It’s been 25 days since my last post, 25 days since I left the states, and 25 days of traveling a different continent with new people, languages, and cultures. I’ve known I’d have to write this post(s) at some point, I mean why else do I have a blog if not to share, amiright? But TBH, I kept putting it off because I had no idea how to start it. Well today, I woke up to my first day of bad weather in 25 days (IMPRESSIVE) so if that wasn’t a sign to stop avoiding writing, then I don’t know what is.
I’m going to keep it easy on myself and start with the basics, how in the world did I plan this trip?! Okay yeah, not so easily.
First things first, I committed to doing it. Knowing I would have to quit my job and the security I found in it was the hardest part. It was also something that weighed on me for MONTHS. Seriously, I almost didn’t go through with it when it came to the three week out mark and I had to tell my boss. It was one of the scariest moments of my life saying those words but afterwards, I legitimately felt a lightness, indicating I had 110% done the right thing.
Second, I planned. And at the same, didn’t plan. I booked my flight to and from Europe and as I mentioned before, I’m not sure why I chose the dates that I did but looking back on it now, it is the perfect amount of time – I get to see and do a lot but I’m also not gone for so long that I have a mad case of homesickness (although if you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know I had a moment yesterday when I walked into my Barcelona bnb and it hit me that I had left my mom back in Greece *cue the tears AGAIN*) The other big thing I booked were my accommodations – as much as I would love to just go with the flow and do this as it happened, this provided me enough security that I was comfortable with what I was about to do. This also set a rough outline of how many days I would be in each city and then led me to booking my Eurail pass for the first half of my trip (the locations were much closer) with flights for the second half of my trip (the locations were not trainable). What I didn’t do was plan out each of my days. Sure I researched all the big things in each city and booked those that needed to be (like the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam – book that months in advance or else you’ll be stuck refreshing the webpage your entire time in the city to see if any spots opened up). This left me to explore the city at my own pace and if something caught my eye, I could spend more time there instead of rushing to some previously booked something.
A question I get a lot is how did I pick out my destinations and TBH, I made a giant list, looked at it and realized that it was no where near possible in 6+ weeks so then I pulled out my map and figured out what made the most sense. The first part of my trip flows extremely well – the second half not so much but that’s also because I had the luxury of finding extremely cheap flights to take me back and forth across the country (which is way too easy in Europe that it almost doesn’t make sense).
Third, I packed. After traveling to France in June with only a backpack, I knew this wouldn’t be an issue. In preparation though, I purchased two Away suitcases: the bigger carry-on and the medium (side note, they did not pay me to say this nor give me free product, I just truly believe in the pieces and want to share the love) and the Nomatic 40L Travel Backpack. I very obviously didn’t need all of these things but the Away bags are cheaper when you buy multiples and I knew I would use them at some point and I still had this dream of traveling Europe with only a backpack. Ultimately, I only ended up bringing the medium bag, a small backpack I used to use for work and my purse. The things that weighed into this decision were although a lot of roads in Europe are cobblestones and wheeled bags are hard to pull over them, my back simply cannot handle a large bag. It hurts with the small one but thankfully I can take it off and loop it around the handle of my medium bag most of the time! Plus I had a ridiculous amount of room in my medium bag when I packed so I figured that would be perfect for all the presents I would be buying.
So what exactly came with me? All of this.
Side one: light rain jacket (worn on plane), fluffy sweater blanket (worn on plane but later stuffed into the bag when I landed it was 8 million degrees), 2 dresses, 1 skirt & top set, 4 rompers, 2 jumpsuits, 1 jean skirt, 1 pair of jeans (given back to my mom in Greece to take home because WAY TOO HOT), 1 pair of leggings (worn on plane), 1 pair of comfy linen pants, 1 cute tank top, 5 basic tops (1 worn on plane), 1 pair of running shorts, 2 running tops, 1 set of PJS + Michael’s Banner shirt, 2 bathing suits, a copious amount of socks & underwear and the basic normal, strapless and sports bra. Oh, and a loaf of bread because that was how I would save a little bit of money and make my own breakfast. I also threw a couple dryer sheets on top and in the mix of it all to keep my clothes as fresh as possible!
Side two: running shoes, white tennis shoes (worn on plane), cute sandals, beach/shower sandals, electronic toothbrush + charger (only because I had SO much room), toothpaste, makeup removal wipes, laundry detergent, sunscreen + bug spray, brush, curling rod (which I have yet to wear my hair down once so really happy I brought that), 4 makeup bags that had various toiletries in them (deodorant – which I made the switch to natural and am OBSESSED but more on that at some other point maybe?, Advil, allergy medicine, sewing kit – which I’ve used 3 times, NUUN, shampoo, conditioner, face wash, etc. because I think you get the point) and obviously peanut butter for my bread.
Backpack: this is where I put all the super important things like all of the bnb information I printed out that I have yet to look at or my chargers that I use much too frequently. I even brought Corner along for the ride (because I’m still 3 and bring my baby blanket everywhere with me – NO SHAME).
How did I choose what to bring? I planned about a week and half’s worth of outfits – I knew I would be repeating the entire time and also hoped to purchase a few things while abroad (mission, striped flowy pants! Accomplished in Berlin! …And Prague. Whoops) And yep, that’s right, I even had room to buy new things – another jumpsuit, 2 pairs of pants, a pair of shorts and a top to be exact. Plus all the gifts I got for my friends and family through Greece (because I sent my mom home with them to lighten my load. However, this doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have been fine because I certainly would have had more space to keep going but she was there with space in her bag so I took advantage of it). I also had read an article a while back about women backpacking through Europe and how to best pack – the author had mentioned making sure every top matched every bottom. So while I did that, I also tried to stick with one piece outfits that would take up less space. Rompers may be hard to go to the bathroom in but they are great for packing!
Fourth, I did the damn thing. I left 25 days ago. Literally that afternoon as I was packing (I had just landed in Chicago that morning from Norfolk and was feeling all the feels + tiredness), I almost didn’t go. Michael returned early from deployment, I was already missing Little Lu and I was scared shitless of not having a job then not being able to find one when I returned. But I put on my big girl shoes and got on the plane. I can’t even express how thankful I am to have done that. I’ve learned so much about the world and so much about myself. I’ve grown in more ways than I thought was possible – like why yes, I can sit down at a nice restaurant and eat by myself without feeling uncomfortable. And while this will probably be my first and last (mostly) solo trip, I wouldn’t change a thing about this crazy journey thus far.
To be continued… (with city guides to each of my destinations and all the pictures you could ever dream of! Plus the back story to my big news – Michael and I are engaged!)
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Prague, Czech Republic