I'm just a girl trying to have a cup of coffee all around the world. This is a blog about travel, expat life and our adventures living an international lifestyle, with two kids and a dog.

Andrea Fellman of Wanderlust Living Travel Blog

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Posts by Category: Life

Adventure June 27, 2017 posted by

School’s Out For Summer!

First Year at the American School of Barcelona 

School is out for summer here in Barcelona! Our kids finished school on June 22nd and I think I may have been just as excited about it as they were. The morning routine can get old no matter what country you live in and making lunches for my kids can be a frustrating experience in the morning. I have to say, we had a pretty incredible first school year at the American School of Barcelona. The kids settled in pretty easily and made friends fast, which is such a relief as a parent. When you move to a new country and a new school there is a lot of uncertainty, but luckily our kids were able to adapt and transition without any major problems.

Hudson was a little behind in reading, so right away he was put into a reading group with an aid to get those students all up to the reading level they should be at. Hudson does not like to read and this was his biggest challenge this year, so finding him books he liked and getting him to read was our main focus. McKenna was a little behind in math, so she was also put in a group for extra math help once a week until she got up to speed. We appreciated that this was assessed quickly and that there was a process already in place for this situation. When you have international kids coming from all over the world, it’s not uncommon for them to all be in different places. Seeing that the school was so proactive and had a successful system to get both our kids get up to where they needed to be in these areas was reassuring.

The 7th grade class kicked off the year with a team building trip to the Pyrenees Mountains which I think was brilliant and was a great way for McKenna to get to know her new classmates. Then the 5th graders went to the Pyrenees for three nights at the end of the year as their “step up” trip, as they would be entering 6th grade and heading to middle school next year. This was a fantastic way to end the year but this trip specifically helped Hudson prepare for the two weeks of sleepover camp in England this summer. Which he has been a bit nervous about, but McKenna on the other hand cannot wait and even asked to go for four weeks!

A few other school highlights this year was the incredible Halloween parade and the performances that the middle schoolers and high schoolers had to collaborate and work on to perform. McKenna’s class was assigned popular TV shows and her group did a little skit and dance as the girls from the show, Pretty Little Liars. They all dressed up as the character A and it was pretty awesome. The International Fair had everyone contributing dishes form their home countries and a foam party!

We also loved Hudson’s meet the artist presentation and the 5th grade end of the year beach party in Castelldefels, and of course the 5th grade promotion / graduation. Group lunches with our neighborhood Whats App group, 7th grade parents dinner and a handful of other events, sleepovers, and Birthday parties with new friends. We also received the ASB yearbook which is beautiful and so creative! The cover is of Barcelona’s iconic Parc Güell and inside the entire book is themed with social media pages. Each grade/section is either Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr or YouTube, complete with search toolbars, hashtags, and follower counts. 

Summer Travel Plans

Originally we were “not really traveling this Summer” (ha ha ha) just two weeks in England, but then things/people happened and well, we couldn’t resist! So here’s where we are headed…

Relaxing in Stockholm, Sweden

Tomorrow we are heading to Stockholm, Sweden to see one of my best friends Christine, her husband Kirk and their beautiful son Oliver. They live in New York City, but did a home exchange with a couple in Stockholm for a few weeks and well, if they are going to be this close to us – we have to go! We have rented a little house in the same neighborhood where they are staying.  I really have no big plans for Stockholm other then to spend some quality time with our friends and play with Oliver. I find these trips are some of my favorites – “having no plan at all, makes the best plan of all.” If that isn’t a famous quote already – I’ll claim it!

Work & Play in Budapest

Why Budapest!? Well there is a very special man in Budapest, Rob Toth. Rob is the business broker that sold my website and he happens to live in Budapest. Rob has been asking Harris and I to come and visit him so we are finally going! Since selling my website we have remained in close contact with Rob for a variety of ongoing business reasons. I have actually referred a few people to Rob and a few of those partnerships were very successful. I even got an email from one of the business owners thanking me for literally “changing her life” and expressing her gratitude for her new found freedom! It’s THAT, that right there – I love connecting awesome people and if I can do more of that then hell to the yes! So we are going to Budapest to play but also do a little work.

Summer Camp in England

Then at the end of July we go to England for two weeks. We wanted to put the kids in camp this Summer, and we thought about heading back to the States, but then we found XUK Camp just outside of London. We thought – we live in Spain, they should go to a camp in Spain or at least Europe, but we wanted an English speaking camp. Why? Well, it will be there first time going to sleep over camp and we wanted our kids to have fun and not worry about the language, it’s summer after all. Many of the camps we were finding around Barcelona are in Catalan and other camps in Spain are obviously in Spanish so we thought a amp in England is great!

