Traveling takes many forms, sometimes it’s a short holiday, sometimes it’s full-time, and sometimes it’s a year-long adventure, with your kids, but without your partner! Megan packed up her daughters and moved to Paris for ya ear without her husband. The year in France held many challenges – but Megan navigated it all with humor, sass and a bit of grit.
Expect the unexpected but don’t let it stop you from going for it! It is worth every challenge you may come across. ~ Megan
What a great reminder to not back down from challenges – even when they involve French bureaucracy! But, they have good cheese and that beats all.
I must confess I know Megan personally from our time living in Boston. Our daughters were in pre-school together a decade ago. When I first met her she told me that she grew up in Germany and I knew she must be pretty darn cool or at least know her way around a sausage factory. We have remained friends all these years, plus she has visited us in every country we have lived in, bonus points! I am so proud that she took this leap into the unknown solo in the name of learning for her daughters. What’s next? I am thinking Germany!
So, enough of my chatter. Grab a cup of coffee, a comfy seat and get ready to be inspired.
Introduce us to the people you live with?
Michael- my husband. He’s a lawyer who travels a lot for work, so having to travel to see his family in another country wasn’t that out of place. We sure missed him though! Estelle, 13, my oldest daughter. She is curious, hard working and always up for a new experience. She loved the independence living in a European city afforded her. She mastered the public transportation system within days! She missed her friends dearly but with social media was able to keep in touch daily. Marguerite (Maggie), 12, my middle daughter. She is the most sentimental of the three and really feels deep connections to places and things. She pushed herself out of her comfort zone to experience living abroad and really enjoyed traveling around. She’d do it again in a heartbeat! Vivienne, 10, my youngest daughter. A lot was asked of her this year (she was 9 for most of it) with all the museum visits and tours we went on, but she rose to the occasion. She is a strong, determined girl who wraps her mind around something and goes for it! Then there’s me- Megan, a mom with a love for travel who hopes to pass that on to my three girls. It was both rewarding and challenging to live abroad alone with kids and I wouldn’t change a minute of it.
Where are you in the world and what are you living in?
We were in Paris, France living in a 7th floor apartment
Why did you choose to live in your current arrangement?
My two youngest daughters are in a French immersion program in the US, so we wanted to strengthen their language skills and offer Estelle the opportunity to learn French. We also needed to be in a major metropolitan area where there were direct flights from Boston, MA, USA so Michael could visit us without too much traveling time involved.
What do you do to personalize your unique (less traditional) living situation?
We brought along a few pictures for display and we would hang postcards, pictures, drawings and posters as we got them. We also bought some room decorations that were light and easy to transport, like wall stickers and battery operated lights.
Tell us your favorite and least favorite room in your space and why?
My least favorite was the kitchen. Although it was big by Parisian standards, the actual workspace was a tiny nook. We had to get creative because the girls love to bake and cook. My favorite room was the living room at night because we could see the Eiffel Tower sparkling on the hour.
What is the biggest misconception you had about your current living situation before you started living in it?
I knew bureaucracy in France was supposed to be bad, but I wasn’t prepared for how bad it really was, especially for a foreigner that doesn’t speak French.
What is the one household item you carry with you every time you move or the one item you cannot live without?
Our US measuring cups!
What do you miss most about permanent, stationary, traditional living?
My husband. Even though he travels a lot for work, being in the same house most of the time is so much different than only getting to visit once every 4-6 weeks.
What is the one item your children (if you have children) carry with them to make their unique (less traditional) home more comfortable?
Their blankets. They are big, soft blankets with their names embroidered on them that they received as a gift from their Nana and they take them everywhere.
Do you have a pet joining you in this journey? If so, has this been complicated? Any advice?
no- I can’t even imagine!
What is your best resource to find items you need for your place?
We asked around about where to find things on the cheap, so we went to a variety of places; the market, IKEA, Auchon, etc.
If you could only have one of the following in your home which one would it be and why?
Space, natural light, dishwasher or above average internet.
Natural light, no question!
If you were to compare your unique (less traditional) home decorating style to a kitchen appliance or gadget what would it be and why?
A coffee maker- not everyone likes or needs coffee, some people like it more than others, some people need it to function. We only needed a few things to make our place feel like home. We probably could have used more, but by having lots of visitors home was brought to us!
How do you keep traditions alive for your family in your unique living situation?
We celebrated thanksgiving with American and Canadian expats (we had a butcher cook a turkey since there is no way one was fitting in our oven!). I snuck a few items over for a traditional Christmas celebration (while weaving in local traditions as well) and we had a traditional Easter egg hunt at a house we were sharing with another family. Birthdays were different- rather than having a party with friends we visited a place of their choice.
How do you decorate for the holidays in your unique (less traditional) home or do you skip it all together?
The kids made most of our decorations for Thanksgiving, birthdays and Christmas. We purchased a few Christmas decorations to make it feel like home. We brought those back with us and they will become decorations for use here at home!
What is your favorite part about this lifestyle choice?
Time. Our life at home in the US is so fast-paced. We had so much time living in Paris. We spent so much time together exploring and relaxing. I really miss that.
Many traveling families subscribe to the “house is not a home” theory. What is home to you?
That’s a tough one for me because my husband was still back in our home in the US. Had he been with us, I think I would have said that home is where your family is. Since ours was temporarily split, that’s a tough one for me to answer.
What makes you love the place you live?
The endless beauty. Everywhere you look in Paris there is something so beautiful; architecture, art, flowers, statues, people from all walks of life. You never lack for something to look at and admire!
Can home be a person, or an idea?
I think it can be both!
Words of wisdom to anyone considering venturing out into the world of unique, less traditional homes?
Expect the unexpected but don’t let it stop you from going for it! It is worth every challenge you may come across.
Anything else you would like offer?
There is nothing quite like the education you get from experiencing a different culture first hand. It opens your mind, makes you appreciate different ways of doing things, and exposes you to so much immeasurable learning.
What is next for you? Will you continue to live in your current home or try something different?
We are back home in the US now, but I will always have a pull to do something. I’m tossing around some ideas….
If you have children what are your plans for education?
Our children attend our local public school in the US, but in Paris they attended a private bi-lingual school.
There is nothing quite like the education you get from experiencing a different culture first hand. ~ Megan
This is so true! Traveling is the best way to expand your mind and grow as a human. Let’s all agree to challenge ourselves this week and step out of our comfort zones.
Inside A Traveler’s Walls is where we feature families living in less traditional and unique homes (tents, boats, camper vans, yurts, flats, etc). If you think you might be one of those families and are interested in being profiled, please contact us for details.