It’s been way too long since our last update, or any new post for that matter. These last few months have been another whirlwind of travels through the US, into Cuba, and most recently our move to Mexico! It hard to believe a full 24 months of travel is now in the books.
This update is long overdue to explain what the heck we’re doing now and our tentative plans for what is “next.” So lets get to all that in just a minute, but first here’s a quick recap to explain where we’ve been roaming around in November & December.
November at A Glance
- Countries: 1
- Number of Beds Slept In: 10
- Distance traveled: 3,924 miles
- Place-to-place transport segments: 12
- Planes: 1
- Boats: 0
- Trains: 2
- Busses: 0
- Car segments: 9
Roaming Around the Eastern US
Having been traveling around the world for the past two years, we’ve missed our friends, family, and other aspects about the US a bit. So after recharging our batteries (both metaphorically and literally) in Florida for a few days, we decided to hop on a northbound plane. With Thanksgiving plans to visit family in our future, we managed to turn a simple turkey-day trip to Virginia into a month-long journey down the Eastern US. By quickly getting some plans into place, we successfully extended the front-end of our trip to not only visit some dear friends but also squeeze in some great travel destinations along the way!
It all began with a flight to Detroit, Michigan, where we had previously lived for three years prior to roaming around the world. It was great to visit friends while revisiting local haunts and checking out all the revitalization that has recently helped make Detroit area such a great place.
Windy Snowy City
From Detroit, it was a pleasant Amtrak train ride to Chicago where we were fortunate enough to rendezvous with some more long lost friends. (Actually, we are probably the ones who are long lost, lol.) Getting in the mood for the season was easy here, as the snow started to fall, the Christkindlmarket had opened, and we saw Santa himself roll down the Magnificent Mile during the Lights Festival.
Winging It in Buffalo
From the Windy City we jumped on an overnight Amtrak that transported us to Buffalo, NY by morning. The sole reason for coming to Buffalo wasn’t just to eat chicken wings, but also to snag an ulta-cheap rental that needed relocating down to Florida ($7 per day – yay!). Yet being so close to such a major attraction, we couldn’t not also make a pit stop in Niagara Falls to see this wonder in the winter.
Roaming Around Pennsylvania
Our road trip continued down to Pennsylvania where we popped into Hershey to pick up some fresh chocolate before continuing onward to Amish country so that we could briefly experience their unique way of life out on the farm. Our detour into Pennsylvania ended with a stopover to the famed Gettysburg battlefield where we were amazed by the grandiosity of the site.
Virginia is for
Then it was onward to the quaint town of Smithfield, Virginia, for Thanksgiving where lots of family fun commenced throughout the Hampton Roads area, along with plenty of food and probably one too many beers. It was great to have a beautiful backdrop to walk it all off the morning after.
Georgia’s On Our Mind
The final stop on our journey South was Savannah, Georgia to partake in some home southern cooking and the town’s signature southern charm.
December at a Glance
- Countries: 3
- USA, Mexico, Cuba
- Number of Beds Slept In: 14
- Distance traveled: 3,874 miles
- Place-to-place transport segments: 12
- Planes: 5
- Boats: 0
- Trains: 1
- Busses: 5
- Car/truck/van segments: 7
- Unesco Sites Visited: 4
- Havana, Vinales, Cienfuegos, Trinidad
Roaming Around Cuba and This Fine December
After returning to Florida we traded in our rental car at the airport and caught a flight out to Mexico ultimately enroute to Cuba! We had to travel through Mexico since there are currently no commercial flights from the US to Cuba and arranging one of the few charter flights can be both cumbersome and expensive. So we flew into Cancun, enjoyed some tacos in Playa Del Carmen, and the next day we turned right back around to the airport for our flight to Havana.
Oh, Cuba – what an adventure! It truly was one of the most interesting destinations we’ve roamed around yet.
We’re planning to write extensively about our time in Cuba, so we’re intentionally keeping things brief in this recap. See our Cuba Travel Tips for preview.
A two-week guide to Cuba is forthcoming in which we will detail our full route and recommendations.
We roamed around six cities and traveled through a number of natural destinations along the way too. For us, highlights in Cuba were:
- Wandering the streets of Old Havana,
- Horseback riding through the tobacco farms and limestone outcroppings of Viñales,
- Scuba diving over wrecks in the Bay of Pigs,
- Viewing historic Trinidad and the surrounding valley by train,
- Hiking up the Topes de Callantes mountains in search of hidden waterfalls, and
- Riding in classic cars anywhere and everywhere!
Cuba was a blast. Much more to come!
Ultimately we returned to Havana and exited the way we came, through Cancun. We caught a flight back to the US (the dreaded ATL layover) where we may or may not have ‘accidentally’ left some cigars in our luggage. 😉
Finally we disembarked in Orlando for some fun with friends followed by holidays with fam. After a fun yet frantic two weeks in Cuba, relaxing and getting crazy with friends was exactly what we needed before carrying out our future plans.
Eventually we even joined some pals for a last hoorah down in the Florida Keys. We simply couldn’t resist the temptation of concluding this year of travel without one final jaunt. So why not? 😉
Just another incredible #sunset in the #floridakeys! #floridalife A photo posted by John & Heather Widmer (@roamingaroundtheworld) on
Where We’re Roaming Around in 2016
After two very full years of non-stop travelling, we’ve finally come to the decision to slow down. We still get excited about being abroad but changing locations every 2-3 days for the past two years can get downright exhausting. It’s also a costly habit.
