The Joys of Running Away from Home
Updated: Feb 10, 2019
The coffee at the sidewalk café was bittersweet in more ways than one. As my husband and I savored that last, relaxing taste of Paris, it seemed as though we'd barely gotten over jet-lag before this two-week vacation would end the next day.
“What if…?” We played mind games about staying long enough to make this ambiance a daily pleasure. It wasn’t feasible immediately but three years later we rented a cottage in the French countryside for five months. The time passed in a heartbeat of discovery and serenity. It appeared that even five months, wasn't enough.
We sold our home in the states and moved to France as a base for easy travel throughout Europe. Our five months turned into almost five of the most memorable years of our lives.
If you, too, have the travel bug, living abroad generates a depth of experience far beyond what a brief vacation offers.
Without the deadline of a plane ticket, you can relax and smell the lavender. There’s no pressure to jam in every tourist site and croissant you pass in the effort to avoid wasting a day.
A long stay can also be affordable, especially with one location as a base. Ours was France’s Loire Valley for its central location, affordability and access to transport but the principle works anywhere. Staying put lets you rent long-term accommodations with kitchen facilities rather than more costly tourist lodging. It soon feels like “home” where you can enjoy fresh and healthy produce from the local markets instead of dining out every meal.
European trips are also affordable. When you want a “vacation” farther afield, you don't take a long, expensive flight. No, you just pop on a train, bus, or drive to another destination (our location, for example, was within six hours of six countries by car; we had to fly to Greece but, hey, only three hours from Paris.) Inexpensive European airlines make it a breeze.
Perhaps best of all, a long-term stay provides in-depth insights into daily life. Build friendships with neighbors and other expats, take art classes, language classes, bike vineyards and discover those local sites and little-known (but deliciously affordable) restaurants, and special events that aren’t found in tourist guides.
Our own successful stay abroad inspired me to share the planning tips I’d researched and gathered from a host of other expats. It would be a shortcut for others who dream of having the same type of adventure. And that is why “The Grown-Up’s Guide to Running Away from Home” was created.
This is not a plug for the book (okay, so it kinda is) but, more important, it’s a plug for enjoying a long-term adventure that lasts longer than jet-lag. If this is your dream, I hope it brings you amazing joy in experience and memories.