The 5 Things I Learned Last Year In Europe And How I’m Applying Them To This Year’s Trip

Last year I went on a pretty crazy trip – hitting five different countries across Europe over about two weeks, and then following that up by meeting my girlfriend in New York City for a few more days. As if I wasn’t exhausted enough from pulling six all nighters in 14 nights while rolling through Europe solo-dolo.

Not long after I got back from that trip, I penned this article, in which I listed 5 things that I took away from the trip. They were:

1.) The creative juices are on crack while traveling.

2.) America is breaching all other cultures.

3.) Solo travel can potentially be lonely.

4.) I fucked up by seeing so many countries in so little time.

5.) Post vacation hangover sucks.

Making notes on things to improve on doesn’t mean squat if you don’t follow through on it, so here’s what I’m doing differently this time around. To understand this post in it’s entirety, you’ll want to go back and read the entire previous post.

budapest

Budapest, Hungary

1.) The creative juices are on crack while traveling.

Last year, I wrote:

Once I was relieved of my usual cubicle duties, my mind was freed.  It is difficult to explain how exactly these floodgates open up so drastically, but I was amazed at how much deeper my thoughts were once I had stepped away from work for a few days.  I would say it took about three days of freedom, as well as a fair amount of drinking, admittedly, and all of a sudden ideas began coming.

Last time, I made the mistake of waiting until I got home to write everything down. I went on hiatus for the entire time, didn’t touch writing, and then struggled to think back through all of the booze filled all nighters and put it on to paper. Of course, I didn’t even have a personal laptop at the time, but this time I do and I have no excuse not to be taking a half an hour of each day to write something up. I plan on keeping a running journal of everyday, detailing the highs and lows of the days and nights.

I’ll have my buddy Jeremy there to keep me accountable and make sure I write something every day. Who knows, maybe he’ll actually start blogging again as we go on the trip.

2.) America is breaching all other cultures.

Last year, I wrote:

I suspected that Poland and the Czech Republic would be the biggest culture shock to me.  I suspected London, Barcelona, and Rome to be relatively Westernized.  However, even in “poor” countries like Poland (one girls reaction as I nearly ripped apart a 10 PLN bill was priceless), the American way of life is spreading fast.  Smartphones are common.  McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken are everywhere, and you’ll be hard pressed to find a coffee shop more popular than that garbage chain Starbucks.

I was picky as fuck about where I was going on this trip. My buddy who was originally going with me wanted to hit some of the Baltic countries – but I was pretty much dead set on Budapest or Istanbul. No desire on my end to visit countries that are supposedly more Westernized with high(er) prices.

This is exactly why we’re going pretty far east and not even touching any of the Western European countries. I’ve already seen London, which was way too much America for me – with worse weather and more history. I already live in a great part of America, the last thing I want to do when I go on vacation is to visit another version of the culture here.

Budapest is a place that seems to fly under most people’s radar, so I have high hopes that the European lifestyle that I loved in Poland (and to a lesser extent, Prague) will hold true in the capitol of Hungary.

Switzerland from the air.

Switzerland from the air.

3.) Solo travel can potentially be lonely.

Last year, I wrote:

I had by far the most fun in Poland, when I had a great wingman with me (Lucky Lothario), and in New York City with my girlfriend.  Traveling solo can get lonely, especially during the day.  While I met other tourists every day, and made friends at night, the amount of energy it took to get myself into a social mood constantly was draining.  By the end of the trip, I had almost nothing left in the tank to go out and meet people.  I nearly fell asleep in a bar in Prague at about 9:30pm on one of my final nights.

I regret nothing about my trip last year. Going solo was a fantastic experience, in many ways. But the best parts of the trip involved meeting Lucky in Poland and my girlfriend in New York City. Simply getting the motivation to go out at night and get the social juices going was a lot of work. Add in all of the all nighters, multiple 6am departure flights, and general travel exhaustion – I was running on fumes.

I’m pumped that I’ll have a social guy like Jeremy to roll out with at night.

4.) I fucked up by seeing so many countries in so little time.

Last year, I wrote:

Five countries in the amount of time I had is simply way too much.  It is hard to account for travel time for airlines and public transit to city centers, in many cases what was supposed to be three days in a city turned into two due to being delayed.  I knew going in that I was really going to be pushing the limit, and I learned my lesson.

I wanted to see Poland because I’d heard so many good things.  I needed to see London with the possibility of moving there for work.  I had heard Barcelona’s nightlife was legendary (quite the contrary, I found it to be a bit of a disgusting shit hole).  I have always loved Roman history, so I wanted to sight-see there.  I’d heard Prague was a gorgeous city with a lot of gorgeous girls (truth).

Yeah, I’d never do that again.

This time, I’m sticking to one place for all ten days. We’re tentatively planning on doing a day trip to Vienna, which is $20 and only a three hour train ride away. Other than that, we’ll be sticking around in Budapest. By the end of the ten days, I think we’ll have a real good grasp on the life there, which is something I never got to experience last year.

Other than Poland, where there wasn’t that much sightseeing to do, I spent more time in the other four countries doing the “tourism” activities that left me drained to go out at night. Yeah, there was a night in London that I had to wander home at 4am, and another in Barcelona where I gave up after a sausagefest – but I went to sleep early on more days than I’d care to admit.

I’m sure we’ll do plenty of wandering and sightseeing, but it’ll mostly be local, allowing us to enjoy the nightlife to it’s full extent.

I am really intrigued by getting to fire some old school WWII weapons though…

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona, Spain

5.) Post vacation hangover sucks.

Last year, I wrote:

The materialistic items pale in comparison to the experiences and memories of this trip that will stick with me for years to come. When I’m lying on my deathbed, it won’t be my 401k bringing me happiness; it will be my memories of the world; and the people and cultures within it.

No getting around this. It’ll hit Jeremy worse than me, and at least I’ll have someone who made all the memories with me who can relate.

This time around, I’m closer to being location independent due to Cracking OKCupid and other endeavors, so hopefully I’ll shrug the hangover off faster than last year.

I can’t wait to share the adventure with all of you loyal readers.

Click here for a free OKCupid profile review, too.

  • March 4, 2015
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