So what will Harris and I be doing while they are in camp? We will be roaming the English countryside. We will be in London for a few days, then staying at a charming bed & breakfast in Peak District (one of Britains beloved National Parks) and then staying at an adorable cottage in the Cotswolds.  From both of those places we’ll be dong lots of day tripping!

Once home from summer camp we will spend the rest of August sweating amongst the tourists here in Barcelona. Well, we will probably head up the coast to Costa Brava a bit to hit some of the beautiful beaches but other than that we will be home (siting in the air conditioning) trying to rest and prepare for school to start up again! (we go back to school on September 4th) The Summer is sure to fly by and then I will have two middle schoolers, which is totally crazy to me! It also makes me think about how time is moving so fast. Even though the summer time is crazy, we have to make sure we slow down and enjoy them. However, right now I have to pack…

Hasta lluego!

School’s Out For Summer!
Andrea March 27, 2017 posted by

Wanderlust Finds: For the love of Lavender!

Color Me Purple!

I am normally not a purple person. I tend to be more of a blue hue kind of gal. However, a few things have caught my eye this Spring and they all happened to be shades of purple. Maybe what started it all was buying orchids for my office a few weeks ago. I’ve never bought orchids, but I saw them at this little flower shop that I always pass and had to have them. Then when the new Tech21 Evo Gem iphone case landed on my doorstep I realized this color was just begging for me to recognize it! Whether it’s lavender, lilac, orchid or wisteria, I am just loving this color right now.

So here are a few fun things that I’ve found while circling the internet…

1. Coconut Blueberry Smash Pops

Aimee from Wallflower Kitchen is the author of Coconut Milk Ice Cream and she makes the most amazing vegan treats! I stumbled upon her blueberry pops and literally wanted to lick my computer screen! These seem like he perfect Spring treat, I may actually attempt to make these this weekend!

Coconut Blueberry Smash Pops

Tech21 Evo Gem iphone Case

Tech21 Evo Gem iphone Case

 
2. Tech 21 Evo Gem iphone case

This little gem came in the mail and I was like “ohhhh, fancy!” I immediately took off my other Tech 21 battery charging case, which I LOVE because it keeps me powered up, but whoa. This pretty gem just made me take off my battery life line, which is a serious situation. My son ran his fingers down the case and said “oh it’s like an optical illusion!” The fine people at Tch21 made the new Evo Gem for iphone 6/6s and the 7 and the 7 plus.

Tech 21 Evo GEM iphone case $40

3. Birkenstocks for Spring!

I am loving the suede birks for spring. Not only do these come in a palette of pastel colors but there is also a nice rose gold leather pair too! Here in Barcelona the weather is still a wee bit chilly but I’ve already been wearing sandals they are so much easier to slip on and much more comfortable for running around the city!

Birkenstock Lavender Suede Sandal $150

 

4. Pastel Pots and Planters

Okay, so this is not technically purple but the succulent is! I found this little gem of a store on Etsy (of course) and when I found this speckled planter I also found these other pastel pots! THis seller has a lot of great pots and things for your garden.

Aqua Speckled Planter $15


5. The most Gorgeous Watercolor Feather Paintings!

I need one of these beautiful feather watercolor paintings in my life, but deciding on which one or to to get will be so difficult. This artist has even more incredible artwork in her CanotStop shop over on Etsy. Some of the bird paintings also caught my attention.

Feather Watercolor Painting $165

Have I sold you on loving purple? If so, go buy yourself some orchids!

Wanderlust Finds: For the love of Lavender!
Andrea March 19, 2017 posted by

Running a marathon with Tech 21

This is a post in partnership with Tech 21, because they make a product I literally cannot live without.

When I told a friend of mine that I was running a marathon he said “Wow, that’s intense” to which I replied, “Yeah, well I’m kind of intense – LOL”  

Then out of curiosity I looked up the exact definition of intense; of extreme force, degree, or strength.  I also found some synonyms for the word intense  – fierce, extreme, exceptional, extraordinary, powerful, vigorous, heartfelt, eager, keen, enthusiastic, excited, animated, spirited, strong, energetic, committed.  

Yup. I’m intense.

Which brings me to my point – living life full of intensity means that I need people and products in my life that operate on the same level. I have been meaning to write about my Tech 21 Endurance Charging Case for months now, but I guess this is perfect timing since it literally just got me through a 5-hour marathon. It has succeeded at its job and then some.

