8 Things I Learned From 8 Months in Europe

8 Things I Learned From 8 Months in Europe

Last year, I spent 8 months travelling Europe (and Morocco and Turkey). I learnt a lot during that time – probably more than I did during my 4-year uni degree.

While I discovered a lot about the world, the biggest revelations turned out to be about myself. I’d like to share 8 things that I learned from my 8 months travelling Europe with you.

 

1. Be Flexible with Your Schedule

I started my trip with a rigid schedule. I had planned three months into my trip before I even left home!

Once I arrived, I realised the issues with such a schedule. I couldn’t jet off with a new friend or extend my stay somewhere if I really liked it. I couldn’t even leave if I didn’t like it.

When I got more flexible and stopped booking all of my transport and accommodation weeks ahead of time, I was able to go on a girls trip with some new friends!

It’s important to be flexible with your schedule to allow for exciting opportunities.

8 Things I Learned From 8 Months in Europe

 

2. It’s Not All About Counting Countries

There’s an obsession now-a-days with collecting the number of countries you’ve been to. I started my trip with the goal of visiting as many as I possible could.

By the end, I realised the countries I’d spent only a few days in hardly felt like I’d seen them. The countries I spent a few weeks or a month in really allowed me to engage with the culture and explore them.

8 Things I Learned From 8 Months in Europe

I know I seem hypocritical. My tag line includes how many countries I’ve been to, but honestly that’s mostly because I didn’t know what else to put in my tag line! It’s too long to include all of the incredible cultural experiences I had along the way.

Don’t worry about collecting countries. Worry about enjoying yourself and immersing yourself in your surroundings.

 

3. Take Advantage of Every Experience

I often held back from experiences due to money worries or outright fear.

This is the worst thing you can do while travelling. When are you going to get to go back there?

Hot air ballooning in Cappadocia was a must do, but the price tag almost put me off. I’m so glad it didn’t or I wouldn’t have that amazing memory (and some pretty fantastic photos).

Put money and fear aside. Get out of your comfort zone and do the crazy thing – like going to a song and dance night in a Croatian shed!

8 Things I Learned From 8 Months in Europe

 

4. Make Human Connections

It’s so important to meet real people while you travel. Locals or tourists can help make your trip.

Some of my fondest memories had nothing to do with where I was, but matter because of who I was with. Working on a farm in Croatia and teaching English in the Czech Republic were made so much better by the people I was with.

I still keep in touch with many of my international friends now.

8 Things I Learned From 8 Months in Europe
One of the chefs at my Moroccan cooking class

In Morocco, I got the chance to go to a cooking class with local women. Hearing their stories and working with them was so amazing. It taught me a lot about the culture and made the country come alive.

Make connections along the way to enhance your trip.

 

5. Try All the Food!

Your waistband is irrelevant when you’re travelling Europe!

I brought some stretchy pants (thank god!) so I was able to work my way across 14 countries eating everything each one had to offer.

Why worry about your weight when you can be enjoying delicious food in the location it was created?

Ask hotels or locals what to try in each country. They’ll give you the best tips on where to get it.

Savour each morsel, and keep notes on new favourite foods to try and find when you go back home!

8 Things I Learned From 8 Months in Europe
Svíčková from the Czech Republic

 

6. Allow Yourself to Be Homesick

Homesickness is such a normal thing for travellers.

There’s this false perception that long term travellers don’t get homesick.

We do!

It’s normal to miss the people and things that you’re used to.

8 Things I Learned From 8 Months in Europe
My mom met me in Morocco.

Take the time to call home or do things that remind you of home to comfort you. Let yourself be sad sometimes and then do something fun to break out of the slump. Don’t wallow forever or you’ll ruin your whole trip!

 

7. It’s OK to do Familiar Things

Familiar things or food from your home country can feel a bit like a waste when you’re abroad. But they aren’t.

