I just came back from my Europe trip and I’m so excited to write this post. I didn’t want to share the details on how I got to travel before, because I was honestly afraid of jinxing it.
My closest friends have known for a while how unhappy I’ve been to be at a job where I only had five days of vacation a year. I really liked my job but after living in the U.S. for 8 years I realized that having one to two weeks of vacation time was no longer working for me.
Some people measure success by the amount of money they have, but I realized that the only true measure of success for me was having vacation time to be able to visit my family in Brazil more often and finally begin to explore the world.
So, as soon as the New Year began, I started to look for a new job opportunity that would allow me to have more vacation time. After meeting with friends and doing some serious Googling, I finally decided to make a career change and become a teacher. I taught English as a foreign language in Brazil for two years and that is still the best job I’ve ever had. So I figured I’d give it a shot and try to take the exam to become a teacher. In Florida, if you have a bachelor’s degree, you can take the subject area test (and later a few more tests) and start teaching without having to obtain a whole new teaching degree.
It made me a little weak on the knees to make such a big change, but I had made up my mind. So, I gave my two-week notice as a full-time employee at the hotel management company I worked for. It was really bittersweet, because again, I really liked my job. I was just unsatisfied with the amount of vacation time the company offered.
It’s also really hard to give up any job because you lose that sense of security. Fortunately, when I drafted my resignation letter, I asked if the company would agree to keep me as a part-time employee working from home, and they accepted my offer. That was a great compromise because it gave me the flexibility I was seeking while still allowing me to do what I love. In the end, I quit my full-time job and signed a new contract to work from 15-25 hours a week, working from home. My income dropped down significantly, but I was happy to finally be able to travel.
Once I started as part-time, I bought a book online to study for the teaching exam and started to work from home while studying every day to try to pass the exam.
Amidst all of that, I started to look for flights to Europe fairly often. I set up email alerts on Momondo to be notified of when fares went down, and I signed up for the free version of Scott’s Cheap Flights. One of my friends had signed up for the paid version of it and would forward me the emails when she got offers to Europe.
One day I found a ticket for $160 going from Orlando to London. It was already past midnight and I woke up my boyfriend to tell him that we had to buy this ticket. He said his vacation time was still not approved so he couldn’t buy it. I just knew I couldn’t pass this ticket up. I didn’t even think about it. There was still a chance that my boyfriend wouldn’t be able to go at all anyway. So I just went ahead and bought the ticket. I bought a one-way ticket to Europe. That’s when not just my legs, but my entire body started to tremble. I had just quit a full-time job and I was buying a ticket to Europe.
I felt almost guilty to be making things happen. I mean, adults are supposed to be responsible and here I was trading security for dreams. I’ve dreamed of going to Europe for so long, and now it was happening.
I told one of my best friends who lives in Germany about it and she started to help me plan my trip right away! She sent me some great websites to look at for train tickets and flights in Europe. I still didn’t know how long I was going to spend there. But the plan was to stay for a month. I have never even taken more than a two-week vacation ever since I moved into the US. I thought: when else am I ever going to be able to do this again if teaching doesn’t work for me? So, I knew I wanted to plan a longer vacation! And I had never had to plan a vacation by myself, so I didn’t even know where to start. So, I just started by choosing the places I’d like to visit.
I also knew that I wanted to experience each city at a slower pace. I didn’t want to do a CliffsNotes of Europe. Even though I was staying for a month, I wanted to stay an average of five days in each country instead of doing a quick overview of many countries.
I first chose three countries:
I’ve always wanted to visit London, Paris and Amsterdam. And since they are all pretty close together, the itinerary made sense. I also knew I wanted to go see my friend in Germany. Once she confirmed that she would be able to meet up with me in Berlin, I got excited to add Germany to my plans. She mentioned she wanted to visit Belgium and asked if I was interested. I’ve never been anywhere, so I told her I was interested in anything and everything. We worked out the details to visit Belgium during her Easter break, and that’s how my five-country itinerary came about.
I could hardly believe this was all coming together. I had about a month to plan everything from the time I bought my ticket. I talked to my job and they allowed me to work a few more hours on the weeks preceding the vacation and a few less hours while on vacation. I really didn’t mind having to work a couple of hours a day during vacation if it meant I got to keep my remote job and still travel. So, I started to work super hard to get a bunch of things done before I left, I started to pack and I would search for hostels and train tickets at night. I was so anxious at times that I would wake up in the middle of the night to jot ideas down that I had dreamt about. But overall the planning part went by very quickly as I was busy working more hours and still trying to study.
About a month ago I set off to Europe and had the time of my life. I loved every minute of it and definitely didn’t regret my decision to leave my full-time job. I’ll write a different post explaining all I did financially to prepare for this trip.
Thanks for reading!