There are many reasons why I like to read, but one of the main reasons is to challenge my thinking - to help me see things in a new and sometimes entirely different light.
That’s why I really appreciate (and am constantly seeking out) Seth Godin’s work - I can’t think of a book that has challenged me as much as Linchpin did.
But this is not about Linchpin (I’m pretty sure I’ve already covered that), this is about two exceptional books that I’ve recently read: The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann and We Are All Weird by Seth Godin.
If you enjoy challenging traditional thought on the ways to succeed in business - and in some respects life - then I highly recommend both of these books. Each can be read within a couple hours and believe me - you won’t regret it.
It’s works like these that leave a mark and change forever the way you view your place in this world and the impact you can have.
I love planning vacations - there’s something about dreaming up elaborate adventures in foreign countries that appeals to me - but it’s also a lot of work and can be a bit daunting at first.
So how do you do it? Well I’m glad you asked. Here’s a quick how-to guide on planning your European adventure.
Make Your Must-See Hit-List
First, and most importantly, figure out which countries/cities are highest on your must-see hit-list, taking into account time constraints. We managed to fit in 9 cities (including a day trip to Normandy from Paris), over three and a half weeks, but this means that you’ll only get two to three days in each city. This is enough to see the highlights, but it doesn’t give you much time to really explore most cities.
If you’re like me and need help narrowing down this list, I recommend Lonely Planet’s discover Europe guide, which will give you an overview of most European countries (and their major cities) - in colour no less.
Planes, Trains or Automobiles?
Once you’ve got your list, determine which modes of transportation work best for country hopping. While taking a train is the quintessential way to see Europe, planes can be just as cheap (or expensive), and will save you time if you’re trying to pack in as much as you can. EasyJet was by far the best carrier we used. Ryanair is a good alternative, but be prepared for an in-air version of the shopping channel.
The downside to flying is of-course the hassel of arriving a couple hours early to get through airport security. I recommend taking the train for short-haul trips (Paris to Normandy or Rome to Florence), but for long-haul trips (Barcelona to Rome or Rome to Berlin) seriously consider flying.
Book your airline tickets a couple months in advance, especially if you’re traveling during the summer. Although it’s usually not required, I would also recommend booking your train tickets ahead of time to avoid any unnecessary stress.
Driving is another alternative, but I would avoid it if you’re trying to explore a good portion of the continent and don’t have six months (I envy you if this is your plight).
Rest for the Wicked…I Mean Weary Traveller
Now that you know where you’re going and how you’re getting there, the last major step in the planning process is finding a place to rest your worn out feet after a long day of sight-seeing.
There are three routes you can take:
- Hostels: For the young and single traveller, this option makes the most sense. It’s easy on the wallet and a great way to meet fellow travellers.
- Hotels: For the conservative traveller, traditional hotels are the safest option. They offer more privacy than a hostel and are probably also cleaner (the lack of young males sharing a room might have something to do with it).
- BnBs: For the traveller looking for an authentic experience without giving up privacy, BnBs are a great alternative. If you’re feeling even more adventurous, consider trying out Airbnb. It connects those with spare space to those looking for a place to stay - a unique variation on the traditional BnB.
If you haven’t guessed it yet, I’m a huge fan of Airbnb. We used it exclusively (and for the first time) for our trip this summer and loved it. Not only did we meet amazing people, but we got to experience life as a local - which is part of the fun of travelling. It’s easy on the bank account to boot.
Whichever route you decide to take, make sure you book at least a month in advance, two months if you’re travelling during the summer.
Well there you have it. I hope this helps you get started.
It was Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher, who said that “change is the only constant”. Although I’ve always believed this to be the perfect depiction of our world, it wasn’t until I experienced the constant change of traveling through eight very different cities in three short weeks that I thought about it outside of the world of business and applied it to my life.
I’ve never outrightly resisted change - that would just be pointless - but I’ll be the first to admit that there are times when it scares me. For some reason though, it didn’t dawn on me that this trip would require constant adaptation to change until I was living it.
