Keeping it Real. Again.

Time has gone by so quickly! It seems like it was just yesterday that we were leaving SE Asia for Europe, and that was almost 9 months ago! In less than 10 days, we’ll be boarding a 10-hour flight so we can return to Mexico. I have a lot of mixed feelings really. Since I believe in keeping it real, here you go.

Keeping it real

Keeping it real in Europe

I’ve really loved our time in Europe. Starting out in Romania was a perfect choice as was spending a lot of time in Eastern Europe. Our time there endeared me even more to Europe, and it also proved that you can visit and spend a lot of time in Europe without breaking the bank. Although, there are certainly places that will rapidly drain your savings.

Europe has also been “easy.” Super easy to get around, similar cultures, simple to get around language barriers, and so on. In SE Asia, you either found someone who spoke a little English, or you were prepared to have fun trying to communicate.

Not so in Europe. Even in Poland, which has a tough language for non-English speakers, we rarely were at a disadvantage, especially with a translation app on my phone. It was rare to run into someone who didn’t speak at least some English.

Europe is also “comfortable.” In the bitter cold months, we had plenty of indoor heating. We’re in the UK as summer approaches, and the highest temperature I’ve had to work with so far is 21C/70F. That’s nothing compared to the real feel temperature of 40C/104F that they’re experiencing in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, where we’ll soon be headed.

The strict food hygiene laws here also minimize the amount of street food one can find, which is rather sad for us aficionados.

Hotels standardly have all the amenities like an electric kettle with tea and coffee, comfy beds, WiFi, and often a pretty filling breakfast. You pay extra for that, but it’s still nice to have.

A friend asked me today if Europe had met all my expectations, and I’d have to say that it exceeded them. Places like Romania, Prague, and Portugal have me loving Europe even more deeply than I already did. Despite my longing for fantastic Caribbean beaches and spicy Mexican food, I’m leaving Europe with a bit of a heavy heart.

It feels weird to be excited to leave and dreading my departure at the same time. Sure, we can always come back, but who knows when that will be? We have left South America fairly untouched, and there is a lot of Mexico Tigger hasn’t experienced yet.

I so much enjoy the lack of touts and our ability to just blend in with everyone else. Europe has been very relaxing that way.

I also like not having to worry about the tap water, and being able to flush my used toilet paper is a luxury we won’t have in Mexico.

In the UK we’ve been particularly spoiled as there is practically no language barrier at all. Glasgow was the most challenging area we’ve been to so far in terms of the accent.

Keeping it real

Transitioning from nomad to expat

Part of the plan, at least for now, is that we’ll engage more in an expat lifestyle. We’ll still travel, but we’ll take shorter trips and return “home” rather than bouncing from one country to another. We recently did a 9-week experiment of traveling with only carry-ons, and it was absolutely wonderful.

I definitely would like to continue that!

I’m not totally sure we’re ready to stop being nomads, but I think we’re definitely at the point where stays of months at a time are preferred to a month here or there. While Tigger has great online friends, it’s hard to beat local community and face-to-face time.

And we really miss having pets. Badly. If we are taking shorter trips, we could have a cat or two at home. It’s been great caring for other people’s animals, but it’s hard to replace the relationship you have with your own pets.

The idea of being an expat challenges me a bit. I think Tigger will flow into it nicely as he always does. It will probably be tougher for me. I’m used to being on the move. Our current house sit has only been for just over 2 weeks so far, and I’m already itching to move.

Then again, I might feel differently once we have a place we identify as “home.” Part of me does feel like it’s ready to do some nesting.

I know a big part of the adjustment will be getting involved with the local community. That will help quite a bit.

Still, there’s part of me that rejects the idea of having roots. It will be interesting.

Keeping it real in Mexico

I also know that I’m experiencing a bit of travel fatigue, too. The 9 weeks of constant hopping around was very wearing on us. By the time we were in Scotland, it was getting harder and harder to want to go exploring when we were in a new city. Glasgow’s rainy weather and lack of Edinburgh-like charm didn’t help, but even before we left Inverness we were feeling it.

We did a couple of day trips and opted for seeing a movie in the cinema to taking another day trip. We just needed to not be moving for a while.

