, and I can’t wait to share our adventures here—and in Sri Lanka—once we are back home!

  19. Corinne May 20, 2014 at 5:24 am # Reply

    Steph, I’m sure you two will 1) Have fun wherever you go or stay and 2) Prosper, add to your coffers, and be on the road again in no time flat! Good luck. Enjoy your pooches!
    Corinne recently posted..Qatar’s One and Only World Heritage Site – Al Zubarah

    • Stephenie Harrison May 24, 2014 at 3:20 am # Reply

      I like your optimism, Corinne, and I hope you are correct! Not sure what our next adventure will bring us, but I suppose that’s part of the fun! The important thing is continuing to work towards the life we want, and I really believe we can have that, even with two pups in tow!

  20. Katie May 20, 2014 at 11:15 am # Reply

    It’s been my dream to travel long term. At first, I thought, there is no way I can just sell everything, give up my comfy lifestyle and travel indefinitely. Once I realized that is entirely possible, and began to see how much importance I had put on those silly material possessions, what it came down to was our dog. She is truly a part of our family, and while I’m confident one of our family members would take her in (they’re our current dog sitters and love her to pieces), I just can’t give her up. So, it’s vacations for us for now. Like you said, it’s not that I wouldn’t ever consider it, I just love her and I’m not OK leaving her behind. Btw – I also loved that bit you said about a woman’s womb being her business, I couldn’t agree more!! :)
    Katie recently posted..Lessons Learned in Thailand

    • Stephenie Harrison May 24, 2014 at 3:23 am # Reply

      It was such a hard decision to leave the dogs to travel when we left at first and I think our time away has given us a different perspective than we had before, but we’ve always been of the opinion that bringing a pet into your home is of the same significance as having a kid, so although we were glad that my parents agreed to look after them for a while, now that they no longer will, it’s up to us to step up and make sure the dogs are cared for. They aren’t disposable and their well-being has always been critical to us, so we’ll do what we must to make sure the four of us are happy. I know we can do it!

  21. Beau May 21, 2014 at 3:52 am # Reply

    When I finished reading this post I immediately googled a quote I remember hearing years ago:

    “A man’s soul can be judged by the way he treats his dog.”

    Even though you have been on an amazing adventure you are prepared to give it up for your loyal companions. You must be a truly compassionate and genuine couple!

    • Stephenie Harrison May 24, 2014 at 3:25 am # Reply

      Thanks for the kind words, Beau, and for sharing that quote! We’ve had a good run of it on this adventure, so I suppose we can’t complain too much about going home. We’re legitimately excited to see our dogs, and I know we’ll be able to find a way to include them as well as new travels in our life once we’re home… still figuring out the details, but where there’s a will, there’s a way. We know what our priorities are, and our dogs certainly top that list!

  22. NZ Muse May 21, 2014 at 5:45 am # Reply

    I surmise that while you eschew most of the conventional trappings, your pets really are a top priority for you above all (most) else. I don’t have pets (damn near impossible here when you rent) but I imagine it must have been tough to leave, and also just as difficult to have to give up some travel plans in order to be with your (adorable) dogs again.
    NZ Muse recently posted..A Kiwi abroad: 5 things that feel alien

    • Stephenie Harrison May 24, 2014 at 3:27 am # Reply

      It was really tough to leave them, but we so desperately needed this trip we were willing to make the sacrifice to do so; it weighs heavy on us knowing that the two years we have been away are two years we’ll never get back with them, but we know that they have been living high on the hog with my parents so that makes it easier. It is SO HARD to go home, mostly because we don’t want to stop traveling… so, I guess we’ll just have to figure out a way to bring the dogs along!

  23. Rhonda May 21, 2014 at 2:51 pm # Reply

    Awwwww Steph, this hit close to home! As you know, we are taking our two dogs with us when we leave next year to drive the PanAm highway. The main reasons to drive were to have our own bed and the ability to cook, but also to be able to bring them along. Granted, we did have 14months previously, traveling all over the world before we got them, and dozens of shorter trips, but we realized they are our family and we want them with us. Yes, Christine is right, they are dogs, but they are OUR dogs and since we aren’t having kids they are our family. I say try to figure out if it can work and if you find it can’t then do them the kindness of finding them a new home where they don’t have to be concerned about you leaving them. Sorry for the somewhat forced return home but never fear- your adventures are not over!

