My girlfriend, Hannah, and I had arrived in Madrid after a fairly pleasant overnight flight. We were both equally excited and unsure of what was to come as we had finally embarked on a 120+ day multi-country trip around Europe. We had arrived on April 4, 2022 and knew we had to be back in the US around August 8. That left 120+ days to cover and we only had our next 3-4 stops booked at that point.
We walked off the plane half-asleep and hungry and headed to baggage claim only to find that my bag decided not to come out. Not an ideal start to a 4 month trip I thought as we waited until the last bag was claimed and repeatedly asked for assistance. They simply took down our hotel address and said they’d drive it to us when (seemed more like an if) they found it. I tried to remind myself that no trip worth remembering went perfectly smooth and if a bag was to be lost better for it to be mine. From there our adventure truly began and I don’t think either of us knew exactly what we were getting ourselves into.
But let me take a step back for a second and describe how we got into this situation. It’s not a super common scenario where 2 people with full-time jobs, 2 cars and an apartment just get up and leave with little more than a plane ticket, our laptops and a few AirBnB’s booked. But, that is exactly what happened and I’d have it no other way. I was extremely grateful to travel extensively and get a 2nd open heart surgery BEFORE covid but at the same time I was ready to go on another adventure. I don’t know why but taking a week off from work and laying on a beach somewhere doesn’t have the same appeal of leaving for a month +, working while on the trip, and taking a few days off here and there but that’s just my preference. So why Spain and why leave on a random Tuesday in April? It’s pretty simply actually. I found one-way plane tickets to Madrid from Augusta, GA for $204. I immediately bought 2 as I figured it was a mistake fare that would be fixed if I didn’t act now. I still remember sitting on my couch sometime in February wondering how w’e pull this off in less than 2 months. At the same time, knowing that the worst case scenario was the trip wouldn’t work and I’d be out a few hundred dollars paled in comparison to the best case scenario which ended up being the trip we made happen.
While this might seem like a spur of the moment decision and one that surprised my family, albeit a little less so than Hannah’s, I had actually had this in the works for months. We both had fully remote jobs that we enjoyed and had been at for 6 months. Our current apartment was fully furnished and we only committed to three months up front. Our landlord was super flexible so not renewing was easy. At that time, car prices were going crazy so even if though I had 2 years left on my car lease, they took it back immediately no questions asked. I had even let me boss know that I might be traveling to Europe so he told one of my future clients that I was the “European-based” member of our team even as I was sitting on a couch in Augusta, GA thousands of miles from anywhere in the EU. All of these dominos fell pretty easily and since we didn’t own furniture or a ton of junk, it was fairly easy to ask our parents nicely to leave some extra items at their homes.
So I had a one-way ticket to Madrid and about 4 months to plan out. We both needed to keep our employers happy since this would not be a cheap trip and we needed all the income we could get. This meant moving around weekly, traveling to the next stop on weekends, instead of hopping around every few days. It also meant our AirBnB’s or Hotels needed to accommodate 2 work stations. Now a kitchen counter or a coffee table or even a short dresser was perfectly suitable for a workstation but we both still needed to have one of our own. The bigger challenge was that we are both on calls a lot so ideally we wouldn’t have to work in the same room often so we needed at least a door to help muffle the sound between the two of us.
I didn’t know this at the time but we ended up breaking our trip up into 3 legs. The first leg was 2 months in Spain, southern France and Italy. The second leg was about a month in Ireland, Scotland and England and the third leg was a month making our way through Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden. Why’d we end in Sweden you ask? Pretty simple as somehow Stockholm to Augusta was the cheapest one-way ticket we were able to buy halfway through our trip. There is also a 90 day limit that US citizens can stay in mainland Europe so that month in UK/Ireland saved us there and we departed on exactly our 90th allotted day even tho I was able to squeeze a 125 days into the trip total.
I hope to write about each destination in further posts but in the end our trip path took us in order to Spain, France, Monaco, Italy, Vatican City, Czech Republic, Ireland, Scotland, England, Belgium, Netherland, Denmark, and finally Sweden.
- 125 Days in total
- 23 different accommodations
- 13 countries
- 12 trains , 6 planes and 3 buses
- 2 on-site Client Visits
- 1 Zoom Background
- 0 missed/delayed calls due to tech or other issues
All in all the trip couldn’t have been any smoother, fun, exciting or stressful and it was perfect in every way. From un-packing and re-packing all my stuff 20+ times to running out for gelato just to make it back for a 10pm local time work call, the chaos of it all, and the fact that we pulled it off, made it all worth it. It’s been several months since we’ve been back now, we both still have our same jobs, and I’ve already planned our next trip. 😎