Five years ago on Aug 14 2014, we embarked on a life of travel, without the responsibilities of house or car. With an airline ticket to Paris France, and an Airbnb booking for one month in Rennes France, we took off. While we did have a return ticket for about six months later, we did not know where all we would travel, or how long we would stay. And after a number of cities later, we eventually flew home from Rome, Italy in Feb 2015.
In that first six months we learned that we love staying longer in a place – a minimum of at least one month to truly get a sense of life there. It was also good to be open and flexible about where we wanted to go, since many of our destinations were determined based on recommendations someone we would meet and then simply deciding to go there.
You can see the places we’ve been and are next planning to go on the link Slow Nomads Path, on the blog. So far, we’ve been to 17 countries including this year’s journey (some of these were long stays of 1 to 3 months, others just 1 to 3 days): France, Belgium, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Austria, Spain, Ireland, England, Scotland, Denmark, Iceland, Canada, Slovenia, Croatia, and now Portugal. We’ve mostly stayed in Airbnb apartments; and 13 of these were our homes for one of more months.
During our returns to the US, we’ve traveled to North Carolina, Texas, Wisconsin, California, Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia.
People often ask if we get lonely and miss family and friends. We do miss everyone, but we know many of you are traveling with us through the blog. And we really haven’t been alone, we have been visited by 18 friends along the way (existing friends specifically came to join us, or others we connected with during their travels), and made more than 20 new friends (technology makes it easy to stay in touch). And that doesn’t include the many casual acquaintances that we knew by name or merely by their smile.
We find that the central factor in deciding where we go is the type of life experiences we want to have when we get there. The destination has to be a place we will want to stay for at least one month. Easy transportation options are essential – specifically train and bus, so that a car is not required.
There are many places we consider, for instance New Zealand, that would require a car, and Japan with its many cultural challenges would require a very different type of planning. We aren’t ready for organized tours yet, so several places might not be scheduled until we are ready for that type of travel.
In our last review at the three-year point, we wanted to set up a home base back in the US without ownership responsibility, so we rented an apartment. Economically that turned out not be the best long-term way to continue, as leases increased regularly. Also, when we started out, the budget for car rental costs worked to our advantage, but those prices also increased significantly.
So last year after our return, we decided it was time to purchase a townhouse with a garage, and a car, thus giving us easy lock-and-leave options. However, we now again have responsibility and ongoing expenses to balance with our travels. We have been successful thus far but time will tell how this may affect our ongoing travel plans.
After five years, we’ve modified our travel-housing criteria to now include an elevator (if we are more than a couple of flights up), and air conditioning if we’ll be there in the summer. We have managed without these, but life can be mentally and physically demanding at times so why not take it a little easier when we can. (And we are five years older now!) Having been in Portugal walking the steep streets daily for several weeks, we find ourselves regularly taking the lift for the last climb of the day!
Our travel plans this year keep us in Portugal for three months. We’ll be 7 weeks in Porto in the north, a week south and east in Evora, and the final month in Lisbon, the capital. This will allow us to get a taste of the different regions, as the geography, culture, and food is quite varied in this relatively small country.
While Chris spends time editing photographs, writing, and publishing the blog, Jeannie busily plans daily excursions in our current location, and looks further into the future exploring new travel options.
When we started this phase of life, there were three primary considerations: health, desire and financial means; and as long as we have those we will continue to experience life in different places.
Thank you, dear reader, for traveling with us, be it briefly or, like some, for the long term. We hope you find our journey interesting ant that maybe it will inspire you to search out new places, near or far.
And now — The Numbers:
Countries Visited (and some key cities) By Year
(we don’t count the USA, our home country, as a country visited)
- France: Rennes, Normandy, Montpellier, Lyon
- Belgium: Brussels, Ghent, Bruges
- Italy: Rome, Florence, Montignano, Camucia, Venice
- Norway: Oslo
- Sweden: Gothenburg
- France: Lyon, Strasbourg
- Germany: Gengenbach
- Switzerland: Basel, Lucerne
- Spain: Madrid, Barcelona
- USA travel to Wisconsin
- Ireland: Dublin, Killarney, Doolin, Kinnitty
- England: Waddington
- Scotland: Edinburgh, Isle of Skye
- Denmark: Copenhagen, Bornholm
- Norway: Bergen
- Iceland: Reykjavik
- Canada, Montreal, Quebec
- France: Toulouse
- England: Selsley
- Italy: Verona
- Slovenia: Ljubljana
- Croatia: cruise along the coast, Dubrovnik
- USA travel to California, Texas
- USA travel to Wisconsin, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia
- Portugal: Porto, Evora, Lisbon
Friends and Family along the way:
- Mike (Chris’s brother) & Kathy (his wife), from Florida have joined us almost every year.
