Part 1: WHAT IS IT LIKE LIVING OVERSEAS
WHAT IS IT LIKE? I am asked this all the time. HOW do I manage this constant travel and living overseas? The first word that comes to mind is PRIORITY, then sacrifice and elimination and finally CHOICES combined with planning, lots of planning! It’s not like you wake up one day, pack your suitcase and go…although people have done such a thing blindly! But if you are asking me, then I will tell you my current story.
What is RESIDENTIAL TRAVELING?
Living abroad (anywhere away from your permanent residence), changing homes within the Visa stipulations of each country you visit. From 2 weeks to 6 months at a time.
With Residential Traveling (a term I coined) you are renting a furnished flat, living like a local rather than a tourist which means not rushing from attraction to attraction, but at a leisurely pace, meeting the neighbors, getting into the culture and local events and blending in as best as you can. Trading stories, cultures, peace and politics with people from all walks of life until the visa runs out then you change locations and dive into another way of life and continue with this until you decide a more stationary life OR not! Residential traveling is a phrase I created while living abroad and I think it has more meaningful than Nomad or Gypsy!
For as long as I can remember, the word ‘TRAVEL‘ struck a huge musical chord in me. My dad being my first initiator and lover of travel, especially anything Italian having his roots deeply and passionately implanted there. And when I was with him traveling, he was a happy man, which made everyone have an exciting experience. My mom, on the other hand, loved crafts and music and was happy to just stay at home doing both, but she did like to entertain with her portable keyboards and was happy to join my Dad in their world wide adventures on nearly every continent…and entertain when she could (now you know where my musical abilities come from). Having said all that…and shedding some light on my background…here is the nuts and bolts of Residential Traveling as I coined it.
First off…YOU HAVE TO WANT TO DO IT…plain and simple, AND muster up the courage to carry it out. It has to become your #1 priority. Then you have to sacrifice your familiar luxuries (whatever they are) like the newest IPad, fancy duds, convertible or tall latte (they are better in Europe anyway) and perhaps the start of downsizing EVERYTHING and maybe subletting or renting instead of owning, hence liberating you from mortgage debts and extra bills. When you travel, no one knows you, so it’s not like you have to keep up with the Jones’s, lol, unless you find that tribe and need to show off to them. YOU are automatically an attraction because you are from another culture across the planet and most people are curious and will want to friend you. They want to ask you questions about your life, your president, your housing and want to share with you about theirs. Personally, I’d rather see the world and tell it’s stories then show off what I can’t take to the grave. In the end…it’s all just stuff that ends up in a landfill somewhere destroying our sacred earth…just saying.
Once you have made the sacrifice to $ave and eliminate what does not serve your future, then it’s about choices and planning. Sometimes I am asked “How do you just pack and leave” and my answer is “How can you stay and NOT pack and leave?” It’s about what your priorities are and who and what you are attached to and what you have to leave behind. I am single, no kids, no debt, only luggage (no baggage!), not broke and not a cultural idiot…and not a bunch of other stuff as well. So this is a big plus factor. However, anyone can get to this position which goes with choices and planning and a bit of education as well...never to late to learn something new, NEVER!
I will be the first to admit, I am an OVER planner and packer, but there have been times where I was spot on with my choices of BRINGING that one item/tool, or researching that one place. Most things you can buy overseas, but not always the quality or prices we are used to. Being on a budget, why not take what you already have plus it feels familiar, a bit of back home. Silly enough, I carry a couple of trinkets that make me feel homey. Sometimes you just have to treat yourself to that one luxury, but mostly I am talking about necessities (but who does not love a SPA?). Packing day is always a bit stressful as any long term traveler will tell you…it’s what has to get pitched before take off. As you travel with the seasons, some things become useless after the season has changed, ie., heavy sweaters, tank tops, flip flops, heels, mittens etc. Here is the link to my TRAVEL LIST.
On occasion you have to buy kitchen or bath items because the furnished apartment does not supply every item…like a good knife or cutting board and sometimes cleaning supplies. Then on moving day you must decide what stays and what gets tossed, who or what charity to give it away to or simply leave behind in the apt. You get a feel for what is left behind when you arrive in a new place…1/2 bag coffee, salt, sugar, laundry soap, the odd ball utensil, and beat up Pot and Pans. AND you are always grateful for what you find!! You tend to eat at home because you can’t always decipher what is on a menu or even that odd thing at the market 🙂 Consider this…how often do you eat out right now? Yes, I know you want to try everything, you’d be foolish not to, but when you are moving every 1-3 months with visa laws, you have to eat with caution and portions or you’ll blow up into a giant balloon. Thank goodness my feet are my wheels which keeps my body in constant exercise or I may float away!! doh!!! American’s live on mostly single level homes, travel everywhere by car and constantly eat out with fast meals. The combination of just those few things makes us enormous as compared to overseas. I am a M-L in America and here in Europe I am a tight L-XXL with giant feet…if that gives you any idea! I fit mostly men’s clothes, lol! YIKES New years resolution….take voodoo shrinking pill.
When you LIVE in a place, remember you are not a tourist...you are a ‘kinda’ local…conditions are much different. YOU MUST be respectful and leave the place in the same or better condition than you found it. This is a HUGE REFLECTION of you and your country. And note, you don’t spend all your days at attractions, you take things at a much slower pace. You get to know your neighborhood and stores and the neighborhood butcher and baker, sometimes on a first name basis. Then you slowly explore the city by foot or bike if one comes with your apartment or you rent one, then you learn to take the bus once you understand the system. And YES, I have gotten lost many a times!! Who cares? Finally short city excursions once you get the train or bus schedules explained to you….which is not always easy!!! ~ Once I got on the bus to Rome…it was going to Rome all right…all buses go to ROME, lol, it’s just that it was NOT the bus I had paid for!!!! OOPS! ~ The language barrier is always a factor, and when alone, this is even harder since you don’t have a 2nd pair of eyes or ears to remember things…getting old sucks, big time! I have to remember to remain calm, talk slowly, add as many foreign words as I can muster up and be persistent. So many people speak English everywhere that someone somewhere will step to the plate and help, hopefully. If you screw up, Who Cares….you got all the time in the world, right? Over time, like anything else, life becomes a routine of sorts. Just with mildly different sites and smells and HISTORY all around you. I have walked streets where many a great Scholar, Artist, Historian and Ruler have walked…and I am sure all their feet hurt as much as mine on those very uneven rock cobble roads, lol! BRING extra padded good walking shoes…a must! Not everything is as ‘romantic’ as one believes in their heads!!! First hand experience is an education in your history.
BEWARE: I am NOT an expert, this is just how I manage my lifestyle and I am sharing this with those, like myself, who have an interest in long term traveling. I take NO RESPONSIBILITY for your own planning and lifestyle choices!!