As I’m writing this, it has been about 48 hours since our Nomad Life Phase 1 journey officially concluded. I am feeling all of the feels!
Tons of gratitude and nostalgia. Reflection on the deepest of levels. Heartwarming smiles as I go through all of the trinkets and photos we picked up along the way. Deep pride, awe, and a sense of accomplishment.
And, honestly, a little bit like I never even left home at all!
It’s a weird thing being abroad for that long – and especially when you move month to month! Time functions at a different speed. Heck, I’m fully convinced that time is fake at this point!
Anyway, since Nomad Life Phase 1 wrapped up, just like at the beginning of our Nomad Life journey, I wanted to do a Q&A now that it’s all over!
The following questions are directly from YOU on Instagram (and if you haven’t joined the party yet, go ahead and follow along – @JessicaFaye508) so we can all have a moment of reflection together as we continue on down The Road Jess Traveled.
1. Do you have any fun plans back in the States? And how long is your visit home?
We plan to stay until about January, and yes we have tons of fun plans! We have two different weddings to attend, one was in Georgia and another in Texas in December. These weddings are for two of my best friends, so it was our main reason for planning this specific time home!
We are planning to jet down to Orlando and visit the ol’ stomping grounds at Walt Disney World. As well as spend time with family during the holidays since we were all apart last year!
And other than that, we’re planning to lay low and enjoy Buffalo in the Fall, which is my absolute favorite time of year here! There’s so much to do between Bills and Sabres games, the colorful leaves, all of the breweries, hikes, Apple Cider mills, etc. I am just obsessed!
2. Is there anything you will do differently for Nomad Life Phase 2?
With experience comes many lessons!
One of the big adjustments we’ll make next year is our suitcase setup. I brought a big “backpacking” backpack this year. Although it’s a fantastic bag, it was so heavy that it wasn’t actually wearable. So we’d have to roll it on top of a suitcase. At that rate, we should’ve just gotten another suitcase to save ourselves the hassle.
Another thing I’ll do is prioritize bringing clothes that I wouldn’t mind purging along the way. And (try) to bring less up front so we have room for new things as they accumulate.
And lastly, I would love to adjust my social media and blogging strategy to eliminate the overwhelm so I can keep things more current! (and so I don’t end up with months of unposted content again)
3. What was your favorite place you stayed and your least favorite? And why?
This answer really changes depending on the day… but my top three favorite places were Italy, London, and Croatia.
Italy because of the food, the culture, and it’s just my favorite country in the whole world. (tied with Japan)
London because of the ease of transportation, all of the activities fit my niche interests (West End Theatre, going for tea, going to parks, etc.), and they had a huge variety of international food options! Plus, honestly, they just have the best accents. 😉
Croatia because it surprised me in all the best ways! I couldn’t get over the color of the water, the Old Towns of Split and Dubrovnik, how clean it was, visiting the Mamma Mia filming locations, and the kindness of the people. It was so serene.
Least Favorite Airbnb: Dublin. There was mold in it, it looked like it hadn’t been cleaned since pre-pandemic, and we had a horrific experience with our hosts. (thankfully this was the only time something like this happened all year)
Least Favorite City: Athens. It was a bit too rough for me. I had a lot of anxiety here, it wasn’t super clean, the traffic was really intense, and I just didn’t really feel like I could safely go out by myself.
4. How did you plan for clothes and did you ever buy new clothes while you were out there?
Truthfully the hardest part about Nomad Life is packing, and I will tell you upfront that I have not perfected the system yet!
The biggest thing I learned about packing clothes was that you want to bring clothes you like and feel cute in, but you also wouldn’t mind getting rid of. (or having them get destroyed from being washed so many times)
When we were traveling in winter, I barely bought new clothes because winter clothes are so heavy there was just no leeway with our suitcase weight. I was re-wearing the same things constantly.
However, once May rolled around, we shipped 1 box home of our winter stuff and I went shopping for new summer clothes.
And then once I got to Sicily in the summer I needed to shop again because I needed to buy even lighter clothes because it was SO HOT.
Basically, my approach with clothes is to shop with the weather when needed. And next time I’ll definitely prioritize bringing more disposable clothes instead of things I love.
5. Nomad Life Packing tips! Things you wish you had and things you didn’t need.
Things I wish I had (or bought along the way) –
- A portable blender that actually works (I’m gonna try a BlendJet next time around!)
- A portable air purifier with an ULTRA HEPA Air Filter
- Tape, Scissors, and Ziplock Bags (weirdly helpful in the packing process!)
Things I didn’t need –
- Excess Technology – only bring the essentials
- A fanny pack
- A Taylor Swift and Disney shirt I LOVED that got ruined in the wash (just don’t bring clothes you love)
6. What’s your biggest piece of advice for future international travelers?
Here are a few tips off the top of my head –
- Google Maps is your best friend.
- When searching for restaurants, look for the ones with a large number of good reviews in Google Maps. (ideally over 1,000 reviews) These are often the best/most well-known places in town and they’re always fun to check out!
- Always account for things to take longer than expected.
- Get Global Entry. It’s a one time fee that lasts for 5 years. You’ll be profusely thanking your past self when you’re dealing with those customs lines coming back into the US.
