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Returning to the USA after three and half years living abroad

22 Comments 19 November 2013

Returning to the USA after three and half years living abroad

I’m going to be honest. The lack of writing on this website over the past four months has a lot to do with the fact that I was afraid of this post. A post that would be a sort of conclusion to the very trip that started the website. A post about my return to NJ after three and a half year of traveling and living abroad.

How do you write the ending to a trip you dreamed about your whole life?

A trip in which I swam with giants, soared from the sky, spear-fished with aborigines, climbed volcanoes and faced my greatest fears. A trip that made me trust in strangers, drop ties with possessions and completely enthral myself into communities that just days before I didn’t even knew exist. One that would have me moving into eleven different residences with a total of 38 different roommates and two cats, plus more hostel beds and dorm mates than I could count.

Rondel. The cat that made me fall in love with cats. – Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

A trip that taught me there is no one meaning of success and that ambition might have been the only thing holding me back from finding true happiness. A trip that would allow me to find answers to my questions on religion and spirituality. A trip that would have me fulfilling every dream I had for myself and my travels within six months and then totally giving myself up to chance.

I came into this trip with a plan: to travel and write. I would fulfil all the little goals that went with that plan only months after the start of my trip. Beyond those plans, I thought that would be it for my long-term travels and vagabond lifestyle. I can honestly remember thinking before going on this trip that I would “get it out of my system”, come home and settle into a career, marriage and children – all the things I thought were just part of life. I thought travel was an itch I could scratch and then move on to the next thing.

That’s not quite how it all worked out.

Once this trip exceeded my plans and expectations – I would no longer be the one dictating my future. I would no longer allow the restraints of where I came from or the ideas I developed in that small space control what kind of life I was going to have. Running out of plans opened me up to see a new way of living, to put my faith in new people, find a sense of true belonging and even to fall in love.

Now I know the most unpopular ending to any solo female travel blog is the one that involves “prince charming”, but that is exactly how my story went. The greatest lesson I learned in three and a half years of travel was how to fall in love and the greatest thing I found was a guy to catch me when I did.

Ric and I cruising in Malapascua. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Ric and I cruising in Malapascua. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

I’ve never had a problem doing anything on my own. Being alone was never a bad thing for me. In fact, often times, I preferred it. And before hopping on a plane to Australia on January 26, 2010 – I was content in the possibility that I always would be alone and I don’t mean alone in the physical sense whether that be with friends and family or with a partner. I’ve always had the the most amazing people in my life that would be there for me, no matter what, but in my head – I was still alone. And as for marriage or any type of partnership – I actually saw myself getting married at least ten times – but never really giving into it – always facing my biggest problems and greatest joys in life – alone – at least in my head.

This trip, the people I met throughout it and the situations I was in with them (good or bad) – would change that.


When you’re on the road in a new place, away from everything and everyone you know, often times you have to put all your faith into strangers. Whether this be something as small as receiving directions or as large as sleeping on some random person’s couch because otherwise you’d have no place else to stay. What came out of dwindling bank accounts, lack of a home and inability to call the people I had always known at the drop of a hat was a new kind of trust in people and the ability to share the ups and downs with whomever I was with at that moment. Somewhere along the way I realized that I wasn’t alone in it all and as if the pieces fell into place all at once – I met Ric and knew I never would be again.

Ric and I the day after we arrived in New Zealand.

Ric and I the day after we arrived in New Zealand.

I never intended this to be a trip where I found myself or the true meaning of life. I knew exactly who I was before getting on that plane three and a half years ago – in fact, I never would have been in that position if I didn’t know who I was. What I found on this trip was other people – that most of them are actually good and that we are in this crazy life together.

So to Lise and Veronica who taught me that no matter what language we speak (English, French or Italian) there can be understanding (even when cursing about weeding lantana trees in the bush). To my joyful “Shirley” who taught me that the things we have are only as good as the people we get to share them with (even when it comes to Kate Moss tops). To Bobbi Small who taught me that it’s possible to be strong – even when you’re scared and to question any restraints you have for yourself. To Hans, you gorgeous Brazilian man, who showed me compassion and warmth and of course a new way of making carrot cake. To my new English family who accepted me without question. To my family and friends at home who have always loved and supported me. To all the many travelers I met over the course of these past three years – whether we shared a couch at Iron Bar, divemaster training in Malapascua, a dorm room or the weight of my backpack on a long walk. And of course to the bear of the man for whom I get to travel the rest of my life with – Thank You. Thank you for all the little moments and for helping me realize that even though I thought I left America on my own three and a half years ago – I never was.

You were all there with me.

Lise, Veronica and I on a day off from Yoga in Daily Life Dungog, NSW.

Underwater in Low Isles with Milla.

Sailing the Whitsundays with Dorcey, aka Shirley.

With Bobbi Small on the Great Barrier Reef.

How do you write a conclusion to three and a half of the best years of your life?

You don’t.

