We are finally getting to work on our work visa and I am so excited now that the finish line seems to be in sight! Ya know, after tons of paperwork, a month-long trip the USA, UK government approval [hopefully! nothing is guaranteed yet!], then finally returning to the UK. Part of all of that paperwork is documenting all of our travel in the last 10 years, to make sure that we have never overstayed a visa or violated any immigration laws of any country.
Since I had to spend hours (I think about 5 in total!) combing through our records yesterday to get all of our travel documented, I thought I might as well turn it into a blog post. We did a bit of travel before 2018 - I went on a family cruise in 2011, then on a trip to Costa Rica with my BFF in 2013, together Joel and I went on a cruise over New Year's Eve 2012-2013 and then a trip to Canada over New Year's Eve 2014-2015, but I won't include those. What I am going to share is everywhere we have existed on earth since we first left the States in 2018!
Quick note - I am thankful both that Joel never deletes an email and that Google tracks us through our phones. Some people might not like our technological overlords but they sure made this job a lot easier than it could have been! Oh, also, for the visa documents I had to do the dates British-style (day/month/year) but for this I'll transpose them back to US-style (month/day/year.)
07/19/2018 - 07/21/2018 We left the USA, flying out of Dallas, TX (After selling our car and having the dealer drive us to the airport!) We have a long layover in Iceland, then landed in Paris and rented a car for 6 hours then returned it and got on a bus. The overnight bus took us from Paris to Germany then we got on multiple trains on our way to Austria.
07/21/2018 - 07/22/2018 We finally got to Vienna late at night and got a hotel room for about 6 hours before our early morning flight to Cyprus. (We had not showered in three days. We needed this hotel room, lol)
07/22/2018 - 09/01/2018 Our housesit in Peyia, Cyprus! We cared for one dog, named Lottie.
09/01/2018 - 09/02/2018 Our travel from Cyprus to Germany went awry and we missed the last train of the night and ended up spending the night in the 24 hour McDonald's inside the Berlin train station. In the morning we caught the first train to Wendisch-Rietz where we were picked up by our new hosts.
09/02/2018 - 09/19/2018 Our housesit in Wendisch-Rietz, Germany! We cared for 3 baby chickens, 2 adult chickens, 1 duck, and a cat.
09/19/2018 It only took us one day of travel (albeit a loooong one) to get to our next place. We left our German house at 8 AM and got to our Welsh house around 10 PM. Also one of our bags was lost, then found and returned to us a month later (someone had grabbed the wrong thing of the luggage carousel.)
09/19/2018 - 12/06/2018 Our housesit in Bishopston, Wales! We cared for two elderly cats, Nessie and Hamish.
12/06/2018 - 12/07/2018 We spent the night for the first time at Steve's house, complete with American flags plastered around the guest room to welcome us. We prepare to leave on our UK road trip the next day!
12/07/2018 - 12/11/2018 The first stop on our road trip is in northern Wales.
12/11/2018 - 12/17/2018 Our second stop is in Scotland! Joel discovers his love for haggis.
12/17/2018 - 12/21/2018 Our final stop is in northern England.
12/21/2018 - 12/22/2018 Back at Steve's house for one night!
12/22/2018 - 12/30/2018 Our Christmas housesit in Gunnislake, Cornwall, England. We cared for two dogs, Crystal and Hugo.
12/30/2018 - 01/01/2019 We rang in the New Year in an Airbnb in Poole, England, with Steve for company!
01/01/2019 Steve drove us from southern England to our next housesit in the middle of England.
01/01/2019 - 03/02/2019 Our housesit in Street, England! We cared for six Persian cats and two Golden Retrievers.
03/02/2019 In what was our easiest travel yet we took a single flight from Bristol, England to Limoges, France where our next house picked us up.
03/02/2019 - 05/08/2019 Our housesit in Lussat, France! (We were very rural, about a mile from a teeny tiny town.) We cared for 4 outdoor cats.
05/08/2019 - 05/10/2019 Due to worker strikes we had to leave France a day earlier than planned, which meant we spent two nights in London on our way home rather than one. We stayed at the Holiday Inn near the airport and did not do anything fun except eats lots of cheddar cheese (which we had missed desperately while in France.) #
05/10/2019 Flight from London to Chicago where Joel's dad and stepmom picked us up at the airport.
05/10/2019 - 07/08/2019 We spent almost two months in the USA! We traveled quite a bit around the Midwest - staying with Joel's dad and stepmom in Illinois, staying with my parents in Des Moines, and visiting friends in Ames and Minnesota. I could figure out exactly where we were when if I had to (thanks Google!) but since the UK government doesn't care exactly where we were in our home country I have not gone to that level of detail.
07/08/2019 - 07/09/2018 Overnight flight from Chicago to London, somehow accidentally got business class for cheaper than economy and very much enjoyed the extra upgrades.
07/09/2019 - 07/17/2019 We are reunited with Steve and stay in a London Airbnb! I get interviewed by a psychologist then leave the guys alone for one night as I attend a 24-hour interview retreat with the Methodist Church. I get the job!
