We always travel with a back-up plan and with COVID’s presence in the planning this time we’ve felt we needed more than one plan depending on which way the wind might blow. Which plan would be B and which one would be C went back and forth for several months and we have never really decided on an order – both have multiple pros and cons. And, during all our deliberations and discussions we stayed patient, things calmed down with COVID, and we will be flying to France as planned in May following YaYu’s graduation.
Now, with the invasion of Ukraine and potential threats posed for Europe, we once again have had to come up with an alternative plan if travel to France becomes untenable or there are too many unknowns.
Our first Plan B way back when had us moving to Seattle and renting an apartment there. We picked Seattle for several reasons: it’s located halfway between Japan, where our son is, and New England, where the girls are, with direct flights to both locations. There are good healthcare resources in Seattle, good public transportation (no car purchase would be needed; we would use Zipcar like we did during our summer in Portland), and lots of other things we need and want in a permanent location. On the negative side, and these were big negatives for us, the cost of living is very high and we were not sure about living again with the gloomy winter weather. We decided it might be best to have another option.
Another one of the big downsides to settling in Seattle was that we would be settled. It would mean buying furniture again, and building a life there, and we were not sure we’re ready to do that right now, especially after planning and getting ready to travel full time again. So, we began to think that maybe we could travel full time around the U.S. We could buy a car (a Prius) and drive around to different locations and stay in Airbnbs like we do elsewhere in the world, or we could get an RV of some sort, either a camper van or a trailer and travel that way. We got very excited about Boho camper vans for a while, but eventually realized a camper van was just too small for full-time travel and also a big commitment. So, we looked at several trailers but they were too much of a commitment at this stage of our lives as well. Also, RV living is really not our style so we went back to the Prius/Airbnb option.
Both the above plans have been moved down the list. Our current Plan B has us going to Mexico for a few months instead of France as the airline we’re flying to France also flies to Mexico, and we could change our destination without too much disruption and no loss of funds (no change fees and the Mexico flights are less than the ones to Paris). We will lose what we paid for our first month in France, but it’s a sacrifice we’re willing to make to stay safe.
We hope to follow our original plan and head to Strasbourg for three months followed by stays in Oxford and Edinburgh, and then hopefully heading back over to Tokyo. We have until April 18 to make a decision. Frankly, if we had to decide now we would be going to Mexico.
By the way, working through these plans, evaluating all the plusses and minuses, greatly helped us organize our thoughts about where we’ll eventually settle when our traveling days are over. New England (Massachusetts or Maine) has landed at the top of our list. Winters are brutal there but WenYu reminded us at Christmas that, “the sun comes out a lot. It isn’t gloomy and overcast for weeks on end” like the Pacific Northwest, and she and Meiling have come to love the winter season. We have no plans to settle there any time soon, but we’ve decided that’s where we’ll go.