We will always look back fondly on our second U.S. leg, which included New Orleans, Palm Springs, and Sedona for our long stays. Here are five lessons we learned on Leg 7:
Living Somewhere You’ve Always Wanted to Live is Worth It
This leg, we prioritized month-long stays in two pricier locales because they were places we already loved and were curious about what it would be like to live there: New Orleans and Sedona. Both lived up to our lofty expectations, especially Sedona, and we loved the routines we created (however briefly) in each.
In New Orleans, we loved the architecture, food, and culture, and went out more than we had in months since the weather was just warm enough to enjoy dinner or drinks out. In Sedona, it was all about our daily hikes and the miles of beautiful trails to explore.
I think we’d both like to go back and spend more time in each place, perhaps on a future U.S. leg in 5 to 10 years. In the meantime, they are two of the places we recommend the most for domestic travel. Each is incredibly special in its own way, and based on their popularity, many people agree. Which brings up Lesson 2…
Living Like Locals is Especially Important in Touristy Places
Both Sedona and New Orleans are top spots for tourism and in both places we chose homes outside the primary tourist area so we could live more like locals. In New Orleans, we stayed in the Mid-City neighborhood, which was so charming and had great restaurants and bars. Each time we went out to the French Quarter, we were glad we had Mid-City to come home to.
In Sedona, we stayed south of town in the Village of Oak Creek. It was so much quieter there and had far less traffic. There were certainly plenty of condo developments, hotels, and vacation rentals in Oak Creek, but even the tourists seemed a little more easy-going in that area compared to Sedona proper. It was definitely the right choice.
We’re More Social Than We Think
The big theme of this leg was seeing friends and family. I had a friend visit us in New Orleans and my family came to Sedona, and we were pleasantly surprised in Palm Springs how many good friends happened to be in the LA area at that time, plus our friend in Northern California. We had a great time with all the people we got to spend time with. This social time was one of the best parts of Leg 7.
It’s Good to Go Home Early When It Counts
We had planned to be on this leg for a full 18 weeks but instead shortened it to 16-and-a-half when it started to be clear that we’d be able to get vaccinated in April at home and Chad would have so much to do for our film shoots. Plus the decision to sell our house motivated us to get back and get that process moving. With our early arrival and delayed departure (more on that in Lesson 5), we’ll be back at home for four full months this time, far longer than ever before. But home is where we needed to be right now.
While travel is a priority, it isn’t our top priority compared to our health and our films and our long-term financial stability. And of course our loved ones. Being home for several months gives us lots more time with family and friends here in Missouri, including being here for my best friend’s 40th birthday and the birth of her fourth child. It means we can help Chad folks with a few things around their house and personalize our space at my family’s lake house and just not feel so rushed with all the movie-related activities that need to be done this summer. It means I can do at least one more trip to see our Austin family, this time with my sister, and maybe do other travel with her as well.
Four months seems like a really long time to be home (the same amount of time as our typical full travel legs!), but we’re already six weeks in and the time is going quickly. I think four months will be just enough time to do all the things we need to do and enjoy quality time with the people we love, and as we get into the middle of August, be ready to depart without a lot of stress. Which brings me to our final lesson, lesson 5…
We’re Ready for International Travel Again
Now that we’re fully vaccinated and the world appears to be reopening (at least the more privileged places in the world), we are ready to take our travels abroad again. While we’ve enjoyed our time traveling around the United States, it doesn’t quite have the grandeur and romance of our international travels. It feels like it will be safe and responsible enough to go to Italy for the fall and we hope also the other destinations we need to return to for the film (England, Turkey).
I hope we’re not being overly-optimistic about seeing the light at the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it really seems like science has triumphed with the vaccines. I know that fall 2021 travel won’t feel entirely like pre-pandemic days, but I am really looking forward to seeing some extremely cool things in Italy this fall. It feels like the right time.