The Ups & Downs of Island Life

I think travel is just amazing… it’s eye opening, mind broadening and soul nourishing… plus great fun of course and I’ve explored the world a fair bit.

Now, having wanted to for a very long time, I’m splitting my time between 2 countries with my main base being in Spain for the moment.

 

Last year I was flitting between the UK and the Canary Islands constantly and I realised that frequently travelling or spending long periods of time away from your usual home does have its negatives.

When I was going backwards and forwards so much, I used to arrive at one of my houses after 8 or more weeks away and feel like I didn’t know where anything was – I’d be searching for kitchen gadgets, skincare stuff or my fave pair of knickers which I thought I had there, but actually didn’t… and be walking around in a bit of a daze feeling like I didn’t really belong there … and of course you do settle back in after a few days, but if you do that regularly enough throughout the year you actually start to feel like you don’t really live anywhere properly and it can be unsettling.

I’m not sure it’s something people can really understand unless they start living that sort of lifestyle themselves – and don’t get me wrong I’m not complaining, just reflecting – because it’s great and I’m very lucky to be able to do it, so I don’t take it for granted or whinge about insignificant stresses that are caused by travelling so much… but equally I think it’s worth talking about the fact that it’s not always the idyllic lifestyle people may assume it is when looking from the outside.

People see the blue skies, the palm trees and the glasses of wine on the patio – and of course all of those things are great and I love it, but actually it can be a bit chaotic when you’re constantly on the move and that the reality is that you’re also working and doing normal life stuff, not constantly on a sun lounger or drinking cocktails (well not till after 5 PM anyway because most days it’s too hot! 😉)

Something I didn’t anticipate with this sort of lifestyle, and maybe that was naive, was having to work extra hard to maintain relationships with the people you regularly leave behind. Of course it’s obvious you’re going to miss your family and friends but I’ve realised you have to make sure you almost schedule the times to keep in touch with everyone to make sure it happens.

You sometimes feel sad you’re missing out on things like birthday celebrations or when a friend has a baby and you don’t get to meet him or her until they’re a few months old. You worry about emergencies happening and not being there or feel guilty that family are sad not to have you around as much … all of those things are natural but you do gradually get more accustomed to being away from those you love which makes it even more important to have a routine for contact and Facebook, Whatsapp and video chats definitely help make the world feel smaller.

I’ve also found that there may be people in your circle who don’t fully understand your motives for being away, they might grow to resent not seeing you so often or even be a little envious of your lifestyle and I had to loosen ties with an old friend because our relationship was was causing negativity and worry – I felt judged and unsupported and she struggled with dealing with me not being around, so over time our relationship became what I suppose I would call unhealthy… for both of us… and the growing distance was inevitable really. It’s sad BUT ultimately, I firmly believe that the people who are meant to be in – and stay in – your life wont go anywhere…. no matter what, they will support you and your life unconditionally and that’s something I’ve truly learnt from the past year or two. What’s the saying about circles growing smaller but stronger? Yep, I now truly understand that!


It’s also an expensive lifestyle because you have to pay for regular flights back and forth and I quickly got so fed up of having to pack, unpack and pack again every time I went away that I’ve had to gradually accumulate a proper wardrobe abroad (of course that was such a hardship, yep, poor me!)

In the beginning I thought I’d manage with the equivalent of a holiday wardrobe, but in reality you still need clothes for the different seasons, plus I’ve discovered that the very strong sun here wrecks your clothes pretty quickly – you’re constantly washing stuff because you get hot and things fade whilst drying in the sun so material actually wears really fast with the harsher conditions – as I discovered the other month when I sat down in a restaurant and my bum ripped through the back of my favourite sundress (nothing to do with the size of it thank you).

I like to have plenty of sundresses and loose playsuits for the daytime as well as things that are a bit warmer as we still get seasons here and a lightweight denim dress is perfect for holidays and living abroad as you can wear it pretty much anywhere – to town shopping, to the beach or out for drinks as the day cools down.

Denim dress here

For evenings out I like to have a mixture of jeans and dresses and I usually go for longer dresses as it can be windy and a bit chilly at night.

I love this dress because it has so many pretty details and you can throw on a denim jacket and sandals to be more casual or dress it up with a leather jacket and heels.

Teal Print Floral Dipped Hem Dress here


The other thing about spending a lot of time abroad which may sound a bit ridiculous is that sometimes you still feel like you need a holiday! Hang on, hear me out – if you’re abroad in the sunshine, but living a normal life – working, cleaning, cooking, food shopping, dealing with general life admin etc, it can still get tiring just like it does in your home country….but because you’re in a place with better weather where people normally come on holiday, you don’t necessarily think about going away – or people think you’re bloody crazy for dreaming of flying off to somewhere exotic like Bali (never not going to dream about going there to be fair).

There’s a saying on this little Spanish island that you need to ‘get off the rock’ every few months and now I totally get it!  People go to another island, or the mainland or somewhere further afield and their friends or relatives back in the UK might think they’re already living the dream and being super indulgent to still want to travel, but at the end of the day we all need a break from the routine of life and a change of scenery now and again?!


So having mentioned these few situations or worries that come with lots of travel, there are so many positives to seeing the world and experiencing life abroad and they are things that go far more deep than just being about the warm weather!

The culture – vibrant festivals, open air concerts, tons of art and events plus delicious food where meal times are really appreciated and almost like a celebration rather than a life necessity. Then there’s the language – I love hearing people speak in Spanish, I love hearing Latin music playing out of people’s car windows as they drive past in the streets and yes….. people are more HAPPY! You land in the sun and the guys guiding the plane in are smiling and joking with each other, generally loving life – it’s such a different experience to landing at Birmingham International I can assure you! Then there’s the landscape – I’m on an island full of volcanic mountains that look different every day and I never get tired of the textures and colours I’m greeted with, even if I’m just popping out to the DIY shop or doing the weekly food shop. The open spaces too – and the huge skies and sunsets that go with it – when I go back to England I immediately feel so hemmed in, the traffic is crazy and everybody is rushing, there’s high rise buildings everywhere… and I come from a beautiful part of England but even so, you just do not get that open, free feeling. Then there’s the simple white but stunning architecture – everywhere you go there are beautiful buildings with interesting shapes and stylish, artistic furnishings – I just find it all so nourishing on so many levels…

 

At the end of the day, there are going to be pros and cons of any particular lifestyle and it just comes down to what suits you and what you want to do with your life I guess.  I’m currently trying to get myself into a better rhythm of being abroad for long enough to settle, whilst still making frequent enough trips to see family and friends – trying to find the right balance with this relatively new lifestyle… and I haven’t quite managed it yet but I’m determined I will!


This week’s photos were brought to you with the help of my special Spanish photographic assistant – he’s not very reliable, has a habit of having a siesta on the job …

See you very soon UK 😉

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Image credits:   Contains gifted product. Top banner: Nick Chester, Instagram Other images &  editing, Boho & Blush

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