In a little over 5 months, we’ve walked about 2,200 kilometres in 8 countries.
We’re coming to the end of our trip now so we thought we’d look back at how it’s gone.
Things we learned
Every kilogram counts when you’re carrying it. Apparently, you shouldn’t carry more than 10% of your body weight if you’re doing serious walking. We carried more than that at the beginning but we sent some stuff home after we’d finished camping. We didn’t need anything bigger than a 40-litre rucksack each for the last 4 months of the trip.
4 socks good. 2 socks bad.
We needed 4 pairs of walking socks each. 1 pair of socks wasn’t enough to avoid getting blisters so we always wore 2 pairs at once. We had 2 spare pairs for when the first 2 pairs were dirty or still wet after we’d washed them.
It doesn’t need to cost that much.
We made a budget and we finished just under it. Our cheapest day (excluding staying with friends) cost about €26 (€13 each). That includes accommodation and meals.
Things didn’t always go as we’d planned but we got better at dealing with being thwarted as the trip went along. When we found out something wasn’t possible, we tried not to get too caught up in existential angst about it.
We got out of our bubble.
One of the unintended consequences of our trip was that we met a lot of people who don’t have the same views as us. Sometimes it was fucking annoying but we did surprise ourselves by finding out we could find common ground - and even enjoy spending time - with people who have very different political opinions from us.
Some things stay the same.
Brexit is inescapable whether you’re home or away.
Things we missed
Friends and family.
This was a particular problem for Roz who loves TV so much she uses Trello to keep track of her TV watching.
We’ve been wearing about 3 outfits each for 6 months. It’s surprisingly wearing. (Sorry.)
There’s no place like it.
Things we got wrong
We left a bit too late.
As the weather got colder, we added Portugal to our itinerary and had to skip the Balkans. If we were going to do it all again, we’d probably leave in April or May so we could have warm weather for longer and get more hours of daylight.
We took a few more things than we needed.
We used everything we brought but we sent some tops and jumpers home with our camping stuff when we were done with it.
Things we got right
Deciding to go.
We ummed and ahhed about whether we should go on this trip. What about our jobs? Would it affect our careers? Could we afford it? What about ‘The Future’? If we could afford it, shouldn’t we use our privilege in a more useful way?
In the end, we thought “Fuck it!” and we’re glad we did. We got to experience what Europe is like to walk through. How it subtly changes from town to town and country to country. And how the people were different but the same wherever we went.
It’s been a big adventure that’s given us a better idea of what it means to live in Europe. It’s also left us healthier, happier and with a real sense of achievement.