the wandering bean part 1: “one day”
I’ve always wanted to travel, and I’ve always said that one day I would. Like so many people, “one day” was always a non-specific agreement with myself that perhaps I could keep myself going on the idea, to amble through life full of these “one day” dreams. Well I decided I don’t want to be a “one day” dreamer anymore, I want to seize life and make “one day” every day, else I know that all my “one day” will be full of is the skeletons of dreams that I never actually got around to chasing. There was nothing stopping me; I had the money and the time. I could make excuses to myself until the end of time, but I knew deep down that the only real thing stopping me from actually going was fear.
So I booked a bunch of time off work and swanned off on a trip around Europe by myself. Until this trip, the furthest I had ever travelled on my own was London, and at the time even that felt scary. I wanted to go by myself partly because I don’t know anyone who could have come with me, but also because I wanted to see if I could actually do it. I wanted to go off and learn things about myself and grow as a person in a way that I wouldn’t be able to if I had someone with me.
I did some research and decided that the best way to do it was with an Interrail ticket. There are train routes between most of the major cities in Europe, and it meant I only had to fly twice but I still got to visit eleven different cities, plus see all the landscape in between. I settled on the ten trips within thirty days train ticket, which was actually perfect for my needs. I used all ten trips without having to compromise my journey at all. Ordering the ticket was scary, parting with the money was difficult, and hitting that payment confirmation button meant no going back: I was going to actually do the terrifying thing. Receiving the ticket in the post was nothing but exciting.
I planned to do everything cheaply. I got flights at silly times of day to get them cheaper, I booked airbnbs instead of hotels (though more on that later!), and I travelled with the tiniest amount of stuff I could get away with so I only had hand luggage. I planned everything in advance so I could benefit from the lowest prices, even though I actually booked most of the stuff the week before I went. I think there was a part of me that wanted to find a way to wiggle out of doing the scary thing, so I kept putting off booking stuff. I made myself do it in the end though. I reached deep inside myself and dug out a bunch of bravery to make sure I didn’t chicken out (and the money I would have lost kinda helped!).
I left at 1:30 am on a Tuesday morning, just me, my backpack, and big lump of courage to take me halfway around the continent.