    • Stephenie Harrison May 24, 2014 at 3:33 am # Reply

      Thanks for the words of support, Rhonda! I think it’s so fantastic that you guys are heading off on a grand adventure and bringing your dogs along—for us childless couples, dogs really are like kids! We’d love to do something similar, but it will take time, money & planning to prepare for something of that scope… hopefully once we return home we can set the ball in motion to do something similar… we’ll keep you posted!

  24. Karyn @ Not Done Travelling May 23, 2014 at 4:52 am # Reply

    I’d wondered why you hadn’t written anything about Sri Lanka yet! It’s perfectly understandable. And I think it’s a great idea to just enjoy the last 5 weeks as your 5th anniversary present to each other. Don’t worry too much about the blog in that time; we’ll still be here when you come to post again. :)

    Are you allowed to take the dogs into the USA, etc? Because if so, you could permanently road trip around with them. I’m sure Canada and the US combined have enough to keep you occupied for years. Heck, even Canada alone would.
    Karyn @ Not Done Travelling recently posted..Chickening Out At Ta Keo

    • Stephenie Harrison May 24, 2014 at 3:35 am # Reply

      We can take the dogs across land borders in North America without too much hassle, so we certainly intend to do some traveling with the pooches. Only problem is that it’s quite costly to travel in Canada & the U.S., though I’m sure if we’re creative we can keep costs down! Where there’s a will, there’s a way, so I’m confident we’ll figure something out!

  25. Ali May 24, 2014 at 8:53 am # Reply

    Ok it all makes sense now. You have to do what’s right for you, and if that means going back home and taking care of your dogs, that’s what you have to do right now. Certainly people travel with their dogs, difficult as that might be (Akila & her husband from The Road Forks, and they have a site called The Road Unleashed about traveling with dogs, and my friend Gigi from gigigriffis.com who travels with her dog) but if it’s not what you want to do right now, you’ll figure out the next step. And just because you’re going back home doesn’t mean you have to fall back into a traditional 9-5 job and all that. You guys are doing good with your business, and being home with out all the wonderful travel distractions might give you more time to focus on the business, plus more motivation to figure out where your lives go next. And as stressed and disappointed as you are about having to go home, seeing those cute dogs will help a ton!
    Ali recently posted..Packing Made Simple: A Simple Guide to Packing Light e-book

    • Stephenie Harrison June 10, 2014 at 2:51 am # Reply

      Thanks for the potential resources & the vote of support, Ali! We do think that there will be some travel with the dogs in our future, and though it will probably not be on the same scale as what we have done the past two years, that doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. You’re right that when we’re back home, that will give us a great opportunity to really take our business to the next level and kick off a new chapter… all with our pups by our side! It won’t be easy, but I believe it will be worth it.

  26. Lindsay @ Where Is Your Toothbrush? May 25, 2014 at 11:24 pm # Reply

    Once I saw that first photo, I totally got it! You have to do what feels right, and it sounds like the right thing is to return home and reunite with your best friends. I’m a little sad that our trip is ending in a few weeks, but I look forward to seeing familiar faces again. Travel will always be there, always be a part of your life. I’m excited to hear about your continuing adventures.
    Lindsay @ Where Is Your Toothbrush? recently posted..Three day hikes from Bariloche, Argentina

    • Stephenie Harrison June 10, 2014 at 2:56 am # Reply

      For us, right now, heading home to reunite with our dogs is definitely the right choice, even if it hasn’t been easy to see that all the time. There really haven’t been many/any moments while we’ve been out here on the road when we’ve longed for the end of this trip or wished we were back home, so that has been hard to deal with, but we’ve reached a place of acceptance now. This is what we have to do, and I think if we approach it with an open-mind and a positive outlook, we can make this next step a positive one as well. When we first left, our pipe dream was getting to travel for 2 whole years… we’ll fall just short of that by about 1 month, but really, when you look at all we’ve done and experienced, it’s hard to complain, isn’t it?