- Nicholas and Lucie, from the Lyon area, are friends we made during our first week in France, were the reason we first went to Lyon in 2014 and again in 2015; then we spent more time together in 2017. They are now living near Boston MA, so we must visit them later this year! We also met their parents, siblings and friends.
- Matt & Brigit, friends from California who were visiting Rennes, France.
- Niels and Jette, our Danish friends from Copenhagen, we’ve seen almost each year somewhere along our path.
- Kate and David, of Washington state, new friends we met in Montpellier France, and saw again in Lyon and Toulouse, France.
- Herb and Jeanie, long time Florida friends with whom we shared Christmas in Italy and made new friends Claudia and Gary who live in Italy.
- Jean Marie, Maria, and their two grown children whom we met in Bergen, Norway were from Reunion Island.
- Pat and Gary of Gainesville, Florida, shared 2 dinners together with us in Sarlat, as they traveled France with a Rick Steve’s tour.
- Sharon and Fae, friends from Canada we met on a photographic tour in China, we shared drinks with in Sarlat, France after they completed walking part of the Camino Santiago in Spain.
- Barbara, from New Zealand, the owner of our first apartment in Montpellier, France, we caught up with in Madrid, Spain.
- Harry and Mary, of Orlando, Florida joined us in Lyon, France and shared our gastronomic adventures.
- Barb and Shirley, of Orlando, Florida joined us in Lyon, France.
- Brian and Ommy, of Orlando, Florida also joined us in Lyon, France.
- Rich and Patti, friends from Jacksonville, Florida traveled to Montpellier, France and later to Montreal, Canada.
- Joan and Mel, fellow travelers and new friends we met in Lyon, France.
- Josep, Montserrat, son Miguel, and daughter from Barcelona, Spain we met in Montpellier, France, and again in Barcelona, Spain.
- Ingrid and Karl, German cousins of a Florida friend met us near the Black Forest in Germany.
- Marta and family, Italian owners of our apartment in Verona, Italy.
- Miriam & Mick, who invited us to their home in Ireland for a meal and unwittingly helped us celebrate our 42nd wedding anniversary.
- Chris, fiddle player and host in Kinnitty, Ireland.
- Luka and Zana, hosts at Walk Slovenia in Poljane near Skofjo Loko, Slovenia.
- Janet and Paul, fellow travelers from England, met on our walking holiday in Slovenia.
- Denise and Robert of Christchurch, New Zealand, whom we met on our Croatian Cruise.
- Richard and Susan of Savannah, Georgia whom we also met on our Croatian Cruise, and later met again in Savannah .
- Gay (longtime colleague), Peter and Mathew, friends in Wales, with whom we shared a picnic.
- Jennifer, Nick, Ethan, and Peter were our AirBnB host family in Selsley, England.
- Karen and Richard, inspiring fellow travelers and bloggers who write Enjoy Living Abroad .
- Over two dozen new friends made during our cruise along the Croatian coast.
5-year Blog Statistics:
- Chris has made more than 90,117 photographs, and over 15,219 images have been published in the blog, and hundreds on FaceBook. Many of the photographs are available for sale at our Fine Art America site.
- Over 300 Posts and pages have been published on the blog.
- Nearly 2,300 comments have been made by those reading the blog. Your comments are an inspiration that helps keep the blog going and are appreciated more than you know. Now is a good time to help raise this number!
- The Slow Nomads blog posts & pages have been viewed 46,568 times and the largest number of views in one day was 302 on Thursday, March 19, 2015.
- The blog has been viewed in more than 100+ countries. The top five (with total number of views) are: United States (41,338), France (4,439), United Kingdom (3,585), Denmark (1676), Italy (986)
If you have read this far, we thank you for both your interest and persistence. Certainly the photographs alone tell of the wide variety of places we have visited and lived, but our words and impressions can often say more than mere images show. Though we often state that this blog is our personal journal that we share with whomever wishes to visit, it is in no small way also dedicated to you, our readers and subscribers. Your comments and interest play a significant role in its continued publication, and we thank you all.