So Deidre and I are coming up on three years in Mexico. Wow, three years, just typing that is incredibly hard to believe but it’s true. Mexico is huge, we love it and we haven’t even come close to seeing all of it, but recently we really needed a break. Other than short jaunts to the United States to visit family and a quick weekend in Cuba we haven’t left Mexico in years and were itching to see someplace new. I know, we’re jerks but we needed a vacation from the very place that many people vacation to.
We had a planned gap in scheduled housesits over the holidays so we started exploring our options. A problem we kept running into, however, (a really big problem actually) was money. Or more specifically, our lack of it. So if we were going to pull this off, we were going to have to be flexible and get creative. Since “someplace new” was our main criteria we had a lot of options and being flexible wasn’t all that hard. So where did we go? Ha! As with many things we do, that isn’t such an easy answer.
We know that many Americans living abroad travel home for the holidays and need housesitters so we began looking abroad for house sits and soon Europe was calling our names. Now here’s the rub. It’s really, really hard to drive from Mexico to Europe (some would say impossible but they haven’t seen Deidre navigate the mean streets of Merida). So we ended up living out our own version of “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” with a dash of “National Lampoon’s European Vacation.”
Over the last month, we have ridden on 7 planes, 5 buses, 4 shuttles (transfer, not space – although I wish), 3 trains, 2 boats, 1 roller coaster and countless buses and taxis. We have also navigated subway systems in two different languages while staying in three AirBnB’s, 3 hotels and 1 fantastic house sit. For three years now we’ve driven our car around Mexico yet suddenly we took 6 forms of transportation through five different countries and ended up waking up on Christmas morning in Copenhagen, Denmark. So yeah, “someplace new” indeed!
As I mentioned, we don’t have a lot of money to go gallivanting around the globe on vacation (at least not until the big Powerball drawing) and that means we are constantly working while house and pet sitting to earn our keep. But even with our lodging provided by a housesit, it didn’t make a ton of sense for us financially to buy tickets to Europe. Luckily for us, our Santa Claus arrived early with some discounted standby tickets which gave us the option of flexible dates and destinations. Sounds great right? It is, albeit with some caveats. Standby tickets are only good if there’s room on the plane for you. If not? Well, you have to wait for one that does have room. So, with our air travel (sort of) figured out we started looking in earnest for a house sitting gig in Europe. Or possibly New Zealand, we were being flexible after all.
One evening a few days later Deidre looked up from her laptop and initiated the following conversation:
Her – “What do you know about Copenhagen?”
Me – “It’s the capital of Denmark. Right?.”
Her – “I don’t know. Want to house sit there for the holidays?”
Me – “Sure, why not?”
So dates were set and commitments made and we were off to Denmark for the holidays! Flying standby during the busiest time of year can be a bit tricky so we built in a buffer of a few days to be sure we arrived on time for our housesitting commitment. Plus, we were already flying overseas so maybe we could use that time to see some other nearby countries as well?
Standby tickets are based on available seating and Europe is crisscrossed with trains and regional flights so we really just needed a flight to Europe with room for two. After a lot of pondering, discussion and in-depth research, we found the perfect flight for us and took off for Dallas, Texas. Wait, what? Texas? I know, I know, Texas isn’t even close to Europe but let me explain.
Since standby passengers get in where they fit in (as the cool kids once said) we needed to get to a hub that had room on a transatlantic flight. Again, flexibility is key here if you’re trying to travel on the cheap. So after stopping in Dallas, we hit Philadelphia and switched to a plane bound for Europe. Either nine hours or 16 days later (depending on what time zone your body is on) we touched down in London. London! We were finally in Europe and only 1,000 miles from our destination…
We spent a lovely couple of days in London before catching a quick flight to Copenhagen. Well, I’m not sure exactly how long it took but it was quicker than the Dallas to Philadelphia to London leg of the journey. Anyway, after the better part of a week of traveling we were finally there – Copenhagen.
We just had a couple of weeks to explore Copenhagen and its surroundings before repeating our convoluted journey in reverse. Was the long trip worth it? For us, absolutely! But I don’t recommend it for the faint of heart or for those who are easily frazzled. It’s probably also not good for anyone who likes schedules or knowing where they’re going to sleep that night.
Living a life of travel isn’t easy, nor is it always convenient and I’m sure a lot of you are thinking about how horrifyingly long and complicated our journey to get to Copenhagen sounds. And you might be right, spending days and days traveling to spend a relatively short time in Copenhagen does sound crazy. But I think spending months and months working just to pay for a week’s vacation sounds just a bit crazy too so I guess it’s a matter of perspective.
Was it an easy trip? No, at times it was stressful and frustrating but it was also fantastically rewarding and interesting. It was such a great trip and exactly the change of scenery we were looking for. London and Copenhagen are both amazing cities and we were able to see and do many, many cool things that we can’t wait to share with you. But for now? If you’ll excuse me, now I need to go and try to sleep off some of this jetlag.