We’ve been in London for over a month now and are getting ready to move into our new apartment. Before we wheel ourselves and our belongings to our new neighbourhood and I write about my experience living out of a suitcase, I thought I’d take a moment to pause and reflect.
If you’re looking for initial insights about the city, read my post from April where I discuss travel options, friendly strangers and my overall impression a few weeks in. Right now, I’m going to wax lyrical about travel gratitude.
We are blessed with lovely friends, generous family and luckily, flexible outlooks on life. It certainly helps when relocating to a new city in a new country, to have all of those things on your side. But in case you are alone, not feeling the love of a good, solid support network or are simply struggling to adjust, these few things will take you far during your day-to-day as an expat or explorer.
Simple things to aim (and be thankful) for:
- A cosy bed to sleep in: whether it’s a shared dorm in a hostel, a five-star lush king size, a friend’s floor or futon or an Airbnb, I’ve done them all. You can guess which ones are the most character building, the most luxurious, the most familiar and the most eye-opening. Maybe I’ve even put them in their respective order for you. But the main thing to remember is: you have a bed. A cushioned surface to lay your head to rest after a long day spent exploring, adjusting and evolving. So before you go to sleep in this safe and warm environment that so many others in your new city are without, thank your lucky stars. You’ll wake up rested and rejuvenated for the next day’s challenges and opportunities that lay ahead.
- A hot shower: apply all of the above, to varying degrees. You will experience a trickling water pressure and changing temperature but a shower is a shower and it helps you wash all of your cares away. When you’re clean and refreshed, you’re ready to take on the world!
- Fresh laundry: you can opt for the DIY tub or sink method, take a quick trip to a local laundromat, use a friend’s white goods or splurge on express dry cleaning. Whichever way you like your items laundered, I promise you’ll feel a million dollars.
- A square meal: you may not have a kitchen to cook in yet but odds are you have sussed out the best local deals and places to dine. Whether you’re sharing it with loved ones, new acquaintances or enjoying your own company, savour the new tastes, sights and sounds. When you’re back at work tucking into last night’s leftovers or find yourself in the daily grind of a regular routine, those moments will feel miles away.
- Friendly faces: if you are as good fortuned as we are to have friends and family in your new city, you can relate to the comfort of a smile you know, someone to listen to you or point you in the right direction. But never fear! Even if you’re moving to a new place where your network is scarce or travelling solo, you can still find people who will help you. I have had a few strangers offer to help me with my bags on the tube here and I thought I was doing a great job of ‘not wrestling’ with my 25KG on wheels! When I was turned around on a new street and trying to right myself, I would duck into a shop and ask someone for directions. I have yet to encounter someone who frowns and ignores me. People are ready and willing to help you, all you need to do is ask. So pipe up! And you will be amazed at the ways strangers will come to your rescue.
These are my opinions but I think they all apply to anyone who has ever stepped foot in a new destination. Remember to be grateful, manners and a smile will take you a long way and I promise your memories will be better for it.
Next up: my top five tips on how to live out of a suitcase (and make the most of it!) in London.