Switching friends during travel

When we were still in the US and eagerly awaiting our launch date, I picked up a couple of friends—Fear and Panic. It was easy enough to get rid of them, and I can honestly say I don’t miss them. During the last three years of travel, we’ve picked up another friend. He makes sure we never get too bored.

His name is Curveball.


We don’t do a lot planning when we travel. I much prefer the flexibility of my other friend Spontaneity. I think she and Curveball get together and scheme sometimes, though. They definitely do enjoy working together. There’s no doubt about that. I know I would enjoy Curveball’s visits much less if was a major planner.

I’m sure you recall that when it was time to leave SE Asia, IT WAS TIME TO LEAVE! We headed to Europe and settled down for a while in Romania. We felt like we had probably found “home,” and we were ready to have a long-term base.

After 2 months of small town life, we were over it. The travel itch had returned in full force. So we gave up the idea of a long-term base for now and enjoyed exploring some of Europe.

Then we landed in Prague. We fell absolutely in love with it. Our week spread into a month which became another month. We discussed trying to stay here. We have some housesits lined up, and we’re approaching the end of our 90 days in the Schengen Zone, so we have to go.


We were plotting our return, but the lack of ocean began to bother us. We are both big time fans of the ocean. I hear the waves, smell the salty air, and I’m instantly grounded. The water just touches something deep in my being.

Tigger is definitely a beach bum. He sees water and it’s like he’s responding to the siren’s call. He. Must. Touch. It.

Friends of water

We began discussing our ocean and beach deficit as well as Tigger’s renewed desire to settle down somewhere and do shorter trips. I started searching for European beach towns. We love Europe, and we love beaches. Good combo, right?

We had a lot of potential candidates. After a lot of painstaking research, soul searching, and listening to my gut, we finally landed on our destination for another attempt at a less nomadic existence.

So we’re going back  to Mexico!


Yeah, I realize that isn’t in Europe.

When I first started considering this crazy life, I acknowledged that when Tigger approached the teenage years, it was highly likely he would want to settle down somewhere, focus more on peer interactions, etc. I was prepared back then and remain prepared now to follow his lead when this time came.

He really would like to return to Mexico, and I can’t say I don’t want to.

Looking back at our time in wonderful Brasov, I think there were a few things that affected our feelings about remaining settled down.

  1. Lack of community. That’s a big reason for settling down. And one of the reasons I think we feel so at home in Prague is because we made friends here rapidly. In Brasov, we knew some people, but we hadn’t developed friendships. We weren’t really doing much in the community like volunteering, getting involved, etc. We’ve already discussed that when we identify where we’ll be staying put for a longer time, we will get involved in some group activities, be more intentional about forming relationships, etc. Once of the really nice things about living in Mexico is they give you a 6-month visa upon entry. That is so much easier to work with than a 3-month visa.
  2. Language barrier. Even though many Romanians speak English, in the town we were in there weren’t a lot that were very fluent. If we spent more time there, I’m sure I could’ve picked up enough of the language to make some friendships either. For Mexico, though, I’m already fluent in Spanish. I have thoroughly missed being able to chat up locals, being able to read all the signs, etc. During travel it’s often really fun to have no clue what’s on the menu, but when you’re living somewhere you really want to be able to sink a little deeper into the local culture.
  3. Too small of a town. Brasov is considered a medium-size city, but it’s really more like a small town. Once you’ve explored it as thoroughly as we had, there just wasn’t much left to do. One of the beauties of Prague has been that it’s a big city with a small town feel. There is always something going on, things to do, and places to explore and discover. Keeping this in mind, we’re looking at places that will be right next to or in a bigger city. Without having a car or an incredibly good transportation system, we need a place that offers more variety.
  4. Not close enough to an airport. While Brasov is only about 2-1/2 hours from Bucharest by train, that route is not exactly dependable. You can’t just hop on a train that morning, arrive in Bucharest, and grab a train or bus to the airport. The delays were so common that we quickly learned to arrive the day before to make sure we had no problems getting to the airport in time. That added the expense of an extra day’s lodging to the cost of travel which decreased the feasibility of Brasov being a long-term base.

If Tigger is still feeling like he wants to settle down for a while, it will be a big adjustment for me. But I feel like I’m also ready for it. Lately we have been really missing having a pet, having social connections, and so on. I don’t know how long we’ll be “settled,” but I think I’m ready for a period of it.

Like I said, I’m following Tigger’s lead on this one. I think it’s more important to address his needs right now. And I’m sure he’ll indulge me if the itch gets so bad I need to do some traveling for a bit to get past it.

I guess we’ll just have to see what Curveball manages to show up with next. What are friends for, right?

What adventures have you had with Curveball?

