I’m sitting here staring. Staring at the huge pile of clothes in front of me. Wondering how in the world I’m going to make it all fit in my backpack—the backpack that seemed overly large at REI, but now that it’s in front of me, it somehow managed to shrink. I just know it. Ten weeks of clothes. All in one backpack. The challenge is simply having a hay-day laughing at me, right in the face.
Packing has never been my strong suit. I have always dreaded it. Probably because no matter how hard I try, I overpack. It never fails. I learned that in Peru. Hiking hours each day with too much weight on my back. Not a pretty scenario, trust me. That’s why I vowed to not make the same mistake with this trip. And now here I am. Procrastinating. Because it’s just too hard to let some clothes go. Which brings me to this post. I’m just going to procrastinate the packing process even further and explain more about our upcoming adventure.
Be warned, this is a bit of a long post…
The fact this trip is happening is still a bit unreal. It hasn’t really hit me that we’ll be leaving in less than 10 days. This will be by far the biggest adventure Derek and I have ever taken, together and separate. Most likely, it will be the biggest adventure we’ll ever embark on. We’re both aware quitting your job to travel for this long isn’t really the norm, which is why we had to jump at this opportunity to live out our dream.
It’s no secret — I love to travel. I love everything about traveling, even the smallest of the details. Meeting new people. Engaging in new cultures. Discovering new places. Tasting new cuisines. Creating new bundles of memories. It’s all so fascinating. See, when I’m traveling, whether it be near or far, my heart feels full. Bursting with inspiration, in those moments, everything seems possible.
I’ve always dreamt of backpacking across Europe, and I feel so fortunate that Derek shared this dream with me. This trip has been a longggg time in the making, believe me. I remember bringing up the topic to him while we were jamming out in the rental on the way to Maine. One of the things I love most about Derek is how he’s always up for anything. Despite how wild and crazy my ideas might seem, he always has an open mind. So, when I mentioned this idea of backpacking, he simply smiled and nodded his head. “We’ll see how we can make it work,” he said.
He calls me the dreamer of us two. But he’s by far the visonary. While I might dream these adventures, he’s the one that can see the big picture and makes them happen. He plans them to a tee. Which is lucky for me, since my strong suit is sniffing out the best places to eat and spots to explore. I like making the bucket lists, while he enjoys mapping out the journey, as he did above. I guess you could say we make a pretty good team.
Our adventure will begin Tuesday, April 19th. We’ll fly into Spain and over the course of ten weeks, make our way up north to Ireland, where we’ll eventually fly back to the US from. In total, we have plans to explore 11 countries and 20+ cities. While I’ve been fortunate to have had the opportunity to visit France, England and Italy before, I am so excited to visit so many new places. We will mostly use the train to get from place to place, but there will be a few instances where we’ll have to fly or rent cars. I’m truly looking forward to renting a car in Ireland. Hello, driving on the other side of the road!! But also it will provide us the freedom to roam along the countryside. I’m just praying we’ll have to shoo sheep from the road a couple of times…what a made-for-TV scene that’d be!
We’ll also be utilizing Airbnb, a lot. We’re staying in an Airbnb everywhere except Switzerland. I’m so excited because I absolutely love using Airbnb. While not everyone shares the same love for it as I do, this is always our top preference for accommodations when traveling. For starters, it’s cheap. Secondly, I prefer it because it allows us to see how locals live. We’ve had some of the best experiences when using Airbnb in our past travels, so I can’t wait to see all of our little home-away-from-home apartments!
With our flights and accommodations already booked, most of the remaining costs will come from our living expenses while abroad. That said, we’ll be pulling those funds from the savings we’ve been working so hard to build over the last year and a half. Yep, a year and a half, at least.
After our weekend trip to Maine, Derek started researching the estimated costs and strategies for saving. What he found, and what we’ve come to use when budgeting our monthly expenses, is a strategy called “Goal-based Saving.” It’s the idea of first assigning a total dollar value to the goal, say a downpayment for a car, or in our case this big trip, and budgeting your entire income around the goal-based savings plan. We projected our income for 18 months and calculated exactly how much we’d have to put away after each paycheck. Then, we simply lived off the rest. Period. We’d take our lunch to work each day and would skip out on weekend shenanigans in months when things were tighter. We still had fun, we just prioritized! While we didn’t always know if we’d be able to make our savings goal, we are so blessed and are proud of the accomplishment. I’ll share more on this savings plan and the costs of traveling abroad once we return.
At the end of the day, we’re both just trying to live life to the fullest. Our time on this precious earth is simply too short not to live this way. And yes, some might think we’re crazy for willfully giving up two successful jobs, in New York City of all places. Maybe we are. But, I believe this adventure will be worth it. Traveling is such a vital teacher, and I cannot wait to see what all we’re going to learn from this trip. About life. About love. About ourselves, our marriage and our faith in God. All I know is I’m ready to absorb it all. The 9-to-5 life will be here, waiting upon our return. As of now, it’s time to let go of the stress. It’s time to get out and explore. It’s time to live.
I hope you’ll be here for the ride. I’m so excited to share this journey with you! If you have any suggestions or recommendations, please let me know. So many of these places we’ve never explored before, so I am all ears! Also, feel free to share your thoughts on this process. Both Derek and I hope to inspire others through this adventure and would love to tell you more about how we made this dream a reality. We’re not special; we just decided to take the plunge.