My relationship with my phone is intense, to say the least. I travel a lot and take an obnoxious amount of photos, I work from my phone and literally run for hours with my phone. The Endurance battery charging case is intense and I honestly don’t know what I would do without it.

I used to bring those little battery packs and a cord with me, which was always so annoying, not to mention when I go for my runs I don’t want all that extra weight and junk in my waistband. I have used this battery charging case for my entire marathon training and it kept my phone charged for hours on all my long training runs. When I run I have to have music playing. I also have to have my Strava app running in the background to keep track of my distance. I’m so bad about leaving other apps open, which can suck your phone battery too.

Tech 21 Endurance Battery Charging Case

Once I put the Endurance charging case on my phone last year, it has never come off. Sure, sometimes I miss having a sparkly, hot pink (AKA stylish) case on my phone, but it’s not so pretty when your battery dies. I’d rather have battery life and not get lost, miss an important message or not be able to take photos any day of the week. 

The Tech 21 Endurance Case uses a safe Lithium Ceramic Technology that prevents it from releasing toxic chemicals, won’t cause your phone to heat up and most importantly is not flammable. The case is also made with a material called FlexShock, which helps protect your phone when you drop it, and trust me I have dropped my phone plenty of times! 

The Tech 21 Endurance case is only available for the iPhone 6/6s and you can learn more and buy it here.  I have no plans of upgrading my phone because I cannot live without this case.

Disclosure: As I stated in the beginning, I am currently working with Tech 21, but I honestly and truly LOVE this product.

Running a marathon with Tech 21
Andrea March 7, 2017 posted by

Twist Travel Magazine!

While I have been kicking back and “taking it easy” this last year…I found myself working on a few projects here and there, (I couldn’t help myself) I had to keep the creative juices flowing! Then something that has been in the back of my mind for a while resurfaced and I thought, well why the heck not – let’s see what happens!

As a mom who lives abroad, I eat, sleep and breathe travel, but I have been very hesitant to turn it into a job. I want to protect my travels, I am selfish with them. I do not want to ruin them by the added pressure of making money from them. It is why I have not turned Wanderlust Living into a content creating machine. However, travel is a part of me and I want to create another business that I love and am passionate about.

Twist Travel Magazine

So today I am launching a brand new digital magazine called Twist. This is a co-partnership with my very good friend Keryn Means from Walking On Travels. Twist is a collaborative family travel magazine that we curated with a team of family travel writers and lifestyle bloggers.

So here is the first pilot issue of Twist travel magazine.
I’m not going to even tell you what is in this beauty – you’ll have to click through and see for yourself!

Twist Tip: Click on the box in the lower right corner to go FULL screen – it’s better that way!

 


 

We will be publishing Twist quarterly. We are building out a website now and we have some pretty bad ass plans! Is it perfect right now? No. Is everything ready? No. But sometimes you have to JUST START. I hope you will follow along on this new creative endeavor.

And on that note –  I actually hope to write more about the in’s and out’s of building an online business from the ground up here on Wanderlust Living, because that is the one thing that always boggles people’s minds!! And if you’re gonna move about the world, you might want to know how to make money from anywhere, am I right!?

Follow Twist Travel Mag on Instagram

Twist Travel Magazine!
Andrea January 10, 2017 posted by

Is there such a thing as too much travel?

Hello New Year

It’s the beginning of the new year and we just got back from our holiday travels to Chamonix, France and London, England (which I am sure I will write about some time next January, the way this blog goes;)

The kids went back to school this week and I am still getting caught up on all the unpacking and the laundry that goes along with a ski vacation and being gone for two weeks. I did manage to de-Christmas the apartment over the weekend, but our very dried up Christmas tree is still in the corner looking pretty pathetic. Not sure when Harris will get around to hauling that thing down the stairs, but he has mentioned just throwing it over the balcony (more than once), so we’ll see how that goes.

It feels good to come home to Barcelona, but we are getting into the new year about a week late and I’m already feeling a little behind, but of course discussions about our 2017 travel plans have been popping up already! To be honest it’s making my head spin a little. I’m already leaving for Costa Rica on Monday to go pick up our dog Canela to bring her to Barcelona. Don’t get me wrong –  I am SUPER excited to get back to Costa Rica, but bringing Canela back should be interesting, since I have never traveled with a dog before!

2017 Travel Planning

With the new year comes a fresh calendar to fill up with travel plans, and while that’s exciting, it can also be a bit overwhelming. I mean we just got back, put down our suitcases and the laundry isn’t even dry and we have to start thinking about where we are going for ski week (yep, our school has a week off for skiing) Spring break and Summer plans. Not that we HAVE to go anywhere, but when you live abroad, there seems to be a little bit more of an urgency to get out and see all the places that are so close and available to you. As one mom said to me “Since moving here, I feel like I’m a damn travel agent”. And of course like most parents anywhere, we have to take advantage of the days the kids have off from school.

