There’s something so romantic about going off to a foreign country or place by yourself. Or at least I always thought so???
Cue movies/books like Under the Tuscan Sun, Eat Pray Love, Wild, and the like.
I am such a sucker for that shit. As a hopeless romantic, nostalgic-obsessed introvert/INFP, I eat. It. Up.
I took my first solo travel trip to Europe three years ago, when I was 23. I went to Greece, Ireland, and Belgium over the course of 1.5 months and ate my weight in crepes. I met a ton of other travelers by staying in hostels, which was perfect at the time, but these days I’m not as keen to share a room with 10 other travelers and pray that none of them snore.
I also purposely wanted solitude and reflection time during this trip (and hostels aren’t necessarily the BEST place for that LOL). My goal wasn’t to make a ton of friends and see ALL THE THINGS like it was before – I really just wanted to meet other digital nomads (in real life/online), work on myself, reinforce healthy habits like meditation and journaling, establish myself as an online English teacher, and get my shit together with this blog.
And so, I traded in people for pets and was house sitting in various locations around England from mid-June to mid-August. I spent 2 weeks in Welling (near London), 1 month in Saltburn-by-the-Sea, 1 week in Chichester, and 2 days in London.
My time alone was and wasn’t exactly what I thought. Here are my main takeaways:
Ah, Saltburn-by-the-Sea (or Saltburn for short if you’re ~in the know~.) This is such a lovely little beach town, and a hidden gem (I only say that because many British people I spoke with had never heard of it!)
But don’t fear, although it seems relatively undiscovered, there are still plenty of fun things do in Saltburn-by-the-Sea!
I was in Saltburn for the month of July, and what a lovely (and cold, and rainy) month it was! If you’re looking for sun, sun, and more sun – well, sorry to say that Saltburn MIGHT not be the place for you. Like, it’s rainy and/or cloudy pretty often. But if you’re looking for beautiful beach views then Saltburn is your jam!
Ok ok, I’ll shut up about the weather and give you my recommendations of things to do in Saltburn-by-the-Sea:
So I never ever thought I’d make it to this point? Like being a ‘digital nomad’ has always been a kind of crazy dream of mine, but here we are (#living and #thriving, bby) and only having about one mental breakdown per day!!!!
Lol just kidding, although not gonna lie, anytime you go against the grain I think mental breakdowns are inevitable. Actually, I also had them when I was working a normal 9-5…so maybe that’s just #life?
But ANYWAYS. Curious about what being a traveling house sitter/online english teacher/rainbow unicorn is all about? Here’s what I do to keep busy every day (and FYI, it’s not sitting at the beach drinking margaritas all day and pretending to work! And while I am actually near the beach right now, it’s in England so it’s far from the tropical destination you’re probably picturing…)
Every day is different obviously (that’s kinda why I chose this life? I get bored real quick) but here’s a kind of typical hodgepodge type day:
Over the course of our 3 months in Europe, my friend Stephanie and I ended up spending the bulk of our time in Hamburg. This was a total accident! But a very happy one.
I honestly wasn’t even really that excited to go to Hamburg in the first place – I really only went because we found a house sit there and it was for 2.5 weeks which I was stoked about (since we’d been traveling everywhere for about 1 week and I was ready to camp out in one spot for a hot minute), and because my friend really realllllly (like reallllly) wanted to go to Germany.
I was more like NORWAY! SWITZERLAND! AMSTERDAM! And I guess Hamburg? Since it exists?
But now I just feel like Hamburg is super underrated (And I honestly prefer it to Berlin, too, for similar reasons that I preferred Lyon to Paris. But shhhh I didn’t say that…), and it actually ended up coming on top as one of my favorite places! Here’s why:
My friend Stephanie and I traveled through Europe from the end of January to the end of April. We went to Scotland, Switzerland, Amsterdam, Prague, Norway, and Germany. I am the WORST packer so I read post after post and watched a million videos about what to pack for winter.
I’m also from California where it really doesn’t get THAT cold, so I wasn’t 100% sure what I’d be needing on a daily basis. I’m actually pretty damn proud of how I packed to be honest – only a few items that I regret bringing, and I fit everything into a carry on suitcase and small backpack because I am insane! MAJOR WIN for me, the girl who used to bring a suitcase to a sleepover.
I was even able to squeeze most of it into my carry on for a couple of the Easy Jet flights we took (they don’t allow a personal item). The trick is having a giant coat with lots of pockets and a giant scarf to hide your DSLR camera with. 😉
Fair warning, this is going to be kind of a rambly post…Lots of thoughts bouncing around in my brain. I feel a little scrambled eggs-esque about having been in Europe for the last 3 months and now heading home. There’s just A LOT to process and I’m also going through major chocolate withdrawals (I WAY overdid it on German chocolate and I’m trying to cut out sugar for a bit – wish me luck) so excuse my brain at the moment.
Here’s where I’m at, and how I’ve changed, after 3 months of travel!
I ACTUALLY (KIND OF) MISS HAVING A HOME BASE
Our three months of travel was a little busier than I would have liked – we spent 2 days in London, then a week in Glasgow, a few days in Amsterdam, a week in Switzerland, a week in Prague, 2 weeks in Norway, and then the rest of our time in Germany (but we moved around pretty frequently while there).
When I first set out on my 3 month digital nomad/travel excursion we had just planned on staying in Germany for about 3 weeks, but that turned into 2 months! Whoops. And during that time I really fell in love with Germany – it’s such a lovely country!
I’d been before – to Berlin for a couple of days and then Starnberg and Munich for Oktoberfest. But this visit was the first time I’d really spent an extended amount of time in one country, and in one city no less!
We were in Hamburg the bulk of the time and Berlin for 10 days, but I was also able to squeeze in some day trips and visit the Saxony region for a weekend, too. Here’s what surprised me most about the country itself:
Like pretty much every other human out there, I LOVE FOOD. And when I’m in a new country the first thing I want to do is, well, try ALL of it (the vegetarian options, that is).
Because I don’t have a bottomless pit for a stomach, I haven’t had EVERY veggie option out there, but these are the things I’ve tried and liked and felt compelled to share. If you have any suggestions, feel free to share! I’m always looking for new things to stuff into my stomach.