  27. jimmy dau May 26, 2014 at 5:04 am # Reply

    It’s not the end of the world. In fact I think it’ll still be a positive to have some home time, find some familiarity and then see where the future takes you. One thing that travelling has taught me is that it doesn’t matter whether you are abroad or at home, as long as you are doing something that is of interest of you and not what others expect.

    Plus I don’t know much about Toronto so you’d better write lots about the place. I may drop by one day…

    • Stephenie Harrison June 10, 2014 at 3:02 am # Reply

      You’re right that we’ll need to write about Toronto & approach the city like just another destination on our adventure. The truth is that I haven’t actually lived there for nearly a decade, so there will be plenty for me to discover and explore. I think the only thing that can really ruin our time there is if we approach it with a bad attitude, so I’m going to do my best to consider this a surprise gift… I don’t yet know why our time there will be so good for us, but I know it will be!

  28. Calli May 26, 2014 at 3:26 pm # Reply

    Great post Steph. Although we weren’t gone as long as you and Tony I completely understand what you’re going through re: returning home when you aren’t ready. I was really shocked at the amount of anger I felt around the prospect of returning home – and sometimes still feel. For me, the only thing that made coming home better was time. Often I still wish we were far away, backpacking and having new adventures, but right now we need to be here and I’m slowly accepting that. It doesn’t help when so much time is spent on online reading other traveler’s stories.

    Have a wonderful time in Europe and safe return. I’m sure your pups will be delighted to see you! There’s something about the love of a dog (or two) that seems to make everything ok :)
    Calli recently posted..The Cost of Stupidity – bragging rights over the greater good

    • Stephenie Harrison June 10, 2014 at 4:03 am # Reply

      I am happy to report that with time, my anger does seem to have burnt itself out and I am firmly lodged in the cradle of acceptance at this point. I know it’s still going to be a shock to the system and an adjustment to be home, but I’m at least happy at this point that I no longer dread/resent this impending change with every fiber of my being as I did when we first got the news. I think that since we’re now in Europe and have been traveling so quickly, we actually are looking forward to hunkering down somewhere for a couple of months where we can replenish our savings, live rent free, and cuddle with our dogs! It’s maybe not the path we would have chosen for ourselves if completely free, but as far as alternatives go, I know things could certainly be worse.

  29. Mig May 27, 2014 at 12:10 pm # Reply

    Congrats on your amazing journey! I can totally related to how you feel about transitioning through the stages of grief. I hit it on a short stint home when visiting family for the holidays and arranging a visa. Transitioning back and dealing with reverse culture shock will be an adjustment and wish you well through this period. You have accomplished what many people fantasize about doing. I too find it challenging to travel and update the blog often. It can take away from living in the moment. Happy travels!

    • Stephenie Harrison June 10, 2014 at 4:07 am # Reply

      In a strange way, I think we have already been dealing with culture shock since landing in Europe after 2 years in Asia was certainly a blow to the senses and left us reeling a bit (especially from the prices!). I remember remarking to Tony on our first day in London that the only thing keeping me going was the adrenaline from knowing we were still traveling… I think if we had touched down in Toronto and known that on top of all the reverse culture shock that our travels were also at an end it might have been too much to handle. I know that day is coming soon, but I like to think that we’ll be a little more prepared for it after our 5-week stint here in Europe! Happy to hear from another traveler who has made the return home (even if just for a short period of time) and lived to travel another day! :)

  30. Rachel of Hippie in Heels May 30, 2014 at 12:51 pm # Reply

    party of fur- LOL . I really miss my dog when I travel, and my OTHER dog we got in India when I’m not at my home in Goa. It’s heartbreaking. I can completely understand your situation. One thing to consider, if you want to move from Toronto and chance your home base- if you stay somewhere like India, we can leave our dog home, have someone stay with him 24/7 (we even have them sleep together lol , our spoiled puppy) for 100 bucks a month… although we pay more because it’s a friend of ours. We feel less guilt because our pup huckleberry finn is happy while we are gone. Its hard in the western world where you can’t find a dog sitter. PLus they say, if you leave 3 days or 10 days, the dog doesn’t know the difference! But even now, I have 2 weeks until i’m back in Goa with huck and i miss him to death. I hope you guys have a great anniversary and keep on writing when you have time in Europe! I love your blog.
    Rachel of Hippie in Heels recently posted..The Expert Shares: 7 Differences Between Eastern and Western Yoga

