London Fixed Us!

Thanks to the pandemic and bumps in the road, we hadn’t traveled in 3 years. That’s grim! Talk about how to dampen the spirits of a couple of nomads. You know what we’re talking about.

We’d had enough and decided it was time to rip the bandaid off! 

So in the dead of winter, we booked tickets to London. We’ve lived in London so we know how miserable it can be in January, but as a couple of travel-deprived nomads we thought we’d be fine. As we always say, “How bad can it be?”

In addition to getting back on the road, we were also determined to attempt a personal challenge: Travel for 2 weeks with only little backpacks … and warm coats. James chose a small 25 liter hiking backpack, and Terri went for a tiny 10 liter daypack. It took a lot of reshuffling, but we both managed to make it work. And we couldn’t be happier. More on that later.

As always, London was wonderful. We saw new shows, wandered old neighborhoods, marveled at modern architecture, and regained our travel mojo … London fixed us.

What a difference a few years makes. We now know what it’s like to travel on jam-packed planes, show documents we never used to carry, and take care of our own health in a maskless, post-pandemic world.

Not only are we fixed … we’re thriving. And to celebrate our rediscovered travel freedom we’re taking a sweet trip – Around the World! This is RTW #3 for us, and we started planning this trip in 2020. But we all know what happened then. Now we’re ready to rock and roll, and we leave next week. We’d love for you to come along with us.

As we learned from our last RTW in 2012, blogging from the road can be tricky. So we’re not going to sweat the small stuff. Our plan is to present Snapshots from the Road to give you a taste of our newest gallivants, and hope that you’ll follow along.

We’re flying west, hopscotching Pacific islands to break the trip into manageable bites, and aiming for places we’ve never visited. First stop … Hawaii. 


Terri & James


We're Terri and James Vance - high school sweethearts who went on to international careers and became world nomads. Today, 65 countries later, we're still traveling ... and still in love. Check out Our Story for more of the backstory at

59 thoughts

    1. Jo, London was a breath of fresh (cold) air for us. We spent a couple of weeks there, which gave us time to take it all in, as well as appreciate some of the recent changes. It also motivated us to plan our long-awaited RTW, and we’re pumped to get started. ~James

    1. Thanks Pam. This type of trip takes lots of planning, and we’re in the middle of trying to get it all finished. We vacillate between being excited and then panicked that we won’t get everything done. But this is all part of the fun, and we’re ready to be on our way. ~James

  1. So impressed with your ability to pack as lightly as backpacks…Hope you’re going to share tips – please! Looking forward to hearing from your RTW trip – so exciting and the world of travel has changed so much.

    1. Carol, in our hearts we knew it to be true, but our trip to London proved that traveling super-light is the way to go. And you’re right that the travel world has changed, so being nimble and not having the hassle of cumbersome luggage will only make things better. As to tips for downsized packing, there’s probably a future post there somewhere. ~James

  2. Amazing! London is such a great city! I had been to visit when I was just 16 but had the pleasure of revisiting a few years ago and absolutely loved it. I look so forward to reading about your travels. Safe journey❤️

    1. Lynn, we lived in London for 3 years, and we got to know and love it well. It’s one of our favorite cities in the world. We didn’t know when we scheduled the trip that it would get to be a watershed moment in our traveling life, but we’re happy that it got us moving again. Funny how things work sometimes. Take care and thanks for continuing to follow along. ~James

  3. I, too, lived in London, for a couple of years at the end of the 60s. It remains one of my favorite cities, although I am not altogether a fan of the new skyscrapers. I’ll be interested to hear about your packing strategies, I was still checking a 22inch two-wheeler and carrying on a small day pack pre-Covid.

    Since I was immuno-compromised I wasn’t thinking about travel, but I am currently off my meds, and if that holds up… I’m not ready for another RTW yet, but I’ve done two in each direction so I should consider a tie-breaker. I wouldn’t sweat the planning too much, my two longest I planned the last part on the road.

    1. Two RTWs in each direction? Very impressive indeed Kathy. That’s lots of miles and destinations to be sure and must be some kind of record!

