10 Things People Say When You’re Planning A Trip To Europe
Now that I’ve told all my friends, family and coworkers that I am taking off on the adventure of a lifetime to backpack across Europe all by my (not so) lonesome, I’ve noticed a pattern in the things people tell me. Here are the top 10.
1. Be Safe
Now of course everyone wants me to be safe, especially because I will mostly be backpacking alone, however, it feels a little weird to me. It is the #1 thing I hear most when I tell people about my plans. Some say it with genuine concern, and others I can tell are putting themselves into the situation and thinking of how unsafe they might feel.
Honestly, I feel like if I can make it in New York and Miami, Europe will be a breeze. I grew up in big cities, have family in small towns, used to ride buses and take planes by myself as a child for visitation with my dad. Traveling alone, in cities big and small, to places I am unfamiliar with…none of this is new to me.
When people tell me “stay safe”, my initial reaction is…WELL DUH!!! If I try to put myself in their shoes though, I understand they are only saying this because they care about me, and the thought of something happening to me is detrimental. But…of course I want to stay safe. Do I want to be taken advantage of, raped, murdered, etc.? No. No one does. I think it is more of a knee-jerk reaction that people have when they hear about someone (a woman especially) who is planning on traveling for an extended period of time, in a foreign country, alone. I get it, but please do not worry. I find it just as likely that something “bad” will happen to me sitting in my desk chair as it will in train station in Belgium. Deep breaths people.
2. Where are you going?
I get asked this question so much, and I think people just want to hear “London”, “Paris”, “Milan”, “Santorini” because it satisfies some kind of vicarious bucket list fantasy for them, but honestly, I am backpacking. The whole point is to go where the wind takes me. I plan to know where I am going on average 2.5 days ahead of time, or more if there is a solid reason why. Other than that, I am going wherever I want, but I wont know where that is until I find myself wanting it.
3. So, do you have everything booked?
This goes hand-in-hand with question #2. Nope. Not everything is booked. Flight there is booked. First couple weeks of BNBs are booked. The next 3.5 months after that? Not booked. I don’t want to lock myself into a plan. How can you really get a sense of adventure if you know every step along the way?
The only reason the first couple weeks are even booked is because a friend is going with me and using all of their paid time off to do it, so they want to maximize their time. Even in that two weeks we have a couple wild card days open to do whatever we feel like. That freedom is necessary to me. I am sure it’s a huge red flag for many people and would send them into an anxiety frenzy knowing things aren’t 100% planned out.
Guess what? I am totally one of those people! It has taken me months of reading blog after blog, watching video after video, and reading book after book to convince myself that OVER PLANNING IS COUNTERPRODUCTIVE. I am a project manager by trade, which means my entire job is based on prudent planning. If there is anyone who struggles with the concept of just winging it…..it’s me.
4. Where are you going first?
I don’t have much to say about this question. It is pretty typical and falls to just about 4th down on the list. The answer is, London!
5. Is anyone going with you?
This answer usually rockets people into bringing up either #1 or #3. Why? Because the answer, contrary to what most people think it will be, is “no”. I do tell them that my friend is going the first couple weeks, but after that its all me, myself and I for 3.5 months.
Somehow a two week “buffer companion” seems to put so many people at ease about this whole thing. As if the trip is completely defined by that first two weeks, and without the good graces of having someone else there to temporarily “guide” me, I would surly be fucked. The funny part about this…the person going with me is completely technologically inept and really doesn’t have street smarts. If anything, I feel like they wouldn’t do this trip unless I was going with them!
I think there is just a general assumption that as long as I don’t start the trip alone, I should be fine. I don’t get it, but this blog post isn’t here to make sense of things, just list them in chronological order.
6. I could never do that
While I agree that there are a lot of people that just wouldn’t enjoy extended travel and the discomforts it comes with, I think there are also a lot of people who want to travel and think they “just can’t”. I also thought I couldn’t do this, until I decided I could. The biggest thing stopping me from taking this trip was myself. It has been said a million and one times, but if you set your mind to it, you can make it happen.
7. Aren’t you scared/anxious/worried/nervous?
Of course I am. I’m freaked out about so many things all the time, but should I let that hold me back from my dreams of travel? I could, if I wanted to live with regret wondering why I never took the chance to do something awesome while I could.
I think this question sometimes comes from a fear of the unknown, but also a fear of death. I am not afraid to die, and I am not worried how or when it will happen. I could die anywhere at any time, so why not when I am traveling and doing what I love? At least if I died in the process, I wouldn’t regret never getting to go. I know that might sound crazy to some, but the pros seem to outweigh the cons for me in this case.
Stay alert, stay cautious, be friendly, always trust your instincts. Beyond that, nothing else is in my control, so why worry my head over it?
I get a chuckle out of this question. There are some people who literally can not fathom why I would ever want to do such a thing as backpacking, traveling alone, going to Europe, traveling for an extended period of time, etc.. Why I would want to give up my job, house, car, friends? Why I would want to stay in hostels and sleep on trains?
My answer is, I want the adventure. I want the unpredictability of waking up in a new city with new people and new languages. I want to experience different cultures, hear different view points, explore far-off landscapes and indulge in authentic food. I want to immerse myself in a world that isn’t like where I’m from and where I’ve been. It’s not for everyone, but my heart wants what it wants.
9. I’m jealous.
Sounds like you need to take a trip of you’re own! I know not everyone can just take off to another country for an extended period of time, but know that there has been blood, sweat and many many tears in the process of making this decision. I spent months upon months saving, planning and manipulating my life to make this happen. Great things often take great effort, so be jealous, but know that I have changed every aspect of my life to make this dream a reality. If you really want to do something like this, I promise you can!
10. Take me with you.
I haven’t even left yet, and I can say with absolute certainty that everyone should try to do something like this at least once in their lifetime. Just the process of getting myself ready for this trip has been positively life changing. If I could take anyone with me, it would be my best friend Sabrina. I’ll be thinking about her as I walk through museums, monasteries, graveyards and forests. I will carry the warmth and positivity of everyone I care about with me on my travels, and starting with this blog, my youtube, and my instagram, I will do my best to share all the intricacies of my journey with those who can not be there.
Other people have asked about what I will be bringing with me, so before I head out I will be doing a complete once-over on everything that is in my pack. Subscribe to my YouTube and Facebook page to get the latest updates!
The Wandering Moth