I always talk about complacency. The fear of it. My determination to not get anywhere near it in my life. And to be honest a pretty frequent feeling that at times I am. For instance, I always discussed wanting to travel the world. Living in a foreign country, going backpacking across Europe or South America, spending a year in Australia on a working holiday visa, you name it. But to me, I always looked at those things as what I would do in the future.
“I can’t wait to travel SOMEDAY.” Sometimes I’d even say soon. For me doing it now didn’t seem like an option. Despite my numerous visits to my many travel apps trying to find the best flights available. For instance, a couple months ago I found a round-trip ticket to Paris for $250. I’m still kicking myself for not getting it. But recently I decided to take a leap of faith.
By booking my first trip to Europe.
Oh, and I’ll be gone for 13 days.
Oh, and I’ll be alone.
it wasn’t an easy decision
I wish I could say that I thought of the idea to go and bought my ticket an hour later and called it a day. Instead, I was talking to my aunt who asked me why I don’t go somewhere. And I realized I had no excuse. At that moment I had the option to, the flexibility. I kept thinking of reasons why, even admitting that I almost felt like I didn’t deserve to go. But then the more I thought about it the more I realized it was the perfect time to go. Especially since it’d be in April, before the heaves of tourists flock to Europe in May.
Still, the planner and over-thinker in me couldn’t just go on a whim and buy a ticket. I spent the rest of that day researching flights, trying to plan an itinerary and more. From the get-go I knew I wanted to be gone for a bit longer than your average vacation. Because again, right now I have that flexibility. So although it’s my first trip, I knew that just four or five days would’t be enough. For me wallet, yeah sure. For my soul? Not even close.
Okay, I cringed a little there too..
plan a didn’t work out. neither did plan b, or c…
Before buying the tickets I wanted to make sure I had my entire schedule set, at least partially. I wanted to visit multiple countries, multiple cities. Travel between countries is relatively easy and cheap, so I figured I’d be fine. Plus for some reason I kept feeling like I needed to do as much as I can in this one trip. But things weren’t working. Places with cheap accommodations were expensive to fly to/from. Or places that were cheap to get to had expensive or inconvenient accommodations.
I tried axing a few days out but I got so attached to going to certain places, even without a plane ticket as confirmation that I’d actually be going. So it was becoming impossible. It felt frustrating that despite hours and hours over the course of a few days I wasn’t getting any closer to figuring out how to make it work.
Eventually, on March 5, 2019 as I was sitting on the couch of my sister’s apartment next to my childhood friend Maya, I decided to rework my plan. I tried my best to forget about what I had pictured myself doing in all of those countries and decided to simplify it. One country. One city as a main base. Several cities and excursions to do from there. A more expensive flight but very cheap accommodations.
i don’t have to do it all now.
Time is precious. Yes, this holds true. But I also had to remind myself that if I am lucky enough, the universe will allow me to experience those other cities at another time. Perhaps it just wasn’t working for a reason. It’s not my time. So while I am a little bummed that my bomb itinerary hitting four different countries didn’t work out, I’m not super pumped about where I will be going.
My first rough draft of an itinerary was something like:
- Fly into Milan, Italy (spend 2-3 nights here)
- Take the train to Venice, Italy (spend 5-6 nights here, take a few different day trips)
- Take the train to Munich, Germany (spend 3 days here, take a trip to the gorgeous Neuschwanstein Castle which is currently the lockscreen on my phone)
- Take the train to Prague, Czech Republic (spend 3-4 days here)
- Take the train to Krakow, Poland (spend 3 days here, take a presumably life changing trip to visit Auschwitz concentration camp)
- Return home
that sounds pretty awesome, right?
But perhaps I was getting too ahead of myself. Sure, I could did. I’m sure I’d figure it out. But besides being very expensive, especially for such a last minute trip, it’d be very complicated. Many trains and public transportation in countries with unfamiliar languages. I still call my friend Maya to ask her how to get around New York… where I’m from.
I want to reiterate: just because it may be difficult doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pursue something. Because even what I did decide on will be a challenge. But knowing myself and how overwhelmed I can get and how easily I overthink things, perhaps I’d enjoy more with a simpler itinerary. Speaking of, should I say where I decided to go?
That’s right. My first taste of Europe will be in the beautiful Portugal. Home of Porto wine, beautiful beaches, colorful buildings and famous faces like Sara Sampaio and Cristiano Ronaldo. More specifically, I’ll be heading to Porto, Portugal which is in the north of the country.
Why did you choose Portugal? Spain is your number one destination to see?
I didn’t choose Spain because I want my real first taste of Spain to be when I (hopefully) go teach there this fall. I may plan to do a quick 2 day stop during this trip to a northern Spanish city. But my all my other go-to cities – Madrid, Seville, Valencia, Barcelona, etc. – I want to save. Portugal has been high on my bucket list. Although I am learning Brazilian Portuguese, I do love the look of Portugal and can’t wait to get a taste of it.
the hesitation was still there
Although I’ve fantasized about going to Europe and Portugal, there was still hesitation there to book the ticket. I hovered over the purchase button for several minutes. Thinking of reasons why I shouldn’t do it. Then I remembered that was the exact feeling I had before going to Montreal last May. I went to the confirm page several times and backed up before finally doing it. Then once I did hit confirm, a wave of worry and nerves took over.
I worried about how I would get around in a country where I don’t speak the language. Would I feel alone? Was I safe? Should I not be spending that money? Those same thoughts filled my mind when I confirmed my Portugal trip. But I felt a sense of ease when realizing that the highlight of my 2018 was Montreal. By far. I had a great time and wish I stayed longer. The entire experience ignited something in me.
It confirmed what I felt in my heart, that traveling is something I need to make a part of my life. I even went on a mini-rant at the end of my day 2 in Montreal vlog explaining my thoughts. If I let my fears get the best of me I would have blocked out the experience that kept my spirits the highest during a tough year. What if I did that with this trip?
“shut up and go.”
This is a phrase coined by Damon and Jo. They are a popular Youtube travel duo that I really love. Their channel encourages travel, including solo travel although they started by traveling a lot as a pair. Now, they have expanded their channel into a full blown business called none other than “Shut Up and Go.” They strive to promote an international lifestyle. Basically, travel doesn’t have to be reserved just for two weeks of vacation.
Most importantly, they encourage their audience to SHUT UP and GO. To stop making excuses, questioning yourself and filling your life with experiences instead of doubts.
be open to life.
I said it in a previous post. Be open to life. Be open to experiences and willing to accept them with arms wide open. The first several plans didn’t work out. Perhaps Porto, Portugal is where I’m supposed to start my journey of European travels. This is my path and I have to trust that this is going to be teaching me something. This is the road I’m supposed to be on. How do I know? Because I’m trusting myself.
Taking a leap of faith to do something new is scary. But it’s so worth it. I can attest from several experiences in my life, travel related and not. If you made it to the end of this post, thank you. I hope this inspired you a little or was interesting in some way.