In the words of my wonderful fiancé (we’re engaged by the way) as I pined over this post in our London flat – “This isn’t the end, just another chapter complete Bobble.”

I did it.

It was my dream to move abroad and go on a trip with no fixed end date and I actually did it. In the past three and a half years I’ve lived in Australia, New Zealand and England. I’ve traveled to the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Fiji, Laos, China and Canada. I even got to explore my own country a bit.

It became clear to me pretty early on this trip that it wasn’t so much the places I was going to – but the nomadic lifestyle and the people I would encounter through that way of living that would propel me into a life of travel.

“Its a toss-up when you decide to leave the beaten track. Many are called, few are chosen.” – W. Somerset Maugham, The Razor’s Edge’


- who has written 310 posts on Heels and Wheels.

Creator of Heels and Wheels. Writer, traveler and more.

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  • Erin

    I love this. It was a perfect summary of how fantastic and strong you are and how you have found yourself. Good on ya.

  • Yeity

    We’re sure you’ll always be a traveller, predicting itchy feet will strike in about a year or two :)

  • jill hackey

    blown away ,your so raw and open in your blogs……its a truly great talent you have and i feel proud and priviledged to call you my future daughter [well actually I already feel you are one of us!!!] keep going with your given gift……..and it is a gift…… that cat is definitely an old soul!!!! sent to guide and watch over you!!! lots of love your future mum out law!!xx

  • Alexandra Pucherelli

    Well said! Understanding this new chapter is so hard though. I cant figure out how to fit back into the American paradigm or that I even want to. Damn itchy feet, Good luck on your next chapter!

  • LaurenFritsky7

    Really, really love this Bobbi! You’ve lived so much and I can’t wait to see all the additional adventures you and Ric will have together!

  • Danielle E. Alvarez

    What a beautiful, beautiful reflection. Wishing you the absolute best as you embark on your next big adventure… in the US! I don’t doubt it’s going to be a rewarding one, too :) oh! And congrats on your engagement. Who knew a homecoming could be so exciting.

  • Kristin

    What a fantastic, heartfelt post Bobbi. It really is crazy how life always finds a way to surprise you!

  • Annie @ Wayward Traveller

    I love this post Bobbi! It actually brought tears to my eyes. So beautifully written, and what a lesson to learn that not only do you not have to go it alone, but to realize how much better it is when you don’t.

    So happy for you and your future to come!

  • Caroline Eubanks

    Love Love Love this post. I’ve been reading your blog since before I went to Australia and I’m so happy the way these past three and a half years have turned out for you.

  • Beverley Reinemann

    LOVE this post Bobbi, and Ric is right, it’s just another chapter ending and another one will begin. I’ve been following you since I was in Australia (not literally, that would be weird!?) and it’s been amazing to see your journey unfold :)

  • Bobbi Lee Hitchon

    Thank you so much for the kind words and for reading! I wish you were following literally! Maybe we could have met in person by now! Thanks again for your support. We’ve been on a very similar journey. I hope you are loving your life in London!

  • Bobbi Lee Hitchon

    Awh thank you so much for the kind words and reading. I’d say Australia had a pretty big impact on both our lives :)

  • Bobbi Lee Hitchon

    Thank you Annie! Awh no don’t cry! I cry whenever I read it too :) It’s the best lesson I could have learned. Hope all is well with you in Australia. I miss it so much. You look like you’re living it up!

  • Bobbi Lee Hitchon

    It definitely is. Thanks so much!! Hope all is well with you.

  • Bobbi Lee Hitchon

    Thanks so much! I’m uber excited to start my adventures in the USA and to get married here! Just waiting on the boy.

  • Bobbi Lee Hitchon

    Awh thanks Lauren! Isn’t it crazy how everything worked out for both of us? I know our travels went very differently but I can always relate with you when I read your posts about living in Australia, making the trip abroad and moving home. Maybe it’s because we share Jersey! Hope to see you on this side of the world :)

  • Bobbi Lee Hitchon

    Haha it is hard at times, but I’m not struggling with it nearly as much as I did after my last long term trip. I think I’ve just gotten so used to temporary in my head that it’s not quite settled in yet or I know I’ll be going soon. I’d be lying though if I said I wan’t looking at flights every now and then :)

  • Bobbi Lee Hitchon

    Thanks Jillian! Rondel is definitely an old soul. Him and Alf would get along! Can’t wait to have you all here to celebrate :)

  • Bobbi Lee Hitchon

    Haha I’m anticipating sooner than that. Thank you.

  • Bobbi Lee Hitchon

    Awh thanks Erin! No matter where I go or who I meet – you’ll always be my first travel partner. We’re bound by European Fanta!

  • Carl Joe Wright

    You have experienced an amazing journey. I want also to experience such. Thanks for the useful post. I love it and learned much from that.

  • Nancy Davolio

    An amazing place with such natural delights. I will surely plan my upcoming vacation to this place. thanks for posting nice views.

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