Two weeks after my husband and I were married, we flew out of Boston into a two year working honeymoon adventure. With my husband just out of law school, we realized that the only time for a round the world adventure would be now – before children, before a house, before a career he couldn’t afford to take a year off from. To finance our adventure, we took teaching jobs in China, complete with eight weeks of paid vacation and salaries that both covered our student loans and allowed us to live the high life – eating out every night, drinks every weekend, international travel trips – thanks to the low cost of living in Asia.
|From Tai Xing|
Before arriving in Shanghai, we detoured to Washington State, where we crashed on the floor of one of my husband’s law school buddies and hiked the national forests, kayaked in the bay, and toured Seattle.
Our Asian vacations took us to the Phillipines, to Thailand – twice – and all across China, from the rice paddies of Szechuan to desert dunes of Inner Mongolia, from the cosmopolitan Beijing to ancient Luoyang’s mammoth stone carved Buddhas.
Even the workweek in our hometown of Nanjing felt like a vacation. New experiences filled every second: new friends, new food, new languages, and new challenges as we learned the languages, the city, and the culture. A year in Boston felt like six months; a week in China felt like four.
After two years, however, we began missing our families and the comforts of home. Our baby niece and nephew grew taller in every picture. We also knew my husband would have to launch his career as a lawyer in the US soon, before we ended up settling in Asia for good.
Our first week back in the US before I began my new job seemed like a vacation: a beautiful blue sky welcomed us back, the summer weather of New England beckoned us to revisit our favorite hiking trails, and welcome home parties filled our schedule. I knew before long, however, that routines would start to take over, to bring us back to a life where days slipped through our fingers like sand.
How do you keep that vacation glow? How do you slow down life so that every moment is meaningful? And our biggest question, how do you manage that on a budget? American vacations are expensive, and our priorities had switched to investing in my husband’s law firm and saving for a house.
As we move into our fourth month back in the Western World, and summer vacations all around the country end, I’m eager to share the tricks I’ve learned to keep feeling like you’re on vacation all year long. Stay tuned in this four-part series!