Our One Year Anniversary

Our 2018 Travel Map

When we left Grand Cayman on December 31, 2017 embarking on this nomadic life we were optimistic it would be a good decision.  And has it been?  The answer is a resounding YES!!  One year, 365 days, have passed by so quickly I cannot believe it and we both feel we have barely scratched the surface of this wonderful world we want to explore.  Our life has been enriched beyond anything we could have imagined and we continue to be excited about the journey ahead.

How did we get here?  In 2012 a friend forwarded us a newspaper article about Lynne and Tim Martin, of Home Free Adventures, traveling the world full time without a home base which piqued our interest in their lifestyle.  During the following 5 years we researched, researched, and researched some more finding other nomads out there, gleaning information and ideas from them.  Planning our retirement we decided that if we sold everything we owned, we could travel the world for the same amount of money it would cost to retire in Cayman, or Canada if we chose to move home.  Well here we are one year later sitting in our lovely apartment in Playa Malvarrosa, Valencia, Spain so it must be working.  Instead of cable bills, property taxes and mortgage payments we spend our money on airfare, travel insurance and apartment rentals around the world.  We stuck to our budget this first year, which was really a stab in the dark guessing what our costs would be, with our accommodation costs kept well under budget by staying with family and friends for almost 4 months.  We may have to look at house sitting as an option in the future to keep accommodation costs down, which this past year accounted for 32% of our expenses.

Our first year got off to an easy start spending almost 2 months in Florida hanging out with friends.  I believe it made our transition into this lifestyle easier than jumping straight into foreign travel.  From Florida we spent the next 3 months in our hometown of Calgary with family and friends which again helped with our transition into nomads.  From Calgary we flew to London at the end of May for a brief 4 day visit with more family before heading to Paris where our nomadic travels began.  At that point we were truly on our own in countries we did not speak the language.  Many challenges came our way during this first year of travel but nothing insurmountable and lessons were learned in more than a few instances 🙂

Here are some stats from our first year of home free living:

  • Flights taken  –  7
  • Airlines flown with   –  6
  • Countries visited  –  13
  • Cities lived in  –  30
  • Apartments rented  –  17
  • Nights in apartments  –  206
  • Hotels  –  12
  • Nights in hotels  –  30
  • Friends/Family stayed with  –  7
  • Nights with friends/family  –  114
  • Cars rented  –  4
  • Countries we’ve driven in  –  7
  • Train journeys  –  1
  • Ferries  –  2
  • Cruises  –  1
  • Nights on a cruise ship  –  15
  • Phone numbers we’ve had  –  6

Our personal preference for land travel wherever possible is by car.  I know many other travelers choose to use less expensive public transportation but it makes us feel restricted.  To make our journey enjoyable, because if it’s not enjoyable then why are we doing it, we made the decision to include car lease/rental in our budget.  With a car we have the luxury of getting into the countryside, staying in small villages or on the outskirts of large cities, because we don’t like large cities in general.  We use public transport wherever possible to get into compact city centers where we can enjoy walking through historic areas.  So far we have been really happy with this decision, as you have probably read in our previous posts about our travels with “Dory”  🙂

We have seen many places and hundreds of sights during our first 365 days of travel and naturally we have some favorites.  Favorite places from 2018 are:

The places that took my breath away (you will hear from Blair later)  –

  • The Matterhorn in Switzerland
  • Mont Saint Michel in France
  • Bordeaux, France and the surrounding countryside
  • Petra, Jordan
  • Dubai, UAE
  • Le Tour de France
  • Italy…..anywhere 🙂

We could happily continue exploring Europe for years to come but there is a whole lot more world out there to see so we will expand our horizons and head to the Southern hemisphere in late 2019.  In the past we have made a few forays to Indonesia and other countries down that way.  It will be nice to expand our travels to the many other countries in that region and learn more about the different cultures and their history.

On The Flip Side…..well, you knew there had to be a side B 🙂 🙂 🙂   I don’t know anyone who’s life is perfect, and neither is this one.  People say that we are lucky and they sometimes envy our lifestyle.  There is not really any luck involved, we both work hard sharing the tasks required being constantly on the move and yes, at times we envy our friends who have a lovely home with family and friends close by.   Here are a few of the not so perfect parts of our lifestyle:

