Two days after I flew home to Michigan in December, I found myself sitting on a cold Doctors office table, being pricked with injection after injection of neon-red liquid. No, I hadn’t returned from some jungle expedition with a rare tropical disease. I was returning from three years of living in England, and four months of traveling within Europe. Every country I traveled to was considered “developed,” none had health warnings or required vaccines which I didn’t already have. So no, I wasn’t being treated for some rare condition…. unless you count the health impact of travel itself as a condition. Which, after dozens of painful injections, I was starting to.
It feels strange to longer be an “expat,” but in some ways I think I will always identify as an expat. Take, for example, how I perk up when anyone mentions they are planning their own move abroad. I love to give advice, hence the blog (or maybe this is one of those chicken and egg situations?), so I’ve been gradually compiling a list of practical tips for new expats in my head.
Add into the equation that one of my best friends from growing up in Michigan is imminently moving to Australia, and my head has really been buzzing with ideas. Over brunch the other day, Sydney (my friend) mentioned to me how she is wiring her money to her new Australian bank account, and all of a sudden all these alarms started going off in my brain. Like, Inside Out style. Imagine little Mindy Kaling-voiced elves storming through my frontal lobe with “practical tips for new expats” files under their arms.
If sleeping in a space pod in Iceland isn’t on your bucket list, well, now it is! The luxury Galaxy Pod Hostel in Reykjavik is not only the best hostel for a stopover in Iceland, but it’s also the introvert’s answer to hostels. During my emotional transcontinental move from England to the USA, I planned in a quick 2-night stopover in Iceland – partly because I’d been wanting to visit Iceland for years, and partly because I was in denial of my nomadic lifestyle ending. I spent ages looking for the perfect hostel for my layover: I love quirky, boutique hostels, that are super clean with a central location and low on cost… don’t ask for much do I?! Well, when I found Galaxy Pod Hostel in Reykjavik I was sold. Not only did it have great reviews, and was undeniably the cheapest option in Rekyavik, but I would get to sleep in a space pod. A SPACE POD.
Well, it’s a little belated, but I wanted to share with you guys what I was up to in December! It was one of my 2017 goals to do a “monthly recap” for every single month, and I managed it! The end of the year is already so full of reflective posts that I thought maybe I wouldn’t post my December recap, but I wanted to keep to my goal so here it is 🙂 It’s actually pretty crazy looking back on this month and seeing how many places I actually was – I can’t believe it was just one month ago that I was collecting donations for the refugee camp in Germany!! And managed to get to four other countries as well! Looking back it seems so long ago.
I can undoubtedly say I traveled more in 2017 than any other year of my life – from expat life in England, to living nomadically throughout Europe, I spent time in 16 different countries! In fact, it’s funny to look back on last year’s 2017 travel plans blog post and see that, wow, I really did follow through on most plans – which were only a dream when I wrote it!! But how can 2018 live up to that? If 2017 was the year of travel, I’m going to make 2018 the year of roots. Of slowing down, enjoying being in one place, reconnecting with family and friends in the USA. And not just because I have to, but because I want to.
4 months ago I clicked “submit” on my Masters dissertation, stuffed every single last belonging into the trunk of Dan’s car, and…became a nomad.
What happened next was an adventure in living a nomadic lifestyle: no home, living out of suitcases, and no firm plans further than a month out. For a generally type-A planner, this was a shock to the system to say the least. But it was the adventure of a lifetime, including both the ups and downs, and I would do it all over again!!
I felt a click the moment the wheels lifted off the tarmac. As in: it’s too late, there’s no turning back now. The frost on the airplane window is telling me this is no longer your home. I watch London’s close packed grey roofs fade into squares of white, cordoned by dark green hedges. All of England seemingly covered in crisp snowflakes, never more beautiful than in this exact moment, gazing down from my window seat. Beautiful because it’s no longer mine. It is like the country I love so dearly is sending me a white flag of surrender, offering up a final goodbye. Or maybe the snow is a celebration (of me leaving? or of my years here?).
I came to Hungary hungry (pardon the pun, friends) and I was in for a treat exploring the gluten free Budapest scene! Dan and I spent four days in Budapest in August (a one night layover between Belgium and Austria, and then a proper weekend a few days later). It wasn’t nearly long enough to fully explore the gluten free Budapest scene, or experience
every single thermal bath all the things we wanted to see. I usually shy away from writing up gluten free city guides if I don’t feel like I truly know a city. However, I’m going to give gluten free Budapest a shot because Dan’s good friend and her mom (who are both gluten intolerant) visited Budapest a few weeks before us, and I got to pick their brains as well!
November was one of those months for me that, looking back, seems like it could have been four months. How was I working in France at the refugee camps at the beginning of the month and now I’m here, sitting at my friend’s kitchen table in northern Germany typing this out? I love doing these recap posts because it makes me remember how much actually happens in life.
If you’ve been following my instagram, you’ll see that life lately has been cozy, pink, and full of gluten free bagels: I have Ecomama Hotel Amsterdam to thank for that! With my spike in traveling recently, and also some reflections after working in the refugee camps, I’ve decided to honestly invest in making more ethical, sustainable, and socially responsible decisions with my money when I travel. (You’ll even see that I’ve added a new category in my blog menu: Ethical Travel). Whereas I previously looked for a low price/high design ratio in travel accommodation, I’m now adding sustainability into the mix.