As someone who has yearned to travel her entire life, I would admittedly get a bit annoyed whenever I heard someone complaining about the stress of traveling. For years, I felt like I’d never get a chance to go anywhere. Save for a study abroad in Buenos Aires (which was incredible, but let’s be honest—it was half work), I felt like I hadn’t seen the world. And I didn’t just want to, in many ways I felt like I needed to.
I’ve had more than one debate with friends about why travel is something that I consider important to me rather than just fun. I want perspective, unique experiences, immersing myself in different cultures. I don’t want to exist only in my cozy US bubble. I want to collect data about the world, and I want to let that data change the way I think and feel. I want to use to get to know myself and get to know the Pale Blue Dot we’re appended to.
“If I could find the means to see the world, I’d never complain,” I would think, “How could someone who has the luxury of traveling extensively dare complain about a delayed flight or some jet lag?”
Well, friends. I think I get it now.
Although, I’m not really going to complain. But I do now understand what people mean when they say traveling can be stressful. The truth is, everything worked out. The trip to Europe was incredible, but it didn’t come easy. Sure, I could post a bunch of pretty pictures and make you think that the pieces all fell into place with no effort and everything was rainbows, but that’s not how life works—and it’s sure as hell not how international travel works.
Our flight left from Newark with a stop in Oslo and Copenhagen before arriving in Rome’s Fiumicino airport. The plan was to go wander around during the day, spend the night at an AirBnb, then fly to Paris the day after. We’d then spend a few days there, fly to Barcelona for a few more days, then spend the last week back in Rome. Risky for sure, but we timed it such that we didn’t think we’d have to rush. Then life happened.
I’m not going to bore you with the gritty details of the chaos of our first day in Rome, but here’s a few bullet points to give you an idea:
- Checked luggage is missing and no one is certain when/if it will arrive or where it is.
- Shoes I wore on the plane are making my feet bleed and all my other shoes are in aforementioned rogue luggage.
- Had to beg a closing athletic store to let me come in and buy flip flops so I could walk without crying—shout out to the clerk in Mikonos that took pity on me.
- AirBnb hosts inform us that we’re actually staying somewhere else.
- Grab some quick cacio é pepe. Cry tears of cheesy, peppery joy.
- Wake up at 6 AM next day to hopefully get luggage.
- Literally had to wade through a sea of luggage and find the bags ourselves, BUT WE FOUND THEM! The took an extra trip to Germany. Jerks.
- Spend the day wandering Trasevere, eat pizza at Grazia Graziella, self-medicate with Peronis and negronis.
- Take cab to Ciampino airport to go to Paris
- Realize we’re at the wrong airport and will miss our flight
- Only flights available are out of Fiumicino
- Snag a free shuttle to Fiumicino—YAAAS
- Buy tickets to Paris the shuttle’s free WIFI—YAAAS
- Arrive in Paris, learn that the taxis are on strike because of Uber, get on Metro
- Attempt to interchange right as Metro is closing, wind up eating shitty croque monsieurs at some weird hole in the wall while trying to figure out how to get to our AirBnb
- Ironically manage to get an Uber and take an overpriced but totally worth it ride to our Montemarte flat
Yeah, man. It was intense. I will say, when traveling internationally I will never ever go without a TEP. It saved our asses so many times in just the first 48 hours. It made it possible for me to communicate with our AirBnb hosts that we’d be late, it made it possible for us to catch an Uber when we would have otherwise had to literally sleep on the street. It let us check our email and realize we had gone to the wrong airport, allowing us enough time to get another flight. The TEP wireless device was seriously the best decision we made the entire trip. More on that another day.
After that first 48 hours, the trip was pretty smooth sailing. I’m really excited to share it all with you guys. A 30 euro three course feast in Paris, ice cold bottles of cava for next to nothing in Barcelona, hanging out with cats in the square Caeser was killed in Rome—so many things.