Bobbi Bowden: You Don’t Have to Be Everywhere All the Time

Weekends are for getting to know our neighbors. For those who live abroad, the weekend doesn’t provide nearly the same level of social connectedness.

It’s also become much more expensive to visit family. The stress of work, taxes, hygiene and cars are strangling smaller expenses such as outings.

Most Americans, in these “hot” European cities, are busy concentrating on their companies or living across town in an apartment. Sometimes we manage to squeeze in a day or two here and there.

The lesson in Europe for us Americans: You have to be constantly on the go or look to stream video. Entertainment may be on something new; in a virtual world, the teens of the world are incredibly preoccupied. Technology at its finest – on a touchscreen.

Some say the options for family visits are better in America. Overall, the quality of life in Europe is rated higher for all.

There is the desire to get away for days or weeks on end. My husband likes to explain that we went to Croatia but we could have stayed in New York.

The size of the square footage may make purchasing items considerably more affordable. For example, one drive through Manhattan’s West Village can teach you more than 1,000 bookshelves of bookshop romance books, discount Vlasic pickles, and grocery store bouquets.

Longer distance car trips are not exceptional. In fact, our first trip to Europe was to Florida. We rented a lake house along the Florida Turnpike, which became our home base for vacations year after year. It would be convenient to rent a place in Europe as well.

My husband and I are not avid travelers. My husband will know how to shop and is not fond of being overly close to water in case the boat starts leaking.

Nissan, the major Japanese automaker, has a “Countdown to Leaf Day.” I read the second and last piece of this, so I’m possibly on board to buy a Leaf. The brand new one should arrive around Christmas time. Hopefully I’ll love it so much I’ll never ride the bus back to New York from Paris.

I think the “sleeping bag” model will be like a low-cost Airbus or Boeing. You can carry it by itself and walk away and still have enough left to enjoy a drink of your choice. Hopefully the VIP seats will come back into favor – small electric suitcases.

As for home stays or vacation rentals, my husband and I sometimes borrow or stay with his parents. It’s all very consoling. I’ll call him and I can typically feel my feet sticking out of my bedroom doorway. I think so far in Paris his parents are rock-solid. Both he and his parents are immigrants who speak extremely limited English and both are hardworking like the rest of us. They are very well-liked. They are also good negotiators and never tell you how much they dislike you. They only need to hear that they appreciate all you do for them.

I think we should see them on the Island of Jersey in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Although New Jersey is only 16 miles wide, it takes 10,500 steps to get there. My husband and I can walk for hours with lunch stopping at the local beauty salon or the post office to send the postcards.

It’s an old Monty Python sketch: “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. You Only Move Twice, Just Once.” In Europe it doesn’t apply – if you move to France you may as well stop at Paris before you’ve found your car in the parking lot. There is no stopping in the parking lot.

Let’s call a spade a spade. The U.S. workforce isn’t growing. The baby boomers are shrinking and you need to think global. You’re looking at a younger population and if you ignore overseas visitors, the consumer demand for everything from yachts to gluten-free snacks will become equally global.

Bobbi Bowden is co-founder of Italy II Magazine and COO of Holtsville Jetlines.

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