7 Lessons Learned from Not Traveling

7 Lessons Learned from Not Traveling by Duke Stewart
Written by Carl Hedinger

Lessons learned from Not Traveling

I’m taking a break from writing travel-related stories because there’s a battle raging inside me right now. As a travel writer, it’s very hard to say that my wife and I haven’t moved around as much as we did before. This has been one of the toughest subjects for me to write about because a traveler isn’t meant to stay in one place, right? Thanks to an old mistake catching up to me along with time and money shortages, exploring life through travel has become a tough prospect lately. Writing this has been very difficult for me but that’s the only way I can work through this, by sharing these lessons learned from not traveling.

7 Lessons Learned from Not Traveling

Don’t Run Away

I’m embarrassed to say that almost a decade ago, I was a very different person and led a mistake-filled life. This led to an arrest for a DUI, which I thought was settled back then. I completed community service and have a clean record but unfortunately, the DMV case kept getting pushed back. My lawyer submitted a request for continuance that was never received, and I didn’t realize that by moving to Korea, I was actually running away from something very important. We returned to find out my license was suspended, and that I was required to report to a treatment office. There, I’d learn how poor choices have affected my life and could’ve been worse. No excuses. I screwed up.

Accept Life

Thailand Chiang Mai Chedi Luang Message

Not only have we been working with the law, but also racing against time and money. We saved tons of cash while living large and working very little in South Korea but returning home has been a series of eye-opening days. I honestly didn’t realize just how expensive resettling here would become. Yes, there have been many days where I’ve questioned returning to the U.S. but that would defeat the purpose of leaving Korea. We returned home because it was time and leaving again would just be using travel as an escape, kicking our future down the road. I have to accept this new life and realize that it’s pretty awesome. We’ll persevere through the tough times because that’s what it takes to reach happiness.

You Can Overcome Anything

Hillsborough North Carolina Stickwork by Patrick Dougherty

I leaped through the final hoop by writing an essay about the DUI’s effect on my life and loved ones. Then I read it to a group of people in my class while trying to maintain composure. Shame and remorse took over and though I’ve long since owned up to my mistakes, this was the first time that I had to write it all down and explain it to people. That moment felt like I’d approached the opening from inside a deep cave, shedding some very real tears and emotional burdens I’d long kept inside. My obstacles are easy compared to other people, but I am happy to be free and ready to get on with my life. First and foremost, fun times with my wife and also that thing I’m doing here.

You Can Travel Local

Bull Durham Tobacco and Lucky Strike

I designed this site knowing that international travel wouldn’t always be a part of my life. Yes, I’ve worked very hard and have been lucky to join press trips and media opportunities, but we’re not traveling like back in Asia. Local travel isn’t just for those without the time or money. Everyone can do it. There’s always a way to escape those cumbersome surroundings but not our lives completely, even if we’re not going very far. As I’ve said in the past, travel isn’t a race to some far-flung destination that takes hours or even days to reach. Please tell me that you’ve explored your surroundings. Why not? After all, it’s right outside and waiting for you to discover.

Be Grateful to Those Who Matter

Christina and Duke Stewart Working Out Together

I think back to my surgery in Korea, and how I sat alone in a Seoul hospital bed one Christmas. The TV that pumped out Die Hard and other Christmas favorites was my only company. Christina couldn’t come until the next day because her school wouldn’t allow a day off to travel there. What would I have done in the situation that we’re in now? All the support and help from our family has been a real reminder of why we came home. My wife and awesome family have helped me jump through a lot of hoops and this is something worth saying “thank you” for a million times over. Not everyone has this amount of help, and for that we’re grateful for every bit of it. Hopefully you have a similar support system nearby.

Be Patient and Take Breaks

Duke Forest in April 2016

Just like I’ve learned from starting a travel blog, patience is crucial or else you’ll lose all hope in very quick fashion. Everyday, I see a new instant-success story or an amazing adventure created by someone else. It’s overwhelming and thanks to my need to feel stimulated at all times. My getaway is a daily walk through the woods, with nothing but my thoughts and surroundings to deal with. Do you have a method of taking a break that doesn’t involve a newsfeed? Patience and breaks don’t just mean taking a breath and relaxing. They help us disconnect from that need to achieve and fulfill all of those goals staring at us from the finish line. We need to do back away throughout every day.

Work Toward Your Goals

Durham American Tobacco Trail Spring 2016

Just like I explained to the bus driver from class who lost his license and job, life isn’t over and things will get better. Running away from it all certainly won’t help, as in my case. Coming to terms with the situation is the best way to get started and it took me a long time to do that. On the bright side, I’ve been forced to appreciate my immediate surroundings and really embrace local travel when time, money, and the law haven’t been in my favor. If you just take a breath and find a place to walk or sit to recuperate your mind, that’s one step towards a happier life. Life interrupts everyone’s goals, as these lessons from not traveling have taught me. It’s been tough times but I’m ready to get back and start moving. I have stuff to explore and goals to work towards.

