Last summer, I did something all travel lovers have thought about at one time or another – backpacking Europe. I feel like it’s one thing to dream about it, but to actually go out there and do it is entirely different. I have to say, it was one of the most amazing adventures I’ve ever had in my entire life.
June 2016 – August 2016, I spent with this girl right here, Catie. She’s my fabulous aunt, but really more like a sister to me. We share a love of traveling and have both done quite a bit of it, but not too much together.
It was Christmas 2013, my junior year of college, when we were talking about how fun it would be to go backpacking throughout Europe. We picked a year in the future – 2016 – and agreed this would be a good time to go during the summer. I would have been out of college for a year and able to work and save up money. Catie would of just graduated from grad school, and since she’s a teacher, she gets the summers off. It seemed like a perfect time to go.
When June 2016 came around, I don’t think we were fully prepared for just what we were about to do. It came up so quickly on us! We spent 7 weeks, backpacking through 14 countries and over 23 different cities.
We went to:
- Czech Republic
- The Netherlands
- Vatican City
With a very limited budget, we had to make the most of our adventure and experience as much as possible. We spent our time at a mix of hostels, airbnbs, and a hotel here and there. Spending a few nights while in transit also kept costs down. We took a night train and a night bus in order to kill two birds with one stone. We were the #twogirlsintransit and ready to take on each country, one city at a time.
In each city, we tried to do free or affordable activities, but also splurge when it come to things we thought were non negotiable. The first thing we would try to do in each city, after we checked our huge backpacks wherever they needed to be, was do a free city tour. They are in most every city and are strictly tip based. Most of the tours were pretty great, but some were much better than others. Our tour guide in Prague was one of the most amazing people and I’m actually Facebook friends with him!
We were able to meet so many amazing people – whether they were our hosts, in our hostels, or just out and about randomly! In Belgium, while Catie and I were waiting for our free tour to start, we were sitting down talking, when two people came up to us, Elise and Adam. We got them to join our tour and next thing you know, we became friends! We ended up spending most of our time in Brussels and Amsterdam with them. I also ended up meeting up with a college friend who I found out was living in Paris at the time. It’s such a small world.
When traveling, I love to just explore the cities and see what I come across as I wander around. Often times, Catie and I happened to be in the right place at the right time. In France, we happened to run into The Tour de France, which was so incredibly cool. In Vatican City, a religious parade broke out, seemingly randomly, as we were walking around the city. It was awesome to be able to come across free things spontaneously.
Now I must say, one of my favorite things about traveling is getting to experience the food & alcohol. But, that should be obvious since I’m such a foodie. Of all the places we went, Italian and Spanish food were by far my favorite.
Although, I must say the one place that left the biggest impression on me was The Donut Library in Budapest. This place was so cute and had awesome coffee.
Our trip was full of going to cute restaurants & coffee shops, wine tastings, and so much more. I’ll be sure to talk more about my trip, by place, in the future.
Backpacking Europe didn’t come without its own challenges. We almost missed our transportation several times, had unexpected expenses, had to push ourselves physically most days, had issues with airbnb accommodations, and I have a medical condition that made it a little difficult some days. Plus, no matter how much you love who you’re with – 7 weeks is a long time to be around someone constantly with little to no time to have alone.
Backpacking Europe was one of the most challenging, yet the most incredible experience I’ve ever had in my life. I not only learned about all of these incredible places, but also learned a lot about myself and what I am capable of. If I could do it again, I would, in a heartbeat.