I still remember the day my sister-in-law told me how much having a kid costs. It was almost three years ago and she and her husband had recently announced their pregnancy to us. She had been researching daycares in their area and was telling me those crazy costs, as well as doctor and hospital stays and the average yearly cost to raise a child. That evening I told my husband how expensive kids were, and that I had decided that even though we were not planning to have a child for several years, it might be smart to start setting aside a little money each month. At the end of the month, I set aside $150 in a separate savings account and the following morning woke up with a change of heart. I didn't want to set aside hard-earned money every month over several years toward a far-off future, potential child. I wanted to set aside money for something much more fun (sorry future potential child...).
This story may seem a silly way to start talking about our next big adventure, but I think it's important to share just how long I have been planning for this one! I started saving almost three years ago, we started talking about our plans almost two years ago, and one year ago I downloaded a map of Europe and started researching exactly what it would take to backpack from southern Europe to northern Europe in six weeks. I decided almost three years ago that instead of saving for a kid, I wanted to take an epic trip before I turned 30.
So this month's adventure (and Aprils too) is that I am turning 30 and one week later, we are getting on a plane bound for Italy! This trip has been many years in the making, but we didn't know when it would actually happen based on both our work schedules. Originally I hoped to take a work hiatus last fall when we thought Keith would wrap-up his job in July or August. When his job got pushed through the end of 2014, and then into early 2015, we decided to try again for the trip this coming summer. And then slowly over several weeks last fall, we started considering the idea of a BIG move. The more concrete that plan became, the more we started to discuss this trip as our pre-move / post-Austin adventure. And ever since we bought the plane tickets late last year, I have been dying to tell everyone!
At the end of March, through the month of April, we're backpacking through Europe for 6 weeks (41 glorious days to be exact). We start in Italy and end in Norway. We'll stay in 9 different countries and travel by train. I haven't been to any of the countries on our itinerary and Keith has only been to one (Italy). We'll stay in mostly AirBNB rentals and a few hotels, we'll pack everything for the trip in carry-on backpacks, and we'll blog along the way. Here's a map with a rough idea of our trip route in orange.
This trip took years to plan and save for, and along the way we cut out 6 other countries and added in 2 new ones based on feedback and research. Six weeks sounds like a long time until you factor in travel time, expenses and sightseeing. It was a huge challenge to decide what was most important for us to see in each country and there were many times when I considered cutting back the trip severely to just 2 or 3 countries. I'm sure that would have still been an amazing trip but certainly not quite as huge of an adventure as the one we've planned!
I have so many more posts planned over the coming weeks on planning, packing and saving tips and more details on our itinerary. Check back soon and sign up for email notices if you'd like to follow along on our travels. We're bringing our iPad and a good camera, so if nothing else, I hope to share weekly photo posts from each country. Until then, if you've been to any of these countries, please share your all-time favorite day trip, sightseeing experience or best meal in the comments. We'll be sure to take it into consideration during our travels!