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I apologize in advance for the length of this post, but it is our last.

Nathan’s job on the trip was to track the finances. He’s been a good accountant. Aidan’s job was to count everything else. Here’s some of his final stats:

  • Total air miles traveled: 42,557
  • Airline flights: 26
  • Longest flight: 14 hours, Sydney to San Francisco
  • Shortest flight: 15 minutes, Zanzibar to Dar es Salaam
  • Countries visited: 12
  • Cities/Towns/Villages visited: 30

But this trip has been about far more than the number of new stamps in our passports. Below each of us has shared his/her final thoughts.

From Aidan: On this trip, I learned a lot about the world. People live in very tough circumstances. For example in Tanzania, Nepal, and Cambodia, there’s lots of poverty. It makes me feel lucky. I had a good time. Sometimes, we fought, but it was mostly fun. My favorite stop on the trip was Moorea. I liked swimming in the ocean. I also liked London, Dubai, and Koh Samui. I feel like this summer was awesome and once in a lifetime.

From Nathan: I accomplished most of my goals for this trip, but some I still need to work on.
See more countries and continents and experience their cultures.
It was great to learn about other countries and their ways of living. My favorite cultural experience was the day that we spent with a family in Cambodia.
See new and unforgettable things.
The best new thing that I saw was the temples of Angkor Wat. They’re in great condition for being so old. I also liked the architectural design, because it used a lot of symmetry.
Learn more about my world through experiences.
I learned that the world can be a tough place when you don’t have a lot. There is so much poverty. It would be nice if those people in need could get an free education and start a new life.
Expand my comfort zone.
I didn’t really expand my comfort zone that much. Sometimes, I didn’t take risks or try new things. That was true in Zanzibar, when I didn’t go snorkeling in deep water. In Nepal, I did go outside my comfort zone and went paragliding. It turned out to be the best thing that I did in Nepal.
Try exotic foods.
I did not try many exotic foods, because most of them looked or sounded terrible. In Cambodia, there was fish paste (fish guts) with red ants and rice. I don’t think that I will ever try that.
Grow closer to my family.
The biggest thing is that I grew closer to my family. I had fun with them around the world. I learned a lot about them, and I hoped they learned about me too.
Have fun.
Rain or shine, I always was having fun. How could I not? I was going around the world for 72 days! Most kids don’t get the opportunity to experience so many counties and cultures.

Now that we are at end of the trip, it is bittersweet. I want to go home to see the rest of my family and Nilla again. I also want to keep traveling around the world, seeing new countries.

From Neerav: While I didn’t get to visit all the places that Shellie and the boys toured, I was happy that I got to be part of this trip. Overall, it taught me to be more patient, go with the flow, and not stress over small details, especially with the kids.

It was hard at the start of the journey as Nilla and I were left behind. I got caught up on work, ate out a lot, and improved my golf handicap by 3 points. It was nice to spend some time alone – first time in 20 years – but reflecting on it, I really appreciate what I have with my family.

We got to experience some new cultures and people. I think the most fascinating was Cambodia. There we got to see how fortunate we really are and how we can give back. And French Polynesia was a great way to relax and refresh.

Although we had our stressed-out moments, our family relationship improved overall. I really liked the one-on-one time with Nathan and Aidan. I also enjoyed horsing around with them on the beach and at the pool. Wish Shellie and I could have spent more time together.

It was a trip of a lifetime – one that I truly appreciate.

From Shellie: At the beginning of the trip, I had a long list of goals. Several had to do with exposing my sons to a wider world and helping them become empathetic world citizens. I think that I accomplished that. The bigger, more important challenge was to improve our family dynamics and cement a loving, open, and honest relationship with them. I’d also had hopes of them doing the same with each other.

It goes without saying, I love my sons. Of course, we had our share of conflicts. I had plenty of parenting moments on foreign streets where I prayed no one around us understood the English coming out of my mouth! But I feel as though I truly know my children now. While we share characteristics, they are different from me and different from each other. They have individual needs and express themselves in different ways. By job as a parent is less about molding them and more about supporting their God-given gifts. By doing this, I’m confident each will make his mark on the world.

We’re truly blessed to have completed this journey as a family. I thank God for the opportunity and delivering us home safely.

Thank you to the Burns family and Cooper’s Dogpatch for caring for our dog, Nilla. (Poor Nilla. While we were gone, he suffered a sore hip, bruised tail, ear infection, and hot spots.) Thank you to Mike Fousie, who fixed all the things that I couldn’t on the blog. And thank you to Neerav, who – not only earned the hotel and airline points – but let the boys and I use them without him.

Finally, we’d like to thank all of our readers for sharing this adventure with us. Knowing that you were out there made us feel closer to home.

We leave you with the words of Ernest Hemingway: β€œIt is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters in the end.”

We hope that you find your journey.

We spent our layover in Auckland on top of the Skytower, the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere.

We spent our layover in Auckland on top of the Skytower, the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere.