5 Thoughts On Moving to a New Country

Well, dear readers. It’s been a hot minute. Where have I been the past few months, you ask? Just living out a lifelong dream of mine! Let me explain.

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Photo by Mark Jefferson Paraan on Unsplash

My husband and I have always said we wanted to move abroad SOMEDAY. That meant when we had kids. When the kids were older. When we were more settled back in our careers. But then something really exciting happened. Last September, hubs went to a work conference in Mountain View and met a fellow VR developer from Montreal, Canada. They hit it off (or whatever, became bros) and kept in touch via Slack after the conference was over. A few weeks later, the same guy posted that his company was hiring and hubs casually mentioned he would like to apply.  After a few phone interviews, they actually offered him the job. “How would you like to move to Canada,” he asked me. UM HELLO, of course, I said yes!

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Photo by Ali Tawfiq on Unsplash

Montreal was actually a perfect choice for us for a number of reasons. It’s on the East Coast, close to hubs’ family. We’re also close to our favorite place on earth and good friends in Burlington, Vermont. They are huge on our favorite sports: cross country skiing and hockey! It’s a bigtime foodie city. They have seasons. There’s an international airport. I could go on and on.

So we just basically went for it. (I’m glossing over the long version and will write another post about logistics of moving to Canada in another post.) The visa process wasn’t too bad, the company hubs works for now offered him a two year contract and hired a lawyer to take of everything. Moving from California, on the other hand, was bad. It took six weeks for our furniture to arrive.

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Photo by Kaley Dykstra on Unsplash

But now that’s all behind us and we’re getting settled, we absolutely love it here. Here are a few thoughts on moving to a new country, if you’re thinking about it.

  1. Just go for it! I can work from anywhere for my job, which makes it a little easier. But don’t worry so much about logistics and everything working out. If you get the opportunity to live in another country, it is probably a chance that won’t come along too often. Why not throw caution to the wind and try it out? The worst thing that will happen is you’ll move back, but at least you’ll have the experience to write home about.
  2. Learn another language. I took French in high school and college but basically remember nothing. Quebec French is also its own language in itself and has made for some awkward encounters so far. We’ve gotten by because everyone here speaks English but plan to get a tutor or take some classes soon.
  3. Meeting people is hard. We know no one in this city except my hub’s colleagues. We’ve been going to some meetups casually and I joined a book club, but I know it’s going to take time to establish a solid friend group here. That leads to my next point…
  4. Working from home is not a good way to meet people. I’ve always met friends through work. Now that I work from home, I’ve been a bit isolated. Working from coffee shops helps me at least have more human interaction. I’m planning to join a co-working space and some other writing groups soon.
  5. No regrets. Despite some challenges of being in a new place, Montreal is an amazing city and I truly feel like we’ve won the lottery to get to live here. It’s like the people on House Hunters International always say, if you’ve been thinking about moving somewhere new, the time to do it is now. Not someday when you retire. Just figure out a plan and go. You won’t regret it.

Have you ever moved to another country–how did it go?

Have you been to Montreal — send us all your favorite reccs. 

The Ultimate Travel and “Workrobe”

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Photo via Demetrius Washington for Unsplash

I’ve started working from home recently, and I realized my new “workrobe” is a lot like how I style my travel wardrobe. Anything classic and comfortable wins!

Here are some of the travel and “workrobe” clothing rules I swear by:

  1. They can’t wrinkle
  2. Dark colors rule
  3. Warm, but layer-able
  4. Effortless
  5. No pinching or discomfort

I currently have my eyes on these options. It’s so tempting to buy everything with all of the amazing sales this time of year!

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Vince Camuto Pull-On Pencil Skirt, $69

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Old Navy Relaxed Textured V-Neck Sweater, $35

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AEO Denim X Super Hi-Rise Jeggings, $55

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Michael Stars Ruched Midi Dress, $98

Do you have any wardrobe rules you swear by when you travel? 

4 Favorite Coats for Fall Travel

Thank you, fall weather, for making it so easy to know which jacket to wear! Just kidding, you’re impossible.

