This summer I had the opportunity to speak at the inaugural Family Adventure Summit, which was held in Penticton, BC (Canada) over Labor Day weekend in 2017. I was asked to speak on “Repatriation”…which is a fancy (albeit ugly) word that means “the return of someone to their own country.” We returned to the US four years ago after a very deliberate 180. We had sworn we’d never live in the US again…but low and behold…priorities change! You can read about that decision here. We’ve had a lovely transition, which is why I suppose they asked us to speak on the topic.

Through Facebook and travel forums, I’ve learned that a lot of full-time travelers lament the end of their travels and a “return home”.  I decided to make a survey to help me understand if there were any stark differences between those who have an easy transition and those who don’t. While the survey didn’t have a huge number of participants (45 families in total), I hope it gives a little insight into what repatriation means for traveling families.

Before jumping into the actual repatriation portion of the survey, I wanted to understand what precipitated the family travels in the first place. I asked survey participants why they started traveling, and let them select more than one reason (because, of course, there are many reasons we travel!). Of the participants, here are the percentages that selected the following answers:

So…everyone jumped off and began their extended travels. Whether those travels lasted 3 months, 1 year or 10 years, somewhere down the road they decided to return. So…I asked why did they return? Was it because they wanted to, or they felt forced? Survey says…


Ouch. Over 50% felt like they HAD to return, for one reason or another.

First, let’s take a look at those who did NOT feel forced to return. They reported that they:

Those that were “forced” to return had a whole slew of answers, including being out of money, required at a job, family/health concerns, a job working overseas ended, etc. Answers were all over the place!

Next, I wanted to know where people went when they returned—did you go somewhere new, or a familiar place you had lived before? The results showed:

Next…would you say that you made an easy adjustment when returning to your home country?

I thought the next question was the most telling. The same pie (above) is centered in the below image, but I’ve broken it down to additional answers for each party.  For those who answered “No” (they did NOT make an easy adjustment) 73.75% of those people felt they were FORCED to return. Of the 54.8% who answered “Yes” (they had an easy adjustment) 81.8% of them WANTED to return.

While it’s not surprising…it is telling. If you are going along in your travels and suddenly you are required to return home, the odds are certainly against you that you will NOT have an easy time adjusting. There are a billion reasons why…so I won’t go into that. But let’s just say that my talk went into “Reverse Culture Shock”, keys for success in adjusting to ANY culture (whether that’s your own, or a foreign culture), and ways to enjoy and honor your current home, wherever that may be.

But back to the survey…for kicks, I asked participants what surprised/shocked them the most about returning to their home culture after an extended time away. They answered:


I also wanted to know what kind of schooling returnees put their kids in. After all, when traveling there is no question that homeschooling/worldschooling is by far the trend. So…if people are returning home, are they sticking with that model or going back to the status-quo of enrolling their kids in school? Survey says:


Also, I wanted to know what struggles people had when returning home. What were some of the obstacles/discouragements they faced that made transitions difficult?

The truth is, the survey had a lot of questions, and divided responses up into had an easy time adjusting, and those who didn’t. I could go on and on with a lot of results, however, I only collated and prepared (aesthetically) the answers for the ones I wanted to use in my presentation/talk at the summit (because I do have a life…and as much as I wanted to make a beautiful presentation, I also need to feed my children and shower…on occasion). However, for those of you who are interested in looking more in detail at the survey questions/answers (and will then realize how cumbersome it was to sort through the data)—here is a link to view the results of all of the questions.

Thanks to all who participated—I appreciated that insight into your repatriation process, and I enjoyed sharing this at the Family Adventure Summit. Additionally, my family adored the summit and the opportunity to connect with so many like-minded families (shout-out for 2018, it’s in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico over Dia de los Muertos…I hope to meet you there)!!

Lastly, I just wanted to say that I appreciated this article, written by Jeremy from, entitled: Traveling The World To Find Myself Only Made Me Feel More Lost

While I in no way “feel lost” after traveling the world as his title might suggest, I think there are many travelers who can relate to some of his insights. I particularly appreciated these words he wrote:

“I realize now that this lifestyle has afforded me almost none of the things I need. Purpose, structure, community, and love are all key elements of a happy, healthy, sustainable life. And you know what the funny part is? I had those things five years ago…Buy a one-way ticket and go travel, dream, discover and love the world deeply. It will change your life at its very core. Travel is part of your journey, but remember that it’s only a single part…Transformation takes place within, and part of that transformation involves coming to terms with who you are and where you come from. Ultimately, we all have to return home at some point, wherever that may be.”

My name is Alisa, and I love traveling the world with my adventurous husband and rambunctious 5 small children (soon to be 6!). I am passionate about gorgeous scenery, meeting new people, and I’m a certified salad nut. Most of all, I love making memories with my family, and I enjoy sharing our travels with others!

6 Responses to “Returning Home After Extended Travel”

  1. Great post! I actually didn’t remember what I had answered, but it all came back to me as I read this. It’s very interesting to see how my answers compared to others.

  2. Wow! Thanks for doing this. Very insightful.

  3. Thanks for sharing your data with us Alisa, and asking such insightful questions to begin with. Reading through this makes me want to plan another adventure. Here’s to the future!

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