    • Stephenie Harrison June 10, 2014 at 3:12 pm # Reply

      Thanks for sharing your own stories of puppy love & travel, Rachel! It’s always nice to hear from other travelers who have furry friends who manage to still globe trot and see the world. If we felt comfortable putting the dogs on airplanes, we would certainly consider a massive relocate across the ocean, but they are both getting up in years and we HATE the idea of them being placed in the cargo area of a plane; can only imagine how traumatic/stressful/dangerous that would be, so we’ve decided that although we do want to travel we will need to limit ourselves to places we can reach by land. Thankfully, that leaves all of North America and Central America at our disposal… ;)

  31. Suzanne Fluhr May 31, 2014 at 2:22 pm # Reply

    We just returned home from four and a half months away (a month of travel in SE Asia and 3 months in Hawaii). Our dog, Dino, went to live with my sisters-in-law and their dog in Cambridge, MA. We missed him and I learned to pantomime “May I pet your dog” in more than one language (turns out it’s pretty much the same as it is in English). My sister-in-law sent me frequent photos and videos of him and it certainly looked like he was well adjusted and enjoying his new pack. On our way home to Philadelphia, we stopped in Cambridge to pick up Dino. We stayed for four days and I saw with my own eyes that he had seamlessly integrated himself into the new pack and was very well cared for and loved. In fact, I felt kind of guilty that we took him home with us because I think his life with another dog and in a house rather than an apartment was probably more interesting. The truth is that well adjusted dogs are pretty good at loving the one they’re with and they are also much better than we are than living in the moment. I suspect that my sisters-in-law would have been happy to keep Dino and he would have been happy to stay there. Right after we returned home, our old neighbors’ dog, Annabelle, was dropped off for a long weekend with us. She hadn’t seen us for over 6 months, but immediately settled into life with us. Bottom line: If you want to, you can probably find a good new home for the dogs and the dogs would be just fine. Probably, the bigger question is whether you would be “just fine” giving them up. (PS: As you probably know, there are quite a few blogs about traveling with dogs. I’m sure you can find some good guidance on line—-and you can always re-read, Steinbeck’s “Travels with Charley”.
    Suzanne Fluhr recently posted..TSA PreCheck — Yes, Please

    • Suzanne Fluhr May 31, 2014 at 2:28 pm # Reply

      The second most popular post on my travel blog is about how to travel without your dog. Clearly, this is a subject that strikes a chord.
      Suzanne Fluhr recently posted..How to Travel Without Your Dog

      • Stephenie Harrison June 10, 2014 at 3:40 pm # Reply

        Thank you for sharing your experiences, Suzanne. My parents have assured us a million times that the dogs are so happy right now and that they really believe that with a good home, they would be happy anywhere. Of course, it hurts to think that we are so easily replaced, but more than anything, I’m glad knowing that our dogs have adjusted and rebounded to life without us. Hopefully they will remember us and be happy to see us when we’re back home in a few weeks!

        We did talk a little bit about rehoming the dogs and while it’s not entirely out of the question, for now we’d like to try our best to make life work together for the four of us. We’re willing to make some changes to our lifestyle to make sure the dogs are happy, but if it seems like it would truly be better for the dogs to be placed elsewhere, as painful as it would be, I know we’d do what was best for them. As you say, however, where there’s a will, there’s a way and there are many people out there traveling with their dogs in tow. It will certainly be a change for us and I’m not entirely sure how we’ll move forward, but we’re determined to give it our best shot! (And obviously I should check out your site for inspiration/advice on traveling with dogs! :) )

  32. Heather June 4, 2014 at 10:19 am # Reply

    This was a tough post for me to read. I have a beautiful, sweet-tempered Maine Coon cat who is nearly 14 years old. I got her when she was just eight weeks old. About four months before we were set to move to Shanghai, she was diagnosed with diabetes. To say I was devastated is an understatement. Originally, the plan was for her to come with us; she’s part of the family. But the diagnosis changed everything. She now requires twice daily insulin shots. We had no idea what veterinary care in China would be like or how available her medication would be. China also has strict quarantine laws for incoming animals and we didn’t trust that she’d receive adequate care during that time. In the end, my parents very graciously agreed to take her in and have diligently given the insulin shots every day for almost three years now. I offered to take her back when we got back to the States, but the nature of my husband’s job means we move around a lot and we decided it would be less stressful for everyone if she just stayed with my parents. I am so thankful for their generosity and love that even just typing this I’m starting to tear up.