Not only is this planning necessary for us, but we are also coordinating dates with friends and family that are planning to come and visit us in Barcelona this Spring and Summer. We also have a family wedding in July that we would like to possibly attend back in the United States. Not to mention Harris has some business travel too, yep he does manage to still work amongst this traveling circus.

So I pulled out our brand new calendar, got my sharpies and started marking off all the weeks and dates for our 2017 travel plans.

And now I’m sick. This happens to me a lot after we travel, I come home and a day later I get sick, I think it’s by body’s way of saying “okay girl – you’ve done enough running around, now go lay down”. So we just got back from seeing the “English Doctor” – no really, that’s what his business card says in bold letters and yes he’s British. So I am on the couch resting and hoping that I get over these nasty flu like symptoms by the end of the week (because I got another plane to catch).

Which brings me to my POINT. Can you travel too much?

Is there such a thing as too much travel? 

I love to travel, that is obvious and I’m the first to jump at the chance to go anywhere, anytime!
However, I wonder if too much traveling causes you to not fully absorb and appreciate the places and things you just did. I wonder if coming home after a trip and reflecting about your experiences gets totally missed because you are already thinking and planning about the next destination.

Or when does travel start to lose its specialness, because it just becomes so normal. Or when you travel so frequently and trips are so close together maybe one destinations might not get your full attention or one might over shadow another. Or perhaps you did not get to prepare as well for a trip because you didn’t have as much time in between trips?

Maybe this is just a time issue – time is just moving too fast for me. Or maybe I hate that fact that I just had a brand new empty calendar and in 10 minutes that shit got crazy!

Maybe I’m feeling this way because I can’t seem to keep up with writing about all the places we have gone and things we have done. Not that I have to write about any of it, that is just me putting pressure on myself. But I do think that you can get burnt out with just about anything and too much of anything is usually bad. Or maybe this is all just because I can’t keep up with the laundry?

What do you think, can you travel too much?

Is there such a thing as too much travel?
Andrea October 30, 2015 posted by

My favorite place in Granda, Spain: La Milagrosa Cafe

Milagrosa Cafe Granada Spain Wanderlust Living

We spent five weeks in Spain. Five weeks. And the one place that I keep thinking about is a little coffee shop in Granada called The Milagrosa Cafe. At first I found this to be a bit weird, I mean there is SO much we saw and did in Spain, not to mention that the illustrious Alhambra is just a few blocks away in Granada, but the place I desperately want to go back to is this lovely cafe.

How bizarre, right? But maybe not so bizarre…

When we travel, people and places should leave an impression, it should evoke some sort of emotion,  and if we’re lucky enough to be paying attention, it can stay with us forever.

Milagrosa Cafe Wanderlust Living Travel Blog

The Milagrosa Cafe made me feel special from the second the waitress smiled, handed us a menu and quickly returned with a sample of juice for us on a beautiful blue glass plate. I immediately knew I’d like it here. As I looked around I loved the design of the entire place, from the soft grey walls, the floral wallpaper on one wall, to the light pink chairs.

If heaven has a coffee shop, this was what it would look like.

As someone who travels and works from all sorts of places, when you stumbled upon a place that makes you feel like you belong, you grab it and hold onto it as long as you can. Harris and I came back for our morning coffee and breakfast and sat in the exact same spot, four times. I was a bit obsessed with this place. Even the staff intrigued me, they were exceptionally good looking in their blue and white striped shirts and grey aprons.

Milagrosa Cafe Tea and Tray Granda Spain Coffee Shops Wanderlust Living
The stylish details made me light up with joy. The tea was delivered on a beautiful tray with a porcelain tea pot, I tried to contain myself. I snapped pictures of everything we ordered trying not to make a scene. Everything was perfect, no it was magnificent!

Which is exactly what milagrosa means. (thank you google translate)

The Milagrosa Cafe Desayuno Breakfast Granda Spain Wanderlu Living

The Milagrosa Cafe is actually more than a coffee shop, it’s a full restaurant, and wine and tapas bar too. I actually regretted not stopping by there at night to sample more of their food and grab a glass of wine, but then I thought nope, I had our mornings etched in my mind perfectly and was happy to leave that way.

Maybe calling this my favorite place in Granda isn’t so strange…it’s the little things in life, right?

