We loved our time in Belize, but it was nice to be back home in Georgia for a while. We got to see friends and family, regroup, and plan for the next trip.
While in Belize, we had decided that 2023 we would travel to the UK and Europe. We lined up 7 house-sits in the UK starting in late January through the beginning of July. As US citizens we are allowed 180 days in the UK as a tourist with no special visa. Using TrustesHousesitters.com we were able to get assignments that would cover accommodations for almost half of our planned days. Nice!
We didn’t pay as close attention to the map when we were applying for assignments as we might have. So a little extra driving, but we chose sits with locations that we thought would be interesting. Our starter itinerary:
- Slough, England
- Oxford, England
- Dunbar, Scotland
- Saltcoats, Scotland
- Newport, Wales
- Falmouth, Cornwall
- Worksop, Engand
By planning ahead around 6 months, we might have had fewer sitting posts to choose from, but it gave us confidence that we would be able to spend our 6 months in the UK without breaking the budget on hotels/AirBnbs.
We had between 2 days to 2 weeks between sitting assignments. Plenty of time to do some exploring on our own.
Getting There & Back Again
We started looking at airfares and decided that IcelandAir with a stopover in Reykjavik would be a good option. The price was reasonable and we both wanted a chance to see the Aurora Borealis. We decided on a one-way trip, as we would most likely be going back to the US from Europe, having used up our 180 days in the UK.
Cost for two one-way fares from JFK to London (with 4 day stopover in Reykjavik): $ 1,353.60 this included 3 checked bags, exit-row seats for us both on both flights (JFK to KEF and KEF to LHR). We also clued in that it was cheaper to pre-book airport transfers from the airport to the hotel in Reykjavik. It’s about a 45 minute drive, don’t just hop in a taxi or it will cost you. We paid $225 for two roundtrip fares that would take us from the airport directly to our hotel. The cheaper transfers drop you at a bus stop or station — no buses are allowed in downtown, so if your hotel is not super close to one of the pre-determined bus stops, you’ll need to upgrade to the premium fare. So book your hotel accordingly; we booked the hotel first, no knowing this rule.
Getting home again we had multiple options. We decided to book a transatlantic cruise from Rome to NYC in November 2023. These types of cruises are re-tasking and generally a very good deal if you book early. We didn’t have to put any money down, as we had a cruise deposit on our account with Norwegian Cruise Lines. The real money wasn’t due until July 2023, so we could change our minds with no penalty. (Spoiler alert: Turns out we did end up changing our return, more on that later.)