All that is changing this summer.
After 3 years, we will be returning to the USA to spend one month in the country, reconnecting with all of our friends and family.
I was searching for the most quintessential "Angel and Rachel in America" photo I could find...this is it, isn't it?
Thank you to friends who recommended Kayak for flight bookings--I am really happy with the flights we were able to get and the deal I found using a multi-city itinerary! We are flying into Los Angeles and spending a few days in that area, before taking a domestic flight to Texas. At the end of our trip, we will be leaving from Texas to return to Malaysia. Sometime in the middle of all that, we'll either be roadtripping to Michigan or flying to Michigan to spend a good chunk of our time in our old home state.
Why are we going back to visit now? From before we ever left the USA, we had prepped our families with the idea that we did not plan to visit the USA for 4-5 years. There are so many factors that have to line up just right that it's not an easy trip to plan or make. Life is made simpler when you aren't trying to hop 'home' all that often. At this point, we're only at 3 years by the time we're returning, but a variety of family and personal reasons have led us to choose this as the right time--one of those reasons being my sister's June wedding. We're not necessarily the emotional "everybody has to be at all family weddings" type, but on a practical level, I am a really good person to have around for running a major event...plus, emotions are involved, too. We can't totally delete them. :)
We are incredibly excited to return and meet and speak with lots of people, eat some 'guilty pleasure' sorts of food (Arby's!!! Boxed mac'n'cheese!!! Wheat Chex!!!), spend time enjoying some comfy American pastimes like bonfires. To hug my grandparents and aunts and uncles and to have fun adventuring with our siblings and cousins and play with our nephew. I'm eager to finally, finally pick up my ring, just in time for the due date. Whenever I feel a little bit homesick for the USA, I don't feel homesick for February or September or December or anything like that....I feel homesick for summer. Green, open fields and rolling hills and bike rides on sunny days. There's only one season of the year that I would ever want to visit--and summer is it.
On the other side of excitement is also a remaining feeling of intimidation. After 3 years away, it's a bit hard to fathom how to visit a place you once lived. How do we get a phone and service for just a month? How do we get health insurance that'll cover one month in the USA, just in case of emergency (responsible adult things) ? How do we get a reasonably priced rental car in California? Will Angel have a reunion with The Bear? If we roadtrip to Michigan, where will we stop/sleep along the way? The questions running through my mind are nearly endless. I'll probably have to try driving again while I'm there and it's been a while. Everyone has grown up a lot in the last three years. There are a lot of unknowns. And on a practical level--this is majorly going to be an exercise in visiting the USA on a budget...and it's been so long I don't even remember what the best budget strategies are for that country anymore! If you have any budget travel or budget shopping advice--please, I'm all ears! Shopping will actually be a big part of the trip budget...some items are more easily found or less expensive or better quality when purchased in America (or sometimes...just not available at all where we live), so we already have a list going of what we'll need to be looking for. And vivid purple haircolor tops that list. Also, a new swimsuit. (If you ask Angel, he'd probably say a laptop tops that list, but people are allowed to have different priorities, right?)
And just like that...this'll be a very unusual summer for us. Talk to me if you have any ideas on things I ought to know about budget travel in the USA these days, or just things I ought to experience or try while in the States, or things I need to remember to do before we leave. Have you started making plans and commitments for the summer yet?