I close my eyes … and I’m there …
Warm weather. Gorgeous house. Lazy days. [And a few days of work too.]
Years ago, my husband and I made the decision to slow travel for the rest of our lives. And true to fashion, we’re defining it ourselves.
Initially, we sold our house, got rid of most of our stuff, and moved to the west coast to experience life differently for a while.
We got more than we bargained for … hello, pandemic. So we’ve stayed put a lot longer than we originally planned.
But it also gave us time to redefine what’s truly important to us. It’s a work in progress. We’re still working through it.
Last year was one of the coldest, wettest springs on record here in the Pacific Northwest. It didn’t let up until the Fourth of July.
We knew we didn’t want a repeat of that this year. So we made plans to disappear for a month to experience sunshine and gorgeous weather for a while.
Thirty days in Mexico – not on the beach; instead, we’re off to San Miguel de Allende. I’ve had dozens of people tell us we should check out. So we’re listening this year.
Yes, we’ll be working. That’s the beauty of working remotely – have laptop, will travel.
So we’re off!
But as a plant-based lifestylist who has completely designed my lifestyle around healthy living, it’s not quite as easy as it was “before.” A lot of people have questions about my travel process, so it sounded like an excellent post. [I’m going to be sharing several posts in the coming weeks based on what I’m doing. Stay tuned.]
It all starts with the planning process
There’s a lot to plan out if you’re going on vacation for a few days. Imagine what it takes for a month!
Yes, it sounds daunting. But frankly, I find it’s even easier than it is for a week.
Honestly, the easiest part of the whole process is choosing what to wear. I bring enough clothes for about six days, and ensure I have laundry facilities on-site to keep them clean.
Working remotely does mean I have to pack up my laptop, but again, that’s easy. Years ago, I invested in a travel-friendly backpack to load up my laptop. I’m throwing in my small tripod for my iPhone so I can take photos and videos.
Of course, there’s airfare and the logistics of getting to and from the airports.
I start laying everything out a couple of weeks before I leave. I order extras of things I want to take with me: supplements, skin products, bioidentical hormone prescription.
I also open up a file and start listing out websites I find. I look for walking guides and local news sites filled with tours and events. I also search for travel bloggers who have visited the area, and read about their experiences.
I look for things the average tourist would never get from following standard advice. I look for ways to turn my experience into a truly memorable time.
Find a place with a great kitchen
I love Airbnb! To have access to a kitchen is simply amazing.
Ten years ago, when I was just starting a vegan diet, we stayed in a little place in Lucca, Italy, for a month. That tiny kitchen taught me so much about eating while traveling. It’s one of our best memories – to shop at a local market and cook with the foods we found in cute little veggie stands was simply amazing.
We use a lot of what we learned during that trip to make plans today.
As we narrow down our choices for potential houses, we ensure they’ll meet our living standards. It must have internet access, a washer and dryer, and a walkable neighborhood. It must be close to markets, and have a well-stocked kitchen. [You can tell by the photos. Or ask the host – they’re always friendly about what’s included.]
If you’re reading this thinking: I could never be away for a month. Yes, you could. Making your own food saves an enormous amount of money. Especially in other countries where market food is often very inexpensive. And I’ve discovered other countries have a lot more selections in their markets.
Do a little research to find markets
What did people do before Google? I deep-dive into everything before I head out of town.
With just a few clicks, I can find local grocery stores, fresh street markets, and discover where the customer service is best. With addresses in hand, I can map out the routes from place to place to ensure I never get lost.
This is all about the experience, know-how, and safety. Because I’m pretty specific in the way that I shop, it’s nice having this amount of data right at my fingertips. I know as soon as I land, I can head out and get everything I need for the next few days while I get set up and figure out the lay of the land.
A girl’s gotta eat out too – planning gets it done
Even if we’re road-tripping for a day, I spend a few minutes using Google to find plant-based friendly restaurants. The smaller the town, the more recommendations I look for. You don’t know when one of them will be closed down.
I often mention to the owners or managers how I found them, thanking them for catering to plant-based travelers. You can get into wonderful conversations this way. And the tips they give are even better!
San Miguel, here we come. I can’t wait to try:
Of course, this is just the start! I’ll post later on some of the great food we experience.
Planning for the airplane
Who can say airline food is good, raise your hand. What, nobody? I hear ya. Airplane food wasn’t good at the best of times. Now, it’s short of awful [if you get anything at all.]
