I’ve come from a land down under

I can’t remember the last time I craved home so much. In the past six weeks, I’ve been on the road for 23 days, in three countries, on a plane, bus, and boat, and have unpacked three times. I feel beyond blessed for these opportunities, all because of this crazy blog. Hand-shakingly blessed.

But there really is no place like Home, no matter where that is. We’ve been in Bend, Oregon less than a year, and while the city itself doesn’t quite yet feel like home, my family does, and always will. My home here on earth is wherever they are.

A few days ago, I returned home from Queensland, Australia, where I spent a week with ten other bloggers and some fabulous Aussies to show us around. My main purpose was to pick Darren Rowse‘s brain, who was hosting this trip, but the sprinkles on the cookies were getting to see Oz.

I made friends and connections, saw the tub drain in the opposite direction (I’d like to thank the Southern Hemisphere…), and ate crocodile, kangaroo, jellyfish, and more fish than I can remember. I went SCUBA diving for the first time, I kayaked among mangrove trees, and I zip-lined through the rainforest. I dined to the music of a didgeridoo.

And I missed my family more than I can say. They were the only part missing to an otherwise fantastic week, and their absence continually meant something was almost-not-quite.

See, we do things together. We travel. We experience things for the first time with each other. Sure, we each have our own interests and need for alone time, but rarely do we go off on our own serious adventures independently. That’s just how we’re made, and it’s one of the things that makes our tribe meaningful and significant. We explore the world as a team.

So this is why it’s on my to-do list to take my family back to Australia with me. And it’s a lot easier than you might think. I’m a big believer in not waiting to take those Big Trips after the kids are gone, and that the earlier they travel, the better travelers they become. And there really is so much to do with kids in Queensland. I’m excited to share them with you soon, and I’ll also be podcasting with Darren sometime in the near future.

When we returned to the surface, I asked our SCUBA guide what type of fish that was. She said, “Oh, that was Greg.”

For today, though, my agenda is to sip my Oregon-roasted coffee, plow through that laundry, and hug my little people. They beat kangaroo meat, hands down.

If you could take your family anywhere in the world, where would you go?

I visited Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef courtesy of Tourism Queensland. For more travel inspiration, check out their Queensland blog.

Tsh Oxenreider

Tsh is the founder of this blog and just finished traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

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  1. Oh my… The Great Wall of China… My husband’s mom is Chinese adopted into a Malaysian home, and then landed in America as a 16 yr old girl by herself. Though my husband doesn’t speak Chinese, we would love to take our family to where his Mom was originally from. A dream for someday!

    • Ooh, that would be amazing to experience such a significant place in your family’s history. Kyle and I were on the Great Wall about 10 years ago, and I was so tired from traveling that the only part I remember is it being really hot and humid. Would love to return there one day.

  2. I am beyond excited for the trip we will be taking to Lesotho, Africa within the next year (prayerfully). We plan to travel to adopt our new children and very early in our process we comitted to taking our three bio kids with us. We plan to spend between 3 weeks to 1 month there, touring the country, seeing big game, experiencing God’s big world, expanding out family–hopefully being changed to the core.
    And I can’t even imagine taking such a life-changing trip without the whole crew.

    • Incredible! What an important trip for your family, Sammy. Blessings to you.

    • I would also love to go to South Africa again and show my adopted kids where they were born and perhaps meet their birth parents.
      We brought them home in 2004 and 2005 and we took our two (biological) sons with us both times.

  3. Back in 1989 I took a trip to Australia as a single person. I would LOVE to take my husband and 2 kids with me for another adventure there! We have even talked about it a few times. The drain thing was a wonder to see, lol, and leaving Summer behind for 2 weeks of Winter and then gaining a day, then losing a day in the traveling. Fun stuff!

  4. Oh! What a great question!
    I always envisioned that I would have one foot in the US and one foot somewhere else in the world and that my family would be a part of that.

    I can’t really decide on just one location though- the world is so big (and oddly small). I guess that I would start with taking them to visit some of my friends that I made while involved with YWAM. Mexico would be logical since I have relationships there and can get by with the language.

  5. Tsh,
    I sure am glad I came by today! You made me really think that I shouldn’t wait until the kids are older to travel just because it would be cheaper. I want, no, need to take them also. We do experience things together, especially for the first time. Last year that was adventures in Hawaii and the year before that was the Grand Canyon. This year we are taking a hiatus. But we were all itching to get out.

