What you don’t see on Instagram or Facebook


It’s never easy picking up your things and moving to a new house, let alone moving across the Atlantic to a new continent and country. We’ve had beyond our fair share of difficulties, constant string of bad luck and problems but we have stayed strong and gotten stronger because of it.

We have spent extra hours at work, time spent planning the week’s lessons as a teacher, thinking about the blog, thinking about our next adventure, planning the next adventure, workouts, planning and making dinner.. there are so many things in my life that have taken over from writing posts which has put the blog on the back burner.

It’s hard to go through pictures ‘quickly’ of our trips, pick the one’s I want to share, edit them a bit and then start writing the post; it’s very time consuming. I am starting backwards right now. I am writing before choosing pictures. I could write so many posts about things that have gone wrong on this UK adventure but, I will just start with the most recent.

We are currently having a little ‘siesta’ in Florence, Italy. — When I wrote this blog last month, again… back burner :( But let’s continue..

It was extremely hot today, didn’t bother checking the forecast as we assumed sun everyday here! We got back to our Airbnb 30 min before a loud and powerful thunderstorm rolled in. Really enjoying the breeze that has come through as we nap, play around on the internet and plan our next coming days.

This post is mainly about what happened at the start of our trip. The things that are hard to explain, what you don’t see on Instagram or Facebook. We have planned, chosen countries we wanted to visit, re-worked the route and cut some countries because flights were too expensive, added different ones because we took out others, flipped the entire trip because Auschwitz was closed for a week when we planned on going, spent countless hours looking up hostels and airbnbs, trains, flights and finally booking it all over a few weeks.

We both finished our work contracts in the UK and it was now our time to travel. We went to bed late Friday night because we had to pack up ALL of our belongings in the UK, store them, and then make sure our new smaller 35 and 40L travel bags were packed well and ready for a month on the road.

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We woke at 4:45am, cab at 5:20 to the airport since no trains were running, to depart on our flight at 7am. As we were walking through the hallways to our gate to board our flight to Zurich, Switzerland we were discussing which day it would be best to go to Liechtenstein, both were calling for lots of rain but Sunday was a bit less. Liechtenstein was one small country on this ‘small country’ focused trip that we were so excited to see.

We started boarding our flight, gentleman scans my boarding pass and passport and I step through. He scan’s Nick’s passport and says “Sir, you cannot board this flight today, your passport expires in less than 3 months”. We both froze.

Countless thoughts went through my mind at this point. But we paid for our flight. We booked online through your website, had to plug in all our passport information and there was no ‘pop up’ saying you can’t fly. We were in Scotland the weekend before, no one said anything to us then. Why did you wait until the gate to tell us we can’t go through. Is this a known fact to all travellers? We consider ourselves fairly seasoned travellers and feel stupid for not knowing this. Why is there an expire date if you can’t fly until then? We knew it was expiring in October but we’d be back in Canada end of August to go get it renewed.

After a lot of tears, watching our plane reverse from the gate without us on it, a lady came to escort us through the secret passageways of the airport no one ever sees. We had to go through customs and explain what just happened, with a nod he let us back through. The lady brought us up to the Easyjet customer service desk where we would stand for the next hour and 45 minutes.

I sat on the ground with my computer cancelling our airbnb for the weekend. £90 for 2 nights in Switzerland = a return of £20. Easyjet would give us a response of “all we can do is give you a note on your file that you can choose a new flight for a flat rate of £80 no matter the price of the next flight”. Well that’s wonderful if it’s an expensive flight… we paid £107 total for us to fly to Zurich, down the drain.

We went back to our room we were renting, hoping no one had moved in yet. We napped and discussed what we should do. We couldn’t make anymore decisions until Monday after we spoke to someone at the Canadian Embassy in London. We were going to loose out on our Monday flight from Zurich to Barcelona as well since we couldn’t be in the country to take the flight, £164 lost and Vueling would surely do absolutely nothing to help us either.

Complaining about anything in the UK is like talking to a brick wall. The wall however, always responds with “Oh, you need to talk to this person.. not me” or “Here is the complaint form you need to fill out and MAIL”. It get’s you no where but just more frustrated. I couldn’t even deal with Easyjet over the phone on Monday, I had to pay £15 to take the train from London to Gatwick in order to deal with someone at the customer service counter in person, just to tell me all flights were booked to Barcelona.

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We spent a wonderful weekend with family, they’ve been lifesavers each time something bad or ‘unlucky’ has happened to us. We were greeted with offers of beer, wine and food. Being with them made the awful memories of the morning seem like a lifetime ago. Going to visit them was an awkward text and phone call. It was Saturday morning, people make plans for their weekends and we didn’t want to intrude, let alone make them feel like they had to have us over. We are so thankful to them and words will never be able to express our gratitude for all they have done for us while living in the UK. Their daughters and boyfriends have also been so welcoming, make fantastically delicious food, and make us laugh when we didn’t think there was any emotion left in us.

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IMG_8339On Monday morning we took the train into London. We were told online it would be £15 for the two of us; that’s why we got up at 4:30am to take a 5:30am train. We got to the station and the tickets were £55! There was no other option, no window open for someone to help us that early. Once we got on the train the lady doing ticket checks said “This ticket is invalid, it can’t be used until arriving in London after 9:30am.” What? We just purchased these from your machine! She said we’d have to pay £25 more pounds to make it valid.

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Finally we made it to the Canadian Embassy, we were told on Saturday from a lady in Ottawa that it opened at 8 to be there for 7:30… we got there and it didn’t open until 9:30 so we went for some breakfast.

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We thankfully had great news at 10am, we would have a valid temporary passport for Nick at 3pm that would allow him to travel to various countries, back to Canada and then turn it in within 60 days to get his new 10 year passport.

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I left nick at 11am to head to the airport where I would stay for 10 hours. With no credits or help from Easyjet or Vueling, I booked a last minute flight from London to Barcelona the moment Nick had his temporary passport in hand…at a cost of £275 ! Two countries lost, A LOT of money down the drain, and tears shed, we were finally getting on a flight to join up on our scheduled trip.

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What you don’t see on Instagram and Facebook is…

  • the countless hours spent researching where we want to go
  • the time spent reworking a word document/calendar sketch of the best financial route
  • research flights into every country we want to go to AND flights out of every country, to see which is cheapest and we base our route off that
  • adding and taking away countries based on price
  • researching how long flights and trains take in order to have enough time in each country
  • then searching the flights to see which are cheapest at which times of the day and putting that into the schedule
  • looking up hostels and airbnbs, which is cheapest, where are they located, are we able to make a 7am flight from where we are staying or how far they are from train stations etc.
  • then finally making the bookings… probably the most stressful part because you don’t want to mess it up and book the wrong date (did that once, thankfully the lady over the phone helped me out)
  • delays upon delays upon delays…the last on time flight we took we couldn’t tell you
  • missed train connections from other trains being delayed
  • being stuck in random tiny Belgium cities because the train decided it was going to stop there and not go any further
  • lost, without wifi or use of phone to try and find hostels or airbnb’s

Travel is so difficult when you break it down to what we go through in order to be in a country.

However, there is something about being in a new place when you wake up and having the entire day to explore a brand new city … that feeling you can never replace.

— Update from previously written– I have had many conversations with family and friends after being home and I am told I still need to be thankful for the opportunities we are given. Do not get me wrong, I am! I know so many people would love to up and travel and work in another country and have the opportunity to do what we have done. The point of this story is to share our experience, what we have been through, and to not sugarcoat what we have done into some sort of dream. When we started this journey to England we were sold a dream, it hasn’t been. It has been hard work but still very rewarding.

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