Living in Lille - What We Learned

 Bradford and I can't believe our trip is coming to an end.  It feels like just a few days ago we arrived at our apartment in Lille.  It truly has gone so fast.  

We told everyone before we left that this was an experiment to see how productive we can be in Europe working in an America time zone.  I thought I'd write a post about what we learned.  I'm not sure this will be interesting to anyone but us, but it'll be good for us to have this record.  

- Visiting Europe and living in Europe are not the same thing.  We came thinking we work during the week and do quick little weekend trips.  This turned out not to be such a great idea for a few reasons: 

Our apartment was for the entire time we were here.  So we were paying to stay in two places for many nights.  While it was nice to not to have to lug everything we brought, we learned it really isn't necessary to have to places to stay at once.  

Here's what we wish we had done instead.  Group all of our travel for the end of the trip after leaving our apartment.  It wouldn't have been easier and cheaper to go from one place to the next vs. little jaunts one at a time.  We would have saved on housing too.  

Next time I think we'll tack on a vacation at the end or the beginning and get a Eurail pass and just hop on trains and go where the wind takes us.  

- It's totally possible to just bring a backpack.  We brought luggage with the idea that we would buy stuff and bring it back with us to the US, which we did.  But we if didn't do that, we could have easily fit everything we needed in backpacks and traveled around that way.  

- We packed too much stuff.  I brought too many pairs of shoes.  I really only needed one pair of shoes, my Columbia waterproof shoes.  Shoes are bulky and heavy to cart around.  Next time, just one pair of good waterproof walking shoes.  

- I need a bigger backpack and something that is waterproof.  I need something with really padded straps and something to clip around the waist would be nice too.  

- I need a poncho or something to keep the rain off my backpack.  When it gets wet, it's miserable.  Staying dry is key.  

-Umbrellas aren't needed. 

-Layers, layers, layers.  It's good to have something that keeps you warm and something that keeps you dry and even better if you can wear them at the same time.  

-Gloves need to be able to keep your hands dry. They need to be tight fitting and you need to be able to use your phone with them on.  

-Pants need to be long enough to keep the water from running down into your shoes. 

-Shirts and pants need to be able to dry hung on the radiator overnight.  If you have quick dry clothes, you really only need one pair of pants and two shirts.  It's nice to have a second pair of pants that are like tights or loungers that you can wear at night or under your waterproof pants. 

-You want a scarf that isn't too wide or thick.  It just needs to keep the wind off your neck.  If it's too bulky, it's hard to wear. 

-Bluetooth headphones are a must. Noise cancelling ones aren't as big of a deal.  If you can have something playing in  your ears, it pretty much cancels out most noise.  You want something with a microphone so that you can Zoom with them.  

-Some transportation you want to get in advance, other you don't.  Plane tickets obviously need to be bought in advance.  Anything where you leave the EU (like Eurostar) should be bought in advance.  But city transport and even some train tickets, are fine to get as soon as you need them.  But sometimes buses fill up quickly because they are cheap, so it's good to get those in advance if you need to take the bus somewhere.  

-Double and triple check whether breakfast is included or not.  Even if the third party where you booked the hotel says it is, it might not be included.  If the breakfast is nice, it's probably not included and will be expensive.  

-Don't forget that grocery stores have lots of grab and go options.  Eating out all the time can get pricey and have lots of calories.  Just a bowl of pre-cut fruit can be satisfying and very inexpensive. 

-Hydrate at night.  It's hard to find bathrooms when out and about.  Use the evenings to get hydrated when you have easy access to bathrooms.