      We’ve taken one RTW in each direction, one totally planned and one planned on the fly. And far and away we preferred the unplanned trip. However, we’ve discovered on this trip that that’s not so easy to do anymore. With more restrictive and tighter controls on immigration (and covid), most countries we’re visiting require either a round trip ticket back home or proof of onward travel before they will let you in. This means that before you arrive, you have to make plans for your next stop. From an immigration standpoint I understand the need for more controls, but for travelers like us, it’s a pain. However, we lose some flexibility, but it makes things easier in some ways. ~James

      1. At this point we’re trying to break up the trip to minimize very long-haul flights and visit some new places: Hawaii, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, the middle east and on to the Med and Europe.

  4. How exciting! Excellent job with your light packing and choice of first stop. I look forward to following along your RTW#3. Safe and happy travels!

    1. Thanks Natalie. Our London trip gave us a preview of how much easier traveling is with superlight luggage, and we’re looking forward to trying it on the long road. ~James

  5. London always delivers no matter what weather. Warm coats are the way to do it. I am so glad you got your travel mojo back. I will definitely be following along…very exciting ❤️

    1. Thanks Gilda. You’re absolutely right that London never disappoints. It helps to have lived there and have a good feel for the city. We were there for some record cold, but compared to what we deal with at home it wasn’t too bad. Anyway, London is loaded with indoor activities that kept us warm and entertained.

      One of the challenges on our RTW is packing light and being prepared for cold, to mild, to blazing hot temps. It’s a fun experiment and we’ll let you know how it goes. All the best to you and Brian. ~James

  6. Wonderful for you. So glad.
    We actually ventured out in 2021 on a few short road trips in 2021, but in November of that year, Alie was hit with an unexpected series of health crises that kept us confined at home until now. I am actually writing from a ship off the coast of Cuba. We are testing the extent of her recovery on a cruise with the theory if she has a bad day, she can just be pampered by the crew – also not a bad way to travel. I know I don’t have to say it to you, but to all your readers, travel while you can, live for each day while you can; one never knows what is around the corner.

    1. Ray, after the past few years we can certainly relate to making adjustments to one’s travel life, and the important thing is to be out there for as long as you can be. It sounds like you and Alie have the perfect attitude about it all, and your cruise sounds intriguing. We wish you and Alie good health and the ability to keep traveling in whatever way you can. ~James

    1. Thanks Darlene. It’s been a long dry spell and we’re anxious to be back on the road. Most places seem to have dropped their Covid restrictions, and it pretty much means taking care of ourselves, which is fine with us. I hope you’re doing well and getting a bit of travel in as well. ~James

      1. I know you will have a great time. That travel bug just can’t be crushed. I plan to visit Ireland for the first time!

      2. Thanks Darlene. I’m sure you’ll enjoy Ireland. From the party action in Dublin to the quiet village life, it has something for everyone, especially mystery writers. All the best and have a wonderful trip. ~James

    1. Thanks Marilyn. As it happens, so far it’s 15 planes and one bullet train, but that will probably change as we go along. All the best to you and thanks for continuing to follow along. ~James

  7. Yay! That’s fantastic! How did it go with the small bags? Is that what you’re traveling with on this RWT as well? How long do you think you’ll be out there? Very exciting. Happy travels, you two!!

    1. Liesbet, the small bags for a couple of weeks were perfect. Now we’ll get to see how they do for a couple of months. The challenge in this RTW is preparing for temps from mid-30s F to low 100s. However, we’re totally happy to buy what we need as we go along, and leave behind things we don’t need anymore. As you know well, it really doesn’t take that much to be happy. Take care and happy trails. ~James

    1. Thanks Yvonne. One thing that we learned in our two weeks in London was that the world has moved on from the dark cloud of Covid, and it’s time for us to move on as well. So here we go. All the best to you and thanks for continuing to follow along. ~James

  8. How exciting! I’m super impressed with the backpacks … I’m off to Asia today and I have a small carryon roller bag and a backpack. Still quite mobile but nothing like your level of efficiency! Have a great time; I will be following your updates for sure.

