For how long did you plan your trip?
I've always had a passion for traveling and seeing the world, but the idea to backpack Europe for an extended period of time first came to me in December of 2014. I knew I wanted to travel in the summer, so that gave me around five months to plan it. The first thing I did was set up a savings plan, a budget, and a 'dream list' of all the cities I wanted to go to. After that, it was just a matter of figuring out the details.
How much did it cost you / 'did you win the lottery'?
Traveling is a lot cheaper than you think. I traveled Europe (including 15 countries, and 22 cities) for three months for just over $3,800. That was including everything - from the first flight into Iceland, to the last Jimmy John's sandwhich I bought back on American soil. As long as you're willing to stay in hostels and get groceries at the supermarket (as opposed to five star hotels and eating out every meal), then traveling can be very cost effective. The U.S. is not made for budget traveling - accommodation and transportation can be very expensive - but, luckily, that's not the case for everywhere else in the world.
Where did you stay?
Anywhere that was cheap, safe, and close to the city center. My accommodations in Europe ranged from hostels, hotels, bed & breakfasts, camp sites, airbnb apartments, and even a night-bus. My favorite were the camp sites in Italy. Most of these were only $10-$15 a night too - very do-able.
What did you do with your job?
I quit my 'big-girl 9-5' job at a local news station and took time off from my more flexible theme park side job. I was also doing free-lance writing on the side, which you can do from almost anywhere. It was scary at the time but I'm incredibly glad I did it. If your dream is to travel, there are ways to do it!
What were your favorite cities? Least favorite?
My favorites cities in Europe include London, Amsterdam, Chur, Rome, Santorini, and Barcelona. My least favorite was Brussels. I think next time I would want to go more in-depth with Southern Italy and the Greek islands.
Was it hard only having a backpack worth of stuff?
Not as hard as I thought. I actually brought more stuff than I ended up using!
Would you ever backpack alone?
Absolutely. I got really lucky to find people who wanted and were willing/able to go with me, but had I not been able to do so, I would have definitely gone by myself. It sounds scary, but there is a huge amount of solo backpackers - the majority being girls. Almost everyone you meet in hostels is traveling by themselves, and I most have met around 150 girls alone who were backpacking solo. The world is not as a scary as it's portrayed in the news, or in the movie 'Taken' (as everyone I mentioned my trip to liked to bring up). Those scenarios can be real, but if you use just a little bit of common sense they're also extremely unlikely. If you can't find anyone to go with you, I really recommend doing it by yourself.