Our bags are still packed!

It’s been 18 months since our return home from Worcester, England, but the dust hasn’t settled on our suitcases. I officially retired from University Minnesota Duluth on November 1st, 2014, and began planning our 2014/15 Winter Getaway. The journey began Christmas Day as we boarded a plane and headed west to spend 5 weeks in Maui and 3 weeks in Kauai. Tropical paradise! In late April we loaded the car for a family-inspired road trip to Illinois, Ohio, and Georgia to visit brothers, sister-in-laws, cousins, nieces, and a beloved aunt. Catching up was great fun!

On October 1st we took the passports out of storage and began the “Autumn 2015 European Adventure”. The travel itinerary included a month in the UK, a month in France, and a week in London. This was an opportunity to try out Europe as a snowbird destination. We knew we were comfortable and happy living abroad and felt we could easily and affordably live overseas during the long, Minnesota winter. To save costs, and to feel more like neighbors rather than tourists, we rented long-term properties in each country. We booked flats online through VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner) as well as HomeAway and Sykes in the UK. In France we found our rental online through Long-Term Rental France. Whenever possible we took advantage of public transportation, but we were living in several rural locations and knew we would be more mobile with a rental car. Because we were traveling in Autumn we scheduled our itinerary to align with the best climates…start in the north and end in the south. We were able to minimize the clothing we packed knowing most items would be “weather” appropriate in both the UK and France. We kept the day-to-day agenda as spontaneous as possible in order to give ourselves the flexibility we wanted in order to just “live” in the moment. We did make note of train and plane schedules/prices and budgeted for those costs. Before leaving the US we added an international plan to our mobile phone, put our DISH network and Internet providers on vacation mode, notified our local bank and our credit card companies of our impending international travel, asked the post office to hold our mail, and arranged for our kind neighbors to keep an eye on our home.

Along the way we took a gazillion photos and kept careful notes about what worked well, how much we were actually spending, and our overall impressions. Call it research if you will! We had high hopes and high expectations, and we were not disappointed.

And so it seemed like the perfect time to reopen the Blog with a new sub-title: V&J on their way!!!!!!

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