Pre-Departure

Backpacking Europe

When I was two years old, I was gifted this painting, in puzzle form:

For those of you unfamiliar with tha artz, this gem is called “Sunday Afternoon on the Island of the Grand-Jatte” by Georges Seurat. Art lesson aside, this precious Impressionist piece was my obsession circa 1996. I would do this puzzle, like a little obsessive pet monkey, over and over until I got bored one day and moved on to bigger and better things that normal three year olds like.

I’m telling you this for two reasons…

1. I’ve always loved puzzles

2. You can now tell what kind of childhood I endured

So what to puzzles have to do with backpacking? Ah-ha! I was hoping you’d be utterly confused at this point. Well, backpacking is nothing more than a puzzle. I get asked a lot how I figure out where I’m going and how I’m getting there, so let’s just put all that information in once space so we can get it all figured out, amirite.

In May, I’m doing a quick two weeks of backpacking with my little travel buddy, Alex. We’re hitting up: Brussels, Madrid, Ibiza, Paris, Warsaw, Oslo, and maybe town hop a little once we’re back in Ireland at the end of it all. With these tips you too can avoid being ripped off!

First of all, don’t be overwhelmed at the thought of country hopping in Europe. It’s tiny. Beyond tiny. The grand state of Texas is much larger than plenty of European countries.

Other basic tips:

Backpacking doesn’t mean just taking trains. With the help of flight websites such as easyjet and Ryanair, traveling by plane can be just as inexpensive, and a lot more cost-efficient. Rome to Rio is another great website that shows you how to get anywhere in the whole world.

-Have I  mentioned I’m kind of lazy? Literally, Google “Best way to get to ________.” Seriously. And I know you really do not want to Google: “Best way to get to Auschwitz,” but someone’s gotta do it, and you’re not the first to, so just get it over with (Bonus tip: If you’re in for an awkward chuckle that’ll get cha an one way ticket straight to hell, Google this anyway even if you have no intention of traveling there…I’m sorry, God). It can be that easy. Google is our friend. Google wants to help us cheat.

Don’t stress yourself out looking for accommodations before you’ve gotten your itinerary all figured out. However, if you want to see how much a night may cost you in a specific city you could potentially have a day layover in, go for it. Or whatever. Namean?

Again, Google is the best. Are you traveling with a long-distance friend? Start a Google doc with all your plans! Alex and I have a seven week itinerary to keep up with this summer and it makes things so much easier to have it in a central location where we can both edit.

Accept that something may go wrong. For as much as you plan, flights may still get delayed or cancelled. You may have bedbugs in your hostel, and may want to relocate in the middle of the night. But you know what? You’re backpacking! You’re not staying at the Four Seasons for a reason! (Probably because, like me, you can’t afford it. Yet. Whatever.) Take a deep breath, and move on. You’ll be in a new place tomorrow and your pictures will be awesome and all will be again right in the world soon enough!

Cheers,

Monique

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