  • Loneliness, having nobody to go out for dinner and a few laughs with.  Unless you travel for a long time you probably don’t give a lot of thought to how easy it is to go out and have fun with people who know you.
  • Missing our family and friends.  Skype helps keep us in touch but certainly cannot replace an evening together over dinner and wine.
  • Struggling to translate cooking instructions on food packages is a constant challenge.
  • Trying to cook meals in sparsely equipped kitchens since many apartment rentals cater to short term renters who probably don’t want to cook during their vacation.
  • Sleeping in someone else’s bed all the time.  We counteract this when we can by purchasing our own pillows to carry with us when we have a car.
  • Not having any routines.  This is a big one for me, a Type A person who loves order and routine!!  That being said I have become pretty good at dealing with the inconsistencies of our lifestyle.
  • Being sick a lot due to constant travel and exposure to different germs has been the biggest challenge we faced this year.  Our previous life was a very active outdoor lifestyle that we have been unable to replicate during our travels.
  • Trying to figure out how to use the washing machine in every apartment is interesting and complicated further by being in foreign languages.
  • Gaining weight and becoming unfit due to inconsistent access to exercise facilities is a bit depressing and something we need to focus on in 2019.
  • Being unable to communicate means we are limited in having any sort of conversation with people we meet along the way.
  • I miss riding my bike, playing tennis, scuba diving and swimming in the ocean 🙁

Despite the “flip side” comments, we have no regrets choosing this lifestyle.  We have many fantastic memories and have traveled to some amazing places I never thought we would see.

Here is something new, I have asked Blair to contribute his thoughts on our first year of travel:

I have been asked to contribute a paragraph to our blog rather than just be the proof reader with occasional suggestions. I’ll start of with a couple of general observations and then relate what things and places I have enjoyed the most, not necessarily in chronological order.

On traveling full time in general I must say we are having a really great time and everything is going pretty much as I had hoped and at least as well as I expected. The sights and experiences have been fantastic and I really enjoy the amazing architecture and unbelievable building achievements, both the ancient and right up to the modern Burj Khalifa.

The food has been varied and interesting. Cooking at home, which we enjoy has had it’s challenges with language barriers and inferior kitchens.

On the language issue it seems you can always stumble by with English, but I find myself frustrated and embarrassed that I cannot speak any other languages.  In Canada and Cayman, I expected everyone to speak English and then I run around foreign countries and can’t get out more than “Hello” and “more beer please” 🙂

The driving in general is going just fine, other than almost getting wiped out by a lorry at the first roundabout off the ferry in England because I was looking the wrong way. Lots of prior experience driving on both the left and right side of the road and left and right hand drive vehicles has served me well.

OK, so I really enjoyed our time in Florida learning the new sport of pickleball and visiting friends. Calgary was great catching up with family and I particularly enjoyed Canmore, Lake Louise and Mara Lake.

The beaches in Normandy and all their WW2 history affected me more than I ever thought they would and I recommend everyone go.

I’ll just run through all the sports related highlights for me. The Tour de France, WOW, glad I’ve seen it live. The French Open, again so glad I have seen professional tennis live. To be able to tour around St Andrews golf course and Wimbledon was fantastic.

Switzerland overall and the Matterhorn in particular, was wonderful.

Petra, if you have been, or even seen the pictures I don’t need to explain.

Mont Saint Michel, same as Petra.

Scotland, and particularly Edinburgh was a treat. All the history, the haggis, the angels playing bagpipes in the church, and the tour of The Macallan on my birthday were all exceptional.  Any country where they understand me the first time when I say my name is Blair, and don’t say Larry?? I gotta love.

Dubai and the Burj Khalifa are a marvel, and I equally enjoyed wandering the ancient streets in Istanbul.

Is it worthwhile, you bet, is it perfect, no.  Susan wrote on the downsides of this lifestyle but they are minor. What I can say until I’m asked to contribute again is.…We Love It!!

So there you have it, finally, some input from my best friend and travel partner.  Perhaps I will have him contribute his thoughts more often 🙂

We are excited about our 2019 plans and hope those of you that are following our journey continue to travel with us, thanks for coming along…..

4 thoughts on “Our One Year Anniversary

  • January 8, 2019 at 7:53 pm

    Can’t believe that you have been gone from Cayman for a year already! We miss you on the court, but I am so glad that your first year of travelling has worked out so well. I much enjoy reading your Home Free Global Life. May 2019 be fun-filled, happy and healthy and full of new adventuress. Be safe!

    • January 9, 2019 at 10:54 am

      Thanks Sandra, it has been a good first year. We are glad to have you along on our journey and look forward to a fun and interesting 2019. I am missing Cayman and all you tennis ladies as well 🙂

  • January 5, 2019 at 8:07 pm

    Aloha Susan and Blair,
    I’ve been following your blog avidly, but I still thoroughly enjoyed and am grateful for your first-year summary above. Thanks so much for taking the time to do this.
    It’s been a treat to follow along, and I look forward to your 2019.
    All the best.

    • January 6, 2019 at 10:30 am

      Thanks Louise, so glad you are following along with us. We find it hard to believe one year has gone by so quickly and are excited for the upcoming year. Happy New Year and we hope all is well in sunny Hawaii.


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