Cappucino Milagrosa Cafe Coffe Shop Granda Spain

The Milagrosa Cafe Wine Bar Granada Spain

The Milagrosa Cafe Granada Spain Wanderlust Living

My favorite place in Granda, Spain: La Milagrosa Cafe
Adventure September 24, 2015 posted by

Hudson’s 9th Birthday at Llanos de Cortez Waterfall

Llanos de Cortez Waterall Costa Rica Wanderlust Living

Llanos De Cortez Waterfall

Birthday parties in Costa Rica usually consist of a pool or the beach, there’s not a whole lot of options for Birthday celebrations, but the kids have just as much fun (and sometimes more) regardless.

Birthday’s don’t have to be a big deal and since shopping is tough here, gifts are small or a hand made card will do just fine. We all prefer that anyways, for most of us we shed all that “stuff” before we moved to Costa Rica, so accumulating more of it is certainly not our goal. Birthdays here are definitely not about the gifts, its just about the kids getting together to have some fun to celebrate their friend and make them feel special.

For Hudson’s 9th Birthday I was racking my brain trying to come up with something we could do besides a pool party at our house. We seem to have pool parties all the time and it didn’t feel special or anything different from our typical Saturday. I also knew that boys only last so long in the pool and I imagined dripping wet boys running all over the house wanting to play on ipads or the Xbox, and I wasn’t exactly excited about that scene. I wanted them to DO something.

So…. we took all the 4th grade boys in Hudson’s class to the Llanos de Cortez waterfall! I had been there once before on a Mom’s weekend getaway, but Harris and the kids had never been, so I thought it would be something different and fun!

The Llanos de Cortez waterfall is just 30 minutes south of Liberia in the town of Bagaces, right off the Pan American Highway. It took us about 1 1/2 to get their from our house at the beach. We hired a shuttle to take the 12 boys and we followed behind with a few other parents – we asked a few dads to come along for extra supervision.

Llanos de Cortez Waterfall Costa Rica

Llanos de Cortez Waterfall Tips

Once you arrive at the dirt road you will be stopped and asked to make a donation to visit the waterfall, this money goes to the local school in Bagaces, so please make a nice donation. Then you will park your car and there will be a man to “help” you park – simply give him a small tip. Do not leave any valuables in your car.

The climb down to the Llanos de Cotez waterfall is a short hike but rocky and a little steep. All of us navigated down in nothing but flip flops, so it is not difficult just be careful with younger children.

There is a nice lake below the waterfall to swim and you can even climb up on the rocks just below the waterfall and jump off. It is not high but just be careful of the slippery rocks and be sure someone has checked the area that you are jumping into.

ON the weekends there is usually someone selling water, soda, snacks, and even grilling meat on a stick! However, you should probably pack a backpack with water and snacks.

To the left of the waterfall there is a very shallow river, and if you cross it there is a path that takes you up to the very top of the waterfall. Then what we discovered was another little watering hole.  It is hard to describe how to get to this secret little oasis, but if you venture straight on what sort of looks like a path (careful of barbwire) you’ll come to wonderful hidden pool.

While I was at the waterfall the girls came back to tell me about what the dads and boys discovered and that they were jumping from the cliff. I immediately grabbed my camera and told them to take me there! I realize the first thought that should have crossed my mind was if it was safe, but truth be told –  I thought of pictures first, then safety. But there were three dads in the water and they made sure it was deep enough for them to jump.

I am sure the other parents will love seeing these photos….

Llanos Cortez Waterfall Hugh

Llanos Cortez Waterall John


Llanos Cortez Waterfall Otis

Llanos Cortez Kaidyn
Llanos Cortez Waterfall watering hole

Llanos Cortez Waterfall Hudsons Birthday Boys

Hudson’s 9th Birthday at Llanos de Cortez Waterfall
Andrea September 21, 2015 posted by

10 reasons we should move to Spain

Barcelona view from Apartment Terrace

In my last post I listed some of the reasons I am a little apprehensive about moving to Spain, but to be fair I should also point out the reasons we should move to Spain!

I am not going to compare Costa Rica to Barcelona in this post, that’s like comparing manzanas to naranjas! Costa Rica is special in it’s own way and we have enjoyed our time here. This list is just me thinking through all the benefits of moving to Spain, what we would gain versus moving back to the States, and how continuing on this nomadic adventure would keep feeding our wanderlust lifestyle. Which as I said before, can be challenging, but also makes us very happy.

Yes, I realize this list could actually be 20+,  but I have grouped some items together to keep it short and sweet so you can get on with your day.

