Wow, how disappointing that they weren't more friendly especially after a trip that long.
Are you still looking for ideas on a next project? I think a hat on 16" circulars. Or socks, worked magic loop on longer circulars, are a good progression. There are boot sock patterns worked on larger needles (like a size 6), if you are concerned about knitting on tiny needles.
Read over your basics, an other good tool to have is a crochet hook. You can get one cheaply at Michaels. I like the inox brand (don't know if they carry it.) But a hook is very handy for fixing mistakes, picking up stitches, etc. And doesn't cost alot.