A year ago, my husband Jeremy and I gave up our apartment in New Orleans to live life on the road, traveling slowly. In that time, we’ve spent about 4.5 months in the US staying with various family members, five months in Mexico, and 2.5 months in Europe (The Netherlands + Budapest). We’ve lived in 13 different homes so far and have traveled many thousands of miles by plane, train, passenger auto, bus, and subway. In that time, we’ve learned how to make a place into our home pretty quickly.
But the settling in ritual starts even before we land at our new home. The settling in ritual begins as we leave one place and set out for the next. To minimize the stressfulness of travel, we make our travel days as free of other commitments as possible. At first, I would take the whole travel day off from work, but lately I’ve been “on call” for part of the day, meaning that I do what needs to be done for my clients but nothing more.
Part of minimizing the stress of travel is giving ourselves ample time for transportation. If we’re flying, we arrive at the airport at least two hours before our flight departs. We give ourselves a generous time buffer for every leg of transport. Jeremy also plans our exact routes ahead of time so we’re not scrambling to figure out where we’re going. A systematic and orderly approach to travel makes the day less stressful, which helps us settle in easier at the end of the day.
Once we arrive at our new place, we unpack as soon as possible, getting our belongings–and thus ourselves–settled in, and we set to making the place feel like home: we hang our clothes, put away our toiletries, figure out what will serve as our clothes hamper, and choose sides of the bed. Completing these tasks upon arrival allows us to settle in quickly, and our new place feels much more like home than when we arrived. We don’t allow our belongings to languish in our backpacks, not put away. That leads us to feeling unsettled, the opposite of what we’re going for here.
We also approach each new space with the mindset that it’s now our home for however long we’re there. Generally, we’ve live in places a month at a time, but we’ve stayed as few as two weeks and as long as six weeks. Admittedly, this settling in and adopting our new home process has become easier over the last year. It used to take a couple of days for us both to settle in. Now we’re able to settle in pretty well on that first evening, and by the next full day, we’re feeling good to go. It’s truly one of those mind over matter situations in which we choose to accept where we are, and in doing so, the settling in process is that much smoother.
A final aspect to our travels, which helps tremendously, is that we typically fly or long-distance ground transport travel on Fridays or Saturdays. This way we don’t have to interrupt our mid-week routine to tend to travel matters, and we also can have a couple of days to settle in before we get to our upcoming work week. This approach has helped greatly. For our whole ten-week European trip, we traveled on Fridays, and it was quite effective. On those Fridays, I did what work needed to be done for my clients and then took the rest of those days off. After that, we had the whole weekend to explore our new destination. Pretty awesome!
Overall, settling in has gotten much easier now that we’re old pros at it. But, it does take deliberate planning and decisive action to keep things running smoothly. Making the settling in process a priority–and one that’s done deliberately–has helped our traveling to be smoother, less stressful, and so much easier overall. We’re so glad to have figured this part of it out so early on in our journeys. Hooray!
If you’d like to read more about my life experiences on the road for the past year, check out these other posts: