Wednesday, March 14, 2012


When I first told my mom about our decision to put in for an overseas assignment, she gave me this advice: Make sure you both have the same goals in doing so. Before ‘draft week’, we were asked to compile a list of the top 5 assignments Jonathan would like to be considered for. When narrowing down our list of five, we re-evaluated our goals based on each potential job location.
 Jon’s company distinguishes between ‘hard-ship’ and non-hardship locations, and a few places like Thailand or Indonesia fall somewhere in between. Depending on where a location is on that scale determines the magnitude of employee benefits. For instance, taking a job in a ‘hardship’ like Angola would include a substantial pay increase and two “Rest and Relaxation“ vacations.  Not to mention we’d have virtually no living expenses since the company pays for housing and vehicles.
Our goals for an Angolan assignment would be primarily to save enough money to pay cash for a house when we returned stateside and also to take some spectacular vacations to Europe and South Africa. Our goals for a location like Angola looked drastically different from a place like Aberdeen. 
Non-hardship expat locations like Scotland, Canada, and Australia still have their perks but are more minimal in terms of benefits. Therefore our goals while in Aberdeen are a bit less financially ambitious; mainly we hope to travel Europe and somewhere along the way, start a family.
By going Ex-pat, Jon automatically gets 4 weeks of vacation, plus every other Friday off. Scotland also has several ‘bank’ holidays which will allow for long weekend trips around the country. There is a European Airline, Ryan Air, which offers unbelievably cheap airfare. Seriously, they make Southwest look ridiculously overpriced. I looked up a round trip flight to Dublin and it was 50 pounds (roughly 80 dollars) including luggage. With several cheap, direct flights it will be easy to take 4 day trips to Paris, Rome, London, Amsterdam, etc. Europe is our oyster.
Since we don’t want to take any big trips immediately after getting to Scotland (and because there is nowhere better to be in the summer months than Scotland) we are planning on using our first few months to travel in-country. By the end of the Summer we hope to have seen the Isle of Skye (Jon’s choice) and the Orkney Isles (my choice). 
Scotland vs. Texas
Since Scotland is roughly the size of South Carolina, we should be able to accomplish these in long weekends, especially since during the summer months the sun goes down at about 10 pm allowing us plenty of time to get out of dodge on a Thursday afternoon. Other Scottish things we’d like to do this Summer are visit St. Andrews, hike part of the West Highland Way, and see the Edinburgh Military Tattoo.
Military Tattoo
As far as big Europe trips, it’s going to be harder to whittle those down. Europe is my travel dream and narrowing down my extensive wish list will be quite the feat. We are so grateful to be in Scotland for the next few years, but the fact is there is just not enough time to see it all, especially when you factor in trips back to the States. Jon’s highest priorities are Germany, Italy, and Skiing in the Alps (France, Switzerland, or Austria).
My biggest wants are the Brittany region of France, Portugal, and Croatia.
And Belgium.
Oh yea, and Prague. And Budapest, Istanbul, Wales, Spain, Slovenia… And the list goes on and on and on. Which must see European sights are we missing?


  1. So excited for you two!!! All the possibilities are amazing...I love Venice! It is very poetic and enchanting. Just don't go on a holiday or summer weekend, as it's kind of tight and lots of tourists will make it feel too cramped. Lucern, Switzerland is my favorite city in Europe (and the fondue is incredible)

    1. I didn't realize you'd been to Switzerland! I definitely want to hear more about that one. Venice is very high on our "must see" list. I've been before with my mom and sis, but would love to go back with my honey and experience it's romantic charm.

  2. Ryan Air is really great. We flew to Paris for 4p. No hidden fee's or taxes. We flew to Spain for £20. My in law's live in Portugal and it usually costs us £30-£50 to get there. The key is to not check any baggage and you have to stalk the deals. They'll come up for only pence once in awhile and if you can grab them then you've hit the jackpot!

    Good luck on all your travels! What does you husband do?

    1. I'm bummed that Ryan Air doesn't fly out of Aberdeen, but if we find a good enough deal, we'll make the trip down to Edinburgh to catch a flight. Portugal is one of my very top places to visit so I'd love your feedback on what we should focus on there. My husband is an oilfield engineer.