Every three days we packed up our possessions, strapped them to our backs and hopped on a plane. Right after settling into a city and establishing a comfortable rhythm, everything had changed on us within a few short hours - the language, culture, metro system and accommodations. We suddenly had to adjust the way we communicated with people, interacted with their norms and travelled around.
Without even realizing it, we were experiencing constant change and learning to adapt to it quickly - it wasn’t a choice…adapt or get left behind. At six in the morning this change wasn’t always welcome, it required great effort and a willingness to make mistakes - which is difficult to muster at such an unfortunate hour. But being open to this change and accepting it lead to more rewarding experiences and taught us an important lesson.
Change is inevitable. Being a stick-in-the-mud may offer more comfort for a while, but eventually you’ll become stagnant and be very quickly left behind. Sure, sometimes it’s difficult and stressful, but it can also be extremely rewarding when you embrace it, adapt to it and learn from it.
It’s been a week since our return and as glad as I am to be home (now that the jet-leg has worn off), I’m afraid that I have a slight case of the post-vacation blues. But how could you not after almost a month of doing nothing but eating delicious foods and wandering around romantic foreign cities?
Don’t feel too bad for me though (I’m sure that’s exactly what you were feeling), cause after 8 months of planning I got to take the trip of a lifetime and I consider myself lucky to have had this experience.
Even though I probably won’t find myself on another adventure quite like this anytime soon, I know that my love for traveling and passion to explore this amazing planet we call home will stay with me. So this isn’t the end…it’s just so long….until I can replenish my bank account.
If you guessed Kermit the Frog after a swim you’re wrong - but good try. It was actually the last destination on our tour of Europe - Dublin.
Despite being a sizable city, Dublin has a unique small town vibe with friendly people, relaxed pubs and quaint shops. Maybe it’s my Irish roots or the fact that this was the first predominantly English speaking country we’ve stayed in since the beginning of our trip, but Dublin felt more like home than anywhere else. It probably helped that our Airbnb hosts were Canadians studying in the UK - making us miss home that much more.
The highlight for Dublin was an evening spent in The Purty Kitchen, a small pub with a fantastic Irish band (The Voyagers) that played some amazing covers (from Amy Winehouse to The National) and traditional Irish tunes. They were even kind enough not to laugh too hard at me when I requested Galway Girl and pronounce Galway wrong. I would have requested Danny Boy - what with my name being Dani - but my love for sappy RomComs got the best of me (P.S. I Love You anyone?).
Although, I would’ve liked to have ventured out from Dublin and seen more of the Irish countryside, there just wasn’t enough time.
One day I’ll be back to see it all, but right now I’ve had my fill and am ready to go home. With three clicks of my purple runners and 9 hours in the air, I’ll be back on Canadian soil.
Good-bye Dublin. Hello Vancouver.
If you know Queen, you’ve probably heard their song Bicycle Race a time or two before (if you haven’t this is a tragedy, but I’m sure Google can catch you up). Anyways, after spending a couple days in Amsterdam I’ve decided that this should be their unofficial anthem.
I’ve never been more worried about being hit by a bicycle than by a car until I visited this unique city. Bikes seem to adorn every street lamp, bridge and sidewalk - they even have a parking garage dedicated for them.
If that wasn’t enough to convince you about my anthem idea, also consider that men in full on business suits, women in dresses and high heels, and mothers with multiple children all race around this city on two wheels - it’s serious business. It also explains why obesity isn’t so rampant here.
Although it requires a slightly enhanced sense of awareness (due to the variety of motorists), walking through Amsterdam is a lot of fun. There are many “interesting” shops, markets and sights to be enjoyed on foot.
But if there is one thing you shouldn’t miss here it’s Anne Frank’s house. Walking through this historical building gives you a new and more realistic perspective of what the life of this extraordinary young woman, her family and so many others was like during that time. It was both heartbreaking and inspiring and definitely worth the visit.
Now that Amsterdam has been stricken from our list it’s on to Dublin to finish off this tour in true Irish style - with some awesome music and dancing.