Changing plans: when expat realities interfere with dreams of travel

In our About Us section, we’ve alluded to the fact that we’ve been quietly dreaming about a BIG trip. As in, leave jobs and lives and material possessions behind and spend an entire year being untethered and able to travel at our own pace kind of big.

Australia is such a great place to live and work when you have goals like ours, because it’s both common and accepted to take long stretches of time off from your job to travel and still have that job to return to. In most industries here, there isn’t a need to quit your job to travel the world. So we felt like we were perfectly set up to take this leap in 2017.

Then… real life intervenes. Doesn’t it always?

We’re incredibly lucky to have had a (mostly) smooth and heartache-free immigration process here in Australia. It’s been very expensive, time-consuming, and stressful, but we’re just about at the point where we both have dual citizenship (Canada-Australia for me and Italy-Australia for him).

But that process of getting citizenship, understandably enough, takes time. I think during our initial trip-planning stages, this was time we didn’t really estimate correctly– we kind of assumed it would all work itself out in time. Until we realised about a week ago that it wouldn’t. There just wasn’t any way to stay in Australia until we both had citizenship AND go on a yearlong trip starting in January or April 2017.

Remember how M. is overseas in Europe right now? Yeah… that was fun, having a huge life-changing/relationship-changing discussion over Facebook chat with a major time difference. But we did some thinking on our own and some talking it out together and we decided that we would have to postpone the big trip until 2018.

So now here I am, waist-deep in a travel blog and we’ve decided not to travel for another year! I feel a bit ridiculous.

This was the point in the year where I’d planned to start posting updates on our planning process. We were meant to be giving away our furniture and asking for travel gear for Christmas right about now. Instead we’re wondering whether we should finally upgrade our cars (mine is from 1993 and may not last another year…) and trying to decide what kind of couch to buy when we move out of our houseshares.

Ultimately, though, this blog is intended to share a snapshot of our real lives as expats and travellers, and this is our real life. I guess there’s nothing much more realistic than having to wait to do a big trip because you need to stay in the country to get dual citizenship!

Anyway, lovely readers, I’ll still be blogging. I think this way we’ll be able to share even more– more about the immigration process, more about the trip-organising process, more about how we balance living our day-to-day lives while still planning to travel as much as we can.

We’re wide open for time and ideas now that our plans have changed– tell us, what kind of content would you like to see us write about in the next year?

My Best Tips for Long-Haul Flights

If you ask a North American what a long-haul flight means, most will tell you about the torture of a 7-hour flight to Europe or the time they spent 16 hours in transit to South America.

When you ask an Australian, that’s a short flight! A flight from Sydney to LA takes about 15 hours, and that’s not counting any other destinations on either side. Getting to Europe usually means going through the Asia or the Middle East for a longish layover.

Between the two of us, we’ve done dozens of these types of trips now. It never gets any less annoying, but I’ve found a few good tricks to make the experience of flying long distances a bit more bearable:

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My 11 Favourite Travel-Related TV Episodes

Excellent news for those of us who love television: the US networks are about a week away from premiering many of our favourite shows for another season. I’m personally looking forward to Masters of Sex Season 4 and I’m still waiting for M.’s return from Europe so we can start Stranger Things.

In honour of the most wonderful time of the year, I’ve rounded up 11 (couldn’t stop at just 10!) of the best travel-related episodes of my favourite TV shows, as well as their real-life locations that are officially on my travel bucket list.

Friends – Season 4, Episode 23: The One With Ross’s Wedding

friends london travel chandler joey map travel

The gang head to London to see Ross get married, leaving a pregnant Phoebe and heartbroken Rachel behind. While Chandler and Joey explore London and get on each others’ nerves, Rachel decides to fly to the wedding to tell Ross she loves him. A classic!

Best Quote

Monica: “You guys, hurry up! The flight leaves in four hours! It could take time to get a taxi! There could be traffic! The plane could leave early! When we get to London there could be a line at customs! COME ON!”

Chandler: “Six hour trip to London– that’s a lot of Monica.”

Real-Life Location: London, baby!

Bonus Episode: Season 5, Episode 23: The One In Vegas, where they take advantage of all the casinos have to offer: gambling, breakfast buffet and mini-bars included.

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“No one expects you to bring them something”: Souvenirs to buy on a budget

Souvenirs– when to buy them, how much to spend on them, where to pack them in an already-full bag, even whether to get them at all– they’re one of those tricky aspects of travel that everyone does differently.

I’m the kind of traveller who has high hopes of buying something amazing for every single person I know yet is brought crashing down to earth when I realize that I’ve already spent all my money on my own adventures.

M. is the best at balancing me out in these times. On our last trip, he said to me, “No one expects you to bring them anything.”

He’s right! No one does expect anything, so there’s no point in trying to meet expectations of lavish gifts that no one actually has. Our friends and family know us– they know we travel fast, cheap, and light, and they know we often have to ship their presents across oceans once we do buy anything for them.

But when we really want to buy a little something for a close friend or family member– and we do, because exploring little markets and souvenir shops is part of the adventure for us– what kind of things can be bought that won’t break the bank or the backpack?

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