A lot has changed in my life over the past five years. Since I returned from my last backpacking tour of Europe in January of 2011 I have fallen in love, landed my first “real job”, quit said job, moved from Toronto to Vancouver, bought our first home, met new friends, said so-long to some old ones, and did a whole lot of other stuff in between.
Sometimes it feels like yesterday I was raising pints in my dirndl at the 2010 Oktoberfest in Munich, and other times, it feels like a lifetime ago.
I believe firmly that getting older is a blessing, but damn, when did it have to start going by so fast?!
One of the most apparent changes I have realized during my current European adventure is just how much my ways have evolved. Now, don’t get me wrong: I absolutely loved my last time in Europe and I wouldn’t change a thing, but I am not that same person. My lifestyle is far different now than it was then and because of that it’s no surprise travelling Europe is different this time around.
The dreaded backpack. I can honestly say I have fond memories of backpacking around Europe, but actually carrying the backpack, well that sucked. My friend and I always referred to them as our “unwanted children”; we had to love them and take care of them but… we didn’t really like them that much. I know, terrible analogy but it always made us chuckle.
Now: Roller Suitcase
Today, I am travelling with a HEYS 26” cubic spinner (that I bought at Winners) and a Little America Herschel backpack. I could not be happier with my luggage choice. Does it sometimes suck to wheel a suitcase up the cobblestone streets of Europe? Darn right it does! But that one negative makes up for cramming into crowded metros with my “unwanted child” and my back and shoulders aching after travel days any day of the week.
I absolutely adored the hostel experience, it was my first time entering into the hostel world and hopefully, it won’t be my last. I would recommend the hosteling experience to any young buck heading out to travel, solo or with friends. It is hands-down the best way to meet likeminded travellers and exchange wisdom and advice from the road. We met some great people during our stay, and have some epic stories to regale friends and family with because of our decision to stay in hostels. Hands down the best site to use when booking a hostel experience is Hostelworld, check it out here.
Privacy. Travelling as a couple means that we want some privacy. Now, that’s not saying we don’t want to meet people, rather, we don’t want to share a room with eight other people. Many hostels offer the option of private rooms, but during our research we have found that booking a room in a hostel for two of us is often the same price as renting a whole apartment on Airbnb. Therefore, Airbnb has been our go-to accommodation choice for the majority of our trip, with Booking.com as a backup.
Airbnb also allows you to search for options that you might enjoy, say an outdoor space in Barcelona, or a washing machine for after a desert excursion. These extra amenities can be extremely helpful when travelling long-term.
Last time I travelled Europe it was with my friend Kim. We are lifelong besties and had been talking about travelling Europe since we were teenagers, so it was a big thing for us to follow through with. It was truly an experience of a lifetime. I learned so much about myself, our friendship, and how to be in a true partnership. We had an epic adventure and I will always be grateful for that we had that time together. You can check out a video from our travels here.
Andy is the only boyfriend I have ever travelled with. We have been very blessed to have the ability to take a variety of vacations together but nothing like this. Long-term travel with your partner is different, and by different I mean the best. To have the ability to share an experience like this with the person you love most in the world is something out of a fairytale. Is it perfect all the time? Definitely not, but is it the most fulfilling journey of my life, that’s for sure.
Then: Pub Crawls
Back in 2010, I was all about the pub-crawls. They were a great way to meet new people, experience the nightlife of a city, and sometimes, you even woke up with a few memories of them. We partied hard in Europe but that’s just what you do when you’re a young backpacker travelling a new continent.
Now: Crawling into Bed
Today, I prefer to go out for a nice dinner with my man, head back “home”, enjoy a night cap and get to bed at a reasonable hour. How things change, huh? Partying all night is just not an option for me anymore; my body can’t just can’t handle it.
Then: iPod Touch
I only had an iPod Touch when travelling last time. That’s it. I used it for everything, the internet, Skype calls, music and more. When I look back I think, “How did I possibly do EVERYTHING on that tiny little screen for five whole months?!”
Now: Samsung Cellphone & Tablet, MacBook Air, iPod
Our electronic game is on point this time around. We have more than we need but have found each item extremely useful. The cellphones allow us to enable them as hotspots which is invaluable, the MacBook is great for blogging, and the tablet is fun for getting your internet “creep” on, reading the news, following recipes, and so on.
How has the way you travel changed with age and experience?