Our 2017 Travel Plans
After a really enjoyable 2016, we are still very enthusiastic about our full-time traveling life. Last year was split into two halves; the first six months in Asia, the second traveling around the western US in our Airstream. Well, the international travel bug has got us. We have both traveled extensively around the world through the years. Usually for only a few days at a time on a business trip or a week or two on vacation. Spending extended periods of time in another country is a fantastic way to truly get a feeling for a place. Without the breathless itinerary of a week-long trip you can really appreciate what it would be like to live somewhere, not just see the sights. So, no surprise 2017 will have a lot more of that!!
Our plans started to take shape early in 2016 while we were still in Asia. One of my nephews back in the UK reached out to ask if we would be interested in a family holiday (British for vacation!) somewhere sunny in Europe. When my sister's three boys were small we used to vacation with them often. Now they are all in their twenties and living grown up lives with girlfriends and fiancees it seemed like a good idea to relive the fun of the family holiday. We looked for a large villa to accommodate all of us and settled on a new location that none of us had visited: the Black Sea in Bulgaria. This is an up and coming European beach destination and we are excited to be heading there with the family in June.
Of course for us, travel is never a simple vacation. We got to thinking, if we are going to fly to Europe why don't we just go there for several months and repeat what we did in Asia? Spending a month in various locations, trying them out for size as potential future homes. It's something we call LifeHopping.
So our plans were hatched. I have a work commitment in early March so we decided to spend the first few months of the year in Southern California. We haven't decided yet whether to head to the desert or just stick to the coast, but we always love spending time in the Golden State.
In early March we head across the Atlantic, visiting family in the UK for a week before spending our first month Lifehopping in Valencia, Spain. We will be there for the famous Fallas festival and can't wait to experience what is reported to be one of the amazing spectacles in the world. After that we head to Lisbon for a month followed by shorter stays in Madrid, Sicily and Bologna in Italy before meeting up with the family in Bulgaria.
These are places we never really visited when we lived in Europe, so they will all be new experiences. We picked these locations specifically because we have come to increasingly realize that we are city folk. We love the feeling of being among all the smells and sounds of a city. We enjoy walking or taking public transport and just spontaneously discovering new hidden treasures along the way. I guess we just thrive on feeling part of a bustling, melting pot of humanity. For anyone who has spent anytime reading this blog you also know that we prefer warm climates and all these places are in sunnier parts of Europe.
These plans take us until the end of June. Our original thought was to return to the US after that and spend another summer in the Airstream, but at the end of 2016 we started to feel differently. Now we are considering spending more time in Europe or heading to Mexico for the second half of the year. Two main factors made us change our minds.
Firstly - although we love traveling around the western states, we began to feel a little jaded by the small town America where we spend most of our time. The fact that the population now seems so divided about the idea of America and its future really unsettled us. We prefer to be among more diverse and inclusive communities. This is not a political statement but is more about a feeling of belonging. We love our adopted country but feel the need for some distance and a time-out if we are going to preserve our relationship with it in the long term.
Secondly - the healthcare environment has become more and more challenging for self-employed people like us who spend time in multiple states during the year. As Texas residents we don't have a viable choice for a healthplan. We considered relocating again, this time to Florida where there are still some plans that offer us nationwide coverage. But given the fact that healthcare legislation is likely to change again in the next year, we decided to put off that decision until this coming November when we hope the long term options are more defined.
Once we had made the decision to spend the majority of the year outside of the US, we immediately felt comfortable with it. Beyond that, we are excited about what the future will hold for us and whether we will find our perfect location in a sunny city somewhere overseas. I hope you get the chance to live your best life in the coming year. Here's to 2017 and all the adventures it will bring!