    I want to take them to any and all natural wonders but since that is impossible I start from local and spread out. Yosemite, Grand Canyon are checked off the list. Next? Yellowstone. And then maybe up to Canada or Alaska. Who knows.

    Thank you so much for reminding me that I need to do this as a family while they are young. Can’t pass it up.


  6. Megan D says:

    I’m so thankful for your perspective!! Last year we took our 8 month on a trip with our church around France and Serbia. People thought we were crazy, but we LOVED it! I’m so thankful my son and my husband had their first trip overseas together!! This summer we’re taking our 21 month old on a trip to Toronto. This time another family is also bringing their 21 month old and people think we’re all crazy!
    We love being a family, and we love traveling. And all of our traveling so far has been with our church to learn more about church planting and sharing the love of Jesus. These aren’t things that my husband and I want to do alone, but we want our whole family to do it together!! Thanks for being an encouragement in a place where that’s just not common!

  7. My husband and I talk all the time about traveling abroad with our little ones, but don’t have anywhere near the money for even traveling just down the road. Now that my husband is out of grad school and finally earning a bit, maybe we can move toward that dream. We both lived in Germany and I also lived in France and we would LOVE to take our kids there to meet friends and also so we could return there ourselves. But discovering new places together would be wonderful as well. So many dreams of travel…

  8. our dream family trip would be taking our family to australia! it has been on my bucket list my whole life, but to take the entire family {6 of us!} would be amazing! i LOVED seeing your instagrams from your trip!

    enjoy your coffee & hugs! let the laundry rest for another day 🙂

  9. What a blessing to be able to go to Australia via your blog! My husband and I are planning a trip to France next September 2013. We have been unsure whether to leave the kids with the grandparents or bring them along. This post makes me want to bring ’em along! Didn’t you go on a vacation to France with preschoolers? My kids will be 4 and 2 in September 2013. Think that’s do-able?

  10. I want to go to Sydney Australia with my best friend’s family and my own. They are Sydney natives who now live in WA State. 🙂

  11. I am from Queensland and used to work for Tourism Queensland! So nice to see some pictures of home! If I could take my family anywhere it would be to Denmark to visit my paternal grandparent’s home. I feel a strong connection there and would love to explore with my family.

  12. New Zealand! My husband and I started planning a trip there probably 7 years ago (yikes!) but decided to uproot our lives and move to Oregon that year instead. Now that we have kids, I would LOVE to go exploring with them… but practically, we will probably keep our explorations in our own hemisphere for a while – that’s just too long on a plane with preschoolers!

  13. I would love, love to go back to New Zealand with our girls. My husband and I spent 4 months there just after we were married and have so many memories and friends from that time. We’d also love to go to Australia since we were there on that same trip and a close friend just moved there. =)

    Loved this post and seeing all your instagrams from the trip!

  14. France! I spent a summer in Annecy, and I’d love to take my family back…with a detour to Paris and maybe the Loire Valley if we could swing it.

    I’ve never really desired to go to Australia, but your pictures do make it look pretty amazing!

  15. I have been itching to take a family trip to Paris. It’s on my short list of things to do with our kids.
    “Greg” would have scarred the crap out of me… that is all. 🙂

  16. Well done on your amazing adventure!!! Our family also travels as a team!!! Everyone goes everywhere – it works for us. An adventure alone is just lonely, we like to share with the folk we love the most… each other!!! Actually we are game to travel anywhere… Europe, Africa… wherever an opportunity arises!!! I think a podcast with the problogger will be totally fab!!! Just love your podcast!!!

  17. Ironically, being Australian, I want to take my family to the US. Disneyland, the Grand Canyon, an Elvis vow renewal in Vegas….

    We’re saving for a trip in 6 years, when both girls should be big enough to go on every Disney ride!

  18. Teresa S. says:

    My husband and I are eager to take our son to both Columbia and Honduras. My husband’s family goes back generations in both countries, and we would like our family to experience the rich history together.

  19. Yay! Can’t wait to hear more. Well, we want to go…everywhere. And we intend to. 😉


  20. I’m looking forward to hearing more about your experience, I’ve lived in Brisbane for nearly three years and there are some amazing sights in Queensland…too many I haven’t seen yet. I also believe traveling as a family is great, my parents took us abroad as much as possible when we were young and it was wonderful. Plus, with family on three continents my future children will have no choice!

  21. I would take them to Israel. I was there when I was 20. A.maz.zing. I want to go back and at least take my husband if not my kids.

  22. Japan to see my brother, for my husband to meet his neice and nephew and my son to meet his only cousins.
    Ireland to see my cousins and revisit a place i went to when i was 5 years old
    Cuba for fun and because I’m not allowed
    But australia has always been on my list.

  23. Thanks for a thoughtful post. Glad you had a great time in Aus – I live in the South West. I so agree with you that travel becomes less meaningful unless you can do it with your ‘tribe’. My kids are grown up now, and although I love to travel I so often wish that they could be with me to experience all the new and wonderful things. When they were little we did everything together as a family and lived in 11 different countries. Doing things together over the years has really taught me that a new experience unshared, is just an echo.

  24. We’re working on going everyWHERE. I agree with you. You don’t need to wait until the kids are gone to travel. My mom was single and took my brother an I everywhere before we where old enough to vote. And I so appreciate her for that. My youngest is 1 and a half and next year the traveling begins. We have taken the kids out of the country (Canada) not so far right? But we really think its important to expose them to different cultures and not just the tourist destinations. My kids (the oldest is 6) have already lived in two states and will probably move again. Traveling is such a wonderful experience for everyone!

  25. When my husband and I first met, we connected quickly because we’d both spent time in Africa. Ten years, and three kids later, I would love for our family to go there and visit all the countries we were in–Namibia, South Africa, Kenya and Tanzania.

  26. Oh wow!!! Tsh, that sounds amazing!!!! I almost can feel your pain. Almost.

    At the beginning of April my husband came home from work and asked me how I’d feel about moving to Southern California for two to three months. It didn’t take me long to say a huge yes at the opportunity to leave hot N. Texas heat for at least a forth of the summer.

    We have been here in SoCo since the middle of April. It has been an amazing, beyond belief and, like you said, hand shakingly blessed experience. What’s made this such a wonderful thing is being HERE with my family. I miss my home too, but THEY are my Home. Our family purpose statement is “together”, and that is exactly what this trip has done for us. Pull us closer together.

    When my husband was ten his parents took him and his sister to New Zealand for vacation. As soon as we were married he said he wanted to take me and our kids there when they were old enough. So that is on my list, but being here in SoCo has actually made me feel like I’m already there. More than 75% of the plant life here derived from Australia.

    So glad you’re home and safe, and I’m sure your family was fighting to see who could hug you first when they saw you. :o)

    I’m so glad you got to visit Australia. I

  27. Ooh.. How lovely!! Like Jamie said, We have plans to go everywhere and God willing, we will! But yes, Europe and then, the US top our list:-)

  28. Ooooo, that’s a tough one. Would love to venture to Italy, for sure. Food heaven.
    There are still gobs of spots we’d love to visit around here (US) though. Looks like your trip was amazing – eager to hear more.

  29. Home is definitely where my little family is, where ever that may be. Hotels can even feel like home to us if we’re all together and that is a good thing since we’re on the other side of the world from most of our extended family.

    Glad you got to see some great sights and now get to be together with your family. 🙂

  30. Africa, of course. 🙂 But really, I’m game for going pretty much anywhere. I’d love to do a road trip across the country. I’ve been all over the world but have seen very little of the U.S. And I’d love to go to Ireland, Spain, and Australia.

  31. Yep, home is the best place to be, but you must go away to appreciate it 🙂

  32. I have great memories of a summer holiday in Croatia and would love to show this wonderful land to my family!

  33. We have done a lot of traveling in the US with our kids and are planning our first international trip with them in 3 years when they will be 7, 8 and 10. We hope to go for a month and are leaning towards France!

  34. I get Facebook feed from Tourism Queensland, and when I saw a photo in my newsfeed recently of a woman in a Seawalker helmet, I had to look twice…and twice again. I know that girl!! I was especially excited to see your face because I live in Cairns. To think that Simple Mom, that I have admired from afar for so long, is in my own home town! And at Seawalker, too! That is so cool, because my friends own Seawalker and it’s a great thing to do while in Cairns.
    I am sure you would have had a wonderful time here. It is a fantastic place to holiday, isn’t it? I love living here so much. Sometimes when we need a break, we just get in the car and go driving for a day, and feel like we’ve had a mini-holiday. There are so many beautiful places within a days drive.
    Funny enough, one of the places I have an itching to visit is the Pacific Northwest! Can’t imagine this will ever happen, 6 people on one salary gets tight sometimes, but it’s nice to dream.

  35. What a lucky duck! 🙂 Beautiful pictures. To answer your question, Australia is on that list, but most definitely Scotland. I’ve been there before and it’s the most intoxicatingly beautiful country in every way imaginable. I’ve heard wonderful things about Croatia too…great wine country.

  36. We’ve traveled with our little ones since the beginning and I have learned not to underestimate them. Two years ago we took the boys (then 3 and 5) to Colombia, South America and stayed with a host family to experience the culture and attend language school. They loved it and (with minor expected issues) were completely adaptable to the accommodations, food, and travel. They have taught me so much about “just going with it.”

  37. I was an exchange student in Adelaide in 1989. Australia is like a second home!

  38. Europe! We have never been, and I would love to go.

    My husband and I have a vacation fund on our online savings bank. We deposit about $200 every month, whether we go on vacation or not. We ‘ll use it for little 2-hour drive trips so that we don’t all of a sudden spend a grand all in one month, but the main reason is so that if we ever did want to go to Europe, there will be less reason not to, since we had been saving and accumulating over the years.

    Looking forward to hearing what you and Darren Rowse have to say. I’m a big fan of his stuff.

  39. you’ve summed up beautifully exactly how I felt. great post Tsh. 🙂

  40. I totally understand where you are coming from.I was there just last month and it was a liberated and at the same time, demanding experience. Living on the road – can’t wait to do it again…

  41. I would actually LOVE to go to Australia. We had talked about taking a trip there before the kiddos were born but it never happened due to one thing or another. If we do take a big trip it’s where I would love to go – I might hit you up for that list of things to do with kids 🙂

  42. Georgia says:

    Oh wow, I couldn’t believe it when I read this post! I’m in Australia and couldn’t believe you’d just been here, but then nearly fell off my chair when you mentioned Darren, as I used to know him. He was making a living from his blog before anyone else I’d ever heard of – looking forward to your podcast with him.
    I’m not sure where I’d want to go if I could go anywhere, but our family (with 3 boys aged 10, 8 and 8) are going to Thailand on a mission trip with our church later in the year. It’s the first overseas trip for all of us.

  43. Hey Tsh,
    Last ttime I commented you said it was cool for guys to comment, so I’m back again. 🙂 This article got me to thinkin’. If I could take my family (Wife: Valeria, Sons: Josiah 11, Isaac 9 and Luke 3) anywhere, I’d take them to where I asked my wife to marry me, Iguazu Falls, Brazil. My wife and I had been dating for 8 years and were on a short term missions trip with our church. The last 3 days of our trip we were given some “fun” time before heading home so we bussed over to Iguazu Falls. Through our entire dating period my now-wife and I were avid waterfall hikers, so asking her to marry me at one of the world’s largest waterfalls only made sense. We stood looking over one of the platforms that push out over the falls. I asked her to remove the emerald ring I gave her on our first anniversary of dating and told her that time had past and turned threw that ring into the falls only to produce her diamond engagement ring. I got down on 1 knee and asked her to marry me. That was 15 years ago this past January. I’d love to take my family to that spot some day. Ha, after writing that last sentence I found myself just sitting here day dreaming about that and lost track of time, until my 3 year old came stumping in my room from his bed and snapped me back to reality. Here’s to hoping! God bless. Oh, and my wife is a new fan of yours. 🙂

  44. Love living in Oz. Such a special place, though we haven’t made it to Queensland since we moved to Western Ausralia 3 years ago. We’ve lived on four continents now and have visited a fifth. I’d love to explore the remaining habitable one (South America) and may be persuaded to touch base with Antartica as well. Maybe.

  45. You have a wonderful travel :X
    Sometimes I go out a long time and no comeback my home. And now, I read it and feel miss home so much.
    Thanks you 😀

  46. What a wonderful experience. I bet the intimacy of that trip allowed for optimal growth. I especially liked the “hot seat” exercise that Darren described in the post you linked to.

    P.S. I actually just spent some time writing about international travel over at Metropolitan Mama. I’d be honored to have you join the conversation: http://metropolitanmama.net/2012/06/top-ten-international-places-id-like-to-visit/.

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