    1. Lexie, our downsized packing worked so well on our London trip that we’re committed to making it work on the RTW. It’s an experiment of course and may take some tweaking as we go along, but man!, it’s nice to be able carry all your gear on in a small backpack. As you can imagine, with lots of flights, security checkpoints, and hotel changes, it should be tons easier. We’ll keep you posted. Have a great trip to Asia. Where are you going and what’s cookin’ there? ~James

    1. Hannah, London will always be near and dear to our hearts, and is such an easy, go-to place when we want a fun overseas trip. All the best to you and thanks for continuing to follow along. ~James

  9. Oh this is so exciting! I’m really happy to see one by one my blogging friends regain their wanderlust, and what a good place to start London was for both of you. Safe travels and look forward to following your journey around the world, again!

    1. Thanks Bama. It’s good to hear that you and your friends are back on the road as well. If the airports, flights, and tourists in London are an indicator, things are definitely getting back to normal. We knew they would, but still, it was encouraging to see. It was just the trip we needed exactly when we needed it. Take care of yourself and happy travels to you as well. ~James

  10. How exciting to get back on the road again after such a long absence! I can’t fathom how to get around using such small bags but it sounds like your trial trip to London had you figure it out. Looking forward to reading àbout RTW#3 no less+ be safe and have fun!

    1. Thanks Annie. After our downsized luggage experiment in London we’re excited to give it a try on the much longer RTW. It’s an experiment that will probably take a few tweaks along the way, but we’re committed to making it work. At this point, our trip will take 15 flights, so making our way to/from/and through that many airports will be so much easier with small backpacks. Take care and thanks for continuing to follow along. ~James

    1. Thanks Shane. I’m sure things are back on track in Ireland, just like the UK. I can imagine Dublin jumping on the weekends just like the old days. Hope you are well. ~James

    1. Thanks for the comment Charlotte and for dropping by the blog. London is one of our favorite cities in all the world, and it never lets us down. All the best. ~James

  11. Ah, Terri and James, so good to hear you are healthy, thriving and once again on the road. I’m excited to join you on your around the world trip! Maybe you will inspire us… We did a four month trip around the US in the fall, and just returned from three weeks on the Nile (Not that far from your old digs, eh?) Great London photos and boy am I impressed with the size of your backpacks! Peg and I really downsized for our Egypt trip, but we can’t match you. –Curt

    1. Thanks Curt. It sounds like there’s been no shortage of travel for you and Peggy. I’m envious of you Egypt visit. I haven’t been in years, but the antiquities there are my favorites. Cairo is pretty crazy, but Luxor was fabulous. I’m sure you agree there’s nowhere quite like the Valley of Kings. As for our backpacks, it will be a fun experiment which will probably take some tweaks along the way, but with all your backpacking experience you know well how little it actually takes to get by. You and Peggy take care and Happy Trails. ~James

      1. Cairo was insane, in some ways, James. Like traffic, for example. How does one turn a two lane road into a four lane road. It sounds like an introduction to a joke. The reality was something else. Still, we found things of interest in Cairo. Luxor was pure magic.
        As for backpacking, it’s called how to carry your house, kitchen, bedroom and closet on your back while keeping the weight under 25 pounds! I mastered that on my 750 mile backpack trek when I celebrated turning 75. Too bad my water and food didn’t fit that criteria as well!
        So good to hear from you and Terri again! –Curt

      2. Curt, when I first moved to Khartoum I was certain that I would die in a car accident on the way to work. Many of the roads were unpaved sand without lines and lanes were non-existent. I was complaining at the office one day, and an old Sudan hand explained that the reason there weren’t more accidents was that you couldn’t make two camels run into each other, so the drivers assumed cars were the same. 🙂

      3. Laughing. As insane as it was, we only saw one accident while we were there. My sense was that the Egyptians were fatalists. Even more than the driving, it was the pedestrians walking across the road at the height of the traffic.I’ll survive, insha’allah. 🙂

    1. Thanks Virginia. I think it was fate that London was going to get us back on track – even the weather cooperated, which isn’t always the case in January. I hope that all is well with you. Take care and thanks for following along. ~James

  12. I’ve just discovered your blog – where have I been?! London is my home city, so I’m pleased but not surprised to know that London fixed you! Walking along the South Bank is one of my favourite ways to lift my spirits. Bon voyage 😉

    1. Thanks for the comment June and for dropping by the blog. As I said elsewhere, we lived and worked in London for 3 years, and it is without a doubt our favorite city to visit. We spent a couple of weeks so we had time to revisit old haunts and discover some new things. London is forever changing so there’s always something new to see. All the best. ~James

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