Happy 2020! January is that time of year where people are reflecting, setting goals, looking back and looking ahead. Which we seem to be doing a lot of in our expat life.
Looking back, we did a ton in 2019. It was our busiest year to date with trips, moves, flights and so much more. Barely a month went by that we weren’t travelling or moving somewhere new. And while our year was pretty much non-stop, I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way. We were able to see and do so many things on our bucket list.
Since moving to Prague, we’ve averaged about three or four cities visited per month. Ever since Colin left his job at the hotel at the end of August, we’ve been travelling almost half of every month. Don’t get me wrong; I have absolutely loved this! It’s been such an awesome opportunity to be able to pick up and leave, hop on a train and just be somewhere new whenever we want. But it’s also been incredibly exhausting (not to mention, a strain on our wallets).
So this January, we’re kind of taking a step back.
I have some conflicting thoughts on this. Firstly, I’m very glad for the break. It’s kind of nice to just be stationary for a while. I keep going to put things in the laundry and thinking, “Do I need to pack these for our next trip? When do we have to do laundry then?” before I remember that there isn’t a trip right around the corner and I don’t need to pre-plan what pants I can wear. (When you move across the world with only two suitcases and laundry takes two days, clothing is limited and you have to pre-plan!)
I’m also very glad for the extra time to focus on work. It’s been a pretty busy work season for me lately, taking on extra projects since Colin and I are down to just my freelance work. And it’s been tough to stay on top or ahead of the workload when we’re jumping on trains every other week. So it’s really nice to be able to dedicate a few weeks to plugging away at the work – if only someone could remind my internal motivation to keep up!
Lastly, it’s nice to take a break in the winter. While it’s not exactly frigid here in Prague, it is still a little cold and gloomy. This is the perfect time to hunker down and get some work done. Of course, it’d also be the perfect time to leave Prague and hit the beach (but more on that later).
On the other side of the coin, my FOMO starts to kick in.
We are officially flying back to Canada on June 9, meaning we have less than five months left of our expat year. I have no idea where the time has gone! Living in Prague has made travel so accessible to us. I feel bad wasting a few weeks in our apartment when we could be taking off on a new adventure.
One of the things Colin and I promised ourselves when we set off on this expat year was that we were going to make the most of it. We were going to say yes to opportunities, even if it meant slightly busier schedules and slightly lighter wallets. And now that the countdown is on until we fly home, it feels like now, more than ever, we need to get out there and start doing everything we can.
A year is a long time to be away. Especially when you have a base, like we do, and you’re not constantly travelling. While our Instagram Stories may say otherwise, we do spend a lot of time doing boring everyday life things like grocery shopping, vacuuming, dog walks and changing light bulbs (seriously, it took us forever to find the right bulbs!).
But a year is also a really short time. Everything moves quick and you only have one Christmas, one new year and one birthday before you go. If you miss something, you miss it. Of course, that’s a bit dramatic. It’s not like we’re never coming back to Europe. But there might not be a point in our lives when this much of Europe is this easily accessible to us.
I’ve talked before about how we needed to find the balance in our expat lives. And I think as short-term expats, that’s something we’re constantly navigating. With working as much as I need to, and having a dog and a home base, we can’t be constantly on the road. We would burn out, I would get fired and we’d be broke. So it makes sense that we need to take a break.
But that doesn’t mean my wanderlust doesn’t still have me constantly looking at weekend getaways or quick flights somewhere south!
All things considered, I think this break is needed. I would actually start to feel bad if we were paying rent for an apartment we barely used. And I really hope we make the most of this down time. I want to get through so much work so we can enjoy our upcoming travels to the fullest.
Speaking of upcoming travels, one of the things getting me through this break is thinking about all of the amazing adventures to come. Here’s what’s coming up for us:
- A secret project here in Prague in the last couple days of January. (So even our break month isn’t a total break.)
- London for a few days where we’re seeing Cursed Child and meeting up with my siblings.
- Spain! We’re hitting Barcelona, Madrid and Seville with my siblings.
- Morocco! Colin and I are visiting Chefchaouen, Fes, Marrakesh and spending a night in the desert this February.
- Colin’s friends are coming out to Europe in March so we’re planning to meet them in Hungary and host them back in Prague. We’re also planning a little detour to Slovenia along the way where Colin can spend his birthday on Lake Bled.
- We don’t have any firm plans for April but we’d love to head over to Poland, tour Auschwitz, explore Krakow and cross another country off our list.
- At the end of April, Colin’s mom will be coming back out to visit with us in Europe. We’ll host her in Prague for a few nights and tick off any last minute Prague exploring and day trips. We’d love to visit Karlstejn Castle and the Plsen Brewery.
- And then we’ll go with Colin’s mom to London, where we’re meeting up with Colin’s cousins. We’ll spend a few days in London, my favourite city…
- …and then we take off for a few more nights somewhere else in the UK. I’m thinking Scotland! We can do a few days in the Highlands and a few days in Edinburgh before Margie flies back to Vancouver and we return to Prague.
- And then at the end of May, our lease is up and we have about two weeks to make it to Paris for our flight back to Canada. We’re planning to rent a car and drive through Germany, see friends in Amsterdam, check out Belgium and make a quick stop in Luxembourg, another new country for us.
- On June 9 we fly home from Paris, but the travels don’t stop there! We’re actually flying into Calgary and if we can scrape together the funds, we’re hoping to rent a car and drive through Banff on our way to Colin’s brother’s wedding in Vernon (about halfway between Calgary and Vancouver).
- And you know I won’t be able to sit still for long so I wouldn’t be surprised if a trip to Asia pops up in the fall.
Whew! Okay, I’m getting exhausted all over again looking at all of the adventures we have coming up. And a bit worried about how we’re going to find time to get work done in the middle of all of that. But I guess that’s what this little break is for – so I better get back to work!
Hope your January is off to a great start! How’s your 2020 looking?