It’s even worse when you’re focused on whole foods. Which makes preplanning that much more important.
With my upcoming trip, we’re taking an early flight [think 5 am.] So restaurant choices aren’t available before boarding, and it’s standard purchases onboard, which is limiting at best.
So I’ll be baking up a storm the day before. I’m baking sweet potato muffins with my granola topping. I’ll bring a selection of dried fruits and nuts, for the just-in-case. Throw in some power bars, and we’ll be ready to go … until we reach our destination and refuel.
What to pack in the suitcases
Wanna peek into my carry-on? You might be surprised.
Sure, I’ve been selecting skirts, shorts, and dresses to bask in the 80 degree heat. But that’s not where I’ve placed the majority of my attention.
Let’s talk supplements. They are a massive part of my health plan. I won’t go anywhere without them, so I’ve created a system to bring them all along. I have pill boxes filled with daily supplies. I’ve got bottles packed where it makes sense. They take up a good portion of my suitcase.
Then there’s the blender I purchased last month. My husband looked [yes, actually looked] at Airbnbs that come with a blender. Alas, it’s not something any of them list. And even if they did, I doubt they would have something as powerful as a Vitamix. So I found something else instead – BlendJet. I’m excited to give it a try. It looks powerful enough to mix daily smoothies to ensure we get even more whole foods into our bodies. [I’ll let you know how it goes.]
Staying true to my vision – owning my health
How often have you stuck with your food goals, only to give it all up when you head out on vacation? Your brain tells you to leave everything behind …
Except that doesn’t work for me anymore. I own my approach to food and health. I won’t leave it behind because I show up somewhere else. I see myself as a healthy 100-year-old, and I’m not going to “live wildly” right now.
So I’m consciously creating my vacation around what’s most important to me. I take extra care searching for the right place to stay. I plan out meals and tours. I look extensively at websites to find places that fit my desires.
There’s something motivating about doing this. Yes, it’s not “spur of the moment” decisions. But I have many fun things in a file waiting for me to choose – I’ll leave my spontaneity to what to do for the day, not based on jumping at things that don’t fit my vision.
Planning for less screen time
Years ago, we’d planned out our version of a slow travel lifestyle. We’d move month by month wherever we chose, chasing the sun to avoid the inevitable cold weather. That’s changed slightly. [Thanks, pandemic.]
But we are moving back into the idea of traveling one month at a time to experience different regions of this world. And because we hope to do this several times a year, we’re figuring out how to incorporate work and play time into our slow travel experience once again. It’s a work in progress.
My goal is to work smarter, not harder. I do know I’ll be reducing my screen time. It’s so hard … especially when you’re a busy writer juggling a lot of balls. But I’m leaving my iPad behind, forcing me to do more on my laptop. I’m more likely to close it and keep it closed – so it works for me.
I’ll be walking more, enjoying the sites and sounds of San Miguel. I’ve already connected up with a couple of groups to meet up with.
Oh, and no television. I’m bringing our travel cribbage board to entertain us as we bask on our rooftop patio.
This is a big one for me.
In 2020, we were planning a month in Portugal for my BIG birthday. A few weeks before we were scheduled to leave, the world came to a halt.
It’s been a long three years with my focus on local travel only. Caregiving. A loved one with cancer. Selling my childhood home.
But now, it’s time to get back into my life. Doing the things I want to do.
Slow travel was such a big part of our future plans. We don’t want to wait anymore.
Honestly? The only way I’ve gotten through the last few weeks of planning has been with my journaling practice. I’ve sat down several times a day and written my thoughts out, using them to move me forward. [I have several journals filled from the last three years.]
It’s the one practice I can’t imagine putting aside. I have a new one tucked into my backpack, waiting for me to start writing once I settle into San Miguel.
Here we are …
Alright, my friends. Thanks for reading along and discovering what I’m doing as I prepare for my upcoming trip. I think it’s so powerful to stay true to who you are, own your commitments no matter where on earth you decide to travel.
This is what I do – do you have any tips to share?
I think it’s important to treat these ideas as a blueprint, yet remain flexible as needed. I know from time to time, things won’t work out as planned. And that’s okay.
No matter what, travel is about new experiences. It’s about discovering new places, and discovering a new piece of you too.