Adulting Life Updates Travel Blogger

Home for the Holidays: Presence Over Presents

Estimated Reading Time: 7 minutes

Happy Holidays from Arizona, USA!
Happy Holidays from Arizona, USA!

SURPRISE!!! To everyone including my family — I’m back in America for the holidays!

To be honest, I started suffering from homesickness about a month ago for the first time since being abroad, and it got so bad, I was tearing up at the thought of not being home for Christmas this year.

I honestly wasn’t sure if I’d make it back in time for multiple reasons, finances being the main one, but in true holiday form, a Christmas miracle happened.

Out of pure delirium and mischief, I wanted to keep that surprise element going — so I told roughly five people I was headed home to surprise my family after finding out I’d be able to make it home just 30 hours before my flight.

Landed in Chicago for my layover to see one of the most beautiful sights in the world. I could hardly control the waterworks at this point.
Landed on U.S. soil to see one of the most beautiful sights in the world. I could hardly control the waterworks at this point.

I stepped through the front doors of my mother’s house Tuesday night, for the first time in two years after indefinitely taking off to Europe back in December of 2013.

I see my 23-year old brother first who screams out, “GLORIA!?!?!”

And it was history from there.

I barged into the living room where the rest of my unsuspecting family members were, and ironically, my eldest sister who’s been living in New York and hadn’t been back home in three years, had also surprised the family by coming unannounced an hour before I did!

Haha! What are the chances?!

So by the time another daughter had come back as a surprise, my mom, in true skeptical Nigerian form, threw in the towel and said, “WOT EEZ GOH-HENG ON???”

Lol, sorry Ma.

Landing in Stockholm, Sweden
Landing in Stockholm, Sweden for my layover, because airlines hate me and couldn’t put me on a direct flight from London to America. No, let’s send this one to Scandinavia first so she can backtrack and add roughly 16 more wonderful hours spent seeking airport wifi and developing a hunchback from sleeping in that disastrous posture from airline chairs when you get stuck behind Sir Lean-A-Lot in full recline.

I secretly spent the past 40 hours hopping from airport to airport, sleep-walking from London to Sweden to Chicago, and finally home to Phoenix, Arizona where the majority of my seven other family members now live.

For this year’s holidays, I chose presence over presents and was keen on reuniting with my family during this precious time of the year.

So yes, I’m writing this from my comfortable and cozy couch near Phoenix, AZ where I have never felt more at home, sane, and less guilty about my sudden urge to do nothing whatsoever towards showing I am a functional human being.


From nonstop traveling, my brain has seemingly normalized the process of adapting, assimilating, and unfortunately, messing up on a daily basis.

I’ve taken Europe by storm this year, visiting 15 of its countries, many of which were repeats, as well as adding another 2 in Asia.

London, United Kingdom

Whether I was shamelessly signing autographs as Serena Williams in Montenegro, or butchering basic Spanish jargon in Spain (like the time I asked a guy if he wanted to “exchange tongues”, when I meant “languages”, I think), and the many other times I put myself out there to experience everything this world had to offer.

Yet and still, these next two months might be my best adventure yet, as I come back home to take time off to stay in the same location — OMG, WHAT?!?!

Yes,  alive dead serious.

I’ve been in go-go-go mode for the past six months to create and pursue a lifestyle I could only dream of. I wanted to build a reputable and sustainable brand for myself. I wanted to publish a book. I wanted to grow my platform globally.

Well, check, check, and CHECK — MATE.

What a feeling to put yourself out there to sink or swim, and then actually end up drowning because you didn’t have a life jacket swimming, proving not only to yourself, but to the world, that it is possible.

That “it” being whatever you want it to be.

Your dreams.

Your passions.

Your goals.

London, United Kingdom
London, United Kingdom

So what’s next?

Excuse my ambiguity, but a lot. 

And I promise I’ll be more specific when I solidify all the travels, collaborations, and projects I’ve got lined up.

