I wanted to compile a list of some of the most common questions I’ve gotten as I’ve been traveling. If you’re new to my blog, a little context for you – I’ve recently returned from a three-month trip around Europe, visiting 11 countries (and traveling through a few others). So, if you’re hoping on planning your own little excursion, here is a little wisdom from my recent experiences:
#1 FAQ: How much did this cost?
I’ve gotten several versions of this question/comment. Yes, it does take saving money to do a trip like this on your own. In total, I spent $6500 for three months including my airfare, lodging, food + all my gifts. Although it sounds like a lot as a lump sum, it only comes out to about $72 per day. Here was how I broke it down:
Flights + transportation = 25%
Food + activities = 20%
Lodging = 20%
My regular bills (that unfortunately don’t disappear) = 15%
Gifts/souvenirs = 15%
Travel insurance = 5%
But, honestly, I could’ve done it for less. Here’s the thing about traveling abroad that I wish I would’ve known before – you can make it as expensive as you’d like it to be. You can stay in really nice places and take Übers and eat out every night, and that trip is going to cost you a heck of a lot more than getting an Airbnb or a hostel and eating street food once a day. You have to prioritize where you want to spend your money and what’s worth it. I brought granola bars everywhere I went. I didn’t go to every museum or tourist attraction; the entry fees add up really quickly. Instead, I picked one or two spots in each city that I really wanted to see (and, most historic landmarks are free). For me, the Louvre was worth 20 Euros. But, you may want to visit Disneyland Paris instead.
Also, a hot tip for you: If you still have a student ID card that resembles you, you should absolutely use it. I saved probably $100 off of admission fees by getting a student discount. If you’re under 26, you may also qualify for young adult discounts. So, if you’re right on the edge of that age group and you need something to encourage you to go travel now, let it be your age; it’ll be more expensive next year.
I get that it’s not feasible for everyone and sometimes in our stages of life, we can’t go travel for long periods of time or afford it. Honestly, the only reason I could afford to go for a full three months was because of the generosity of friends in the UK and family in Germany who let me stay free of charge. However: If you have on your heart to go on a trip – or maybe you just need a week away – traveling internationally is totally possible. I have a friend who gets round-trip flights to Germany for $300. SERIOUSLY. If you are willing to have a crappy layover, you can travel for very little money.
#2 FAQ: Which city was your favorite?
I’m hoping to do a whole blog post on the cities that I fell in love with along my trip (which, plot twist, weren’t all the major ones) – but in the mean time, here’s a summarized version. In no particular order, because I can’t commit to which I liked best:
Prague, Czech Republic
Rotterdam, the Netherlands
Each of these places had their own distinctive culture, vibrance, and experience that made them stand out amongst their many, many competitors. You can check out my Prague blog post for some recommendations, and I’m hoping to get an Oxford post up soon. (Good intentions!)
#3 FAQ: So you just, like, quit your job?
That I did, friends. Several people have said things to me like, “Wow, you’re so brave” or “I would never have the courage to do that.” Honestly, people, it was terrifying. But it wasn’t about me trying to be courageous. When you have something on your heart and you can do it, you absolutely should. I left my job with a small glimmer of hope that a future employer would look positively on my three months abroad instead of as a gap in my employment. And, as I’ve been looking into new positions, that has been the case with almost everywhere I’ve applied. Employers like to see that you’ve experienced and grown as a person, not just in an office (which I am totally thrilled about and works in my favor).
#4 FAQ: Would you do it again?
Three months is a long time, people. Around month two, I started wishing I could just pet my dog – which was crazy because I was getting to walk around places like the Colosseum. We all process these things differently. I picked a three-month window because that’s how long you can be in Germany (my home base) without a visa. But, when you’re gone for so long, it quickly starts to become less of a vacation and more of a, “Oh, I guess this is my life now.” I was tired of living out of a suitcase with mini toiletries. I craved the structure that my work life gave me. Turns out, I wasn’t as “carefree gypsy spirit” as I thought I was. But then, you run into some people at hostels who have been traveling for 6 or 7 months, and have no end in mind to their trip. Most of them are Australian, funny enough. My advice to you is that if you do decide to do a longer trip, give yourself an end date to preserve your sanity (and, frankly, your budget).
That being said, I got to see some of the world’s most incredible sights. I would never, ever give that up. But after doing a three-month trip, I think I’ll be perfectly content with two-week vacations.
#5 FAQ: What now?
I have gotten this “What are you doing next?” question from 98% of people who find out I’ve been traveling. It’s been really interesting for me to go to places where the culture doesn’t revolve around working/careers or being busy – a stark contrast to our American culture that preaches the “go, go, go” model of everyday life. In Italy, you could have a thirty minute conversation with someone and still have not gotten to, “So, what do you do?” Because, it doesn’t matter as much to them.
However, because I was brought up in this culture, of course I have a plan. I have recently accepted a new position in Nashville, Tennessee with an organization whose mission I totally believe in. You can stay tuned for updates, but for now, that’s next – I’m Tennessee’s newest resident!