The Decision to Live in Mexico
So we decided to hunker down somewhere for a while in attempts to be stationary and get some remote work completed to earn income. The question has been “where?” For months we toiled around with many ideas for places to live in the US, Mexico, Central America, and Colombia. For a while, we were changing our minds and deliberating nearly every day.
We had visited the city of Mérida, Mexico, very early in our travels. When having conversations about where to live, something kept on bringing us back here. Mérida really had everything we were looking for:
- The locals are very friendly.
- Internet is fast (currently getting 19 mbps in our apartment).
- The food is some of the best of all of our travels (we love tacos).
- It’s an extremely economical place to live.
- Although it’s a sizable city, its quite walkable.
- There is plenty of nearby recreation and beaches.
- The city has good infrastructure and modern conveniences.
- Safety: it’s often cited as the safest city in Mexico.
- Mexico provides us the opportunity to practice our Español.
- It’s a quick and cheap flight to/from the States.
- Familiarity: We knew what we were getting into since we spent a week here in 2014.
So it was settled. At some point in December, we booked our plane ticket to Mexico and began our online search for an apartment.
Where We’ll Be Roaming January-April
We’re now here, all unpacked, and planning to live here for all of January. Beyond that, we’re toying around with a few different ideas. We like it here so much and it feels great to be stationary right now, so we may just stay put right here and get to know the Yucatan well.
But you know we can’t sit somewhere for too long! So more recently we began discussing another idea: live somewhere different in Mexico for each month. Our feet may get itchy. This could be a good way for us to still continue traveling very slowly while working. This is one of the great perks of being nomadic. You can change your scenery each month if you wish. We’re mulling over a slow-moving route that includes San Cristóbal de las Casas (February), Oaxaca (March), and San Miguel Allende (April). But we’ll see.
So although our exact plans are still a bit up-in-the-air, living in Mexico for the next four months is a certainty we’re very much looking forward to.
Where We’ll Be Roaming After Beyond April 2016
Towards the end of April we’re planning to make our way back to the US for a wedding and other commitments. At that point we’ll be carefully assessing our finances, work responsibilities, and our general state-of-being to determine if we can manage some more adventures over the summer or if it may finally be time to mix full time jobs responsibilities amongst our travels pursuits.
We still have some big travel dreams that we’d just love to make a reality this year. So over the next four months we’re going to attempt to work hard as we explore Mexico, all while attempting to make some future travel dreams come true!
Happy New Year!
Happy 2016 to all wherever you may be roaming around! We hope all of your travel dreams come true in the New Year.
Beth dailey says
Do you have any advice re finding a cheap “relocation” car rental? I need a FL to Boston one way rental in April and drop off fees are high, so I was wondering how you scored your Buffalo /Fl deal. I read on your blog that cruise boats reposition at that time of year, am thinking maybe cars do, as well?
Loving your posts from Merida, thanks ! Beth
John Widmer says
There absolutely is rental car relocations. Most of the rental car companies want to have a good portion of their fleets located in Florida during the winter and up North during the summer. They’ll often offer some aggressive one-way discounts to in the Fall (southbound) and in the Spring (Northbound). From Florida to Boston in April, is actually great timing and you should be able to score a deal.
We found our Buffalo-to-Florida deal by just doing some online searches using sites like Kayak (try: https://www.kayak.com/cars). I just did a quick search from Orlando to to Buffalo in April for $14 per day and no drop-off fees. One tip when searching is to search in week increments. Often car rental agencies give deep discounts when renting for a week. So even if you were to only need the rental car for 5 days, it’s often cheaper to rent it for the entire week. There’s no penalty for dropping it off early either.
Hope that helps! 🙂
My husband and kids and i moved from Michigan to Oaxaca about 16 months ago! We love it here! You definitely need to keep it on your planned route!
John Widmer says
Hi Deb! It’s so reaffirming to hear you’re loving living in Mexico after over a year now! Sure beats a Michigan winter, huh? We’ve only been in Mexico for a little more than a week now but we’re already loving it. An update since I first wrote this post last week is that we are, in fact, planning to continue on towards Oaxaca. We’re tentatively planning to be there for a month, from mid-March to mid-April. So if you’all are still in Oaxaca then, send us an email ([email protected]) if you’d like to try and get together in a few months from now. We’d love to meet up with some Michiganders! 🙂
Pete Thomas says
Happy New Year friends! I have been following you guys as you roam for about a year now, I first came across this blog when I was looking into exploring the Sian Kaan last year with my then girlfriend. We made it all the way down the road in the Sian Kaan to Punta Allen, and absolutely fell in love with the true village community and loving and happy people we met there, many whom are still great friends. Long story short, we will be traveling back to Punta Allen in April, with an entourage of our best friends and family, where we will get married in paradise!
Thanks for living the wanderlust, it has been great following you. Best wishes to your time in Mexico, and if you ever get to the other side of the peninsula, you have to make it to Punta Allen!
John Widmer says
Happy New Year Pete! Thanks for dropping back by to say “hola!” That is so cool to hear about your experience in Punta Allen. We really want to make it there one day. We’ve continued to hear great things about it and your sentiments have now further fueled our thirst to get there! I even heard of people doing a beach-trek and camping along the way which sounds like it could be quite the adventure.
That is so awesome you are getting married there! A huge CONGRATULATIONS from both Heather and me! Sounds like you chose an incredible place to drag your friends and family out to enjoy the momentous occasion. Awesome!