10 Reason to move to Spain

1. Barcelona is one of the most gorgeous cities in the world filled with incredible history, art, culture. food, wine and diversity. It is one of the more international cities in Spain, drawing not only Europeans but people from all around the world. We have been to Barcelona twice now and are still very much in love with the city and it’s vibe, we feel very safe and comfortable there.

2. The climate is near perfection and has a coastline filled with fabulous beaches and there are mountains with snow nearby for us to go snowboarding in the winter months. The geography and landscape within Spain itself is incredible, with 17 regions we could be there for two years and have a hard time visiting all of them.

3. Europe will be in our backyard. We still have so much wanderlust in us (which I am sure will never leave) but we figure we have two or three more years before the kids hit high school and then we will want to be in one place for them to complete that phase of their life.  Jumping over to the rest of Europe is so easy and cheap. We are either a train ride away from France and the rest of Spain; a short plane ride away from Italy, Germany, Denmark, Holland, and the list goes on; not to mention easy travel to Portugal and Morocco.

 4. Food & Wine & Coffee. This is a bit obvious and everyone who travels to Spain will tell you that food and wine in Spain is excellent. Barcelona is an absolute foodie’s delight! Obviously this is not reason enough to move your family to another to a country, but it certainly helps.

5. Barcelona itself is such an easy city to navigate by foot or by bike plus they have a great metro and bus system.  The city is divided into 10 main districts all with their own personality and flare. Three or four bedroom apartments in safe and family friendly neighborhoods are very affordable and convenient to all areas of the city.

6. Cost of living. Right now, thanks to the Euro and Dollar almost being equal now, Europe is cheap! This could obviously change at any moment. But, for the most part the cost of living in Spain is very good. The grocery stores and fresh food markets are packed with healthy and delicious food for very reasonable prices, getting around is cheap and easy, housing is fairly priced, and there’s plenty of free fiestas throughout the year, too.

7.  The shopping – okay this one sounds a bit selfish and materialistic but hear me out. I have been living in Costa Rica for 2 1/2 years where there is absolutely no shopping. Which has been a very good thing for us and so refreshing! However, sometimes it does limit my ability for creativity and a sense of self expression. I am not talking about obsessing over the latest trends, getting drunk on consumerism and going to the mall to buy all the things.  I mean, simple access to things that can enhance our lives and creativity. McKenna is begging to do crafts and home projects with me, but it is difficult to find things here or buy any quality art supplies and DIY materials. I can see the creativity oozing from her eyeballs as she watches her favorite DIY youtube videos.

8. Living abroad challenges us and broadens our world view and perspective. It forces  us to adapt and learn from not only new experiences but from the people we meet as well. Getting out of our comfort zones is one of the best things we can do for ourselves.  Sure, there is fear and frustration, but that happens no matter where you live. For both Harris and I, it helps frame our lives a bit. We have something we want, we set a goal, and we do things to make it happen. We both work well with something to focus on and strive for, it what gets us out of bed in the morning.  It’s exciting, plain and simple.

9. Our kids would continue on a path that we have always wanted for them, to be citizens of the world. For them to not only understand but experience that this is a big world with so much rich diversity, culture, and way of life. They will also continue to learn Spanish and perhaps Catalan. We’ve found two great IB schools for them to attend and actually it’s difficult to choose between the two of them. La Paz Community School has really set the bar high for us, we honestly won’t find a school that is as unique and special as La Paz. They have enhanced our desire to keep on this path of raising globally minded children.

10. YOLO – You only live once. A good friend of mine asked me, “If you died in 10 years and looked back on your life would you regret not moving to Spain?” and with a short and quiet sigh, I said yes.

I realize that I am very blessed to be in this situation and have this incredible choice in life, but make no mistake, we have worked very hard to get where we are today and that work will have to continue in Spain as well.

So now…I sit here looking out at this beautiful fork in the road having to make a choice, having to commit.

Do we go left or do we go right?

10 reasons we should move to Spain
Andrea September 7, 2015 posted by

Are we moving to Spain?


IMG_8223

WOW. What a whirlwind. We just got back from spending the Summer in Spain. 40 days to be exact.

Many people asked us if this was a recon mission, are we going to move to Spain next? And the answer is yes and no. We went to Spain for the thrill of it first and foremost, and yes we also went there with very open minds about the possibility of moving to Spain. We visited Madrid, Granada, Seville, Valencia and Barcelona. We loved most places we visited – but as for a possible place to live – Barcelona wins. We had a feeling it would. It only took a day and we fell in love with Barcelona all over again.

“Should we move to Spain?”

