Book Reviews Books for Adults Non-fiction Tell Me What to Read

At Home in the World: Reflections on Belonging While Wandering the Globe by Tsh Oxenreider

The first thing I have to say about At Home in the World is that I don’t usually like travel memoirs.

The second thing I have to say about At Home in the World is that I LOVED it.

At Home in the World

This was the third book in the last round of Tell Me What to Read and the only one of the three that I felt compelled to write a full post about.

I was already aware of Tsh Oxenreider from her podcast The Simple Show, which I listen to fairly frequently, and I knew I liked her, so I wasn’t a hard sell on this new book about her family’s year spent wandering the world, starting in Beijing and ending in London.

In this age of blogs and social media, it seems like so many families are going on the road, whether it’s for a year-long trip around the world or to travel endlessly with no final destination in mind.

I love following along on those, but I personally have zero desire to do that myself.

After a month of traveling in Europe, I was SO happy to settle down in London, unpack my suitcase, acquire a library card, and learn the grocery store aisles.

The idea of spending nine months traveling the globe makes me feel like snuggling down in my own bed and possibly never getting out.

If there’s tension between wanderlust and homebody, I’m definitely more on the homebody side.

The interesting thing to me about this book is that this is the same tension that Tsh feels (yes, I’m pretty sure we’re on a first name basis).

She’s traveled extensively throughout her college years and then with her husband (whom she met while they were both working in Kosovo), including living in Turkey for several years.

Now they’ve settled down in Oregon with their three young children and after a few years, they decided it’s time for another adventure.

They sell their house, put their belongings in storage, pack up five backpacks and they’re off.

And not only are they off, they don’t know where they’ll come back to.

Will their new home be back in Oregon? Texas, where Tsh grew up? Some new American city or a village they discover on their adventure around the globe?

They’re not sure.

And as they travel, Tsh works to balance that love of travel, of seeing the world, of exploring new places, with her love of roots, stability, and community.

I generally read books at only two paces. I’m either flying through it at breakneck speed or reading one or two pages and then putting it aside for . . . oh, six months.

But this was one of those books that I just couldn’t rush through. I just savored each new spot that visited, each beautiful new country they explored, and every reflection on family and home and community that Tsh shared.

I also racked up a lot of library fines on this book – I should have just bought my own copy.

She is a magnificent writer in a way that feels absolutely approachable, like a dear friend telling you about some really cool adventures without making you feel like you’ve missed out on life by not being along.

I loved her from the first pages of the introduction where she talked about how tired she was of travel being mutually exclusive with a happy family life. That this book wasn’t about travel as a way to escape from your life, but a way to make your current life even more rich and full.

I felt that same way when we went abroad with our girls – it wasn’t a chore having them along; it was even more meaningful and fun to have our whole family exploring new cities together.

I finished this book up on our cruise and couldn’t wait to come home and snuggle the girls and go out on a new adventure with them, even if it’s not around the world and it’s not nine months long.

One thing that really stuck with me is that the more you travel, the better you get at it, and that goes for children too. The more you make travel a regular part of your family culture, the more aptitude you’ll all develop for it.

And mostly, you’ll all hunger for more adventure and more opportunities to explore the globe together and recognize how much this world and the people that make their home on it have to offer.

Have you read this one? I’d love to hear what you thought about it.

And I’d REALLY love to hear if you have the travel itch to sell your house and wander the world or if you’d prefer to stay home most of the time and just take short trips?

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10 Comments

  • Reply Jaida March 20, 2018 at 5:34 am

    Oh man, I really loved this book too. I generally love travel memoirs, but there are so many that have interesting stories but the writing is really mediocre. This had it all. I’m always particularly amazed by families who travel with kids, and it makes me realize that there are people who are built for travel and many who aren’t. I take your point about how traveling with kids regularly makes it easier, but I know without a doubt my family is not built for this. If my kids (and frankly, me too) had this intensity of disrupted sleep and exposure to new germs, we would literally be sick for a year. I know Tsh wrote about several tummy bugs, but I’m genuinely blown away that they didn’t get sick more. I hope she continues to write; I’d like to hear more about how this year impacted the next phase of their lives.

