Back Across the Pond
Updated: Nov 12
When we became empty nesters, we flew our nest at the same time as our two chickadees. We still wanted to be able to see them regularly though, probably even more often than they wanted to see us, so for the first two years we hung around North America and came back to the Tucson area roughly every month. In the middle of the second year when they seemed to be needing us around less and less, we started expanding our trips a bit. We spent 3 months driving tip to tip in Mexico. We were still close enough that if they needed us to return for any reason we could be back in a number of hours. Gradually we have stretched other journeys a couple of times to a maximum of three months away.
The most expensive part of visiting Europe is the transportation cost of airfare. We knew that once we were there, we wanted to get the most bang for our buck and stay for about three months.
When we made our original plans to go to Europe, we bought a one way ticked to Reykjavik, Iceland and we had a rough time table of when when thought we wanted to return. It had mostly to do with how long we were willing to go without seeing our kids. At the time we didn't really hadn't given thought to the fact that the Europeans actually wouldn't allow us to stay any longer than three months. Good thing we really wanted to see our kids, or there could have been big trouble for us at the border.
Here is a link to a really well written blog post by Nomadic Matt if you want more information on long-term visas in Europe: https://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/how-to-legally-stay-in-europe-for-more-than-90-days/ . It's pretty complicated if you want to stay more than 90 days.
So after easy travel within what is known as the Schengen area (European Union member states) for just under three months we made it back to the U.S. flying from London to Midway in Chicago. Our last night in London it rained which made it a little easier to leave.
The trip was really easy, made all the more so by having a very nice young guy sitting next to me. He was from Columbia, South America but he moved to the US when he was a small child. He loves to travel, is in IT right now, but wants to be a pilot and he really wanted to know more about how we manage our nomadic lifestyle. We had plenty to talk about. I can see my kids shooting each other knowing smirks, complete with rolled eyes, even as I write that because that having enough to talk about never seems to be an issue. I love to learn about other people and finding things in common.
Although my plan was to get some sleep to help minimize jet lag, I was so happy to be awake when we passed over Greenland and then later Newfoundland. It was beautifully crystal clear out which has never happened for us before.
Back in to Chicago, Airbnb was our go-to for finding a good place to try to get over six hours of jet lag. We stayed with a busy family of four - two interesting parents and two bright funny energetic boys aged 6 and 7. Add a cute dog on top in a beautiful home with our own private suite and we were happy campers living within walking distance of Ky's dad, Kyle, who happens to be one of my favorite people in the world. He's 88 now and living in a nursing home, and he has complete lack of any short term memory, but he's a really funny sweet man.
We arrived back in Phoenix just in time for our annual neighborhood Halloween potluck. A group of our fantastic neighbors have done this party for 18 of the last 20 years and we really enjoyed sitting around waiting for all manner of princesses, panda bears and even a huge dinosaur (our adult renter actually) to come by looking for treats. It was a good year for lots of visitors - some years have been slower than others. The best part however was catching up on what's been going on our neighbors' lives while we've been away. While we love meeting new people on our nomadic journey, we miss family and the friends we've made over the years. Facebook and other social media certainly helps, but it's just not the same as spending time with the people you love and care about.
One of the "joys" of nomadic travel is catching up with all the adult requirements like going through stacks of mail which were mostly political ads this time, voting, car maintenance, etc...., and prepping for the next leg of the journey. Off to Tucson to see the kids - yippeeee!