Travel

Life Beyond Europe

Is there more to life than Europe? I guess the answer to that depends who you ask. I say, absolutely. Others say, probably not. There was a time when, if someone said to me that I needed to go abroad, I thought of Europe. No, not just Europe, but Western Europe. Now days, I’ve managed to expand by horizons a bit, but Europe still has a powerful draw to it.

I have some friends that travel exclusively in Europe. I consider them tourists, not travelers. Tourists get packages and then go out and see what they have been told is not-to-be-missed. They are most likely itinerary driven people. I hate itineraries! All of the things that you will remember about a trip ten years later will not be in the itinerary.

If this is your lifestyle, that’s cool. Go, and enjoy. There are an INFINITE number of tour packages that cover Europe. And, there are a large variety of travel shows that cover Europe. It is easy to travel in Europe. The network of auto routes and trains is almost all-encompassing. More importantly, Europe has all the stuff people expect when they go somewhere that isn’t there home. It has deep, deep history. It has world class museums. It has excellent food. It has the sun-washed beaches and snow covered mountains. There is little that you can look for that isn’t there, somewhere.

It can also be easy to go to Europe and then just keep going to Europe. That’s what happened when I started travelling again. I had lived in Germany for several years when I was just out of high school. It was those in-between school and college years. Germany was a wonderful place. It was magical. It had mountains, and snow, great beer, and awesome food. The discos were loud and awash with people. There were festivals in every little town. Is was just a great experience. SO, when I decided to get back out on the road it seemed like the place to go. Quickly however, I decided that as much as I liked Germany, I also wanted to see other places. So I went to England. Then, I went wondering all over France. Then, I set down in Portugal, took the train across country to the channel, a train across England, and a ferry to Ireland. Needing a change, I spent weekend in Rome one winter, and Walked around Monte Carlo during the Grand Prix one spring.

I had settled into Europe. Why? Simple, it was easy. A quick flight from the east coast of America to anywhere in Europe isn’t hard to find. Hotels are on some lame similar standard with the States, and you can normally drink the water. It’s just easy. It was at his point that I went, what am I doing? Isn’t there more to life than Europe? Isn’t there a whole other planet out there?

The answer is yes. Yes there is a whole other planet out there to adventure around. Peru is fascinating. Australia is large and wonderful, sun-washed and hectic. Egypt is lost in time and antique. Costa Rica is jungles and surf. It’s all out there somewhere. All you have to do is go looking for it. Personally, I’m happy that I went to see other places.

Now, one could say that you can also find all of those things in Europe, if you look. That would be absolutely true. You can find pretty much everything above, save the jungle. That’s okay too, they really don’t need any jungle. But, back to the question: Is there more to life than Europe? I guess the answer is: do you want there to be? I would say that if you are happy doing the European shuffle, then do it. If you long for foreign lands and mysterious tongues, then do that. I like the second option, but I’ve already done the first one. Think about the way you travel. Think about the things that make you happy. Think about the types of activities you like to do and the excitement that drives you. Then, when you’re done thinking about it, go do it. If wondering the beaches of Europe makes you happy, do it. If wondering the bazaars of Cairo makes you happy, then go do that. I’ve done both. One experience isn’t better than another. They are individual experiences that I enjoyed completely.

So, I guess the answer to the question is – maybe?

Now, go on. Get out there.

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The old fortress in Lisbon, Portugal. Taken from the rooftop terrace of my hotel, somewhere around 2009.

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Travel

The Ex-Pat Life.

 

Continuing on with the previous discussion on timing, there is one more idea that probably should receive consideration. That would be the idea of becoming an ex-patriot. As in, going to live and work in some other country for a period of time. While this is not an ideal option for many traveler these days, it does have a certain appeal to some.

I have to confess at this point in the post that I am one of the people that it has an appeal for. Living somewhere new is the best way to become fully immersed in another culture. Working in another country can also give you a different view of industry you happen to work in. Best of all, living in another country gives you a new point of origin from which to travel.

If you live in New York and can only afford to fly to Europe, you never see anything besides Europe. Not that there’s anything bad about Europe. I happen to love Europe. But, if you move to Europe to work, when you get vacation you can travel to Eastern Europe or Africa, or maybe the Middle East. It also make the previous choices of the weekender and standard 2 week usable options inside Europe, which will greatly increase the amount of land you can cover. If you live in California, you can do the same thing going in the other direction. Travel made easy!

Now, I admit, it’s not really all that simple. Actually changing work and moving to an international employer can be problematic. For one simple obstacle, most European countries look for people that are bi-lingual. There are firms out there that don’t require multiple languages, but one must be diligent when looking. Also, you will find that when you become immersed in another culture, it can be temporarily overwhelming. (Having been dropped in Germany when I was 18 years old, thanks to the US Army, I found this out first-hand.)

There are numerous other problems as well. Logistical problems with moving things to another country. Serious tax implications. If you’re married, then there are a whole host of family issues to be dealt with. Schools, housing, medical issues, etc. They are all important issues to be considered before taking off to another country.

If you’re single or divorced, the situations are simpler. Also, if you want to stay with a firm based in America, you’re situation is simpler. If you work for a large firm, the first thing I suggest is that you check with your current employer to see if they have employment options in other countries. If they do, well then, you really have things in hand.

There are a host of international employers based in the United States that can simplify the issues of working visa’s, citizenship, medical insurance, and relocation. There are also a host of international companies that will streamline these problems for new hires. They are usually especially happy to help when the project locations are in less than secure locations.

The real upshot to all these problems, once they are overcome, is that you can explore your new HOME country. Then, you can travel to new locations and see many new things without having to purchase airline tickets that drag you halfway around the globe, and drain your finances.

If you’re not locked into any specific region of the world, then becoming an ex-patriot is a viable option to be considered. It’s not a good idea for everyone. It can be a great idea for some. Working outside North America can be a rewarding travel and social experience.

Just something else to consider. Now, get out there.

 

 

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The author at the Fortress of Tomar, Portugal, fall of 2009. I was doing some book research for my third novel.

 

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