  • Reply Kathleen March 20, 2018 at 8:07 am

    I loved this book too! I like traveling occasionally, but I think I would be perfectly happy if I never went anywhere. So I can say for sure that even if you never travel, this book is still great because you get to experience all these places vicariously! I so appreciated her thoughts about home as well. It was just so relatable while also being inspiring.

  • Reply Michelle Linton March 20, 2018 at 9:00 am

    This was a great book. I found myself, like you, reading small pieces at a time and savoring the imagery of each country.

    I definitely get a travel bug and dream of taking summers off to road trip around the country or maybe even go abroad. Not only do I love exploring new places, but there is something so freeing about living out of a few bags & being able to leave most of the stuff from home (and their ensuing obligations).

  • Reply Melanie March 20, 2018 at 9:07 am

    I’ve had a sense of wanderlust ever since I was a pre-teen and my mom went to New York with her best friend (I wanted to go SO BADLY!). Throughout my early and mid-twenties I dreamed of putting that whole “find and establish yourself in a career” thing on hold and traveling the world for 6 months at a time…like all of the Australians I met in my travels seemed to be able to do. Now, though, I don’t really have that dream. I still LOVE to travel, and ideally I can get out of the country once a year, but a couple of weeks is my max before I’m ready to be at home with my routines and my bed and the absence of cigarette smoke. I’d love the opportunity to go to another country and live there for a while, but my desire to be on the road for months at a time has disappeared.

  • Reply Diana March 20, 2018 at 12:37 pm

    I loved this one! We’ve never traveled internationally with kids (and only once ever, besides Mexico cruise stops) but this makes it seem doable! I don’t know that we’d ever even consider a round the world trip, largely because my husband’s job would be impossible to do remote so giving up our main income for a year isn’t practical. But did make me want to attempt some international travel with kids! I love travel but also love home!

  • Reply Shauntel March 20, 2018 at 5:20 pm

    I read this one per your recommendation! And I too loved it. I wrote the exact same thing you did – I usually go break neck speed through books. But I literally couldn’t with At Home in the World. I had to really wrap myself in every little sentence. Her words are just so good. We travel quite a bit with our kids, but I don’t think we’d dare to do a year. But this book makes it easy to see WHY we should! Such a beautiful memoir. I need to read it again and mark up my own copy now! Thanks so much for the recc!

  • Reply Emma March 20, 2018 at 8:56 pm

    We love travelling as a family – indeed I am currently mourning a cancelled family holiday to Japan due to illness (nothing serious) – but I agree I wouldn’t want to be continually travelling in the way one does on a short trip. But I think that if we did to a 6-12 month stint overseas we would take it slowly, e.g. a month in each place, which would make it more manageable. I’d love to go somewhere the kids would learn a foreign language – what a gift to them!

  • Reply MIkayla Stucki March 21, 2018 at 9:04 am

    I listened to this about a year ago and loved it! If you decide you want to revisit it, I definitely suggest the audiobook. Tsh reads it herself. I’m sure you’d enjoy the familiar voice since you listen to her podcast. 🙂
    I don’t really have any desire to travel for such a long period of time. I am definitely more of a homebody. It might be nice to travel for a month out of each year, though. I just went on my first international trip (to Ireland) and we did everything at breakneck speed to try to cram as much as we could into the week we had. It was… not my style of travel. Having a month in a country to just explore without feeling so rushed and then get to go home afterward would be a happy middle ground for me I think.

  • Reply Laura H March 29, 2018 at 1:20 pm

    You nailed that review. My exactly feelings. What a great book! Thanks for the recommendation. I will think of it often as I reluctantly have to go somewhere overnight without my favorite pillow 🙂

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