After spending eighteen days backpacking across Europe with my roommates, the holiday break is officially over and I’m back in my piso in Madrid. The memories that I made will definitely last a lifetime – from trying on $40,000 worth of diamonds in Amsterdam to eating Ferrero Rocher gelato on the river banks of Milan. Damn, that sounds pretty glamorous, doesn’t it? Well, okay…it kinda was. But that’s only considering the surface aspects of the experience. This trip was not all perfect smiles and smooth sailing. Believe it or not, there was a lot more going on behind the IG photos and pleasant updates. And that, my friends, is what this post is all about. I’m literally just going to rant about the ways that backpacking across Europe (on a budget)…kinda sucked.
POWDER ON THE KNEES
Now I’m prone to having dry skin, that’s why I moisturize myself to the gawds everyday. I prefer to use thicker creams or butters, especially in the winter, but for this trip I just had a light 4 oz lotion, because TSA. I even added a little bit of my almond and coconut oil to the bottle, so I figured everything would be okay. Well, I was dead ass wrong. I don’t know if it was the cold weather or what, but my skin stayed on Sahara Desert the E N T I R E trip. No matter how many times I reapplied throughout the day, I would still look like I’d been playing in powder two hours later. You know how it is when your skin gets so dry that it starts to itch, or even burn? Well that’s the level of straight disrespect that my skin had for me. When I finally got home I couldn’t wait to scrub and polish it back to life.
On the bright side: The heels of my feet were spared from a cracked and crusty fate
ALMOST OUT OF PANTIES
How do you fit 18 days worth of luggage into a tiny carry-on to avoid paying baggage fees? By minimizing load and optimizing space. Do you know how hard that is when the average forecast is 30 degrees and all you want to do is take your biggest boots and warmest sweaters? Very. Especially when the shoes you need to pack are a size 10 (thanks, mom).
So you end up packing 5-6 shirts, 2 dresses, 3-4 pairs of pants, 5 bras, a few socks, and about 3 handfuls of panties. All of which barely manage to fit inside your suitcase without a back drop suplex. Now you don’t have room to carry anything else, not even souvenirs for your friends and family. Needless to say, there are going to be a lot of repeat outfits this trip. Oh, and you better be okay with washing panties in the sink 🙂
On the bright side: Our last Airbnb had a washing machine, so at least I came back to Madrid with clean clothes!
When we booked this trip we clearly didn’t consider how exhausting traveling could be! By the time we got to Hamburg, Germany – leg 3 on the trip – we were already losing steam.
If no one else will ever tell you, let me be the first to make it clear. It’s tiring AF to be hopping country to country every 72 hours, changing environments, changing climates, changing housemates, languages, and schedules. No matter how much sleep I got, I was always physically drained. To make matters worse, the day after arriving back in Madrid I had to wake up bright and early to go back to work. I’ll be falling asleep in class all week, I’m sure.
On the bright side: At least I woke up every day, right? *insert praise break*
NATURAL HAIR PROBLEMS
So because I only had a few 4 oz bottles, I skipped out on bringing any hair products. I had just washed, protein treated, AND deep conditioned my 4C hair, so I thought my protective style would last me the whole time. Pffft. Maybe one week into the trip my hair started getting a little too crispy for my liking. I tried to revive it with water but chile it just got worse and worse. I eventually bought products at a beauty supply in Brussels, but THAT ended up getting trashed at the airport by TSA.
When I finally got around to detangling my hair on the last day, I was lowkey worried that I had locs forming. Like, my strands were were tangled at the root, shaft, AND tip. How, Sway?! It was crunchy and rusty. Used and abused. as ashamed to call myself a natural I couldn’t wait to get home and put alllllllllllllllllll the oils and creams I owned into my hair.
On the bright side: After conditioning, my hair is back to normal. Might have to clip a few ends, though
As an auxiliar de conversacion, I work 16 hours a week and make €1000 a month. That being said, it took a lot of willpower to budget for eighteen days of travel. You have to eat, get around, go out and do things, you know…enjoy life. I wanted to be frugal, but I didn’t want to THAT person. You know, the “Wow, dinner cost €20? I don’t think I can do anything else for the week” guy. I had money, I just wanted to ration it equally so that I could have as much fun on day 15 as I would be able to have on day 1. Plus, I was still responsible for the month’s rent, bills, and groceries when I got back home.
To compensate, we did lots of free tours and low-cost activities. Thanks to pinterest and tripadvisor, I think my most expensive excursion was about €25. BUT. Sometimes I still wish that I could vacation a bit more lavishly. I still get the urge to splurge on a night of dinner and cocktails, or trear myself to a just-because spa day. It’s like there’s always a fly little devil on my shoulder whispering…
On the bright side: I stayed under budget thanks to saving big the month before our departure!
I could go on, from my hormonal breakouts, to having no phone service, to being harassed by a crazy ass grown woman in my hostel. But I think I’ve gotten my point across thus far. For clarity, all this isn’t to say that I’m not grateful for going on this trip. Nor is it my intention to deter you from your own backpacking plans and aspirations. I just want you to know the FULL reality beyond surface. I hope you’r ready to embrace the bad along with the good, it’ll make you a better person!