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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

It’s either still summer during the day at your destination, so you need to layer it up and disrobe while you are walking around. Or, it’s chilly, windy, and/or damp, but not quite cool enough for a winter coat. Hmm…
Here in San Francisco, it’s sunny and in the 70s and 80s during the day. By 5 p.m., though, it’s chilly. So frustrating! So what’s a gal to do? I say bring at least two coats this time of year but stick to options like blazers, trenches and light wool blends that fold up easily in your luggage. That way, you’ll have options!
Here are a few I’m crushing on right now.

Tweed Blazer

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I love a great tweed blazer for fall. It makes you look so pulled together, even if you’re just wearing skinnies and a T-shirt. A blazer is also a great choice for travel—you can wear it on the plane, accessorize with scarves and some fun earrings, and you’re good to go.

Boden Elizabeth British Tweed Blazer, $198 

Sporty Puffer

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Doesn’t this time of year just make you want to get outdoors and hike? If you’re planning an active getaway, make sure you have a sporty jacket that’s going to keep you snug and cozy while you crunch around in the leaves. PS: This one packs down into a pocket and will take up zero space in your bag. It’s been a lifesaver for me on many chilly flights and cool mornings.

Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket, $199 

Faux Leather Moto

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The leather moto is one fall trend that seems to make its way back ’round year after year. And for good reason. We could call this jacket a classic, I’d say. It will help you fit right in, whether you’re in New York City or Milan. Consider it an investment, because you’ll be wearing it a lot.

Levi’s Faux Leather Moto Jacket, $150

Wool Blend Coat

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A lighter peacoat functions amazingly well for fall. They can still be bulky, though. So think of a straight wool blend jacket like this one as a longer blazer. It will help you look sharp, you can layer it up, and it will keep you warm, too! Plus, it still can pack easily (try placing it on top of your other clothes in your suitcase) and you can wear it pretty much anywhere. Don’t forget to pick out a fun color that pops.

Halogen Wool Blend Coat, $199

Where are you planning to travel this fall? 

(Featured image by Chad Madden on Unsplash)

5 Tips for Taking a Road Trip with Your Puppy

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Photo by Andy Omvik on Unsplash Copy

We’ve taken hundreds of road trips with Cesar since we moved to California a few years ago. It’s really easy to take him along because there are so many dog-friendly restaurants, breweries and hiking trails where we live. Now, he gets so excited about going in the car, it’s hard to think about leaving him behind!
That said… bringing him along on a day or overnight trip requires a little prep work. Here are some tips to keep in mind before taking your pooch on the road.

Look for dog-friendly digs

If you plan to stay overnight with your four-legged pal, look for dog-friendly hotels and apartments. You can use the “pets allowed” feature on Airbnb (note: expect to pay an additional cleaning fee) and on hotels.com, where you can sort by hotels that are “pet-friendly.” Also look into staying at Kimpton Hotels, where you won’t get charged a fee for your pet, and they have features like a Canine ambassador, dog beds and treats ready for you! I stayed at the Kimpton in Austin last month and there were so many dogs to pet in the lobby. So fantastic.

Go on BringFido.com

This website is amazing. It’s a dog-friendly travel directory with listings of hotels, restaurants, activities, events and more. Pet owners can even leave reviews (aka ratings out of five bones.) They have listings around the U.S., Canada and even Amsterdam. Trust me, if you have a dog, you’ll be on here a lot.

Pack up their favorite treats, toys and water bowl

Just as you pack your backpack or overnight bag when you’re going out of town, your dog is going to require their own gear. We pack everything for Ceasy in his dog carrier that we’d be bringing anyway so we don’t have to drag an extra bag.

Even if you only plan to be gone half a day, be sure to pack extra servings of your dog’s food and extra water—you never know when you’ll get stuck in traffic or will end up wanting to stay longer. You can also get a water bottle with an attached dog bowl, they’re great for hiking, too.

PS: Don’t forget extra poop bags! We’ve had people come up to us on hiking trails to check if we had any. Please, don’t be that dog owner.

Bring anti-nausea and calming treats

If your dog isn’t used to being in the car for a long period of time, these will definitely come in handy.