07/17/2019 - 07/18/2019 We left our Airbnb at like 2 in the morning to get to the airport on time for a 7 AM flight to Venice. We then stayed at a Best Western near the airport for one night until our friend Sef could pick us up for a visit.
07/18/2019 - 07/23/2019 We stayed with Sef who lived just outside of Venice and spent one day going into Venice, Italy. We ate lots of pizza and tons of gelato and it was amazing.
07/23/2019 One early morning flight (leaving Sef's at 3 AM) gets us to Sofia, Bulgaria where our new hosts pick us up. (Americans this time!)
07/23/2019 - 08/29/2019 Our housesit in Sofia, Bulgaria! We cared for one adorable tiny dog named Smokey.
08/29/2019 - 08/30/2019 We travel to Thailand via a layover in Istanbul, Turkey (nicest airport we've ever been in!)
08/30/2019 - 09/03/2019 We stayed at the Dewa Phuket Resort in Phuket, Thailand. Flying here, paying for a hotel, then flying to Australia, was actually cheaper than flying straight from Bulgaria to Australia. Go figure!
09/03/2019 - 09/04/2019 We flew from Phuket, Thailand to Kulala Lumpur, Malaysia and settled in for a 13 hour layover. Then we flew overnight from KL to Perth, Australia where our next housesit was waiting for us.
09/04/2019 - 10/03/2019 Our housesit in Golden Bay, Australia! We cared for two dogs (Gypsy and Millie), one cat (Monty), and one lizard (Wilson).
10/03/2019 - 10/17/2019 Our second housesit in Australia...kinda...things go awry and we get kicked out (but also, we wanted to leave, so...it was nuts.) We try not to think about this one too much, lol. Luckily our friend Elaine rescues us!
10/17/2019 - 11/04/2019 We stay with our friend Elaine!
11/04/2019 - 11/08/2019 A trip to Bali, Indonesia! When we thought we were going to stay in Australia longer we needed to leave at some point because our visa only allowed 90 days consecutively. This trip ended up being pointless as we left Australia before our 90 days would have been up, but we didn't know that at the time we booked a non-refundable trip with a travel agent (won't make that mistake again!)
11/08/2019 - 11/19/2019 We stay with our friend Elaine and book our next housesit, taking us back to the UK.
11/19/2019 - 11/20/2019 We fly from Perth to Bangkok, Thailand, hang out in the airport for like 8 hours, then get on an overnight flight to London.
11/20/2019 - 11/22/2019 Upon landing in London I went into the city to meet with Mike, who will be my colleague at the Notting Hill appointment that will begin as soon as my work visa comes through (at the time, we did not realize it would take until March to get things finalized!) Then we took a bus to Chepstow to meet up with a clergy friend of mine and we stayed with her and her fiance for two nights.
11/22/2019 - 11/23/2019 Traveling from Chepstow, Wales to Carmarthen, Wales should not have taken overnight. But, we got on the wrong bus and ended up in London, then took a bus back to Cardiff, Wales, then took a 2 AM train to Swansea, Wales where we spent 3 hours hanging out in the train station until a morning train to our actual destination where our new hosts picked us up. It was rough and this was the point where we really decided we were ready to be done with traveling.
11/23/2019 - 12/27/2019 Our housesit in Newcastle Emelyn, Wales! (But really, the middle of nowhere.) We cared for one elderly dog, Eddie.
12/27/2019 - 01/10/2020 Our housesit ended and we thought the appointment would be starting in London shortly, complete with a flat that was supposed to be ready by Christmas...that got delayed...then delayed again... We booked an Airbnb just outside of London figuring we might as well stay close. During this time we met some friends who offered to take us in as we couldn't afford to keep paying for Airbnb...
01/10/2020 - 02/20/2020 We stay with Vince and Joan! The flat keeps getting delayed... the work visa requirements are poorly communicated... everything stalls and takes longer than it should... But, we are now on the right path. The flat is still not ready for us, but we have to go back to the USA anyway to comply with the work visa application process.
02/20/2020 - 03/17/2020 Okay now I'm looking into the future, but these are the dates for the round-trip tickets we have booked to Chicago and back to London. If all goes well we will re-enter the UK on 03/18/2020, move into our flat in Notting Hill, and I'll start work (by preaching!) at Notting Hill Methodist on that Sunday.
So there you have it, everywhere we have existed on earth since mid-2018. If you got tired reading it just imagine how exhausting it was to put all that together! (Not to mention live it, haha) Looking back, it's pretty crazy the life we have led for the last (almost) two years. Is it any wonder my word for 2020 is "Settle" and I am looking forward to settling down?!
By the end of 2020, we should be safely ensconced in a manse, with a 5-year appointment ahead of me, and we will begin living in one place for the longest time of either of our adult lives. So from fully nomadic to fully settled, 2020 is a year of change. Wish us luck!