I just returned to the US from an incredible three weeks both vacationing and working remotely in Europe. I spent a week in Tuscany, Italy with my family, then just under a week in Slovenia, a weekend in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina and a week in Croatia.
You can check out some of my photos and documented experiences on my Instagram profile – click on the Europe story highlight to see more.
In my (totally unbiased…) opinion, I think my travels looked pretty cool for those three weeks. 🙂 Let’s be real though, not every moment is perfect. Though I wouldn’t trade my experiences on this for anything, I felt like it was important to highlight some of the lesser-loved travel moments that I had along the way to emphasize that what you see on social media is never 100% real life.
I literally had to run to almost every flight, bus and train I took. Long delays, tight connections, spread out airports and and not always knowing where to go led to some really exhausting travel days. On my way to Italy in particular, I’m not exaggerating when I say I actually had to run to all of my connections between my three flights and 2/3 trains.
I had a bad cold for two weeks. Yeah, you get sick a lot when you travel. Planes, trains, buses, hostels, community bathrooms… germs are everywhere. I caught a cold right after I left Italy and was pretty knocked out from it for the first five days or so. That meant being super tired when trying to explore and a lot of early bedtimes in hostel dorm rooms, which isn’t always the easiest thing when so many backpackers stay up late partying every night.
It was really, really freaking hot. Croatia, you made me question if I really do love the heat as much as I thought. Stepping as much as a toe out of the shade and into the sunshine between 8am and 8pm immediately drenches your entire body in sweat there, especially in Dubrovnik, where the sun’s heat reflects off all of the light-colored buildings, pedestrian roads and Old Town walls. Luckily, you are never more than a 10-minute walk from a beach and those beautifully clear Adriatic waters. 🙂 But this is also a reminder that uncomfortableness happens a lot when traveling in new countries, especially when places don’t use air conditioning as extensively here as in the US. It’s just something to get used to.
I almost ran out of cash. Traveling with dependence on a credit card is really difficult when you are in some largely cash-driven countries. In the states, I charge literally everything. When budgeting for this trip, I just straight up did not think about the possibility (or fact) that my travel account would probably need to have some more cash money in it. I was living and working in Europe for two out of my three weeks there, so my vacation fund wasn’t going to cover my actual living expenses during those weeks. To every restaurant and store that took my credit card instead of cash, thank you. I am eternally grateful.
Working in cities without good wifi is super stressful. When I was in Dubrovnik, Croatia, all of my worst fears about my big remote work stint came to be. My hostel (that I paid extra for so I could work from a private room) had bad wifi, which meant I had to run to a café any time I needed to do something more advanced than search the web. This made for some really expensive days, because when you are at a café in a touristy city, they charge touristy prices and you have to keep buying things to keep your seat there. And cafés get loud sometimes, so when you are on a Skype meeting with a client, it can be a little stressful wondering just how much of the conversations around you they can hear (hopefully none).
So there’s a quick look into some of the normalities of travel from my last trip. Though none of these should ever scare you away from wanting to explore this beautiful earth, it’s important to remember that things like this do happen, and it won’t be all smiles and beautiful Instagram shots the entire time (though there are lots more of those than usual).