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  1. Wow! I didn’t see this coming given how much you guys love Europe, but sometimes you just need a change and sometimes it needs to be a big one! It seems like more and more long-term travelers are being called to Mexico, so I’ll be really interested to see where you end up and what your experiences establishing a base there are like. I completely understand how difficult it can be to make local friends when you don’t speak the language—we have encountered so many nice people here in Ho Chi Minh City, but we didn’t wind up making nearly as many friends as we would have liked and I definitely think that has to do with the language barrier to some extent (the fact that we were working so much surely didn’t help either).

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    • I was especially surprised since he loves Prague so much, too. We both do feel at home in Europe, but I think the prospect of beach and year-round ocean going was a big draw for him. And the food. It will be interesting to see what happens.

      Yes, I really miss those connections. Expat friends are great, but I also want local ones.

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  2. I’ve never been to Mexico and I’d love to, it seems like a good call and I love how you two kind of brainstorm together to come to a decision. I like how you put Trigger’s priorities before anything else right now, you are a good parent Talon! 🙂

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  3. MEXICO, love it! You are making a decision based on what feels right and works for you. We can’t wait to hear about settling down in Mexico, as it is the place we are considering to settle down in starting November/December 2015.

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    • We’ve always loved Mexico and have spent a lot of time there so it feels natural. For me the biggest thing is going where Tigger will feel the most at home and comfortable. The teen years are so important.

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  4. Oh, how I love Mexico. It was my first extended travel about 23 years ago. It has touched my heart forever and we could end up there one day too. Congrats for you guys selecting a destination together and now you can get some warm water diving in too!

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    • I love your style. I was in Puerto Escondido for a few months, you might like the area, but the diving isn’t great, its more of a surfing area. I too hate to plan out my travel too much, I was in Guatemala two weeks ago and now I am in Macedonia! i really thought I was to be in Latin America for the next year…we have that mutual companion Mr Curveball. He is does make it all so interesting!

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      • From Guat to Macedonia. Yep, that’s quite the change! You definitely had an interesting visit from Curveball.

        Not a fan of planning either. I liked PE when I was there about 30 years ago. It’s on the list to check out since Tigger loves to surf, but the lack of good diving would definitely be a bummer. Plus it’s a bit out of the way for making other trips.

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    • Definitely looking forward to some more diving! My gills are all dried out. Mexico is such a great country. We love the country, the culture, the people, and the food.

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  5. Hi Talon, as a mom with a kid looking to have a semi mobile lifestyle, I have come up with the idea of 2 home bases, one possibly in Mexico or Costa Rica, and the other here in Canada, with trips other places on occasion, as I do recognize my kid likes his homebase (stuff,dog,family) and so really get how you guys are looking at things. You are inspirational, thank you. Curious where in Mexico….perhaps we will meet!

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    • We’ve considered the 2-base idea as well. We’ll have to see how settled Tigger feels he wants to be and take it from there. I don’t want them too far apart, though. The idea of doing a 10-hour flight every 6 months is NOT appealing.

      Right now we’re looking to be in the Playa del Carmen area. We want to be close enough to Cancun to make getting to the airport easy but definitely don’t want to live there.

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  6. A wonderful place to settle for awhile! Gotta love the curve ball! What parts of Mexico are you considering? Perhaps Kai & I would be able to meet you, depending upon where you end up.

    I love how you follow your hearts yet logically discuss your needs and are willing to compromise so that you both find fulfillment. Great example of two people taking care of each other. <3

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    • Right now we’re looking mostly at the Playa del Carmen area. We want good diving, good beaches, and to be close to a major airport. We will probably go check out the Pacific side while we’re there, but it’s hard to beat the Caribbean’s beaches and water.

      We’re definitely a team. I prefer that approach.

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  7. What I love most about this is the authentic way that Tigger is truly a partner with you– you are giving him a gift in so many ways as far as travel, but also in his belief that his voice and perspective matters to you!

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    • Thank you! Yes, I try very hard to make this a team effort. He’s included in all decisions, is aware of our finances, we talk budget, etc. I can’t think of a better way to learn about this stuff than being part of it. And I think it’s important that he knows what he thinks and feels truly matters. I don’t feel it would be fair, healthy, or productive to just rule his life.

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  8. A definite curveball but it sounds like a good pitch to me! Maybe we’ll get to meet sooner than later, if we ever get to visit Mexico again. Our 90 days annual travel restriction for our first two years here in Ecuador are a pain!

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    • Fantastic post Talon! Mexico seemed like a great fit for you two, beach and all. I am so glad you follow what Tigger needs and am willing to make changes. You really are a great dad.

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      • Yes, we really loved Mexico and enjoyed it thoroughly. Hard not to!

        I think it’s really important to adjust to his needs. Especially right now. The adolescent years are so important. Thanks for the compliment! I do my best. 😉

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