I once heard somewhere that using firm, declarative statements could help people get into the right mindset to achieve their goals. For example, instead of saying, “I wish I could do XYZ,” you say, “I am going to do XYZ.”
So, here we go: I am going to Europe.
The first time I very seriously fantasized about traveling across the Atlantic was when I was 17 and a senior in high school. A friend and I bought some travel books and mapped ot a detailed route across Western Europe, in the hopes of going the summer before college. Of course, my mom immediately squashed that dream. (In retrospect, I do see how bad an idea it was for an 18-year-old me to go traipsing across the world.)
Then, in college, I wanted to study abroad. My spring 2006 semester in Alicante, Spain, was completely paid for and my passport was ready to go—and then some health issues popped up that meant cancelling the whole thing. The following year I did get my semester abroad, but it ended up being a summer in La Serena, Chile. Which, of course, was awesome (especially because I’m half Chilean, so it was a great cultural exploration; plus I took an awesome side trip to Buenos Aires!). But that Europe itch remained.
After college came internships, then came grad school, then came entering the work force in the thick of the recession—a plight nearly everyone in their late ’20s can relate to. Between student debt and recession wages, international travel was totally out of the question. I mean, let’s be real… Even getting home for holidays meant breaking out the trusty credit card.
And now I’m less than nine months away from hitting 30 and I still haven’t made good on those plans from high school. But the awesome part? I’m finally in a stable point in my life where I can actually work toward making a European adventure a reality. I’m not gonna pretend like I don’t still have a mountain of debt to work through, but I’ve learned (the hard way, I’m afraid) the essentials of personal finance, and I actually have a budget I (mostly) stick to. Add that to an awesome job that gives me a ton of flexibility in the fall—aka: shoulder season—and I finally have a plan. Or, well, parts of a plan.
Eh, actually, all I really have is a date. I am going to go to Europe, dammit, in 11 months. That’s September 2016, if you don’t want to count. That means I have nearly a year to come up with the perfect itinerary and to save up all the money I’m going to need for that itinerary. That’s where it gets kind of tricky, since I can’t go nuts on the spending, but the things I love to do when I travel are all really expensive. Namely, I love to eat great food, drink great adult beverages, and experience great art. Thankfully, lots of museums in Europe are free…but I’m an opera fan and a music lover and a theater-goer. None of those things are particularly cheap. And? I am really picky about where I rest my head at night. I’m not one of those people who can be comfortable sleeping anywhere, and in no way do I have the laid back temperament of a backpacker. I learned this when I had to stay in hostels in Chile and when I was a grad student at Syracuse but had an internship four hours away in NYC. Hostels were my actual nightmare, and even though I’ve heard hostels in Europe are a step above, I’m still terribly gun shy. (And I also know from experience I can’t sleep a wink if I’m sharing a room with someone else, even if it’s close friends or family.)
Basically, I have a lot of random quirks that I need to figure out how to accommodate while on a budget.
ALL THIS IS TO SAY… I have a lot of time ’til next September, but I also have a lot to figure out. So that’s why I created this blog. I’m hoping it’ll help me pass the time so I don’t spend the next 11 months just impatiently staring at a calendar, and I want it to be a place for me to collect my thoughts and notes as I research all my options.
Oh boy, I meant this post to be much shorter but, as you’ll soon learn, I tend to ramble a lot. So I’ll be back soon to dive deeper into my goals for this trip. But for now, you’re my witness that I’ve publicly declared this is happening.