And just like that, we’re back the place that inspired this whole crazy idea… Asia. Thailand to be exact. Koh Lanta to be even more precise – an island in the Andaman Sea that holds a very special place in our hearts. This is where we got engaged back in early 2020, and even though we’re STILL not married (and a wedding definitely isn’t on the cards any time soon, sorry Mums), we’re feeling very sentimental being back here.
The last time we updated you was in September 2020, and we’ve travelled a long way since then – both literally and metaphorically.
So, to kickstart 2023, let’s do a recap.
In September 2020, we flew off to Portugal (just about) in a very brief window of opportunity where British visitors were allowed to a) leave the UK, and b) enter Portugal. The borders were shut again just a few days after we arrived. It reminded us a bit of the Triwizard Maze from Harry Potter, with exits and entrances constantly opening and closing.
We spent a wonderful five weeks in Porto, one of our favourite European cities, before catching a bus down to Lagos in the Algarve where we enjoyed four weeks of sun before heading back home for Christmas. We thought we’d be heading off again in January 2021, but the pandemic had other plans. We didn’t end up leaving again until the following summer!
So, after two months of freedom, we found ourselves back with our lockdown housemates: Nick’s mum, dad, sister, and sister-in-law, plus two crazy dogs and two Siamese cats. We were so lucky to share that crazy and uncertain period with loved ones. We have so many great memories! We spent the lockdown months getting on with work and building our businesses, so that when we could leave, we’d be more financially stable.
In May 2021, having received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, we flew off to Lisbon to enjoy two sunny months in Portugal’s vibrant capital city. We had the best time imaginable. Nick was teaching all hours under the sun while learning web dev, and Hollie was navigating the turbulent world of freelancing – but we managed to tick off a number of activities, including visiting Sintra and Cascais, and really got to know Lisbon.
Two months later, we were back in the UK for another jab before jetting off to Mexico later that year – not that vaccinations were needed, as Mexico was (at that point) letting anybody through the border. While Asia was firmly closed and travel in Europe required you to pay a small fortune on COVID tests, Mexico didn’t care if you were quadruple vaccinated or had a raging COVID infection. As long as the dollars were coming in…
Anyway, we ended up staying a full six months in Mexico. First, we spent time in Playa del Carmen, the digital nomad ‘paradise’ of the Yucatan peninsular. We also spent a lovely week on the island of Cozumel for Christmas.
Between Christmas and New Year, we headed over to the historic city of Merida for (what we thought would be) a week or two to see if we liked it. Hollie proceeded to spill a glass of water on Nick’s only means of making money – his laptop – and instead of just cutting our losses and replacing it, we faffed around for weeks trying to get it fixed which meant we couldn’t leave. We should have known that it was well and truly drowned.
As a result, we ended up staying in Merida for two long months. Life there was pleasant, and cheap, and we signed up to our first ever coworking space – a life-changing experience for any digital nomad.
In March 2021, having spent our final two weeks in Mexico back in PDC, we flew back to Europe. Taking advantage of the weirdly cheap flights between Cancun and Madrid, we landed in Spain before catching a train down to Alicante.
By this point, we’d been enjoying balmy temperatures in Mexico for half a year, so it was a bit of a shock to the system that – wait for it – SPAIN WAS COLD! We were very surprised at how freaking freezing Alicante was in April, given how southern it is. Nevertheless, as soon as we’d stocked up on a few jumpers, a jacket and a pair of toasty slippers each, Spain decided to become boiling and we were spending our post-work evenings enjoying sunny strolls and al fresco beach dinners. This is more like it, we thought.
Having not exactly loved Mexico, we fell head over heels for Alicante. The city vibes, pleasant weather, stunning landscapes, fascinating history and amazing food were great, but in Alicante, you get all this right next to a BEACH. A great beach at that, with a lovely, wide beach-side walkway continuing as far as the eye can see.
One of the things we disliked about Mexico (or at least where we went) was the fact that we couldn’t just walk. Sounds so simple doesn’t it? But it’s something that’s extremely important to our sanity and motivation. To us, there’s nothing nicer than just going for a long stroll, and in Alicante, we could walk, or run, for miles.
After two months in Alicante, with highlights that included Semana Santa and a day-trip to Elche, we headed home for a long overdue catch-up with family and friends. Summer in the UK is pretty special, with music festivals, pub gardens, BBQs, Pimms and lush, green fields. We had a lovely time. Until…
…We got itchy feet, again! So off we trotted to Porto. Surprise. This time only for a month, which was just magical. Living and working in Porto for just one month felt really special, as time was limited enough that we really made the most of it and savoured every second.
Oh gosh, how are we not up to date yet? Once you get Hollie writing, she can’t stop.
Next, we spent five weeks in the UK and did our first ever house/pet-sit! (More on that to come in another article.) At the start of October 2022, we flew to another extremely hyped-up digital nomad hotspot: Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. And this time, we’re pleased to report, our rather low expectations were triumphed. Las Palmas is a really great place to live and work.
After spending what seemed like a very short month back in England for Christmas and New Year, we kickstarted 2023 by hopping on a plane to Thailand… FINALLY.
Over the last few years, it feels like all we’ve done is compare everywhere we’ve been to Asia. This may be because backpacking was such a unique once-in-a-lifetime experience that nothing and nowhere seemed like they would ever compare. So it was with lots of excitement and a bit of trepidation that we came back to Asia. If our lifestyle doesn’t work here, the very place we came up with this whole life plan, it will be a bit of a reality check.
Now a quick update on the side of our lives that perhaps we don’t talk about enough: our work.
Nick is no longer teaching. He’s now a full-time freelance web developer. This is pretty incredible given that his skills are completely self-taught. Besides getting unlucky with a few awful clients (always listen to your gut when you notice red flags!), Nick’s customers are thrilled with their websites and love working with him.
Hollie has now really gotten into the groove of her freelance career, having had much longer to develop it than Nick (and given she used her skills professionally before going freelance). But, this year is about doing some soul-searching and figuring out ways to scale up.
In other news, our website has had a major upgrade thanks to Nick’s new web dev prowess. This year, we really hope to be better at writing articles and uploading lots of helpful stuff to this site.
If there’s anything you want to see more of, let us know in the comments below!
Happy New Year everyone, and thanks for your support.
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