If you are curious about the technical specs on my trip then THIS blog entry is for you. I hope that sharing these kinds of details will help you on your own journeys and inspire you not just to dream about an incredible journey, but to get busy making it happen.
8 Countries: Germany,Tyrol, France, Italy, Vatican, Netherlands, UK(England, Scotland and Northern Ireland), Ireland.
21 Destination Cities: (Doesn't include cities I just passed through) Ramstein, Paris, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Milan, Vernazza (Cinque Terre= Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso), Pisa, Florence, Siena (Tuscany), Rome, Assisi (Umbria), Venice, Amsterdam, Noordwijk, London, Richmond, Windsor, Edinburgh, Cork, Schull, Dublin
23+ Cities Passed Through: Landstuhl, Kauserslautern, Stuttgart, Innsbruck, Verona, Sestri Levante, La Spetzia, Luton, Milton Keynes, Newcastle, morpeth, Alnwich, Berwick, Innishannon, Bandon, Cloanakil, Rosscarbery, Leap, Skibereen, Baltimore (Ire.), Belfast, Derry/Londonderry, Bushmills and so many more I can't remember.
This is typically the part of travel that gets folks stuck at home instead of out on the road. Here's my break down. Souvenirs and gifts, shipping, taxes & exchange rate fees, communication costs, museums, tours, attractions, bike rentals, food, massages, lodging, ten separate flights, more than fourteen different train destinations, more than fourteen different taxi or bus rides, and countless metro passes breaks down to $155 a day for this trip.
TIPS & TRICKS
1. Start saving today. "Someday I'll go to ____" isn't going to happen if you don't start now. Put away a small amount with each paycheck (try $20- to start) and furl away tax returns, Birthday cash, buy a few less clothes and "make due" while you dream and plan out your journey.
2. Get good info on where you're headed. Rick Steves' books on Europe made traveling a breeze with his insider view of what attractions to hit, what ones to skip and how to pay less and avoid standing in the lines. Ask your friends and put the word out on where you are headed…you'll be amazed how many people have been to your destination and can offer suggestions about your trip
3. Travel light. I know 99% of people over pack no matter where they are headed, but making sure your luggage is light will help guarantee that you have room to enjoy the journey instead of wasting your attention on heavy bags and logistical nightmares. If you are a chronic over packer then try packing months in advance and slowly remove items as you consider your travel needs versus wants. You can always pick up toiletries or items you HAVE to have, but didn't pack on the trip and use that as an excuse for a fun shopping adventure abroad.
4. Enjoy the ride…no matter what.When you travel adventurously (with or without reservations) there is bound to be a bump or two in the road. How you deal with it will change the way you feel about your trip. Know your resources (internet, apps, books, contacts to call, etc) be an optimist about things working out and they will, and don't forget to smile and mind your manners. Stay organized and stay equally flexible. A grateful spirit, willingness to be humble and thirsty to learn along with a "THANK YOU" goes a long way on the road.
5. Don't be shy. I like some solitude time, but some of my favorite memories on this trip were the people I met and the fun we had just learning about the destination and each other's cultures.
MY PACKING LIST
Luggage: 1 carry-on size bag from Eagle Creek that rolls and turns into a backpack when needed. 1 camera bag sling by LowPro.
Clothing: 3 pairs of pants, 1 skirt, 1 dress, 3 short sleeve shirts, 3 long sleeve shirts, 1 light rain jacket, 1 coat, 1 swimsuit, 1 bra, 1 sports bra, 5 pair of underwear, 4 pairs of socks, 1 pair of sturdy walking shoes, 1 pair of dressy walking shoes, buy a scarf to dress up your wardrobe en route
Gear: 1 silk sleep sack (only used it once), one quick dry towel, shower shoes (cheap ones from the pedicure salon), laundry kit, first aid kit, camera, net book, power converter, travel power strip, European cell phone and various battery chargers, small notebook
Toiletries: small shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrush, perfume, face lotion with sunscreen, hair accessories, brush, only the basics for makeup and feminine supplies.
THINGS I'D DO DIFFERENTLY
I left with only 23 pounds of stuff, but I'd make it less next time…here's where I'd cut weight.
My bag empty was 9.5 lbs, so while having the roll along feature was great, I'd find a bag that weighs around 3 lbs so I'm hauling more souvenirs and fewer baggage pounds. Leave the sleep sheet, the first aid kit (yes, I know about Murphy's Law), iPod, excess camera gear, hat, and a few toiletries behind.If you don't use it more than 3 times during your trip…you probably don't really need it with you. Don't bother getting a cell phone that works over there unless you like the security.I could have just found internet and made skype calls to save money, but it was nice having the convenience and giving Kelly a chance to call me whenever.
THINGS THAT WORKED
1.Keep a little notebook to keep track of details you want to remember, travel arrangements, contacts, etc.You think you'll remember everything, but you won't. WRITE IT DOWN!
2.Travel books on Kindle.Instead of using precious pounds and space with books, get an e-reader (6 oz.) and be able to read about your destination while you're headed there, search the text, and use the walking tours and museum guides for free while everyone else flips through their pages frustrated or pays extra for the goofy audio guides that look like telephones you hold to your head the whole time you look around castles and museums.
3.Do your laundry in the sink. Yep. Easy to do with the new detergent strips. Wash in the afternoon when you check in, hang it dry and go out to enjoy your location. I never wore dirty clothes and my back was happy about packing less.
4.Blow up neck pillow. A travel pillow is an optional item, but came in handy on long flights, hotels with cheap-flat pillows and bus/train rides, so if you want the luxury item, get the one that blows up so you can deflate it and save space.
5.Ship it home. Periodically ship home travel maps/ticket stubs you don't need, gifts, items you aren't using enough to justify carrying and enjoy the lighter load!
6. As much as possible, try to pack items with multiple uses. Examples: my pants/capris/shorts/skirt were 1 item and my brush/comb/rubberband holder was one small item.
Thank you to everyone who offered me travel advice, contacts, encouragement and communicated with me along the way.
Thanks to my family and friends who met me on the journey and even invited me into their homes!
Thank you to my husband, Kelly, for being patient while I went out to explore the world, supported me, cheered for my photos and experiences and believed in my ability to navigate my way. I love you.