Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Travel Diaries: how we planned our 3 month Euro trip

It's crazy to think a year ago today we were preparing to leave on our three-month European adventure! I remember the day so vividly - running around picking up last minute items, rolling our clothes to fit perfectly into our back packs, and trying them on while almost falling over! There were a lot of mixed emotions that day - stress, excitement, and anxiety to name a few. Ruben and I had never traveled far from home for an extended period of time, and talked about doing a trip of this nature for so long, but never actually thought it would come to fruition. Ruben was about to graduate from College, while I finished up a contract position at work; it was our most opportune time to follow our dreams and fulfill our wanderlust! 
Europe on a shoestring aka our Bible
Due to restrictions on how long you can be within the EU without a Visa, three months of travel was our most suitable option. After a lot of research into determining our start and end points, we booked our multi city flight departing Toronto on July 6th for Dublin, returning home from Lisbon on October 9th. We paid a little extra for flexibility on our return ticket, in case we needed to come home for whatever reason, or if we decided to try and stay longer. Booking our flights first really helped to create a window of time where we could plan in between. We then made a rough list of the countries we wanted to visit and the cities within, to get a better idea. One question I get asked a lot is - "how much did it cost you?" Together we worked really hard to save up all that we could in the months prior, and at the end of the day we put roughly $20,000 into our trip. 
Book Sources: Europe on a Budget Rough Guides Travel Journal
We didn't really book accommodations far in advance because we wanted the flexibility to stay longer in a place or leave sooner. We only booked our Airbnb for Dublin to begin with, because we were staying with my family in some other parts of Ireland after Dublin, and decided to plan as we went along. From each new city we arrived in, we began planning our next steps. We stayed in a variety of Airbnb's, hotels, hostels and luckily had friends and family along the way we could visit and stay with. We did have some accommodation horror stories, but for the most part everything worked in our favour! 
TIP: when deciding where to stay on a long trip - make sure they have laundry facilities! 
Sometimes you just need a day off to relax in your Airbnb

Our transportation consisted of trains, planes, car rides (when available) and one bus! Prior to leaving Ruben did a lot of research online to figure out which EuRail would be most beneficial to us travel and money wise. This part of planning was pretty stressful because we needed to buy our EuRail pass while still in Canada to have it shipped to us before the trip, and some destinations with the pass required reservations well in advance. We ended up buying the Global Pass which allowed us 15 travel days, within a 2 month period. It worked out well since our first month of travel was spent mostly with my family. We flew 3 times during our trip with Ryan Air (the most budget air line!) It was super cheap and pretty quick to get where we needed to go. Rome2rio was super helpful when figuring out our options getting from place to place, we used it a lot. 
I kept a log of our travels from place to place.
When choosing a back pack there was so many different options available: side loading, top loading, 65L, 75L, with wheels - the options were endless! We shopped around for a bit and knew we would be spending a pretty penny on a bag. I had in mind that I wanted a side loading bag, which seemed like the easiest to pack and most resembled a suitcase. The bag we settled on came with a day pack as well; a smaller back pack that we typically carried on the front of our bodies that held our lap top and important documents.
It definitely wasn't easy to narrow down my wardrobe for three months of travelling out of a back pack! When packing I made sure to bring a lot of neutral options and varieties of clothes that I could mix and match, while also being weather appropriate. 
In a nutshell, this is what I packed:
  • 10 pairs of underwear
  • 5 t shirts
  • 4 pants
  • 3 bras
  • 3 pairs of shorts
  • 3 pairs of socks
  • 2 pairs of shoes (Nikes and Birkenstocks)
  • 2 dresses
  • 1 jacket
  • 1 set of pajamas
I'm happy I didn't bring too much clothes or shoes because it gave me an opportunity to pick up different articles of clothing and shoes from various countries we visited. Besides clothing, I also packed the basic necessities: skin care, hair care, makeup and flat iron.

TIP: roll your clothes to make use of the space in your bag!
Ruben planning out our last 7 weeks! Note the explosion of clothes from my back pack in the background.. 

And there we have it! A little bit of insight on how we planned for our three months back packing across Europe.
If you have any questions or would like to see specific posts on places we visited please leave me a comment! 

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