South Korea Damyang Bamboo Forest

Have you had to put life or work on pause due to a mistake or unfortunate situation? What do you think about my lessons from not traveling? I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments section below!

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About the author

Carl Hedinger

I’m a writer and recovering American expat who shares my family’s travels through life. Follow our adventures here and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


  • Hi,Carl~ I miss you.
    You and Christina look so happy in the picture that I can feel like you are here.7 lessons from no travelling could be very useful when I travel.Thanks a lot.I promised Patric and James to go hiking mt Jokye in Suncheon May the 5th,eating steamed barley(보리밥)visiting a very old small temple that was built 1600 years ago. you and I should have gone hiking there when you were here. I ask for understanding on my comment to all commenters as I am not a advaced english student.I will always keep my fingers crossed for everybody.

    • Hanu,

      Very good to hear from you again! I miss you too, my friend. Hopefully you get to go for that hike on Cinco de Mayo (May 5th) and if so, send me a photo or two! Thanks again and I hope to stay in touch.

      Take care.

  • What an honest and insightful post. Hard to believe that a 10 year mistake has such consequences on your current life – sorry that this has happened to you, though glad you seem to be finding the light! I’ll be honest, I am looking forward to traveling locally at home in the US. After so much constant travel through Asia, exploring your homebase is a blessing and a good way to reconnect with a place you were away from for so long!

    • Thank you for the kind comment, Katie. Things have cleared up now but yeah, it’s been rough living here without that easy public transport system like Korea had! Anyway, I see you wrote some nice stuff about Asheville, which is high on our recent radar of places to visit. Can’t wait to check that out and in the mean time, I hope to stay in touch! Take care and all the best to you.

      • Yeah! We shall meet up once I return to the southern USA! Perhaps some hiking and beer drinking in the Blue Ridge Mountains!

  • I’ve really taken the traveling local thing to heart now that my budget has changed, and it’s so clear to me how easy it is to see new things right in my own backyard. Still, I can’t wait to get back on the road for a longer trip as soon as possible.

    • You live in an awesome part of the country though, you have to admit:)

      However, I agree with you. It’s so easy to find some greatness right outside. We just have to give ourselves a chance (and time) to find it. It doesn’t take too much, I say. Thanks for stopping by, Jeri!

  • I know it must be a very difficult season for you, but I appreciate your honesty and transparency; it is a rare quality and practice anymore. I do a fair amount of traveling; I’ve had to learn to embrace it as an opportunity to grow and see it as an adventure where my natural personality would be very happy at home, sitting at and easel from morning ’til night with a paintbrush in my hand. With coffee and a bit of food, I could be a very happy camper at my easel for days on end with never even talking to another human being. However, I have come to realize that my art would be much flatter without my broader range of exposure to different people and places.

    I think that more people should travel, in general, but not so that they can escape from difficult personal situations. All too often people don’t really comprehend how other people around the world live. Existing (to pay bills) is often a substitute for really living and then we lack compassion for those who have less or who have struggles that we can’t really imagine. I was glad to read your recognition of these things and you gratitude, even in your hard places now. I’m also glad to hear that you have more family support now. “Live alone, die alone” is not a good pathway through the world.

    “We, too, have been brought back to the states for a season. First we helped a widowed friend (who’s like the sister I never had) get moved to another state and now we’re helping dear friends (who are really family) in stroke recovery. It’s hard in some ways. We spent 5 months in Sydney last year and even though we didn’t do a great amount of exploration, I really did love it there. “To every thing there is a season…”

    There ARE great benefits to local exploration and I’m glad to see that you are making the opportunities to find interesting things to do in your current surroundings. In our own settled period this year, I joined a line dancing exercise group while it was in session. Now that it’s over, I take walks with my camera to shoot local flora and fauna –we are fortunate enough to live in an “Old Florida” environment right now–there are lots of Osprey up in trees and in the sky and there are also lots of tiny, low to the ground wildflowers, so I can stand tall to get good fauna shots and also get to do lots of squats in my photography sessions to get those wildflowers. Our friends also like to enjoy the activities in their small town, so we’ve done weekly Farmer’s Markets, art museums and other local art shows that we probably would never have seen if we hadn’t been here. Staying put for seasons also has its benefits. Enjoy your season, even with its hardships.

    • I really appreciate your thoughtful and thorough comment here. It seems like you are a true explorer and after reading your stories, it really did lift me up a whole lot! These days have been tough but I’m trying to slowly get back on the path to moving around and traveling, even if locally.

      Which part of Florida are you in these days? I haven’t been in years and would love to head back down that way sometime. Going to be in Miami for just a few hours but would love to explore the center and panhandle again!

  • Travel is not a race Ah! Finally somebody said it. These days, traveling has become some sort of show off badges, that the real meaning of travel has been off. So good to have come across this article 🙂

    • Hi Deepika, I appreciate your kind words here. Hopefully I don’t stir the pot too much but yeah, I find myself losing the race a lot these days:)

      Take care and I hope to hear back from you next time around!