    I know you are angry at having to end your trip. But you were given an amazing gift that not many people get to experience. Now have two very special pets waiting eagerly for your return and who I’m sure will be delighted to be apart of your next adventure. Cherish your time with them. I miss my sweet girl every day and know that, at her age, every time I see her could be the last.
    Heather recently posted..Best of DC: Monuments and Memorials

    • Stephenie Harrison June 23, 2014 at 4:05 am # Reply

      Heather, thank you for sharing your own pet story & I’m so happy to hear that despite the struggles your beautiful cat faces, you have managed to find her such wonderful guardians in your parents. As hard as it must be to leave her every time you are home, it must also feel so good to know that she is living her best possible life and is being so well cared for.

      You know, I’m honestly not that angry about heading home any more. I was at first, certainly, but time heals all wounds, etc., and I have accepted this is happening and look forward the new possibilities and experiences that await. And, of course, so many puppy snuggles! :D

  33. Victoria June 5, 2014 at 1:05 am # Reply

    I’m so sorry to hear that you have to cut your travels short Steph but not to worry. This isn’t the end of your adventure but rather, the beginning of another. :) I understand how you feel about your dogs. We used to have 7 when we were kids now, we have just a cat, and a grumpy one at that, but we love him anyway!

    You can travel with your dogs especially if you go to South and Central America rather than North America. Also, there’s a wonderful young British couple who live in Chiang Mai with a beautiful English Cocker Spaniel called Eden. And they do just fine. You can catch them on: http://8milesfromhome.com
    They are quite famous and well known in Thailand and have excellent resources on how to travel long-term with your pet.

    You might have to travel differently and spend a bit more, but you can definately travel. Don’t give up hope. Good luck and happy European travels. :)
    Victoria recently posted..So you think you know Mozart? Breakin’ Mozart in Berlin!

    • Stephenie Harrison June 23, 2014 at 4:12 am # Reply

      You are absolutely right, Victoria: the end of this adventure simply signals the beginning of a new one! And it’s also true that although having two canine companions in tow will certainly change and limit our travel plans, they don’t have to end them. Right now we’d like to spare both of them the stress of traveling overseas in a plane, but as you point out, there are still plenty of places for us to explore that we can reach by car!

      Thank you for the support & the encouragement!

  34. Marta Kulesza June 9, 2014 at 5:57 am # Reply

    I can imagine how difficult it was to finally come to terms with the idea of coming back home. I have been back since 2 years already and I never stopped longing to go back on the road again, luckily this is hapenning soon. I am greatful for the past 2 year though because this has lead me to understand that travelling and photography is really something that makes me really happy and something I want to pursue. I admire you, that you just didn’t give up on the dogs (some people might have done that) but took upon responsibility of taking care of them again. I know a great polish blog about a couple travelling with their dog all across the world (currently on a bike!!) so travelling with your dogs doesn’t really seem impossible! Either way I wish you all the best and enjoy your time in Europe!
    Marta Kulesza recently posted..10 NATURAL WONDERS OF BOLIVIAN ALTIPLANO

    • Stephenie Harrison June 23, 2014 at 4:16 am # Reply

      Hopefully we can find a way to get back on the road with our dogs in tow relatively soon… I think it is that new goal that keeps us going and that has made me feel ok with us drawing this adventure to a close. Like you, these past 2 years have taught us so much about what makes us happy, how we would like to live our lives, and what our priorities. I know that our time back home will not always be easy, but we were able to make this adventure happen so I have to believe that if we want something badly enough, we can make any dream come true!

  35. Rebekah June 10, 2014 at 10:05 pm # Reply

    I’m sorry. Hopefully you guys will find a happy solution for your situation soon. Its funny how in the moment things feel hopeless and then a few months later everything works out. Good luck to you.

