Expat Update: January 2017

Hope everyone’s New Year has started off well!  I can’t believe it’s the end of January already!  Here I’ll be looking back on what I’ve been up to this month, the places I’ve been, the highs and lows, life as a Brit in the States and other random things I’m finding interesting this month!

Expat Update

Months living in the States: 5 months and 3 weeks!

Where I’ve Been

USA:

  • Iowa: Epworth, Farley, Dubuque, New Vienna
  • Illinois: Chicago O’Hare Airport
  • North Carolina: Charlotte Airport

UK:

  • Braintree, Colchester

January Highs

I started the month off in England!  It was my first visit back since moving to America (The Reality of Visiting Home For The First Time).  We didn’t really get up to much but it was so nice just relaxing with my family.  We did take a trip to Colchester Castle though which dates back to 2000 years ago!  I haven’t visited since I was a little kid and the guided tour now takes you on the roof which is pretty cool…AND we fed squirrels in the castle grounds!

Braintree, Essex

On returning to the States, I started a new position at work.  I love it and even better, I’ve condensed my working hours into 4 days!  I now have Fridays free to work as a substitute teaching assistant (and top up the travel fund) or have it off completely and take some weekend trips maybe!

I booked my trip to Belize!  It’s a country I’ve wanted to visit for a while and I’m finally going in June!  I’ve been watching flights for a while and they’ve been around $500 for so long, I managed to catch them a couple of weekends back for $378!  It does sometimes pay to wait!  So far I’ve booked 5 nights staying on Caye Caulker where I plan to swim, snorkel, kayak, paddle board, relax in a hammock and attend a few yoga classes!  I’ll then be staying a further 2 nights in Belize City on the mainland where I’ll be taking a tour on the mainland…not sure which one yet though, I have my eye on a couple!  Any recommendations, let me know in the comments!

January Lows

Eugh, it took THREE DAYS for my Belize flights to get ticketed.  This was another Expat Fail on my part.  My American Airlines Frequent Flyer number was still registered to my UK address.  I signed in to the .com website yet the flights were only displayed in British pounds and I couldn’t work out why.  I didn’t think too much of it, obviously I’ve used pounds for YEARS, the flights were amazingly cheap doing it in that currency so I went ahead and booked.  Next thing I know I’m spending 3 days on the phone to PayPal and American Airlines asking why my payment wasn’t going through.  As you can see above, it had a happy ending, they rebooked the flights but in dollars.  Worked out more than the UK rate but still less than what they’ve been for ages.

Leaving the UK.  It’s my home country, it’s where I want to be, of course it’s going to be tough coming back to a country where I don’t really belong.

Blog Progress

The travel side of my blog is changing.

The Expat side will stay the same, but I want to be a MORE helpful blogger and source of information.  I want to help and inspire my readers even more, I just can’t believe it’s taken me so long to realise how I could do this!  I want to focus in a HUGE way on my short trip travel guide itineraries.  I want to show you how it’s possible to maximise a little amount of time in the best way possible.  When I was living in England, I thought nothing of taking the first flight out on a Saturday morning, spending a night in a foreign country and then taking the last flight home on a Sunday.  I would squeeze SO MUCH into these trips.

I’ll be sharing my itineraries for Day Trips, 2 days, 3 days, 4 days in a destination, as well as road trip guides when you’re on a time constraint.  Staying true to my blog I’ll be catering for the European audience as well as American trips too.  I have a whole bunch of ideas, if you have any places you are particularly interested in, feel free to send me a message!

British Item of the Month

A Christmas gift from my Sister but it fits perfect with the ‘new direction’ of my blog!  It’s a Road Trip Planner that’s big enough for 4 different trips.  The cool thing about it is that the 4 sections are different lengths: 2 x 2 week trips, a 1 week trip and a 3 week trip.  Great for a part-time traveller!  There’s packing lists, day by day itinerary tables, spaces for budget planning, journal pages, postcard address pages, charts on worldwide temperatures and time zones and more!  It could be used for trips where you stay in one place but I think it’s much better suited for travels that have multiple stops, even in a short time frame!  I’ll be sharing some of my road trip itineraries shortly!

Road Trip Planner: Vacation Planner & Travel Journal – $5.50

American Item of the Month

Spoons!  I can not tell you how much I played this game when I was in England!  It was a game I first found out about last summer when I first moved to America.  Think Musical Chairs but grabbing spoons instead of sitting on a chair!  It involves using a deck of cards and trying to get 4 of a kind.  I first played with the game version below:

Giant Spoons – $16.95

But it can quite easily be played with a regular set of playing cards and a bunch of spoons from the kitchen drawer!  These beach themed cards are cool.  Most souvenir shops when travelling will have location themed cards which would make a nice memento!

Sunrise Beach Scene (Playing Card Deck – 52 Card Poker Size with Jokers) – $9.99

Book of the Month

I love reading, I even signed up for a library card and I’m saving myself a ton of money!  (Fill up the travel fund!)  Here are the books I’ve read this month!

Books read = SIX

A Girl Like You – Maureen Lindsey

(Fiction – Based during the time of Pearl Harbour where Japanese Americans were sectioned into camps in California)

The Christmas Joy Ride – Melody Carlson

(Fiction – A lady travelling part of the length of Route 66 in an RV covered in coloured lights, spreading Christmas cheer to people that live along the Route, more about the people than the actual Route)

Bridge to Terabithia – Katherine Paterson

(Fiction – About 2 3rd Graders and their imaginary Kingdom they create in the woods)

The Orange Frog – Shawn Achor

(Fiction – I read it for a ‘Happiness Advantage’ workshop I had to go on for work, all about how it’s good to have a positive outlook on life even when bad things happen and how our actions affect those around us)

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Screenplay – J.K. Rowling

(Fiction Script – A Harry Potter spin off based in New York.  It’s written in the exact script of the film.  I had seen the film when it first came out so for me I could visualise everything that was written in the book!)

Bonobo Handshake – Vanessa Woods

Book of the Month:

Bonobo Handshake: A Memoir of Love and Adventure in the Congo – $9.87

Non Fiction – I don’t know why it is, but I find all books based in Africa absolutely FASCINATING.  Bonobo Handshake is about a woman who moved to the Congo to work at a Bonobo (a relation to the chimpanzee) rehabilitation centre.  It gives an insight to the black market trade and the awful way these animals are treated, how the centre then nurses the Bonobos back to health and their observation on just how human like and caring the animals are and what it’s like to live through the war in the Congo which is absolutely shocking.  It was written in such a good way that I couldn’t put it down!

What’s Coming up in February

I’ll be getting my first British visitor since my Parents and Sister first flew over with me when I moved!  My Uncle is stopping by on the way home from a business trip in Vegas and I’ll be taking him to the annual Dubuque BrewFest (Iowa)!

I’m also really excited about an up and coming collaboration I have with a brand new company that’s starting up!  Watch out for the post next month!

Don’t forget to follow me on my Social Media Channels!

FACEBOOK – INSTAGRAM – TWITTER – PINTEREST

Phew! Have a great February everyone!

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking.  It comes at no extra cost to you but it helps me with the running of this site!  As always, opinions are my own.

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