May 122011

Spring flowers poof in front of Boston's Hancock Building!

Spring flowers poof near Boston's Hancock Building!

Exactly a year ago today, I returned back to America after nine straight months traveling around the world.

What a change a year makes! My life now is unrecognizable from 365 days ago… and it’s an inspiring reminder of how we never have to be stuck!

On May 12, 2010, I flew from Madrid back to Boston with no secure job, no apartment of my own, a fragmented social scene, and a small backpack of dusty clothes that had just circumnavigated the globe. I was thrilled to be back at home sweet home… but completely uprooted and dizzy. And I didn’t really have much to do except watch back-to-back episodes of “The Wire” online. For months, I remained living in my parents’ house, working the first job I could find: a gig with no health benefits, and with a depressing one fifth of the salary I had before I left the country.

And then a series of miracles began to happen. Thanks to this blog and my Twitter networking, I was asked to coordinate the 200-person “Meet Plan Go” career-break travel conference for Boston, 2010. This started to give me a sense of direction again. Then, after being turned down for a number of jobs I interviewed for, a dream job came through at the last minute: back in Boston Public Schools (hooray for a great community… and health benefits!), in a heavenly school.

We love throwing flower petals in our faces!

We love throwing pretty flower petals in our faces.

September came, and I started a fantastic relationship that I’m still in today. In October, I moved into a gorgeous apartment in Downtown Boston, and launched a second website,, to inspire and assist more teachers to travel and more travelers to teach. That site now gets nearly 100 visitors a day!

Come November, I started to take a series of leadership and communication courses, which helped drive a flock of exciting opportunities: taking lessons to learn to drive, partnering with a local Education Technology company, and joining a number of travel, education, and technology meet-up groups around Boston.

In short: over the past 365 days, I’ve gone from being a lump on a couch, to diving deeply into dozens of thrilling projects. It was nice to sit around and watch TV in May of 2010, but nothing can rival the joy now of really participating in and contributing to things that matter in the world. Yay! I’m no longer under-used!

So what’s coming in the next 365 days?

1. Travel: A Bahamas cruise in July (!), then a month in China this August visiting one of my best friends who is in the Peace Corps! I will also be leading a student group abroad in February of 2012.

Lovely trees in Quincy, Massachusetts.

Magenta pink trees in Quincy, Massachusetts.

2. Career: Continuing teaching in Boston (because I love it!), running my two websites, partnering with educational technology start-ups, and…

3. Surprise: In June I’m getting certified to teach Zumba dance exercise! Yee haw! 🙂

4. Events: I’m psyched to again be coordinating the huge Meet Plan Go career-break travel conference for Boston in October, 2011, plus a series of casual monthly Meet Plan Go Boston meet-ups to discuss extended travel.

Building a life, baby… building! Stay tuned for much, much more to come.

Huge thanks for continuing to read and interact with this website. It means so much to be able to share all of this with you, and then to hear your own life stories and thoughts in return, through your emails and comments. Keep ’em comin’!


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  25 Responses to “What’s Changed, 1 Year After Returning from RTW Travel?”

  1. Well, I’m a year late to this post, but it’s great to see that you realized all the awesomeness you set out to accomplish this past year. Keep at it and stay awesome! 🙂

  2. This story is so inspiring, it makes me think about what I want my next year to look like.

  3. Traveling really seems like a big part of your life! You’ve done so much that I always felt like was impossible. Where in Quincy did you take that picture? It’s gorgeous!

    • No! ‘Tis non-impossible! 🙂 The photo was taken right outside Quincy Center Red Line Station. That big round sculpture looks awesome in the rain, especially.

  4. I thought that you came to America as a traveler but I never knew you actually lived here.

  5. I can really relate to this article because often when i return to boston from vacation i realize something i had not usualy noticed.

  6. Would it be bad to say that I’m glad that you got turned down from all the other jobs you interviewed for? I mean if you hadn’t you’d probably never would’ve been my awesome English teacher! I think that your really brave for being able to travel around the world knowing that you wouldn’t have a job when you got back. I’m not sure if I’d be able to do something like that.

  7. I’m glad you have had such a great year since returning to the U.S. And that’s really cool how your going to be able to teach Zumba, its sooo fun! (I have the Wii game.)

  8. That is so exciting! I could never get my life back together that quickly! Oh my gosh. Great job!

  9. Your stories are just fantastic. I could really feel myself raveling and teaching just like you. Your articles show a great example.

  10. Wow , you’ve had one heck of a year before coming back to teach. Haha, and from the looks of it, I’m guessing you have a lot more exciting experiences coming your way.

  11. If I was in your shoes , I would just break down . Your life is so hectic and It doesn’t look like its slowing down…. Anytime soon.

  12. Looks like you have a BUSY 365 days ahead of you. Best of luck with Zumba and all of your travels! It took me 9 months to get me where I am today. Went from unemployed and living back home to employed and happy as I’ve ever been. I had used the pregnancy analogy and people didn’t understand or like it, but I’m glad we both do! congrats again!!

  13. I have loved reading your blog since I was planning my own voyage to Spain last year as a Citizen Schools teacher in BPS. I will be returning to Boston in the fall and look forward to many changes in my life as a fellow traveler-teacher in Boston!!

    Keep up the excellent posts!


    • Anna,
      What a thrill to get your comment! I am a huge fan of Citizen Schools and am delighted to know that my blog was helpful for you, and that you’re living your travel dreams! Do be in touch, so we can chat about transitioning back to Boston, as well as your possible involvement in the “Meet Plan Go” career-break travel conference! Also, email me if you want to be featured as an inspirational Teacher-Traveler on !

  14. Congrats on this new milestone, Lillie! And of course on the aggregate awesomeness of your many others. I remember meeting up with you in Bangkok, both of us curious as to where our lives would go, and I’m thrilled to see how you have created the life you want for yourself upon your return. Looking forward to catching up in person this summer!

  15. Congrats Lillie…such a good story! I love looking back and few years and thinking how far I’ve come! Here’s to hoping every year is like that for you!

  16. Hi Lillie, those are all good changes I see! I’m glad you continue having a combination of both – work and travel. And I’m definitely looking forward to your upcoming posts!

  17. All this is impressive and amazing… And you’re very lucky of having a job with so many holidays!


  18. […] a lump on a couch, to diving deeply into dozens of thrilling projects!” Check out her post here.Five essential pack items from the dollar store. Randy and Beth from Beers and Beans write: […]

  19. I think all of us round the world travelers have no regrets about taking the trip of a lifetime, and our lives are infinitely better for doing it, for whatever reason(s). RTW travel is like getting married, or having a child. Your life is never, ever the same again. Fortunately for us, it is overwhelmingly positive experience after coming “home”.

    • I love how you put that 🙂 It’s one of the reasons I made my RTW trip exactly 9 months: it was like creating another life, and indeed, it will impact me (awesomely) forever. Thanks for the comment, Brian!

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