8 countries in 6 months

In the first half of 2017, I’ve done a good bit of of travelling. It was a mix of work, family, and fun/random trips, and it made these past few months fly by. It felt like I was rarely in the same city two weekends in a row. Which was good, as it was a stressful time at work and I welcomed the diversions.

And also, it’s honestly a big part of why I’m here in Ireland. I’m going to make the most of being in close proximity to so many countries, and having an array of cheap Ryanair flights to peruse every time a bank holiday weekend crops up.

Here’s where I’ve been since 1 January 2017, in order:

  • Edinburgh, Scotland

    Edinburgh, for Hogmanay
  • Brussels, Belgium

    Brussels
  • Vancouver, BC, Canada

    Vancouver is amazing
  • Seattle, WA, USA

    Seattle from a friend’s rooftop deck
  • Paris, France

    Paris in spring
  • Marbella, Spain

    Beach club in Marbella
  • Prague, Czech Republic

    Prague, from the Petrin Tower
  • Portland, OR, USA

    I didn’t get many pictures in Portland, but this cool neighbourhood was cool
  • Rome, Italy

    Rome is stunning

That’s 9 cities, in 8 countries, in less than 6 months. It actually wouldn’t be my first choice to travel so quickly, but for now I need to make the most of limited vacation time and bank holiday weekends. Someday, post-location independence, I’ll be able to travel more slowly, and avail of cheaper flights mid-week. But for now I think it’s important to keep doing what I love, namely, travel, as it’s motivation to get to location independence/financial independence all the sooner.

Here are 8 things I learned travelling to 8 countries in 6 months
  1. Flights don’t need to be wasted time: I’ve been a pretty regular flyer for the past few years now, although I used to dread the wasted hours on planes. No more! With a little planning, those hours can be relaxing and productive. Catch up on podcasts, read, write, or watch movies you never have time to watch at home.

  2. Short trips are still worth it: Sometimes it can feel like a waste of time to travel for just a few days, but I’ve found these trips to be invaluable in terms of recharging my batteries and giving me inspiration and motivation. Even if an international trip isn’t always practical, switching things up and putting yourself in new scenarios is good for your brain.

  3. Always have a portable charger: You will absolutely positively require your phone to navigate a new city, in the dark, in the rain, exactly and precisely when your battery jumps from 21% to 2%. Plan for this eventuality.

  4. Travel light! This is my incessant mantra, but only because it works so well. In each of these trips I still could’ve packed even lighter than I did, and I only brought a large purse for a few of them, and a 30L carryon for the rest. Pack light, and then pare down even more. You won’t regret it when you’re breezing through airports and hopping onto public transit without a care in the world. Plus, packing/unpacking takes less than 15 minutes.

  5. Stay where the locals stay: By staying in AirBnB’s for most of these trips, I got to experience what life might be like in actual neighbourhoods where actual people live. Imagining what it would be like to live in a new city is a lot of fun, even if you’re not a perpetual expat/nomad. But if you are, every trip is just more research. That charming corner coffee shop could one day be your local haunt!

  6. Go with the flow: Travel is so different depending on who you’re travelling with, and their particular pace and style. Thinking back, each of these cities took on a unique feel that had a lot to do with my travelling companions, even when I travelled solo! It’s good to have a mix, and it’s best to just embrace the uniqueness of the trip you’re on. My friends have been kind enough to accept my innate desire to not do anything before 10 am, and I’ve in turn tried to accept that not everyone wants to walk 25 km per day (bizarre though that may seem to me). And we’ve had amazing experiences in spite of (or because of) those differences! Don’t let it stress you out if things aren’t going exactly to plan; we don’t travel to stay in a bubble of predictability, after all.

  7. Public transport makes for the best stories: Seriously. Like the time this cool Oregonian dude and I had to walk to a random bar in Rome to find change, because the metro ticket machines didn’t take notes or cards, only coins. And the solution offered by the metro worker was a vague gesture and half a shrug. Sure why not go on a random stroll in search of change! Or, did you know the Prague metro apparently operates on an honour system? All the cool locals just stroll out without scanning or showing their tickets anywhere. (Still buy a ticket though!) Public transit, like staying in AirBnBs, gives you an amazing view into everyday life in another place, and for me, that would be worth it even if it weren’t also vastly cheaper and more environmentally friendly.

  8. Down-time is acceptable: Travel is exciting, but that can also mean sensory overload. And sometimes, midway through your travels, you might need some chilled out time to recover and to prepare you for your next round of adventures. Sometimes you might just need a few hours of no-talking (if so: what’s up, fellow introvert!). Never feel bad about this. While I wouldn’t suggest a short trip as an ideal time for a two day Netflix binge, sometimes you need to unplug and relax in order to fully enjoy the rest of your trip. Don’t feel badly about this if it’s what you need to really be present and absorb your experience.

I don’t have any trips planned for the next few months, although I’ll probably pop over to Glasgow to see my sister in August. I plan to relish this stretch of airport-free living and make the most of Irish summer, such that it is! But I love knowing that a fresh batch of inspiration and discovery is only an airplane away.

Have you got any summer travel planned? How do you make the most of your limited vacation time?

3 Replies to “8 countries in 6 months”

  1. Nice! That’s a healthy amount of time to spend in each of those countries. I grew up in Budapest, Hungary. You should’ve stopped by! Maybe next time =) It’s fairly cheap, similar to Prague, since we’re talking about Eastern Europe.

    1. Thanks Tim! Budapest is definitely on my list of places to go next, when the days off/Ryanair prices align! I love what great value you can get in Eastern/Central Europe.

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