In America, it’s uncommon to hear of people taking really long vacations or trips lasting more than two weeks because most companies in the US don’t offer much paid time off or allow people to work remotely. In Europe, things are a little different. Spain and Germany give their workers 34 days of paid vacation, Italy and France give 31, but in America only 25% of workers are guaranteed any paid time off. Add in the fact that many companies are still scared to let employees work remotely, and you probably don’t hear, “Guess what? We’ll be gone for six weeks!” very often or at all.
Justin and I feel so fortunate to be able to say those exact words. “We’ll be gone for six weeks!”
In less than a month, we will be embarking on our Euro Adventure 2016: six weeks, five (planned) countries, four booked AirBNBs, three train rides, two carry-on bags, and one month-long home exchange with a lovely Dutch couple. What the heck are we thinking?!
Six Reasons We’re Skipping Town for Six Weeks:
Swapping homes gives us a free place to stay.
The last four weeks of our trip will be spent doing a home exchange with Cora and Hans, a couple of empty-nesters who live and work in the Hague. We found each other through HomeExchange.com, one of the many home swapping sites. If you’ve seen The Holiday, then you get the gist: you and your home swap partners agree upon dates, duration, and swap terms (is the car included? are pets allowed? do the bed sheets need to be washed before your return?) and buy plane tickets at the same time to commit to the trip. Other details get worked out, such as who pays for the electric bill during the exchange and which rooms might be off limits, and then, in a not-quite-Freaky-Friday way, you swap lives. You cook in each others’ kitchens, sleep in each others’ bed, explore each others’ towns. All for the cost of membership to one of these swapping sites. We joined two sites to give us a broader user base to reach out to, and we’re paying for a professional deep clean before we leave, but those costs are minimal in exchange for 30 days of free, safe, beautiful lodging in another country. Home swapping means that we can afford to go to more places, and actually pay for transportation and accommodation during those two extra weeks. Home exchange will allow us to turn what might have been an expensive 10 day vacation into an affordable six week adventure.
2. Justin has never been out of the country.
Studying abroad was one of the most educational and satisfying experiences of my life, and Justin never got to do anything like that. Having the opportunity to settle into a foreign place, feel uncomfortable there, meet the locals and live a life a little bit different from the one you know, gives you a new perspective on the world. Getting out of your comfort zone teaches you things about yourself and the world. When I lived in Paris, I lived alone (for the first time in my life) in a large-for-Paris apartment in a building run by a man from Morocco. His French was, to my ears, unintelligible, and my American French was probably no better. It took me a while to realize that he and I weren’t all that different — me, a privileged blonde 20-year-old from Florida, him a pock-marked 40-year-old with a wife and three kids living in an apartment the size of mine… we were both foreigners, speaking a language that didn’t fit in our mouths, trying to be understood. We didn’t have a lot of patience for one another in the beginning, but by the end of my stay, he gave me a hug and said au revoir fondly to la petite americaine. Though our upcoming four weeks in Holland is nothing compared to ten months, it will give us more time to settle in, relax, meet people, find our footing in a foreign place and enjoy it as locals in a way we couldn’t if we ran around “on vacation” trying to see everything in a few days.
3. We work remotely so let’s actually work remotely.
I’ve worked from home forever — it’s the only lifestyle I know (and, frankly, want to accept) — and Justin now also works from home, writing for two companies. But how often do we actually take advantage of the fact that we don’t have an office to report to? We will travel with laptops and hard drives and VPNs so we can connect from any timezone and still be productive team members. We may have to get creative about some of our working hours to ensure some overlap back home, but our company already has employees working in three timezones, what’s another? This August, The Security Awareness Company is opening a European office in The Hague. 🙂
4. Less time off work and more time in a new place.
When we went to Puerto Rico, we took off a full week; a full two for our honeymooon. We have a lot of other trips planned for the rest of the year. The only way to ensure having enough time to go all the places we want to go and see all the things we want to see, is to take our work with us and be able to continue working 40 hour weeks (which also helps pay for our adventure). We missed 10 work days for our 2 week honeymoon. This time, we’ll miss 12 work days for a 6 week workcation.
5. We have cats, not kids.
I don’t want us waking up thirty years from now with regrets about what we didn’t do in our youth. So while we are still relatively free to do so, we are traveling as much as we can. (Then when we do have offspring, we’ll teach them to travel too, giving them the travel bug early!) For now, the kitties can go stay with grandma while we’re out of town. Six weeks away from our sweet furbabies will be the hardest. It’s bad enough being away from them for a few days, but six weeks?! Honestly, that’s the thing I’m most worried about. My parents better send us a photo a day!
6. There’s no reason not to.
Seriously. I can’t think of one. Can you?
Have you ever gone on an extended adventure? What tips do you have for long trips? Did you get homesick? Send us your travel hacks and recommendations for living out of suitcases for 43 days!