A year ago I was living at home in California, prepping to start a new life as a #digital #nomad (lol trying to be the ultimate millennial here) at the end of January.
I was still working as the Education Programs Coordinator at an environmental nonprofit. For the most part, I loved it. I’ll go into why I ended up leaving that job below.
I was also in a relationship that was about to end because I was leaving. That was tough, as we both still cared about each other, but neither of us wanted to do long distance.
And now, I’m writing this from Bansko, Bulgaria, a place I hadn’t even heard about back then.
So, I thought it might be fun to do a little recap of each month in the past year. This is honestly mostly for my purposes as I’m nostalgic AF and love reviewing the past (probably a little too much?).
But ya know, I’m also posting in the hopes that by sharing about my journey it might help others as well.
Sylt is a place I would’ve NEVER heard about had it not been for my German friend. Sylt is known as the place that wealthy people vacation, but our peasant selves just did a day trip from Hamburg. It was def a mission as it was about 3 hours each way by train! But I have to say, it was definitely worth it.
It was such a pretty place! We brought our own bikes on the train, but you can totally rent bikes there, too (which I would highly recommend since the bike paths are wonderful, and what’s better than biking by the sea?)
On the west side of Sylt, you can take advantage of the more rugged North Sea and do activities like surfing and kitesurfing. On the east side, you can enjoy calmer waves in the Wadden Sea. There are also plenty of beaches for dogs if you’ve got a pup along with you. And in the summer, since it’s so far north, it never gets completely dark at night!
Arundel is a historic market town in southern England. It’s not a large town by any means, and totally walkable (my favorite!) It’s a popular place to visit, partly because of Arundel Castle – which was one of my favorite things to see while I was there!
Arundel is quite easy to reach, too – it’s about 2 hours south of London, both by train and by car. If you’re coming by train, you simply get off at Arundel Station! So easy.
Sooooo, like, what are you waiting for?? Here are some fun things to do in Arundel, England.
I will never NOT be enamored by castles. But to be honest, I’ve never met anyone who said they blatantly DIDN’T like castles? I feel like it’s kind of impossible not to like them?
But if you don’t, well, we really shouldn’t be friends.
But if you do, well, Arundel Castle in southern England is definitely a place for you, my friend (because I’m friends with anyone who loves castles.) I even visited alone and it totes wasn’t weird and semi-befriended these 4 older ladies (and by “befriended” I mean I just took their photo. Once you become a solo traveler anyone you interact with ends up being a friend LOL.)
But aside from its beauty, what was the most mind blowing thing about this castle to me? Um, that people actually STILL LIVE THERE.
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: