Unpacking Our Trip

I’m currently in a very dense bubble of work, so dense that I don’t think it’s really sunk in that I’m back in the United States instead of hopping around the world. (As someone who works remotely anyway, work craziness feels pretty much the same anywhere.)

Anyway, I did pop out of the bubble long enough on our first night back in Ohio to photograph our final travel possessions. (Brian’s idea!) Below, all of our ending items are sorted by the country where we first acquired them.

We didn’t photograph everything we started with. We also didn’t photograph the many things that we acquired and then lost or gave away. Our records aren’t perfect! Sorry.

(Also, there are pictures of underwear and stuff below. If you don’t think that we wear underwear, you might not want to read any further.)


Our largest pile of stuff came with us from our date of departure. Theo likes to tell people that his “blankie” has been around the world! We like to remind him that he has been too!

IMG_4617  IMG_4620

IMG_4618  IMG_4645


So, apparently, nothing we acquired in Ireland made it through the entire trip with us. Oh well.



In France, we were like, “oh shit! Cobblestones!” So, we replaced our only suitcase with a second backpack and dumped a bunch of stuff in a free clothing box in Paris. Theo and Brian acquired tight, European-style bathing suits after they were informed that bathing shorts cannot be worn in indoor pools in France. I acquired walking boots after ages of searching through trendy French shoe shops that seemed to stock absolutely no comfortable shoes. (For women at least.)



As part of our luggage rethinking, we reconsidered the carseat that we had been carrying for the first few months of our trip. We met up with my mom for a few nights in Germany, and she brought us this travel vest, which has been safety tested using the same standards as US car seats. But it made our arms hurt much, much less. (And yes, it came from the USA, but we acquired it in Germany. Don’t question my categorization methods, thank you very much.)

Unfortunately, this vest still didn’t help much in the many countries where back-seat belts were missing, tucked away, or even cut out.



I warned you! I wear underwear!

Also, Brian replaced his wallet in Croatia, which he lost in Germany when we were visiting my mom. When he mentioned to the police that he had a check in it, they told him that people in Europe wouldn’t know what to do with a check, so he shouldn’t worry.

IMG_4627   IMG_4642


I have nothing interesting to say about these jeans. Sorry.



We got these pants in a thrift shop run by super-gossipy British women. On our several visits, I would try to browse slowly just so that I could spend more time listening to how disappointed they were with their various adult children. Oh, adult children.



I (heart) Pippi. And Sweden.  Brian (hearts) Neo4j.



It’s fitting that the only sweater I own, I bought in Iceland.


USA (Again)

In June 2015, we stopped by the USA for a few weeks, and I went shopping in NYC with my friend Carly! The tan vest used to be a jacket, but I cut off the sleeves and used them to make internal pockets. I then wore the vest for probably 50% of the remainder of the days in the trip, so that I had a safe place to stash my wallet and phone.

(I say a “safe place,” but as far as I know, no one ever tried to steal anything from me anyway.)


Costa Rica

The monkey came from the Hampton Inn (and was thus dubbed “Hampton”) where we spent our first night in Costa Rica, with possibly the friendliest hotel staff ever. The antibiotic creme came from the doctor, after Theo knocked his head from being a little monkey jumping on the bed.



Tango shoes, of course! (Also, a plug adaptor from my sister, when she departed for college after being Theo’s summer nanny.)


New Zealand

In New Zealand, we seem to have mostly stocked up on clothes and SCIENCE.

IMG_4629   IMG_4637


I (heart) my silk nightgown and robe, but they are on their way to becoming threadbare. (Oh, and Brian wears underwear too! These ones are Dolce&Gabbana – Sport! Probably not authentic. Oh well.)


USA (Yet Again)

I flew to Seattle to give a presentation and pick up the essentials: two new laptop cords to replace the ones that were coming apart, Surgru (to keep the news ones from coming apart), and chewable Children’s Tylenol.



While we saw many tuk tuks in pretty questionable repair, Theo’s is definitely the worst. IMG_4612


Apparently, we spent most of our time in Thailand shopping! (Not really. But the pile of stuff was pretty large.) I replaced my laptop in Thailand, and my new one (that I’m typing on now) has Thai characters in addition to the Latin ones.



Lots of purchases in Vietnam too, the most expensive being Theo’s 4-year-old vaccinations. Still totally worth it.



Theo has had two “fancy books” during his trip. This second one he calls his Anna book, though he hasn’t seen Frozen.



About a third of the items in this pictures were gifts. Because, Japan.



We’re not sure if our tour guide’s son actually made these hands of Fatima, but we still carry them on our keychains and Brian wears his belt from the Rabat market every day. Also camels on money is cool.

IMG_4598   IMG_4643


We stocked up on clothes in Barcelona too: Theo got a great bag of hand-me-downs from a nice family with a slightly larger kid than ours, and Brian and I hit up the nearby thrift store. Also, our friend Carly visited and brought Theo a very small sheep.


Oops. forgot my sunglasses in that last shot. Here they are:IMG_4609


Brian’s computer started becoming extremely gimpy by the end of our trip. So gimpy, in fact, that he now has to use an external keyboard. Also, we acquired lots of Neo4j stuff from one of Brian’s super nice colleagues. Because Brian (hearts) Neo4j. For real.


The Netherlands

Of course we have a bike helmet from the Netherlands. Theo may have been the only child in the country wearing a helmet, but our American sensibilities demanded it.  And we weren’t going to NOT ride bikes in the Netherlands. That would have violated our European sensibilities. I (heart) Europe.



I officially declare Etihad Airlines and Iceland Air the nicest-to-children airlines of our trip. Theo picked up lots of swag from our last few flights.



Yeah, I have no idea where these came from… or even what all of these things are. Oh well.


Everything above came out of our final luggage: two large backpacks, a laptop bag, and a kid-sized backpack for Theo’s toys.

We started out with a bit more luggage: a large suitcase, a large backpack, a laptop bag, a stroller, and a car seat. However, after a few countries and a handful of cobbled streets, we felt very motivated to pare down.

Even though we ended up with less stuff by the end of the trip, I was pretty surprised when fully unpacking at just how much stuff we had… some of which we’d barely touched for months.

There are lots of observations from the trip that I’d like to apply to our lives. (Eventually, when I REALLY come out of the work bubble, I’d like to write about some of them.) However, one of the key ones is just how nice it has felt to not own too much. Now that we’re not living in AirB&B’s, sure we’ll have to acquire some more things, like towels. However, we want to very actively limit what we own. It has felt nice to be relatively light for awhile.