I think I was 10 when I went abroad for the first time. It was a mission trip to Juarez, Mexico, of all places, but it sparked a love for culture and language and travel that has motivated me for the past 12 years.
Since then, I’ve climbed thousands of steep steps of Huayna Picchu and driven through the deep green grasses of the Nebraska Sandhills and smelled the fresh breeze trickle through the trees in the Redwood Forest. I’ve dipped my toes in the Mediterranean and gotten lost on a bus in the wee hours of the morning in London and gone cliff diving in the crystal blue seas that surround Hawaii. I’ve been serenaded by an accordion player while eating pasta in Italy and walked through the sparkling Times Square at night and hiked the evergreen mountains of North Carolina. I’ve spoken Spanish with la gente de la Republica Dominicana and shopped in the colorful and chaotic Bazaar in Istanbul and eaten a five-star meal on the rooftop of a hotel Athens, overlooking the Acropolis during the salmon-colored sunset.
But it’s not enough. The more I travel, the more I want to travel. As a 22-year old, I’ve been to more than a dozen countries. This summer, I’ll be tacking on a lot more to that list.
You probably think I’m too young for a sabbatical. But it’s radical, so maybe it works. I got the idea for this catchy name from Jane Hirt, a journalist and lady boss (and probably a goddess) who took a year off and said yes to everything. My radical sabbatical is a little different, but I think the craziness of it fits the criteria.
The idea for this trip came when I was in high school.
My best friend Sami was going trekking through India for a month. I was beyond green with envy — I was brown, purple, red, all at the same time.
“Let’s travel together someday,” I told her. She agreed.
A few years later, we took off for Budapest for the New Year. We spent one week exploring the city, swimming in the hot springs, drinking a lot of beer, shopping at the holiday markets, and traveling on our own in another country. But we wanted more. And we’d been saving for more.
So this summer, we’ll be gone for a little longer than a week.
Another best friend, Andi, shares our love of culture and language and will tag along. My best friend from high school and my best friend from college will join me in exploring Europe for a summer. How did I get so lucky? (Hi, God, thanks, pal!)
We’ll hit close to 20 countries. We’ve talked about Iceland, England, Scotland, Ireland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Hungary, Switzerland, France, Spain, Portugal, Croatia, Morocco, Greece, Serbia, and Turkey. At the end, I’ll be meeting my fiancé in South Africa, where he’ll be spending the summer serving in a church. My mom will join us and we’ll go to Madagascar before heading home.
Here’s the thing: I’ve been saving for this trip since high school, but I don’t want to blow all my savings. We’re being very strategic about our plans. Our goal is to do this trip with a $3,000 budget, but we have some wiggle room.
From budget planning to flight booking to sightseeing to (probably) getting lost in the middle of a country where I don’t speak the language, I’ll be blogging it all. And while I’m at it, I’ll probably profile a few backpackers I meet along the way (starting with my travel buddies). Stay tuned for an exciting summer ahead! And if you have any tips on what I should see in any of these places, feel free to contact me.