As we continue our journey through the A to Z Blogging Challenge, you may be embarking on a journey of your own: moving to London. And, yes, while in that case your primary focus as you research and prepare is probably on the city of London itself, and, yes, this A-Z series is meant to focus on the ABCs of London, the fact of the matter is that a major aspect of living in London is what you can do outside it, because:

“E” is for EXCURSION!

I have said time and again how London is such an amazing hub for traveling abroad. Indeed, I’ve shared with you posts about a few of my own excursions outside of London (which can be found under our “Moving to London: Weekend Excursions” category), and today will be no different. 🙂

But before I get to what I was up to last weekend, I want to speak more to the opportunity involved here once your new London apartment and day-to-day life become familiar matters of course and you’re itching to push the cultural boundaries further. Now, before I knew I’d ever be moving to London from the US, I had already traveled twenty different countries, making sure to travel abroad at least one week every year. International travel has been a priority of mine since college, so it’s something I made a point to save time and money for. But that’s not everyone’s priority, and even if they want it to be, other constraints on those factors can easily diminish the opportunity—hey, I was just in my twenties and single, easy for me. For families? Not so much. Especially in the United States. When you move to London, you’ll see that Europeans are very quick to give Americans in particular a hard time about not having passports or more global experience. What they don’t tend to consider, however, is how much more expensive and time-consuming it is to travel abroad from the States. It now costs me a fraction to fly to another country from London than it would to fly to another state from Chicago—honestly! The US is a huge landmass that can be challenging enough to traverse with frequency, and it has diverse landscapes and cultures of its own to encourage domestic travel. Americans also only have two weeks of vacation on average, as opposed to the five to six weeks in the UK and across Europe. And geographic distance renders it impractical to travel abroad for just a weekend given the longer flight times and much higher airfare (without discount airlines like EasyJet as an option), so if you’re gonna do it from the States, you’re gonna commit just about all your vacation time for the year to a single trip. That, therefore, is what shapes the mindset and probably why other nationalities find us so intense and stressed—we’re overworked and can’t get away!

Enter a London relocation. Now you’ve got time (more holiday and shorter flight times to destinations). Now you’ve got money (maybe not much after paying rent on your London apartment ;), but what’s left will stretch farther thanks to discount airlines and the ability to take quick in-and-out trips).

So what my husband and I did with our time and money this last weekend was fly to Madrid, Spain from Friday through Sunday. My husband is an avid runner, so if he wants to run a half-marathon or marathon, he looks up where any are taking place throughout Europe and uses it as an excuse to visit another city! Why not? That’s seriously how much easier and feasible it is to travel now. So he ran Madrid’s half-marathon on Sunday, and over the rest of the weekend we enjoyed wandering around town and ducking into the shops, seeing opening night of Cirque du Soleil’s “Corteo” (performed as theatre-in-the-round beneath an actual circus tent), eating paella, tapas, and bocadillos and drinking Rioja wine, and, right before heading to the airport, watching a bullfight in Madrid’s historic La Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas del Espíritu Santo bullring (that’s a mouthful!). And believe me, it was an eye-ful…I didn’t like this last activity so much…even though it was my idea to go. Not for the faint of heart or PETA.

And we squeezed all this in among crazy-busy work schedules that, back home, would’ve been the excuse not to go away on vacation for a while. Here, it was another weekend, just in another place, and it didn’t require using a single vacation day. So if you’re making your London move, get psyched for seeing more of the world with the UK as your gateway!