Lessons Learned: 5 months on the Road
Its now been over 5 months since I left Australia to discover Europe; and if you’ve been reading along, you would have noticed that I’m feeling tired and burnt out.
Set yourself up with a base
I had planned to do this with my 2 year Youth Mobility Visa. But we all know how that went down, I got it stolen in Italy, and never reapplied due to the UK embassy giving me grief.
Get an apartment, somewhere you can sharehouse and just relax for a month or two. Do this every 3 months. Whats your hurry? You dont have to make the mistakes I made. Moving from town-to-town and city-to-city every 3-4 days is tiring. Always living out of a suitcase. Making friends, then leaving friends, then having to make more friends.
Schedule yourself downtime. Who cares that you miss the pub crawl with the hot Swedish twins? You need to rest once-in-a-while.
Plan ahead a little
Have a better idea of what you want to see rather than just a few weeks worth. I feel like lately Ive just been going to places for the hell of it, not because I’ve always wanted to go there, but because it was near where I’d just been and I’d never heard of it. Once in a while, it resulted in an adventure, but other times, it was just a walk around another city, staying in another hostel, etc. Does that sound burnt out or what?
You don’t have to see everything
- A lot of Europe is the same. You can pick 2 cities, and a town in each country. But you dont have to see each country. So they speak a different language, and have different culture and traditions to their neighbours, but you really only need a few places from each of the corners of the compass. You don’t have to go everywhere.
- Dont just go to 5 museums and churches because the guidebook lists them. If you’re not a big history buff (like me), and aren’t really interested in museums. Just pick one, once in a while, and spend your time doing whatever it is you enjoy. Its ok, you can “spin” your trip anyway you want to. So people say “You went to Madrid, and didn’t go to the Prado? But its in the top 5 museums in the world”. Well guess what, I’ve been to Madrid 3 times, and I still haven’t been. But I’ve had some awesome experiences there anyway.
Don’t be afraid to get lost
The “having a plan” comment I made earlier has two-sides. On the one hand, its good to know vaguely where you want to be in the next few weeks, so you don’t end up changing your itinerary constantly (like I do); but on the other hand, you don’t have to worry that you don’t have a hostel booked for the night. After 5 months of travel, I stopped being so worried about where I’d be sleeping, and I started just getting a train/bus/plane without having accomodation booked. You are stronger than you realize, you can adapt.
Ask for help
When you do get lost, don’t be afraid to communicate with the locals. Even if you know they won’t speak English, you can still attempt communication instead of trying to figure things out on your own. Most people are good people. Trust more. Plus, you never know where it’s going to lead. That, and usually they can help you out much quicker than wandering aimlessly, or Google searching.
Have rest days
You can’t party every day. It’s bad for your health, and your wallet. Take time off, read a book, reflect.
Now for the 5 month Summary
I could break it down into cities/towns/villages visited, but I think we’d be here all day. 5 months is a lot of places!
I’ve been to Austria twice, Germany twice, Greece twice, and Spain three times. A couple of the return trips were unplanned and spur-of-the-moment. I could have managed my budget and time better, but the circumstances called for it.
For example I had my Oktoberfest tour booked out of London for over 6 months; I didn’t know when I booked that I wouldn’t be in England in September. I had no idea that I would be in Croatia, Italy, then Greece.
I’ve spent a grand-total of AUD $10,600 (and damn have I had a great time spending it!). Which puts me 6 months over budget; but we all knew that Europe would be expensive, especially with all the fun I’ve had. Remember, you can do Europe on the cheap, much cheaper than I have.
Longest rides to date:
- 20 hours by bus (London, England to Achensee, Austria).
- 15 hours (Bari, Italy to Patras, Greece).
- 16 hours (Perth, Australia to Istanbul, Turkey).
Number of books read & exchanged: 6
Worst nights sleep: Still has to be Pamplona
Posts written: 27