I’m currently sitting in Balzac’s Coffee in Stratford ON, sipping on an americano and eating my breakfast.
It’s early, here just after 8am, and although I’m not usually an early riser, the first week after travelling to Europe provides me with some productive early mornings as my body adjusts to the time change.
It’s kind of nice, and makes me wonder how my work / life might change if I were to get up a few hours earlier than my usual….more on this later.
Jarrett and I travelled to Scotland after Christmas and spent New Years Eve in a Castle near Cove, UK, celebrating a milestone birthday of one of my most favourite cousins! It was a blast and such a treat to spend some much needed time with our family.
As we made our way through the Cove area, into Edinburgh, and then on a one day jaunt to Dublin before heading home, we kept repeating back to each other, “I’m so glad we decided to travel over the holiday season!”
Here are some of the perks of travelling in Europe after the Holidays:
- If you travel right after Christmas, all the decorations are still up in the pubs, restaurants, and on the outdoor cityscapes, so the vibe of the whole trip is super festive!
- It’s usually a quiet time of year, as clients and service providers often take time off during this period, so it gives you a chance to really focus in on YOUR business instead of your client work, and also gives you some extra time to enjoy the cities.
- No line ups. Seriously! There really are not that many tourists roaming around in parkas at this time of year, so getting in and out of tourist attractions or pubs is a breeze.
- If you can travel mid week in early January, most kids haven’t gone back to school yet, which means their parents are on holiday, which means there is NO traffic where there is usually gridlock. Win! We flew through all sorts of spots in a quarter of the time it would normally take on a regular work week.
- If you don’t love crowds, winter travel is the best! The streets aren’t as busy as they would be in the summer months!
- Because it’s cold out (although not as cold as back home!), it’s fun to be roaming around exploring, and then popping in to a pub for a work session / cider session – getting cozy in a beautifully decorated pub and hunkering down to get some work in is the best!
- The cities are generally a tad quieter than normal. Since it’s freezing outside. I found that it was so easy to really take in the city, without the usual hustle and bustle of the summer tourist season.
- In Halifax, the nicest time of year is May through October, so it’s nice to be able to escape the frigid winter storms of Atlantic Canada and embrace a warmer version of winter that just involves rain and some wind. WAY better than the winter weather bomb the east coast is experiencing right now 😬.
- SALES. If you like shopping, or are looking to invest in the most perfect paid of winter boots or jacket, then right after Christmas is a fantastic time to shop. Up to 50% off for the most perfect pea coat for my man? I’ll take it.
- Speaking of money, the US and Canadian dollars don’t go very far in Europe, so at least if you are travelling in the winter you can take advantage of off season rates for accommodations.
Now that I’ve summarized the perks, here are some of our lessons learned for future post holiday travel in Europe, which we ABSOLUTELY will be incorporating into our lifestyle over the next few years:
- For any winter travel, take layers. Lots of them! Walking around the city requires some serious layers and I’d recommend wool, plus down filled layers, to combat the chill. Down packs down nice and small and as an additional bonus, wool doesn’t require a whole ton of washing, so you can wear it for multiple days before you start to smell LOL.
- I’d also recommend base layers that wick up sweat because let me tell you, walking in and out of shops on the Royal Mile, and hopping in and out of transport, caused some serious sweat drip down my back. So gross and also just made me cold once we went back outside. Lesson learned, and I’ll be more prepared next time.
- It’s probably going to rain, and the wind will probably howl as well. Come prepared with some solid boots that will keep your feet both warm and dry and will also be good for walking. I have a fab paid of Portuguese leather boots that did reasonably well except for one day when we had crazy crazy rain downpours. Next time I’ll bring something that is a touch more waterproofed.
- When you are ready to work, don’t forget that you’ll need an adapter for your US/Canadian plugs. We got one that was way to bulky and the weight of my MacBook Pro charger was actually too much for it, and it kept falling out of the wall 🙄. Super annoying. Next time I’ll be buying one that is a little more compact, lies flush against the wall instead of protruding out, and can bear the weight of my charger.
- If possible travel with carry on luggage only. We did this on the way over and it was fantastic! No lines or waiting to get your baggage off the carousel. We flew through customs, and got right into the city! On the way home, we made a critical error by accepting an offer of complimentary checked baggage. Sounds nice, but when we landed in Toronto we ended up waiting for an hour just to get our bags. And because of the delay, we got stuck in some major rush our traffic. Time is money, people! Use carry on 😊.
- For your one personal item in addition to your carry on, use a small backpack that fits your laptop and any important documents. If you are travelling to super busy locations, you can wear it on your back or front as a day pack when you are roaming around the city. I’m suggesting a small backpack because I brought an across the shoulder bag. Oh so fashionable but also Oh so heavy on my poor shoulder. I will be seeing a massage therapist when I get back to Halifax too sort me out 🙄.
- We have a credit card that allows us to collect Aeroplan points. We seriously cashed in on these for this trip. We paid for 2 amazing hotels right downtown in both Edinburgh and Dublin, plus a rental car in Toronto. SO handy!
- Speaking of hotels, we do recommend, if you can, splurging or using your points on a hotel that is located right downtown. It makes it super easy to pop in and out to drop things off, have a wee rest, or run back for things forgotten (Like my sunglasses. Or my hat. Or my phone 🙄).
- Having a hotel right down town is also super useful if you happen to get sick (which we did). Being able to have a quick power nap in the middle of the day allowed us to regain our strength for an afternoon adventure and some cider 😉.
- Another bonus of investing in a nice hotel downtown is that you actually save money on transport, since you can just walk to most everywhere you’d like to go! Total win.
I’ll probably think of more later. In the mean time, I hope this has been helpful!
Jarrett and I are spending some time this month mapping out both our business goals and family goals for 2018. So far the plan looks like this:
- Hunker down for the remainder of January, February, and March to get some serious work done and, in my case, achieve some considerable growth in my business. A few more clients, raising prices, and a group program are in the works!
- If we make our financial goals for Q1, pay off our 2017 tax bill, and are setup for a productive Q2, we have tentative plans to visit my sister in the states and make a quick trip to Mexico. Because winter in Halifax is the WORST and this West Coaster needs some serious sun by April or else I start to lose it LOL.
- We have a tentative trip to San Diego planned for September and then a birthday trip to Scotland in November.
- We also have a basement and kitchen renovation that we’d like to finish in 2018.
In short, we have some serious home projects and travel goals for 2018, so the work we do in both our freelance businesses needs to support these goals financially.
It’s time to get work. We are in Stratford until Tuesday, and then once we land back in Halifax, it’s time to get ‘er done. Seriously.
What goals do you have for your family or business this year? Hit me up in the comments below!