We feel it once again as we prepare to leave our sit. While one side is ready for something new, we’ve opted to spend more time in a couple of cities in Wales before we leave rather than trying to soak up as much as we can.

Right now it’s just easier to focus on amazing Mexican food and fabulous beaches. As with our usual travels, we’ll just go with the flow and see what presents itself. Perhaps Tigger will decide he isn’t ready to have a base. Maybe after a few months of sticky heat we’ll be over it and ready to go elsewhere.

No one really knows. But the pretty much limitless possibilities are indeed exciting!

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  1. i’ve been bursting to read this post since I saw the link on your FB page. One of my problems has been that over the past few weeks I have had scant internet, and it has been driving me crazy. That’s no doubt one reason I’ve decided to settle down for at least 3 months too. I have a feeling it may be lonnger, but, as you say, who knows. Lots of luck in Mexico! You make it sound so wonderful….. perhaps my sort of place! Since I will possibly be making shorter trips in the future I’ll definitely nove it up my list! And now off to get up to date with what you’ve been doing since you posted this!

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  2. I hope that things work out for you in Mexico, it is definitely one of my favourite countries. My advice would be to give it at least a couple of months to settle in, it has taken me about 4 months to feel at home in Sydney, where I recently moved after travelling for 18 months. Roots can take a bit of time to develop and having a home base definitely has benefits. It can be hard to take the time to really adjust but I do think it is worth it.

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    • We love Mexico, so it definitely won’t be time wasted. We plan on staying for at least 3 months to see both how we like the area as well as to evaluate if we’re really read to switch to a more expat-type lifestyle. One definitely needs time in an area to fully feel it out.

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  3. You seem to feel that this is what you both want and need at this time and that’s a good thing. I hardly think that you will have an orthodox settle, from reading your posts you will continue your adventures with a base and cat. That’s not a bad thing. Looking forward to read more.

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    • We’ll definitely continue our adventures no matter what. And it will be interesting to see if we do feel like we’re ready to settle down, or if we just need some downtime in one spot for a while.

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  4. Sounds like a good decision. I don’t think I could ever be a nomad, I like the stability of home too much & I need regular doses of it now and then. Mexico should be good & there’s still more exploring & adventure in expat life for sure. And you can always pick up & change your mind later!

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    • The real beauty of this lifestyle is we aren’t committed to just one way. Don’t like it, we can move on! Or if we do like it, we can enjoy settling down in one spot and having a home we leave and come back to for shorter trips. Win-win, right?

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  5. Hi Talon,
    I’m happy to read that you are coming to Playa. I started to follow you after you left.
    It would be great to meet you and Tigger.
    Please get in touch!

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  6. Its been amazing keeping up with you two, hard to believe its been a year since you two visited. Maybe just a bit of a slow down to recharge the batteries and to regroup a bit. No rush to make decisions, keep us all posted.

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    • It is so hard to believe it’s already been a year!

      It will be interesting to see what happens. Right now I feel like we’re both ready for a base, but after we’ve been there a few months we’ll really know.

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  7. Margaritas, chips, salsa, freshly-made tortillas, carnitas, oh my, my, my.

    Hubby and I look forward to spending time in Eastern Europe at some point and I enjoyed reading your posts about the area.

    It will be interesting to see if you are in fact ready to settle for a while. The good thing is, your definition of settling does not include a 9-5 cubicle life, so you still have a great deal of freedom. Enjoy!

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    • No, definitely won’t be a typical “settle down” by any means. 😉

      Salsa and fresh tortillas are definite perks! And the beach.

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  8. How exciting! I guess there is only one way to find out if you are ready to go from the nomad to the expat life and it’s to give it a try 🙂

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  9. I know exactly what you mean. We are going through the opposite, but similar emotions. In a couple of weeks, we leap into Nomad life and away from expat in Spain life. Who knows how it will all work out, but we will enjoying giving it a go. We too are writing up our thoughts on the transition, so it is nice to see you doing the same. We wish you well and we absolutely love Playa del Carmen! Mexico will always have a soft spot in my heart, as that was my first international experience 20+ years ago.

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    • Mexico was my first international experience, too! We did a rode trip of Mexico from top to bottom, so I’ve seen much of the country. Just love it and the people.

      How exciting you’re starting nomadic life soon! Will be interesting to see what you think.

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