While in Spain, we were both 100% totally sold on the idea, which is easy to do when you are drinking Sangria everyday, eating great food, and riding Segways through beautiful cities. It all seems so perfect and magical. Why wouldn’t we do it?  Well, as we boarded the plane home, Harris was still very much 100% moving to Spain, he’s practically opened a bank account and found us an apartment.  

But, then  I started having some second thoughts….living abroad is filled with some many great experiences, but it certainly comes with a long list of challenges too.

Now, maybe this was because 5 weeks traveling with kids and living out of a suitcase can get pretty exhausting.  At the end of the trip like that you just want to go home, take a shower and bury your head in a pillowcase, your own pillowcase. (Which technically still isn’t even my pillowcase in Costa Rica.)

Nomadic living doubts

The biggest issue for me is that the 8 hour time difference is rough for my business and work schedule. It is 5pm in Spain when my managing editor and assistant is just getting to work in California. My work is very much directly related and tied to the American Mom and I already feel a little out of the loop when it comes to the yearly calendar. To be able to communicate with my team and writers in real time is also how I manage my day. It is hard to close the loop on things when there is such a time difference. To engage authentically in real time with people in the USA & Canada on Social Media is tricky too.

Other things to think about….

  • Getting back to the US from Europe is not as fast and easy as Costa Rica and it can be pretty expensive.
  • Sometimes, I miss not having a home. You know, a place where you  hang pictures on the wall and can actually display things that you have bought from around the world.
  • The Visa situation is much more complicated in Europe. Plus, we have two dogs to bring with us.
  • If we move to Spain, the kids will start another new school, which they are totally okay with, but I know that when we move back to the States in possibly 2 or 3 years they will have to start another new school as teenagers, and I know that could be awkward and a bit rough for them.
  • My mom really misses her only two grandchildren and I feel guilty about that. I also miss some of the holiday hoopla that happens in the States. 
  • The constant language barrier – I know I should just learn Spanish already but I work full time. So, sorry but mi Español takes a back seat sometimes. And in Barcelona they speak a whole lot of Catalan too. Not that I cannot learn and get by, but when you are constantly struggling with words and communicating it can get frustrating.

These are just all the things swirling around in my head. Of course, there are SO many reasons to move to Spain too… that will probably be another post. BUT, if we do not move to Spain, then we need to decide where to move in the States, which isn’t exactly easy either, but there’s one thing for sure, this will be our last year living in Costa Rica. We’re ready to return to civilization and very much want to enjoy city life again.

I just wanted to share these thoughts because there so much to think about when living abroad or wanting a nomadic lifestyle. It’s not as easy as it may look, especially with a family. And it’s not always Instagram picture perfect either;)

What do you think… should we go back to the States or move to Spain?

Are we moving to Spain?
Costa Rica August 17, 2014 posted by

Packing tips if you are moving to Costa Rica

Since our family has lived in Costa Rica for a little over a year now, we have been contacted by several families asking us for advice on moving to Costa Rica and any packing tips and tricks.  So I figure I should just write a post about it.  We brought eight suitcases, a large cooler and a snowboard bag filled with some oversized items. We were told that coolers were really expensive down here, and indeed they are, so we packed things in the cooler, taped it up and checked it as baggage.  I mean, you’re clearly going to need a cooler in Costa Rica!

We are a family of four, so we each checked two bags, and we paid extra for the cooler and the oversized snowboard bag. One of the main questions we get asked is,  “Is there anything you wish you would have brought” and the answer is really no. To be honest, we brought too much stuff.


Hudson Board Shorts Costa Rica

Clothing

I packed way to much clothing for my kids, they are either in their school uniform or swimsuits all the time and my son literally sleeps in his board shorts. If your kids are attending school here, buy the bottoms for the uniforms at Old navy, Target or Children’s Place before you come.  They are a fraction of the cost and are very hard to find here. Your kids only need a few pairs of shorts, t-shirts and tank tops. Flip flops and tennis shoes are really the only shoes your kids will need, they don’t even need to wear shoes in most restaurants or markets for that matter. I brought my daughter down a bunch of dresses, but she never wears them. If you plan on traveling inland to the Rainforest it is chilly and rains a lot more, so you may want to pack a light jacket or sweatshirt for everyone.

I packed shorts and t-shirts for my husband, he has one pair of jeans and a few button up shirts and polos.  I would have packed him more swim trunks and workout shorts.  I wear the same four pairs of shorts over and over, I have a few maxi dresses and maxi skirts. I brought one pair of wedges and have only worn them maybe three times. Flip flops and tennis shoes are really the only shoes you need, and maybe another pair or two of sandals. I have a few nice things to wear on occasion, because sometimes you will want to shower, take your hair out of a ponytail and look a little put together;) I suggest bringing hats, an extra pair of sunglasses and a few beach bags.

