Home Blog Expat to Tourist to Local: The Case for Staying Put

Expat to Tourist to Local: The Case for Staying Put

by Emma April 5, 2016 0 comment
peniche, portugal, surfer girl, sunrise

If you’ve been on this journey with Global Frolic for the past few years, you’ll notice that this is not simply about travel. It may have started that way, a meager attempt at sticking it to the “American Dream”. However, over the years, it’s become clear that travel is not the goal, the idea, the dream.

This community, this website, this project is about more than passports and photographs. This is about designing a life you’d like to live. This is about forging a new path. For finding fulfillment. For finding yourself. It is the means to No End. A curiosity that we cannot ignore.


Which is why I’ve taken a leave of absence from leaving.

For the past few years, I’ve done everything in my power to see more. To experience more. To live more. This meant more stamps in the passport, more doubles, more late night shifts, more budgeting to allow a longer stay, more time in foreign places, more freedom to discover.

lago sanabria, spain, roadtrip, lake

The past year, however, I’ve come to see the things that are most important to me : community, personal development, and exploration don’t necessarily need to happen outside of my home country. In fact, I feel an intense urge to stay put. To digest what I’ve seen, learned and experienced in the past years of travel.

It was easy to ignore my need to nest, to placate it with whatever option I had then. I “moved” to a small town in Costa Rica over a year ago to “settle down”. It was beautiful and perfect and exactly what I didn’t want. Walking to the surf every morning with a board in hand, walking my dog in the early evenings, volunteering and working full-time. It was a wonderful time, filled with the loveliest community I never imagined and will always hold a special place in my heart.


The fact of the matter is this : I was still too distracted. I still had a feeling of longing for more. And, as well all know, sometimes Less is actually More.

Taking the step away from traveling, moving back to the U.S., and hunkering down for a good ol fashioned white winter sounds an awful lot like giving up. In fact, people said that very sentence to me the weeks leading up to moving home.

“You’re giving up on your dreams. Now you’ll just be another one of those people who couldn’t make it. “

Which is true and untrue at the same time. No, I couldn’t make it. But my “dreams” are never truly stagnant, they shift and move with the tides of my life, orienting themselves around one main goal : to live the best life I can.

yoga, tree pose, lombok, indonesia, kuta, surf, indian ocean

I struggled with whether I should actually pull the plug on my life in the tropics. My identity has been so inherently tied to being abroad thus far. Who will I be if I move back home? And not just move back home for a small amount of time, but move back home and stay home?

I see a lot of travelers that struggle with this as well. We want to feel like we have a place in the world, a place to come back to, a place to feel comfortable, a place to get down to the dirty work, a place where we belong. Yet we yearn for the unknown, the unfamiliar, the radically different.

kuta, lombok, indonesia, motorbike,

As nomads, we dance between stability and freedom.

How much less weight would we carry on our shoulders if we all just allowed ourselves the freedom to change our minds. To say “this just isn’t for me, at this time”. Wrong place, wrong time. Right place, wrong time. You know how the story goes.

In a time where it seems every one and their mothers have discovered the idea of traveling abroad. When Wanderlust is no longer just a yoga festival, but the wrist tattoo on every chick in Starbucks. When Instagram feeds and Facebook posts are littered with people jumping out of their comfort zones and landing on white sand beaches, I am doing the exact opposite. I am coming home. Which, oddly enough, is out of MY comfort zone.

When I started this website, it’s purpose was a call to action. A push for my peers to not settle. An inquiry about lifestyle design. In the beginning, that circumvented the travel blog world. In the beginning, I thought I was just going to travel, see the world and write about it and that would be it.

komodo national park, go pro, selfie, indonesia

But traveling has opened my eyes and my mind to the possibilities.

As it often does for all of us, travel leaves us with the distinct feeling that we are here to do more than just work and die.

Exploration of the world inherently leads us to travel inward.

We come home from a trip, speaking in a grandiose way about what we’ve seen, cliche`s dropped faster than the phrase “When I was Indonesia..” There’s a reason people react this way.

It’s like a glimpse behind the curtain of your reality. What you thought was the average life was, your beliefs, your expectations.. all smoke and mirrors. That the world is larger than you could ever imagine. That our common human qualities reach beyond cultural barriers.


You know that no normal exists.

Nyepi Parade, Balinese New Year, indonesia, culture, travel, new years abroad


You know that the spectrum of life experience is a wild and winding rollercoaster,

mawun, lombok, indonesia, peddler, sasak community


that life is drastically different for all of us,

indonesian children, tampah village, lombok, sasak community, indonesia


but we somehow remain so curiously similar.

nyepi parade, ogre ogre, new year, indonesia, baliday


Traveling does this to you, it brings you closer to your human-ness, your ability to relate.

You begin to understand that language barriers mean nothing. Circling the globe and entering unknown territories; this external distance from your normal life creates a closeness inside. You can leave everything behind when you board that plane if you choose. You can step foot off that boat and arrive a blank slate, but the truth remains… You are still here. Wherever here is.

If you travel to escape what is inside, whether it be darkness or sadness or monotony. It will find you. It is stitched into your heart, like the label on your jacket.

Until next time.

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