Try not to leave your pal alone, if you can avoid it

Even if your dog doesn’t have separation anxiety, it’s still scary for them to be left alone in a new place like a hotel room. Try to plan activities you can do with your dog, like hiking, visiting outdoor restaurants and breweries and even canoeing or kayaking if your dog is into it. If you need to be out and about and know you can’t bring your dog, think about booking them at a local doggie day camp. For example, we found a great option for Cesar near Tahoe if we want to ski. He can socialize and be with other dogs during the day instead of alone in a rental or hotel room.

Where are your favorite places to go with your dog?

5 Weekend Travel Tips

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Being at a job with a limited number of vacation days is a drag, but you can (and should!) still travel as much as you possibly can. YOLO.
Shorter trips are ideal for getting out there and exploring on long holiday weekends, or whenever you can take a Friday off. Even when you only can squeeze in a Friday night to Sunday, it’s still worth it, IMHO. I’m not saying you should jet off on a 12-hour round-trip adventure, but anywhere within a 2-4 hour flight radius of where you live is ideal. And if you’re willing to take a redeye, you can stretch your time even more.
Don’t worry about having just a few days in a new place. With a little planning and research, you can pack a lot into a weekend. Here’s how to make the most of it.

  1. Leave on Thursday evening, if possible: Having to take only a Friday afternoon off from work sounds ideal, but I’ve taken too many Friday afternoon flights to know how cray the airport can be at this time. Not to mention, I’ve arrived from a Friday afternoon flight at 4 or 5 p.m. only to sit in rush hour traffic at my destination. Boo. That’s such a drag when you’re already exhausted from the week and ready to get on with the weekend fun. If you can swing it, instead try to take a Thursday night flight after work. You can breeze right to your hotel or Airbnb, have a drink at the bar, crash, then wake up Friday ready to go. Even if you have to answer work emails or spend a few hours working from the hotel business center Friday morning, who cares? Hopefully wherever you are has a nice view! Alternatively, I love to find a local coffee shop and immerse myself in work while people watching. When you’re in a new place, it doesn’t really feel like work, for some reason.
  2. Have an itinerary: TBH, fitting in everything you want to do in a short weekend can be a little overwhelming, especially when you’re traveling with family or friends. They’ll have their own idea of what they’d like to see and do, and where they’d like to eat. If there is a museum, restaurant, tour or activity you are excited about, put it on the itinerary, and even buy tickets ahead of time so you won’t back out. (I’m a big fan of using shared Google docs for itineraries because everyone you’re traveling with can access it—another post coming on this soon.) Also, I like to plan out every.single.restaurant where I’m going to eat for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. Plus bars and coffee shops. It’s so much easier than walking around trying to find somewhere to eat. Try to stick to places that take reservations. Sadly, most brunch places won’t, but if you get there early (Hint: send one member of your party to wait before they open.) You won’t waste any time waiting around for a table.
  3. …But try to leave in some flex time, too: Having a set plan for the activities and restaurants is necessary, but be sure to leave some time in between for downtime, exploring and (my fave) shopping. If you don’t give yourself time to walk around or squeeze in a nap before going out Saturday night, you’re going to arrive home much more exhausted than you left.
  4. Stay as central as you can: If you’re going to a ski resort to ski, or a city to see a few museums you are really excited about, stay as close to those places as your budget allows. On a longer trip, there’s more flexibility to allow some commute time, but on a short weekend, you don’t want to find yourself driving for an hour or more a day. Even if you have to spend a little more, it’s worth it for your time. To make it up in your budget, ditch the pricey rental car and take Uber, Lyft or public transport around instead. Bonus, you won’t have to worry about parking, either.
  5. Head home later on Sunday, but not too late: On a weekend away, I love to wake up Sunday morning and go to the hotel gym, for a run/walk or to a yoga class, then go to an early brunch (obviously). I even try to do some shopping before heading back to the airport. I’ve found that taking a 2:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. flight on Sunday lets me fit in everything I want to do. If I’m checking out Sunday morning, I can just leave my bag with the hotel concierge until I’m ready to go. That said, I’ve found leaving after 4 p.m. or 5 p.m. Sunday can be too much time to fill on Sunday, and then you arrive home really late. So try to take an afternoon flight if you can. You’ll thank me when you go back to the office Monday morning.

Where are your favorite places to go for a weekend away?