FAQ – What have we learned from a month on the road?

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This week Chad and I celebrated our 1-month anniversary of traveling. We’ve already learned a lot in our short time on the road so far. Here is a brief summary.

Busses aren’t that bad

Flixbus, the brand we travel most often

Our most frequent method of getting from city to city in the past month has been by bus. Busses are a mode of transportation we don’t even consider in the U.S., but we’ve had pretty good experiences utilizing busses here. Our first was an overnight bus from Frankfurt to Vienna and even that was fairly comfortable for the 10-hour trip. They all profess to have wifi, and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Most of our trips have been shorter, about 3 hours on average. It is not as easy to work on a bus as it is a train, but it isn’t impossible (I’m writing this now on a minibus to Vysoke Tatry from Krakow and that is even more difficult, but I’m making it work). There is generally plenty of legroom on the busses and a fairly smooth ride.

Travel days are the worst but worth it

Lots of room on the train from Budapest to Prague

Any day we’re moving from one city to another is always going to be a bit tougher than our typical day. It means hauling our luggage from wherever we’re staying to a train or bus station, figuring out platforms and processes, trying to think ahead for what snacks we’ll need for the length of trip, and then navigating a new city, often with new money, and figuring out how to get to our next home while hauling all of our stuff. As noted above, the bus rides and train rides themselves aren’t bad, but we’ve had a couple of entries into cities that have been particularly jarring due to heavy rain, or a World Cup match, or just figuring out a foreign train system. In future itineraries, I think we’ll move around a lot less than we have this month (in fact, we’ve already adjusted our Mexico/Colombia leg to skip Bogota and fly straight to Cartagena to have one less city to visit). And once we get to Budapest on July 1 we’re set for 6 weeks except for a long weekend in Paris.

Chads work, with Easter egg

Great cities require a little more time

We watched Germany lose to Mexico at the Brandenburg Gate Fanmeile

We barely scratched the surface of Berlin in 3 days and we left Prague wishing we had a second week there. We’ve already decided that our next Europe itinerary (starting August 2019) will only be 4 main locations and we’ll spend about a month in each. The bouncing around was a deliberate decision because we thought it would be fun to visit some countries as they’re playing in the World Cup, and then we couldn’t resist a couple of places we couldn’t resist a visit even though it meant extra steps (like the Tatras Mountains where we’re headed now, or Vienna where we had two nights and would have loved 2 months).

Reunited with my bag in Vienna

We packed too much stuff

We’ve already had to buy a bigger suitcase! There are a few things we (mostly I) brought that we haven’t used – our chess set (though maybe once we settle in Budapest), our good bug protection, a can opener, way too many socks. And once we added additional stuff in Frankfurt, we had to buy a bigger suitcase to be able to meet the luggage requirements of Flixbus (one stowed bag each). So now we pack our carry-on size suitcase inside a larger suitcase we bought in Budapest in addition to a few other pieces, and have our main suitcase packed to the gills (it is expandable).

Europe is pretty far north of home

Chad wore a hoodie and his jacket for a morning walk in Wroclaw

We were prepared for Iceland to be chilly, but outside of our first few days in Frankfurt, it has definitely not been hot here, and occasionally (like now, in the mountains) it is actually cold. I only packed cold weather clothes for our one day in Iceland, so dressing for cooler days this month has been a bit of a challenge. And, it means the sun comes up way earlier – 4:30 a.m. is sunrise here. By contrast, I looked up the current sunrise in Columbia and it is at a respectable 5:45 a.m. By 5:30 or so, our curtains in various places are not doing their job and our room is getting light. Generally, we’re able to sleep a bit longer, but sleeping in is not really an option. Of course, the wonderful upside is that it also gets dark later, and we enjoy having nice long days. But I wish I’d done a little more research on the climate of our non-Budapest stops so as to have been a little more prepared for June to feel not quite like summer.

Summary
While the first month of the trip definitely lived up to expectations and we haven’t had any major challenges, we’ve definitely learned a few things about traveling full-time, our travel preferences and Europe in general in this first 30 days. Luckily we have a lot more travel to come to implement these lessons!

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