On May 24, 2014, my fiancé, Andy, and I got married in New York City. Seven days later, we hopped on a plane with two carry-on suitcases and two one-way tickets to Paris. We had just pressed pause on our careers, sublet our apartment, moved all of our things into storage. The only plan was to have no plans at all — and we ended up traveling for 394 days through 25 countries, stopping in nearly 100 destinations. Over the next few weeks, come along on this crazy journey to learn more about how we did it — packing, plotting, budgeting — and see some of the tens of thousands of photos we took along the way.
The surprise invitation from our friends to join them in Sicily rerouted us from northern to southern Europe. We were still making decisions about our route and destinations day-by-day. But around this time, we learned that our family was going to meet us in the south of France in seven weeks. We needed to plan a route back there, hitting as many of the destinations on our wish list as possible. Now that we had a specific amount of time to work with, we started plotting destinations into the calendar — Croatia, Austria, Czech Republic, Poland, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway. How much could we fit into seven weeks?
We couldn’t pass up Croatia. Neither of us had been before and we’d heard nothing but rave reviews from family and friends who had visited. It was the low-key alternative to the tourist-packed coasts of Greece, Spain, and Italy, yet with landscapes, cuisine, and history that are just as good — if not better. We gave ourselves two weeks to explore. Our only goal was to end in the northern city of Zagreb, where we could hop on the European train system. We were very interested in the islands off the Dalmatian coast, so we started our journey in Split, the second-largest city in the nation.
After starting off in some of the pricier destinations in Europe, Croatia was a relief for our bank account. We found the prices for lodging, food, and transportation to be much cheaper there. Many people ask how we were able to pull off this trip financially. Andy and I are in our 30s, and have both been working hard and saving up for years. We've been able to pay off our debts and we don't have any big-ticket expenses such as car payments or the like. We were also able to sublet our apartment in New York City, which helped to bring in some income as we traveled. We also really put our lives on pause, stripping our daily expenses down to nothing. Our only bill on-the-go was health insurance.
I truly believe a trip like this can be experienced in a number of ways and with a number of budgets. You just have to be very strategic. We stayed in a lot of cheap hotels and hostels, some as low as $20 per night for two people. We never bought an around-the-world plane ticket, but instead took budget airlines, constantly moving in the direction of the cheapest flight. (Our best deal was $40!) We didn't have cell phone service as we traveled. We cooked simple meals in the lodgings of ours that had kitchens. And when we did eat out, a little got us quite a lot. One the best meals of our trip was in Myanmar, and the whole thing cost $4. Think of it this way — a month’s rent in NYC is more expensive than traveling and staying in many countries worldwide for the same amount of time.
But enough logistics for now. On to the fun!