Slowing things down: Where I’m moving in 2016

Edna in Paris by

There was once a time when friends would ask me what my upcoming travel plans were, and I’d already have flights booked out for weeks — or happily reply that I had no idea, and would just see what came up.

But for the past few months, anyone who’s seen me knows that hasn’t been the case. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older; maybe after eight years of living and traveling on mostly whims, I’m starting to crave a hint of stability. 

(Oh man, 22-year old Edna would be in shock right now at the state of things.)

Ever since the fall, I’ve been anxious not knowing where I’d be in 2016. I ran through dozens of scenarios and countries in my head, but nothing was jumping out at me.

Planning my life during an Olympics year is also stressful, as I don’t want to take on anything too permanent that would prevent me from going to the Games, should I get a last-minute call (which is exactly what happened four years ago in London — preparing for that exact scenario was a big part of why I took a job in Paris in the first place!).

Now, it looks like I finally have my plan. What you’ll notice is that I’m slowing down the crazy travel that has been the norm for the past few years — especially these last nine months of full-time travel, which have expedited my burnout.

I’m reaching the point where the fact that I have a flight next week makes me feel exhausted — instead of elated! — and I never want to be the kind of person who sees frequent travel as a burden.

Tuileries Garden, Paris by

So I’m taking things slow(er) and this year is shaping up into four defined segments, and likely three new countries:

Winter: Paris

I’ve spent most of the beginning of this year in Paris, and will continue to be here for the next couple weeks. I have one more trip to Venice coming up, and then on the first of March I fly out to…

Spring: Taiwan

I’m finally going to Taipei! I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never been to Taiwan, for no good excuses whatsoever. But when the opportunity came up to live with my friends Tom and Matt for three months, everything fell into place perfectly. Roundtrip flights only cost $500(!), cost of living is shockingly low, and I can make decent money as a native English speaker.

Finally, I found a city that felt right.

While I’m hoping to make the most of being in Taipei (I hear great things about those night markets!), I’d also love to make return trips to Vietnam, my old expat home of Singapore, and possibly the Philippines or Japan.

Summer: Paris & Rio

June and July are two of my favorite months to spend in Paris, between Fête de la Musique and Bastille Day and the long summer days spent picnicking along the Seine. Besides, I can’t ever stay away too long: this city is home now. (This is also why I’m spending three months in Taipei: to reset my time in the Schengen Area. *shakes fist at not having a European passport*)

Bonus: EURO2016 is being hosted in France this June-July! Even if I don’t end up finding a position there, I still love the atmosphere and watching the games in Paris during the Euros.

And then…Rio in August. Hopefully. Fingers and arms and everything else crossed.

Fall: New Zealand?

Ideally, I’d love to move back to Paris in the fall, and have a couple ideas of how to make that work. However, if they fall through (and with French bureaucracy, that’s always a concern) then I have a second option: last week, I was approved for a New Zealand Working Holiday Visa.

Going to New Zealand was always something I knew I’d do, and I ran out of excuses to not apply for the visa. If I do end up there, I’m looking at moving to Wellington and continuing my career in comms…but then again, I’ve always wanted to learn how to bartend.

Every time I’ve moved to a new country, it’s led to a surprising career twist, so who knows what will happen this time?

Either way, whether it’s Paris or Wellington or somewhere not even on my radar yet, by the fall I want to be settling down as an expat again.

This is by far the calmest year I’ve planned out in all my time traveling — but you know what they say about plans (and a quick browse through my archives will show that mine rarely turn out as expected).

By the end of the year all or none of these things could happen; either way, I’m happy to be returning to my slow travel, expat roots. So long, anxiety: I’m finally getting excited about where 2016 will lead me!

Where are you headed this year? Any tips for living in Taipei or New Zealand?

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  1. Very exciting stuff! New Zealand … great idea. I found out about the Working Holiday Visa a little too late unfortunately but it sounds like such a good opportunity… why not, right?
    How are you enjoying Paris in the winter? I can’t imagine how amazing it would be in July for those events you mentioned….

    • I love Paris in winter! It’s low season for tourists, so there are fewer people around; plus I also moved to Paris in wintertime so it’s how I remember first arriving in the city, so quiet and peaceful :)

  2. Sounds like you have an awesome year planned! I am not surprised that Paris features on the list several times, but I will admit I am most excited about Taiwan! You know I am a big fan and I really think you will love it too. I am supremely jealous that you will get to spend three months there, but I am excited to follow along & live vicariously through you. The night markets really are as good as you have heard…

    • I’ve been here a week now and I can totally see why you loved it! It reminds me a bit of China, Hong Kong, and Japan all rolled into one…wish you guys could come visit!

  3. Seems like 2016 is going to be a crazy amazing year for you! I am most excited to hear about how amazing New Zealand is going to be in the fall! Continue to keep us updated on snapchat as what is happening!!

    • You know I will :) I’m getting pretty excited about NZ, fingers crossed it all works out!

  4. Samantha Rivera says:

    Oh the excitement! Seems like you’re set to go! So looking foward to your New Zealand trip. I know I’ll be going at some point in my life, no doubt about it & Taiwan will be amazing! Thanks for taking us on this wild ride! Good luck and got my fingers crossed for Rio. :)

  5. What an exciting year coming up! The New Zealand visa is a great choice (M was about to do that right before he met a certain américaine…). And I highly approve of the large portions of time that will be spent in Paris. I’m looking forward to reading all about these adventures! I miss you!!

    • Haha really? I had no idea! Good thing you met him before he jetted off :) We miss you tooooo! Come back this summer? (It’s the Red House 5 year anniversary in June…)

  6. Whoop New Zealand! You will definitely find it a LOT slower than Paris! I’m biased, but it’s amazing – you will enjoy I’m sure! I’d only say, try Auckland instead of Wellington – that way you can truly enjoy having a second summer in the year :)

    • I’ve heard that it’s a much slower pace of life! Who knows, I have a whole year, I might check out both cities…I’ll go wherever I can find someone willing to hire me, haha

  7. Sounds awesome. I loved New Zealand a lot. I would recommend you staying on the South Island. If you like to be in a busy town, go to Queenstown. Otherwise I really like Wanaka and Lake Tekapo.
    I will spend most of this year in Mexico, so if you end up here, let me know.

    • Thanks for the recommendations! I’ve been seeing Lake Tekapo on Snapchat a few times lately, it looks gorgeous!

  8. Yay!
    I’m going to be in Paris in July and August!

    I really hope that we’ll meet on a picnicstroll along the Seine :-)

  9. You must go to New Zealand, one of the most beautiful countries I’ve been!

  10. C-Trizzle says:

    Hi, Edna! I’m new, and I’m wondering what kind of job you hold… I’m quite interested as to how you’re traveling around so frequently :) Sounds like a career I’d like to have haha.

  11. It sounds like you have an exciting year planned out! I would so love to visit New Zealand!

    • You’ll have to come back to the Southern Hemisphere and visit :) I hear a lot of comparisons between NZ and Iceland actually, looking forward to checking it out for myself!

  12. I’m so exited for you to go to Taiwan! I’ve been to Taipei many times but now I’m regretting never have done the more adventurous stuff in the countrysides and beaches. I hope YOU do though cause I’d love to see those snaps!! While in Taiwan, you HAVE to make a quick trip to Japan! Flights are so cheap from Taipei! I’m an expat too, living in Japan. Add me on snap if you’d like to see fun Japan snaps! @melon0728
    And… I hope I get a postcard from you!

    • Thanks Brooke! I’m not much of a countryside person but I’ll consider it for the Snap ;) I’m actually looking at heading to Okinawa at some point since it’s so close by, I had no clue (like, 1.5 hour flight??)

  13. Such exciting plans! I’m really looking forward to hearing about your Taiwan adventures – that’s one country I’ve been dying to visit!

    • Good to know so many people are interested in hearing about Taipei! I need to go out and take some more photos, I’ve been here a week so far and hardly explored yet (I blame the jetlag haha)

  14. Good luck Edna! I might or might not see you in Rio. I got approved for a volunteer media gig at the tennis, but will probably be turning it down (work, no accommodation etc). Will be kicking myself later in life I know! So hard!

    • Argh, that’s frustrating! I’ve heard the same story from another travel blogger who was accepted as a volunteer and turned it down. If you end up not going, I’ll take your spot…

  15. Edna, 2016 is looking to be amazing for you :) My 3 favorite countries, literally hehe! I hope to be able to see you in Paris in the fall!!