    • Stephenie Harrison June 23, 2014 at 4:20 am # Reply

      At times like this, so many clichés spring to mind: it’s always darkest before dawn; when one door closes, another ones opens; etc. But you know, they’re all kind of true! Even since writing this, I’m feeling so much better about our return and what will come next. I’d keep traveling forever if I could, but for now, we’re going home, and I’m ok with it! I know this isn’t the end, but rather another chance to begin anew.

  36. Charlie June 11, 2014 at 4:42 pm # Reply

    Ah, it must be so hard. I dread the moment when my travel adventure comes to an end, and I haven’t even left on it yet! It must be so much worse that it’s out of you hands. But you’ll definitely get a great welcome from those two cuties in the photos above. Though, are you sure you want to end the life you love so much for two animals? I mean, I love dogs and I adore my two cats but in the end they are animals who will be happy in another family home if you find them a good one. You have to live your life for you guys. Living somewhere you don’t want to be because of your pets, won’t you grow to regret that? On the other hand, Toronto is an amazing city! I’m happy to hear the blog will continue.

    • Stephenie Harrison June 23, 2014 at 4:27 am # Reply

      I suppose one thing I’ve learned on this trip is that not everything is under my control and, in fact, so many of the big things that happened during our two years of travel were the ones we didn’t ever plan or anticipate but simply had to respond and react to. I guess this is a combination of both of those things since we didn’t choose to return now, but at the same time, we knew it would have to happen eventually.

      Don’t worry—we aren’t giving up on living the life of our dreams just yet, we’re just trying to find a way to include the dogs in those dreams. Truthfully, our goals and aspirations HAVE changes since we initially left on our trip, because we have changes, so I think this time at home will be a good thing as it will allow us to really pin down exactly how we want the next chapter of our life to read and can start hammering out a plan to achieve it. Just like our trip, our time with our beloved dogs will be finite and limited, so having missed out on two years with them, we’re ready to head back and cherish the next few years with them. We know Asia will be there waiting for us when we’re free to return, but in the interim, new adventures await!

  37. Alex June 11, 2014 at 6:48 pm # Reply

    Steph, I can relate to all the emotions you are feeling right now but I greatly admire what a responsible and loving pet owner you are. I’m madly in love with my own dog and can’t tell you how fast it would stop me in my tracks if my Dad could no longer take care of him (they are basically best friends and I feel super guilty now when I steal Tucker back when I’m stateside!)

    Wes told me he sent you a big old email about Sri Lanka, hope it’s been helpful — or even better, that you were lucky enough to meet him!

    • Stephenie Harrison June 23, 2014 at 4:47 am # Reply

      Thanks for weighing in, Alex! It’s so nice that you have the support of your dad & that you still get plenty of quality time with Tucker when you are back in the States. Would love it if we could find someone who could do the same for us, even if it meant returning home once or twice a year to give them a break. You’ve got a great dad to do this for you (though I am sure Tucker is no hardship to have around!).

      Unfortunately we weren’t able to meet up with Wes as he was traveling outside of SL when we visited, but he did send us loads of tips and it was really helpful! Thank you so much for putting us in touch!

  38. Sarah Somewhere July 5, 2014 at 7:45 pm # Reply

    Oh honey, sorry for your pain. We get so used to the freedom of doing exactly what we want that when something like this comes up it can throw us for a six. I am already having a little amount of anxiety about our Mexico visas being up and going to North America, and that is by choice (Tyrhone’s)! as you know I only have one word for you and the solution to your conundrum, at least for the next few years. MEXICO!!!! But, we have already talked so I’ll just wish you all the best with your last few weeks, say that I hope to see you in Sunny Canada some time, and…. MEXICO!!!!

    • Stephenie Harrison July 7, 2014 at 1:09 pm # Reply

      Yes, I think more than anything the return home is difficult not because of the interruption to our travels but because of the loss of freedom I know it will entail. We have really thrived the past two years getting to have complete control over our lives and it will be hard to cohabitate with my parents and remember what it means to compromise and accommodate others in our plans.

      I have a feeling we’ll be having some more chats about MEXICO in the months to come… :)