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.
As our Paris chapter concluded, we still didn’t have a solid plan for what we wanted to see in Europe and for how long. We had to start thinking a bit more long-term and began to plot out destinations into a calendar. That framework shifted constantly, but it helped us to start budgeting our time. Sometimes our destination and direction was dictated by the cost of flights. If it was cheaper to backtrack or book a connecting flight, we did it. (That was why we ended up going from New Zealand back to Southeast Asia and finally onto Brazil.) We eventually decided to just start moving northeast, so we booked a high-speed train from Paris to Amsterdam.
We usually took turns researching the upcoming country and deciding where to go, what to see, and how we’d do it all. Sorting those logistics took up so much time it became our full-time jobs. (Not that I’m complaining, it was a pretty epic day job!) Whenever we weren’t sight-seeing, we were researching, making reservations, and planning transportation. I love the romantic idea of going wherever the wind takes you (and we definitely did that to a degree) but I love having a confirmed bunk with my name on it for a 15-hour overnight train ride from Agra to Varanasi, India even more.
All of this sounds daunting, but traveling across the globe was honestly so much easier than I ever expected. We’re incredibly fortunate to have had technology on our side. We used Airbnb every chance we could, and Booking.com became our go-to for hotel reservations, because they both have amazing cancellation policies. Kayak and Hipmunk are great for comparing flight prices. We shared Google calendars and spreadsheets with our families that outlined where we were staying in every country. We used our currency converter app daily. We even tried an app that could take a photo of any written text and translate it into English, which only worked 40% of the time but provided endless entertainment. And because we actually turned off our mobile service, and only used our phones when we caught free Wi-Fi, I couldn’t live without the offline map app called Ulmon. (I even liked it better than Google’s offline map.)
With our Ulmon map guiding the way, we arrived in Amsterdam and made our way to De Pijp, the neighborhood we’d be staying in for the next three days. We met our lovely Airbnb hosts and immediately set out to explore the city.