What My Itinerary-Free Europe Trip Taught Me About Life: Gratitude, Trust, Opportunity, And Self-Care
Have you ever gone on a trip and felt like you unintentionally learned a few things along the way that you wouldn’t have had you just been sitting at home on your laptop all day and night?
That’s how I felt recently when I went to Europe for a whole week. Without an itinerary. Well, besides the travel and housing information.
But holy smokes was I nervous to go to Europe without an itinerary. I’m not really a “wing it” kinda person, unless I’m in a “meh” mood - then it’s like “let’s wing it all the way!!” but at that point it’s really just because I don’t care anymore. So you can imagine the stress and anxiety that was building up inside of me prior to this trip.
Let’s just say it was not fun. For me and probably for those around me as well.
So what exactly did I learn on my Europe trip? They weren’t exactly new lessons, but there were definitely things I needed to be reminded of again. I needed the reminder that there was life outside of my laptop - that my life shouldn’t and couldn’t be just my laptop - for my health and sanity.
4 Things My Itinerary-Free Europe Trip Taught Me About Life
What I’m most grateful for is the fact that I went there with my boyfriend. Honestly speaking, I felt like had I gone with anyone else, it would not have turned out the way that it did and the experiences would have probably been different.
Do you know that trust exercise that they do where you fall and someone’s suppose to catch you?
That’s what this trip felt like, but honestly, that’s what our relationship feels like. Like if I were to fall, someone would be there to catch me. And growing up, let’s just say I had trust issues as in …I had trouble even talking to my therapist. Who I paid. Every week.
So grateful for this trip, the lessons it taught me, and the fact that I even got to go on this trip.
- my bf who is the type of person who is willing to buy tickets without having everything planned out (because I definitely am not...).
- this trip because had I not gone, I would still be a stressed out mess who would have her head buried in her laptop.
- all the amazing food I had on this trip. Pasta, baguettes, English Sunday Roast, pastries, gelato, duck, etc.
This trip reminded me with a wake up call of how important and essential gratitude is - and how buried in our heads we can be without it.
(Related: 6 Reasons To Have A Daily Gratitude Practice)
And on this trip, I learned to trust someone else.
I learned to trust that things were going to be okay even if I didn’t have every tiny little detail planned out.
We would find our way - to the hostels, to the airports, to the Airbnb, to the metro, and to wherever else we needed to go.
I realized that I did not want to come back from this trip only to become the same person I was when I left.
I did not want to be a micromanager or someone who stressed other people out or caused stressed in their life (or my own life).
Through learning trust, I remembered again that there’s more than one way to do something.
And if something’s not working and it’s been proved to not be working, then it’s time to change - even if changing feels really scary. It can be done, and it needs to.
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again hoping for different results.
And you know what’s kind of insane? I did the same thing over and over again in 2017, hoping that each time that it would be different.
3. Opportunity and options
Oof. This one’s a biggie.
On my 10 hour plane ride there, I listened to podcasts. Episode after episode. I ended up with a really long Evernote document at the end of the trip.
But one of the episodes I listed to was on Melyssa Griffin’s podcast, Pursuit with Purpose, with Jim Fortin.
They talked about this model of: be / do / have.
It wasn’t the first time I learned about this, but I guess the first time didn’t really sink in that well so it felt like the Universe was sending me a sign. Like, “hey, do this this time.”
Most people follow the model of: have / do / be.
Point is, you have to ask yourself who you want to be - “What is the identity of the person who would have the outcome that I want?”
And through listening to that podcast and many others (I was listening to Shopify Masters where business owners were sharing their stories and strategies), I had the realization that despite “failing” x amount of times this year in 2017, it was not my time to give up.
It is not my time to give up.
But it is another opportunity to keep going.
To test, to experience, to do, to learn, to fail, to get up again, but most importantly, to believe in myself.
To believe that it is possible for me, too.
And that? To feel that again? It was priceless, because it wasn’t something that I was feeling anymore on my own prior to this trip. Prior to the trip, I was a stressed out, overwhelmed, and honestly kind of a Debbie Downer with a victim mentality. If I’m being completely honest.
Point is, you have the opportunity to change who you are.
The opportunity to change the course of your life, even if you feel like nothing has worked out for you.
Even if you feel like you’re wayyyyyy behind everyone else.
And through that, I stopped being so ashamed of myself and started to believe in things again - which goes back to feelings of intense gratitude and trust.
I didn’t experience jet lag after the trip, but I did sleep a lot in Europe - which is something that would normally bring up a lot of guilt for me. Because y’know, you’re thousands and thousands of miles away from home, and you’re sleeping instead of doing touristy things and eating authentic pasta (both of which I did do).
But holy smokes do I really not like walking. And there was a lot of walking involved in our trip.
And each day, after all that walking, I slept. Sometimes even around 4 or 5 pm. Because my body needed the rest.
Instead of forcing myself to go out, I listened to my body. If it wanted to sleep, it slept. If it wanted to eat, it ate. If it wanted to drink wine, we drank wine. ;)
And towards the end of the trip, I got sick and my time of the month came. At the same time. So what did I do? I slept practically the whole day in our hotel room. Did I feel bad about it? A bit, because my boyfriend wanted to go downstairs in the lobby (the hotel we were staying at on our last day had a really cool vibe going on). But I also knew that if I pushed my body too much, I would end up feeling even worse.
So even though I’m still sick while writing this, it’s not that bad. Because I finally listened to my body again.
This Europe trip gave me hope again, in more ways than one.
Because it helped me open my eyes and get my head out of the sand.
It reminded me that life is more than a to do list. And that sometimes the things and lessons you truly need aren’t something that will result from your to do list.
It helped me believe in myself, maybe for the first time. Because despite how this year has gone, there has also been a lot of good that came out of it (so I really need to stop discrediting myself).
We all know how helpful planning is, but sometimes, you don’t need a plan.
Sometimes, what you may end up needing is anything but a plan.
You just need to go and trust that everything will be okay. And that when you fall, something or someone will catch you. Sometimes, you need that reminder that you don’t have to do everything yourself and to let the Universe and other people do a bit of the heavy lifting for a while.
It doesn’t mean you're weak or lazy.
What it means is that you’re human.
We’re all human, and we all need a break once in a while. Despite whether we want one or not.
I'd love to hear from you.
When was the last time you unexpectedly learned something, and what has that experience taught you?