- Have external storage to back up your photos and videos. They’re going to accumulate FAST and if you don’t stay organized, it’s easy to become completely overwhelmed. And, God forbid, you never want to lose any of them!
7. What’s your first Nomad Life core memory that comes to mind?
During our trip to Venice, we did an Airbnb Tapas & Wine tour. We met some couples from the UK and Ireland, and we went out with them after the tour! After we all got tired, we headed back home and realized our Airbnb was a 51-minute walk away! However, we had THE BEST TIME walking through the little side streets of Venice and seeing the water glisten at night. It felt like we were in a romantic movie and that we had Venice all to ourselves. It was honestly magical and one of my favorite nights of the whole year!
8. How does it feel to be back in the US?
It honestly feels great. Very very natural and more than anything – comfortable. 😂
As I said, part of me feels like we never left, and part of me feels like a whole new person.
It also feels like we’re just doing a nomading stop here (which, we basically are, it’s just at home!) and I think my body still thinks it’s in “go go go” mode. I haven’t even felt the jetlag yet but we’ll see how that progresses!
I’m really excited to just enjoy the present and soak up every moment of being here right now. And then once it’s time to go again, I’m going to be excited to go! Just like everywhere we nomad, it’s a fun stop along the way!
9. Did you utilize any travel rewards/credit cards? Any tips?
YES! Chase Sapphire Preferred. (however, if you can upgrade to the Reserve, the perks are awesome. I didn’t do it yet but hope to in the future)
I was able to cover my portion of an Airbnb for one month just by utilizing the sign-on bonus from this card! It was amazing. You also get 3x points when you eat at restaurants or bonus points when you book travel within the app. And there are no foreign transaction fees! It’s definitely my favorite credit card out there right now.
10. Which country can you not wait to return to?
We have so many “if we go back” plans, and out of all of them I would say I’d be most excited to revisit Italy or the Greek islands – just because everywhere we would choose within in those countries would be brand new!
However, I actually think I am VERY satisfied with the places we went to this past year. I’m really excited to expand and experience new ones!
More than anywhere, I’m excited to visit the Norden countries – Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland. Those are now at the very top of my bucket list!!
11. What did you learn about your relationship after living and traveling together for a year?
I learned (and will always continue to learn) the true essence of partnership this year!
Partnership, to me, is different than just being in a relationship. It’s much deeper than that. It’s a conscious choice to work as a team. To show up every day and commit to being the best person you can be, so you can create the life you love with the person you love.
I also learned the value of being present with one another.
It means the absolute world to be excited about something and then to have someone match your energy – supporting you and celebrating together. It means equally as much to have someone sit with you in your dark spirals and stressful periods. And the same with living in the space of the mundane – eating a plate of pasta, tidying up the apartment, or decompressing after work.
No matter what it is, having someone who’s in it with you, like really in it is just the best feeling in the world.
12. What was your favorite part of Nomad Life Phase 1?
I think my favorite parts were both the beginning and the end! The beginning was that first month in Italy. It will, hands down, be one of my favorite months of my entire life. If you want to read more about it, check out the posts in The Italy Category.
And then this final month when my family came out to Italy, we did an Adventures By Disney in Northern Italy and Switzerland, and then Steven and I crammed in Disneyland Paris and ABBA Voyage in London before barely making it to Christy’s wedding in Georgia. I’ll never forget how crazy this all was! It was the most insane month of my life and I just feel like the luckiest girl in the world to get to experience all of it.
13. What’s next after such an awesome adventure?
What’s next is… we continue on the adventure!
I’m really viewing the next few months as a stop along the way. We have tentative plans in the works for Phase 2 already, which I’m very excited about! There are currently talks of us starting in Central/South America during the first half of the year, and then circling back to Europe for the second half of the year. My cousin in getting married in July so that will be our next time home!
But nothing is officially booked yet, so we’ll see where the road takes us. 😌
14. Are you happy to be done or super sad?
I am SO happy. But in the sense of deep fulfillment. I feel beyond satisfied, grateful, and content with everything we’ve gotten to experience in the past year. As you guys know, this was a literal dream come true for both of us. I’m just filled to the brim with joy about it!
I also know that our adventure isn’t over yet!
The only thing that makes me sad (but more in a nostalgic way) is that there will never be a Nomad Life Phase 1 again! All of our little Phase 1 quirks and experiences will be so unique to this season of life. While I know the other phases will be beyond incredible too, this one will always hold such a special place in my heart!
Nomad Life – What a Journey!
Thank you guys for such awesome questions. It’s been so fun to reflect back on Nomad Life Phase 1 all together.
The party will definitely continue through the end of the year! Like I mentioned before, I have tons of content I never had the chance to share, so while I’m in Buffalo for the fall, I’ll be going through and posting as much as possible.
Make sure to sign up for my email list below as well as follow along on Instagram – @JessicaFaye508
Let me know in the comments if there’s a certain country, place, or experience you want to hear more about so I can make sure to highlight it in the upcoming content!
And once again, thank you for being here today. For celebrating life with me. It’s a joy to have you all in this community and to go on this adventure together.
Until next time, here’s to doing what makes our souls shine! 🥂☀️
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