When I purchased my first ticket across the pond, I didn’t even have a passport yet. Just a little bit of gumption and a general idea of what cities and country’s I could see with what time and money I thought I could come up with before take off. My first solo backpacking trip to Europe was the most eye opening experience I had up until that point and will always be a pleasure to replay in my mind.
I was looking for flights online and found a really good deal on a multi-city trip ticket from Chicago to Paris and from Amsterdam back to Chicago 3 weeks later. It was such a good deal after a few beers and a little debating with myself, I booked it that same night. It was kind of a crazy decision on my part being that I didn’t have a passport yet and that I really had no idea what I was doing. Just getting the ticket bought helped me not sleep right for several nights! A good amount of tossing and turning and dreams about things I didn’t know anything about. It was a good thing! I had succumbed to one of those ruts we often hear people falling into. A trip to Europe was exactly what the doctor ordered!
Planning my trip instantly changed the way I was going about my days around the house. I knew that I would be walking great distances so I started walking more and trying to learn a word or two of French. Paris being my first foreign city I would visit. I started to be more frugal in my spending on day to day things and also began buying things here and there that I thought might be useful on my trip. Items like guide books, a compass, small key chain flashlight, and my backpack.
I had 3 months to plan and pack for my trip. Booking hostels,trains, planes and buses took me a few days. I only booked the first week of accommodation and travel so I could have some freedom once I got out on the road. My first week consisted of 2 nights at a hostel in Paris and then a flight to Rome where I stayed in a hostel for 3 nights. From there I took a train to Pompeii to hike to the summit of Mt Vesuvius and see the Ruins Of Pompeii.
That first week was a magical experience that led into 14 more days of amazing destinations and meeting different travelers from all over the globe. My most favorite times though, were when I was on some quiet neighborhood street walking between a train station and a hostel or just out for a stroll to find dinner. The quiet solace I found navigating a foreign land all alone was something I’ll yearn for again the rest of my life. To be 5,000 miles away from everything you know is one of the few ways in this world to see what you’re really all about as a person.
In conclusion, my first solo backpacking trip to Europe was a huge success and I hope to get to do it again real soon. So in the mean time I would like to help, teach and inspire anyone who would like to learn about backpacking Europe and the world to leave a comment below and we can talk about your plans and help you with any questions you may have about independent world travel.