If you read my post about some epiphanies I had as a full-time travel blogger these past six months, then you understand how eager I am to start the new year off on the right foot, with the right attitude, and tunnel-vision focus.

When I won’t be too busy taking pleasures in the little things like rolling around on carpet floors or watching Sports Center on repeat for no reason other than making up for two years where I was deprived of it, you can probably find me doing the following…

1. Public Speaking
Something I will never take for granted is the impact and importance of using whatever gifts or talents you’ve acquired to invest back into your community and youth.

Our youth are the future, and I’m so excited to be giving back in the best way I can, through mentorship and public speaking about the overall importance of following your dreams and finding ways to maximize your potential to make this world a better place.

"From Excuses to Excursions: How I Started Traveling the World" PRICE - $10
“From Excuses to Excursions: How I Started Traveling the World” // PRICE – $10 (Click Cover to Purchase)

2. E-Book Meetups
Back in late September, I did a promotion when I announced my e-book release, that the first 150 pre-orders would get a special gift from me!

Having no idea this would sell out in 24 hours, I was both overwhelmed and overjoyed to know how strong the support was.

So I’ll be doing local meetups and slowly making my way around to those first 150 e-book purchasers, complete with a mini photo shoot and of course, some 1-on-1 conversation and fun.

London, United Kingdom
London, United Kingdom

3. YouTube Channel
Something I’ve been told over and over again by friends and followers everywhere is that I needed to animate my adventures through video.

Over the years, I’ve become more comfortable on camera (sorry future hubby, not in that way) and it’s prompted all types of possibilities in ways I can expand The Blog Abroad to better serve and entertain the public.

While I’ve taken some random footage on some of my travels, I’ll do a better job of using them to narrate and showcase some of the fun, adventures, and discoveries I’ve made along the way.

Here’s a quick look at a video compilation I made, dancing my way around the globe to not only share my love of travel, but also my mission to spread joy and happiness with everything I touch. And I can only convey so much of that through words.

From booze cruising along the French Riviera on my 25th birthday, to taking the stage at a Holi Festival of Colors, to a #TBEX Catamaran sail, to dancing at beer festivals in Barcelona.

To trying my first macaroon in Paris, to castle tower views in the Czech Republic, to tipsy bike rides through Vienna’s vineyards, to Greek mountain strolls, to salsa classes in Spain.

To Nutella waffles in Belgium, to surviving running with the bulls in Pamplona, to fortress climbing in Albania and Montenegro, to tuk tuk cruisin’ and temple droolin’ in Bangkok.

As I’ve spent the past 24 hours locked inside my home, with no desire to leave the company of my beloved family, I can’t emphasize enough the beautiful feeling of waking up in your childhood bed, eating your mother’s home-cooked meals, and wasting hours and brain cells playing the ever-so-competitive Mario Brothers on the Wii with your equally competitive five brothers and sisters.

And this perfect combination is perhaps the best gift of all.

Candid moment laughing as my younger sister mocks my Instagram poses. Haha, JERK.

So Merry Christmas to all you wonderful readers near and far! May this holiday season be the best one yet, surrounded with both presence and presents from those you love. XOXO

the blog abroad, oxford street, christmas in london

  • Jamie

    Merry Christmas, Glo!!

  • Janelle Grizzard

    Welcome home! It would be wonderful to have a local meet-up. I’ll come! Have it soon. Janelle

  • Happy for you that you made it home to be with your family! Merry Christmas Glo!

  • Merry Christmas and yay for being able to spend time at home with loved ones! 😀

  • Yay what an awesome way to surprise your family. Merry Christmas and I hope you enjoy your much deserved break. Can’t wait to see what 2016 has in store for you! I’ll be reading 🙃

  • OMG I just read this post and I’m soooo happy for you!!! I can’t imagine the joy that your mom has when both of her daughters surprise her this Christmas. And I’m so happy that you manage to make it back with enough financials and on time!!! Merry Christmas Gloria! Enjoy all the family love you can get!!! 😄

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