What comes to your mind when you think of travel abroad. Does the word conjure up dreamy vacations by the beach or hustling through a big city soaking up the sights. Is traveling to a foreign country on your someday bucket list?
If you’re like me “travel” used to mean a one or two week vacation. I didn’t have to travel for work, so my travel experiences were usually as a tourist.
What’s been your experience. Is your travel exclusively for vacation or business. Something you squeeze into your day to day life?
Or has travel become a way of life for you. Something you do on purpose to fill up your days instead of trying to squeeze it in?
What if travel became a necessary and non-negotiable part of life? Something we plan for and put on the calendar.
Now 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 our busy brains are content. By staving off the boredom of a daily routine we thrive on new challenges. Use it or lose it, right?
Travel Abroad Like You Mean It.
Since we’ve started traveling more often this past couple of years, we’ve run into retired couples who fit their lives in around their frequent travel. 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 which included visits to kids in Saudi and the US west coast.
The traditional two week American vacation is just enough time to visit Europe as a tourist. It leaves no time to explore and live like a local or immerse yourself in local culture.
Until last year my taste of Europe was defined by two week vacations. Sure enough, just as I would get used to the time zone and learn the ropes to get around, it was time to pack up and go home. Each time I vowed one day I would stay longer.
Last year I booked a London hotel and Brighton Airbnb, then flew Denver to London to spend six glorious weeks in southern England.
Six weeks changed forever how I look at travel. 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?
- Are you passionate about Italian prossecco or daydream about working in a winery alongside some dark Italian hunk?
Whatever your jam, it’s your time. Let’s get er done as they say in TX. Cause honey, time is flying and you need to get packing! When you commit to spending six weeks or more in a foreign country your life will change forever guaranteed. You’ll have a better perspective on your life, your needs and your desires. You will find yourself expanding to meet all the new delicious and delightful challenges of what to eat, where to go and how to get there!
To Travel Abroad for Six Weeks Here’s How to Get Started:
- 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 new pad ahead of time. 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).
- More on your new pad. Unless you’re on a strict budget, I suggest filtering your results on Airbnb to “entire home” and then plug in your preferred dates to see what’s available. If you decide you’re happy to share a place, you’ll likely have a private room and share a bathroom and kitchen. Most Airbnb hosts will discount their nightly rates for a stay of 25 nights or more. What you can do is message the owner and ask if they will give you 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 have a nest egg, then start planning now.
- Who you want to go on this adventure with? 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.
That’s it! Get started planning. 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”. Wherever you go plan a few day trips to look forward to. Give yourself a day or two to relax at “home” in between.
When you spend six weeks or more exploring the world and travel abroad, your life and outlook will change forever. It’s the best youth serum I know.
Where are you going to find yourself?