I would pack more running shorts, sports -bras, yoga capris and workout apparel; I spend a lot of time in these clothes than anything else. This is very much beach living, so everyone is very casual. However, I go back to the States for work – so I did have to pack some jeans, closed-toed shoes and other things that are appropriate for the States.

Shampoo Bottles Beauty Supplies in Costa Rica

Toiletries

This is a pretty civilized third world country, they have all the toiletries you will need, they will just cost more. Shampoo and conditioner is expensive, brands like Suave and Pantene are $8/$10 a bottle. However, my Secret deodorant (clinical strength ) is the same price as in the States, about $10. I packed about 6 of these thinking I would not see it down here, and they had it, and for the same price!  I was shocked.  They do not seem to have liquid body soap here, they still use bars of soap so deal with that or pack some body soap.

Toothpaste, plenty of toothpaste down here, but if your kids love the special bubblegum flavor then pack up some of that, they have it here, but again it’ll cost you $6 bucks.  Tampons, I was nervous about the kind they would have here so I packed for about 6 months, but they have American brands here, so no worries about that.  If you have a special face soap, or medications you’ll of course want to bring those special items with you.

Pack a lot of bug spray and sunscreen since they cost double the price in Costa Rica. Our kids are now out in the sun so much, we barely apply sunscreen anymore, except on their faces and for really long beach days. There are plenty of Pharmacy’s where we live and even a Beach Side Clinic that is open 24 hours a day and 7 days a week so even if you need something special or over the counter, chances are you can get it. There is usually someone at the pharmacy’s that speaks enough english to understand what you need as well.

 

Wired in Costa Rica Wanderlust Living

Electronics

Packing up our electronics was my husband’s job and probably much more important then any of the clothing. We both work online and well, we cannot live without our laptops, iPads and iPhones. It’s because of these devices we get to live (and work) in Costa Rica! Besides the basics, Harris packed our Apple TV and remotes, our Apple Time Capsule (which is a back up drive and wi-fi router), external batteries, extension cords and a few multiple prong plug-ins for the wall (which is great for traveling & sometimes outlets are hard to come by). Along with the Apple TV we stream Hulu and Netflix for shows and movies.

We packed a BlendTec blender but only the base made it into the country. Harris took it out of the box for better packing, in fact he shoved his socks and underwear in the jar and to protect the blade. His socks and underwear made it but the jar was no where to be found.  Still a mystery.  Perhaps security didn’t like the blade being exposed or they stole it. Good quality blenders are expensive down here.

Peanut Butter Costa Rica

 

Extra Essentials

Peanut butter and granola bars.  It pains me to pay $7.00 for a small jar of peanut butter or a box of granola bars when in the States you can pay $2.50. It’s so annoying, so I always pack these on our trips back from the States.  I admit to buying the granola bars from time to time, but they are like treats at our house, highly protected. Water bottles, these are triple the price in Costa Rica.  And I have a moral issue with a water bottle being $20 – $30 bucks, so bring plenty of these.

The kids brought a few favorite stuffed animals, legos, books, games and a few small toys. I packed the board games, Sorry and Monopoly, by just taking them out of the box and putting the pieces in Ziploc bags and then just packing up the folded board. Pack a deck of cards and any other simple games for the kids. School supplies, definitely buy them before you come, they will be triple the price in Costa Rica, we made this mistake last year, so this year we stocked up this summer when we were in the States.

Water Bottle Moving to Costa Rica Wanderlust Living

Stupidest thing I packed:

I brought the kids rain boots and umbrellas. HA! These are not necessary. They used them once in Monteverde, but they could have just jumped in puddles in their flip flips or barefoot. When it rains in Costa Rica, you want to enjoy it not hide from it under an umbrella. I also packed us rain ponchos, they have never been out of the package.

I should also note that we live at the beach and moved into a house that is fully furnished, which most expats do.  So, if this is the case, you will not need household items like sheets, towels, and dishes. Depending on your lifestyle, work and where you choose to live, less is more. If you are moving to Costa Rica, then chances are you are looking to get away from all your “stuff”. So, don’t bring it with you. Sure, if something is going to make your kids feel more comfortable and secure, then bring it. But, they do not need four pairs of pajamas and seven pairs of shoes, trust me.

Good Luck and Pura Vida!

Moving to Costa Rica with Kids

Packing tips if you are moving to Costa Rica