    <3 Jocelyn

    • Haha so it is! I would love to see you sometime this year, let’s make it happen!

  16. Sonya Miles says:

    You are really lucky to have the opportunity to move around so much! It is really expensive to travel such big distances and I hope that someday I’ll be able to afford it. I would love to visit Taiwan. As a general I dream of exploring Asia and South America a lot. For now I travel mostly in Europe. I can’t wait to read about your adventures! :P Good luck!

    • Thanks Sonya! It’s actually not that expensive to travel long distances; not as much as people assume it is (my roundtrip flight from Paris to Taipei was $500). I’m lucky to have an American passport and my health and youth — but I’m not lucky to travel so much: I’ve worked for years to be able to travel and live abroad.

  17. I just spent a month in taiwan and loved taipei! It took me a bt to warm up to it, but I was really sad to leave. I went to Japan for ten days and I’m on my way to the Philippines as I wrote this!

    • That’s good to know! I’ve been here a week so far and haven’t fallen for it like everyone else seems to, so hopefully with a bit more time I’ll see its charms :)

  18. What a plan for 2016 Edna! Taipei is one of my favorite cities in the world — so friendly and warm. I was amazed by the generosity of the people there…never seen anything like it in a big city. You’re going to love it!

  19. Sounds like an amazing year!! I love that a new corner of the world every season is “slowing down” for you :-) Let me know if you come through Lyon for Euro2016, I’ll be in and out until mid-August.

    • Haha when you put it that way, yeah I sound a little ridiculous :) Will let you know, and the same to you if you’re in Paris!

  20. Sound like a good set of plans to me!
    And let’s face it – even if you do become a bartender, you know that you’re going to be a pretty kick ass one! xo

  21. I love that your upcoming year is you slowing down. Wow! I’m not sure if i would be able to embrace all the uncertainty. Good for you!

    • Haha thanks Ashley! I think I need some uncertainty to keep me on my toes — I’ve found a bit of spontaneity and keeping my options open has always led me down the best unexpected paths!

  22. I’ve been living in New Zealand for the last 4 months on the working holiday visa–you’ll love it! I would seriously consider moving here, it’s such a chill little country. And plans are never really meant to be kept–where’s the fun in that?? :)

    • It’s funny, at first NZ was mostly a backup plan but ever since I got the approval letter I’ve been more and more excited about actually going, so thanks for your comment of encouragement!

  23. Looks like it will be a good year! My life has been the opposite: I’ve done crazy backpacking and have begun expat life this year. I feel a little restless because I’m not used to it! Two months staying put, what’s that? But I’m digging it at the same time!

  24. Edna, thank you so much for writing and maintaining this blog. As a Chinese-American, raised in the US, I’ve not only really appreciated your posts about traveling abroad as an Asian, and the experiences you’ve encountered, but it’s also given me a lot of courage to move past the sometimes-fear I get when planning a trip to a place where I know I’ll be in the ethnic minority. So kudos! You’re really an inspiration.

    Anyway, I saw that you were planning a trip to Rio. My friends and I were there for the World Cup a couple years ago, and it was a wonderful experience (and as I’m sure you’re familiar with, traveling during major international sporting events is one of the *best* times to travel, as it feels so much more welcoming!), but if you get a chance, stop by Sao Paolo. There’s a very large and vibrant Japanese-Brazilian community there that makes for a delightfully diverse crowd, as well as some mouth-watering Japanese-Brazilian fusion cuisine.

    • B, thank you so much for the kind words, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate them. And thank you for the suggestion on Sao Paolo! A good friend of mine has been living there for the past three years and I’d love to check it out — especially for the food!

  25. I did a working holiday visa in New Zealand and lived in Wellington for a year, definitely a city I’d recommend over Auckland or Queenstown if you want to be more immersed in Kiwi culture and meet more locals. Also, Welly is just pure awesome, although a tad windy sometimes. If you’re looking for a bartending gig and you’re into craft beer at all, let me know, I was a manager at the Bruhaus for a year, down near the waterfront! :)

    • So good to know, thank you! I think I’ve got my heart set on Wellington, I’m actually getting pretty excited about the upcoming move!

  26. Ah, I miss Taiwan – it will always be home. I hope you’re doing well over there (or were),