This actually helped me the most with my homesickness when I was in Berlin. Rather than wallowing, I started cooking food I love and going to movies like I would back home.

That familiarity made me feel less far away from my comfort zone and helped me calm down.

8 Things I Learned From 8 Months in Europe
Pumpkin seeds I made for my Austrian homestay family

 

8. Countries May Surprise You

I went to Bulgaria as a three day stop over between Turkey and Serbia. I didn’t expect there to be anything to do there.

Turns out, it’s a pretty awesome country.

I wish I had gotten to spend more time there, so I could explore the hiking opportunities and see more of the culture.

If I had been more flexible, I could have extended my stay. Unfortunately, I’d booked a flight to Serbia, so I didn’t have that option.

Be open to what every country has to offer. They may surprise you – in a good or bad way.

8 months in Europe yielded so many lessons that I can’t sum up in 8 points.

8 Things I Learned From 8 Months in Europe
A church in Sofia, Bulgaria

 

 

These 8 are the best tips I learned that I hope will help you if you take on any long-term travel.

Following these tips will help you realise more about yourself as you make connections, learn what food you enjoy and let the world surprise you.

 

Would you do a long-term trip? If so, where would you go?

 

 

 

 



25 thoughts on “8 Things I Learned From 8 Months in Europe”

  • WISE THOUGHTS. THEY COULD APPLY TO OTHER CIRCUMSTANCES. AS YOU SAID ABOVE, TRAVEL TEACHES YOU MORE THAN SHCOOL BOOKS.

  • Nice! I’d love to travel for a couple of months too and I’m seriously considering it. I’m not into counting countries either. Just enjoy the experiences as one goes.

    • I highly recommend it! This was my first multi-country long trip without having a home base (i.e. when I studied abroad). It was the best decision of my life!

  • I’m so glad you addressed the loneliness and homesickness! It’s natural and your tips to eat something familiar or go to a movie was a great way to reset and get yourself ready and refreshed to start trying more new places!

  • I absolutely love the advise of try all the food! Many people from my country, simply do not like any food besides our own, honestly my countrymen are the worst when it comes to being adaptable and trying new food. I keep telling my friends and family this all the time.

    • That’s really interesting. I definitely came from an adventurous family when it comes to food. I was trying things like oysters before high school! I forget that other people are more closed off about what they will try.

  • I love how realistic all of these points are. People lose touch with what travel really means. Yes it’s not about counting countries, but immersing yourself in the culture. I’d rather go to one country and fully immerse myself than hop from location to location and not learn a thing. Oh and the weight thing. Yes, life is short.

  • I love “It’s not all about counting countries.” It definitely feels like that is a goal for so many. But we prefer to stay in a place long enough to really get to know it- so I know when we get over to Europe we won’t just pack in as many countries as we can but instead try to thoroughly explore a few!

    • That’s such a great attitude! My “country count” is only so high because I’ve literally always travelled. It makes me kind of sad when people go to twenty countries in a month or two. That just sounds so exhausting and like you won’t get to experience anything.

  • Lesson number 1 happened to me too the first time I travelled through Europe by Interrail… I was 18 and it was my first travel adventure, was so excited and planned the whole thing down to the accommodation for every night. After less than a week of travel we realised that it was much better to keep things open and totally ditched the plan, haha. Definitely the best approach to travel in Europe.

  • very well said. As someone with full-time job and family I never get to spend so long anywhere when I go. I swear just after reading it I suggested my husband a full plan of how we can take a career break for 1 year to slow travel:P

    • A career break is a wonderful idea, honestly. I love being able to travel long term. Even finding secondments in other countries can be a great way to do this!

  • I completely agree with your list, but I like the most the part of not counting the countries. I see there are so many people who brag about the number of countries they visited by the age of blah. But I think that’s irrelevant, it’s like… scratching Russia off a map after a short city-break in Moscow. That doesn’t really count. I mean, yeah, you saw a new place, but what did you actually get about the *entire* country?

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