What comes to mind when you think of travel abroad?
Does travel abroad conjure up dreamy beach vacations or a big city cultural immersion? Or does it seem a little scary.
Is traveling to a foreign country on your someday bucket list? Or is traveling abroad a “got to have it” non-negotiable.
I’m assuming you wouldn’t be reading this if your favorite pastime is hanging out at home. But you know what? I consider myself a homebody and still I can’t wait to travel to new places. There’s something about the flow you get into when you’re navigating a new town or train system that’s quite frankly exhilarating!
My partner Jim and I work better together when we’re on the move; maybe you do too. We learn to rely on each other and it keeps our busy brains content. We thrive on new challenges not the every day routines. Use it or lose it, right?
Ready to Change Your Life through Travel?
Since we’ve started traveling more often this past couple of years, we’ve run into retired couples who make frequent travel part of their lifestyle.
One British couple had taken our tour of Bruges 7 times with other return trips planned. Yes seven! Another couple from Boulder admitted they traveled about 3-4 months out of the year including visits to kids in Saudi Arabia and the US west coast.
The traditional two week American vacation is broken.
Two weeks allows time to see Europe as a tourist but leaves no time to explore. Living like a local or immersing yourself in local culture isn’t possible in 14 days.
Until recently my impressions of Europe were defined by two week vacations. Just as I’d get used to the time zone and learn the ropes to get around, it was time to pack up and go home. After each trip I vowed the day would come when I would stay longer.
Last year I booked a London hotel and Brighton Airbnb, then flew from Denver to London to spend six glorious weeks in southern England.
Six weeks changed how I look at travel forever. Six weeks allowed me to immerse myself in the culture, shop in local stores, cook in my own kitchen and learn how to get around on public buses, trains and taxis. I loved it! A lifelong dream to spend more time close to family in my birth country was finally realized.
- Where would you go for six weeks or more?
- What experience is calling you?
- Do you have family in other countries you’ve always wanted to visit?
- Does the concept of slow travel intrigue you?
- Are you passionate about Italian prossecco or daydream about working in a winery and learning Francais?
If thinking of the possibilities gives you a tingle, then why not make the decision to integrate travel abroad into your lifestyle?
You’ll find yourself expanding to meet all the new delicious and delightful challenges of what to eat, where to go and how to get there!
How to Travel Abroad for 6 Weeks
- Be creative. If you’re not retired, find out if some of your travel time can be “work” time. Can you work from anywhere? Or can you use this time to be productive and start a new business idea, novel or career. If you fall in love with your new foreign home, spend some time researching work options while you’re there and perhaps you can put together all the necessary details to afford to stay longer. Even if you can’t legally work in your new country, you may still be qualified to work a flex job with your employer or create a new “work from anywhere” position with another company.
- Pick your passion. Italy, France, Belgium or Costa Rica? Where have you always wanted to explore? If you have family nearby even better, just don’t stay with them if you want the full immersive experience. Keep in mind, Parisians decamp during the entire month of August so if you’re willing to see the city at its’ hottest you may be able to snag a deal. If you’re willing to travel off season when most families aren’t, you’ll get the most bang for your buck.
- Plan a base location for your entire trip. I like to have a base to travel from. Packing and unpacking is NOT my jam. It may cost a little more but in terms of stress relief and comfort, you can’t beat having a base. As a bonus, you start to feel like a local, learn where the shops and markets are and even make new friends. “Oh yes I’m staying at the Villa dos Lunas, why don’t you stop by for a glass of wine?”
- Research your home from home. The last thing I want to do when I get off a plane is think about where I’m going. Trust me you’ll get the best deals and the pick of the best flats if you book ahead. If you’re traveling in high season, don’t even think about winging it. Airbnb, VRBO or Homeaway are the best places to start. You can also try Googling “short term or holiday accommodations in London” (swap out “accommodation” to use the local vernacular for example “flat” or “casita” and your location for London).
- Book your new pad. I suggest filtering your results on Airbnb to “entire place” and then plug in your preferred dates to see what’s available. If you decide you’re happy to “share a place”, you’ll have a private room and share a bathroom and kitchen. Most Airbnb hosts will discount nightly rates for a stay of 25 nights or more. Message the owner and ask if you can get a break on an additional two weeks.
- Work up a rough budget. When you’ve got an idea of what your new home from home will cost, add that expense to other living expenses (such as food and meals out). Include a transportation allowance while you’re there and of course a round trip plane ticket.
- Start saving. Now you know what to save for and how much to put aside each month to meet your goal. If you already have a travel nest egg, then start planning.
- Do you want to share this adventure? Is a solo trip your choice or do you think you’d like to share this experience with a friend, loved one or partner? My advice is the less baggage the better. Choose carefully. Traveling solo may be your best option if a good supportive, active partner in travel isn’t available.
Now you’ve got a game plan, get started planning where you want to go. That’s part of the fun. Don’t forget to plan some excursions from your base too. We made two separate train trips to Edinburgh from our base in southern England. Italy and Belgium have also been “excursions”.
My advice is plan a few day trips from your base camp. Allow some days to relax at “home” in between trips and catch up on laundry!
When you spend six weeks or more traveling abroad, your life and outlook will change forever. It’s the best youth serum I know.
Where are you going to find yourself?
Need help planning a move abroad sometime in the future?