One of the things that makes travel fun for us is the opportunity to become a temporary local. We love the adventure and discovery that travel provides, but we equally enjoy the luxury of being “homebodies” abroad. Occasionally we do stay at hotels or B&Bs, but our preference is to rent a house or apartment from a local. For us, vacation rentals offer more bang for your buck, but it also provides a fantastic opportunity for cultural immersion.
Blue skies, warm sun, colorful Spanish colonial buildings, friendly locals, cobble stone streets, birds chirping. This describes our charmed life in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. It’s hard to complain, and why would you? We came here (for the 3rd time) looking to settle down for a bit, after a year of moving from country to country every month or so. We weren’t ready to give up on travel, but we wanted to give our son a chance to make some friends and establish some routines.
People often ask us how we got started traveling and what advice we might have for others looking to do long term family travel. We were recently interviewed by Family Adventure Podcast and we touched on these common questions.
Avignon is one of the major cities of Provence, in Southern France. It is the main city in the very popular Vaucluse region and is set on banks of the Rhône river. The city is steeped in history, painted with brilliant light, and crowned with gorgeous, Provençal blue skies. Avignon is simply lovely.
Our experiences in 2014 have been rewarding beyond our dreams. Taking the time to look back over all of our blog posts, Facebook posts, and photos has made it all seem even more unbelievable. It’s been a Year of Nomadic Family Travel and it’s hard to believe all that we’ve done and the amazing places that we’ve visited. We are truly grateful to have spent the year exploring and learning together, living abroad, and making friends.
There was so much to cover in our year-end review, that we felt that our recollections needed to be broken up into two parts for easier reading. If you haven’t read Part 1, which covers January – June, then you can find it here. Otherwise, read on as we cover our adventures from July – December.
In 2014 we set off on a Year of Nomadic Family Travel and it has been one of the best experiences in our lives. It was all about change, risk, adventure, and discovery. We took, what some would consider, a crazy leap of faith, and although we can’t say what the future holds, we wouldn’t change a thing. The experiences that we’ve had in the last year are more than most could hope for in a lifetime. We are amazed and so grateful when we look back on it all.
Our family spent a nomadic Christmas in France – and it was perfect. So, how do you celebrate Christmas with a 9-year-old while traveling? What do you do about presents when you are living out of backpacks?
How did we end up spending the holidays in Budapest? Well, it was September and, after spending 6 months in the extreme heat and humidity of Southeast Asia, the idea of spending Fall and Winter in the northern hemisphere didn’t sound bad at all. Plus, it was difficult to imagine that it would feel “Christmasy” to us in a tropical climate. I suppose that comes from growing up in the NE and NW regions of the United States.
When you decide to travel long-term, many wonderful experiences lay before you, but you must also be willing to leave behind the comforts of home and loved ones. We enjoy seeing what everyone is up to on Facebook and scheduling calls with friends and family, but the absolute best treat is hosting friends while traveling abroad. We love it when people come to visit.
People choose to travel for a number of reasons, but it often includes a desire to expose oneself to new experiences and cultures. It gives us an opportunity to grow and learn. To us, it’s what makes travel such a rich and worthwhile venture. However, putting yourself in unfamiliar situations, where you don’t always know the language, can sometimes cause stress and frustration. In fact, travel challenges are guaranteed. How you handle that stress and frustration will determine your success as a traveler and the satisfaction you get from traveling.
Family travel let’s you be there for your kids’ milestones. The big ones, and the little ones. There are more “teachable moments” than you can shake a stick at.
One day we realized that our 9-year-old son did not know how to blow bubbles and we decided that it was time to remedy the situation. Up to this point, we weren’t purposely limiting his access to gum, but for whatever reason he’d rarely ever had it. Maybe 3 or 4 times in his life.
When you are traveling, every once in a while you are struck by little cultural differences abroad. For instance, while driving from Croatia to Italy we noticed that there were (to us) an unusual and surprising number of red trucks on the road. Within a 4 hour drive we counted at least 40 of them. Semi-trucks, vans, delivery trucks, you name it. You may ask why this caught our attention and why it is worth mentioning. Well, we had plenty of time to think about it during our drive.
When we travel, we prefer to stay in vacation rentals whenever possible. It’s just more comfortable, it’s a better deal than a hotel, and it makes you feel like a “temporary local”. So, not surprisingly, we ended up renting an apartment in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City).
We found an apartment on Airbnb and rented from a great guy named Tram for our 6 night stay.
Slightly more than 2 months ago, our little family decided to sell our home in Portland, Oregon and begin a year-long adventure in Southeast Asia. We arrived in Chiang Mai, Thailand almost a month ago and have settled in nicely. After researching and viewing several condos in various parts of town, we rented a very comfortable and conveniently located condo in the Nimmanhaemin neighborhood, northwest of Chiang Mai’s central Old Town.
If you are planning a trip to Thailand and you aren’t sure which city to use as a homebase, then we recommend heading north and renting an apartment in Chiang Mai.
When we first arrived in Chiang Mai, we started off renting a room at a guest house in the heart of the old city, near the Thapae Gate. It was a perfect place to explore the city and to begin our searched for an apartment rental.
We were waiting on the side of the road to catch a bus to take us back to San Miguel de Allende after spending the day at one of the nearby hot spring. It was the rainy season in Mexico’s central highlands and, sure enough, as we stood there in the late afternoon, the rain began to fall and our little family huddled together to stay warm.
In my experience, the French are delighted when travelers show a sincere appreciation for their country and there culture. One sure way of earning brownie points is by displaying an understanding of, and respect for, basic French etiquette. Here are a few tips for interacting with people while on vacation in France:
The French put a high value on being polite. In France, like every culture, there is an understood code of conduct and etiquette that is expected of everyone.
Part of what makes a culture or community is the fact that we do share a common set of rules for behavior. Throughout the world, those respective rules are taught to each of us from the time we are born and throughout our childhood. As adults, we are expected to know them and abide by them. They are ingrained in all of us.