I’m not saying that this kind of travel is the kind of travel everyone wants to do, but if you are the kind of person who LOVES to travel and has a goal of going to as many countries as possible, this guide is for you. This guide is how to travel 12 countries in 3 weeks without going crazy. In the past few weeks we’ve gone to Germany, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Greece, Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Serbia, and Poland.
I thought this would be kind of a fun ‘3 weeks in review’ for Meg’s weekly link up party! Happy Monday to y’all!
The 25 lessons I’ve learned from this kind of travel have been ones that I’m thankful to have learned even though not all of them were super easy or comfortable to learn. Yet these weeks have been some of my favorite weeks of the year, because they’ve held so much unexpected adventure, slow days, happy days, hard days, and many reminders of God’s incredible mercy and the joy of God being with you in every single situation.
This trip has definitely taught me to put aside my ‘goal setting’ nature and go with the flow. It’s been tough and good at the same time. We’ve been flying through countries at top speed; thankfully they’re pretty small, so they are not hard to drive across.
I hope this is a helpful guide for those of you who want to travel more, whether it be across the States or different continents.
Lesson #1: Make sure to let go of your food rules. Be flexible with what you eat. If your body isn’t feeling a ton of bread, that’s ok. Get a carrot or a salad and you can munch on that in the car. If vice versa, your body is feeling all the carbs, buy a warm pretzel from the bakery you just passed and enjoy it! Bread and veggies are both gifts from God.
Lesson #2: Watch the people around you. Don’t be creepy, but observe how they live, how they interact. Appreciate the older ladies who are coming back from the market with their groceries, a sight I rarely see in rural Colorado. Appreciate the little children speaking to each other in Serbian or Bosnian or Greek even though you can’t understand it.
Lesson #3: Marvel at how they made buildings to last 100s of years ago. It’s amazing to come upon some castle ruins and realize that there were people having dinner, telling tales, even preaching the Word of God in the chapels inside the castle so many years ago.
Lesson #4: Search for how Jesus’ Kingdom has grown from starting in Israel and the Middle East to Asia and Europe. Find all the sites where people proclaimed the Gospel freely or secretly.
It was incredible going to Phillipi where Paul brought the gospel to the Philippians so many years ago. There’s just something about being in the actual place; history truly does come to life.
Lesson #5: If you’re on a road trip, you have the special privilege of seeing so much of God’s glory through the window of your car. You can travel through small villages that you may not be able to see on a train. You can stop at a road side grape stand and buy fresh grapes that taste SOOO sweet you can’t even describe how much you love them.
Lesson #6: Read as much as you can. I know that many of us live busy lives, and we don’t have time to read, but being in the car or on a train going in between cities and countries affords so much time for reading, sleeping, journaling, or napping.
Lesson #7: If you’re normally a food Instagrammer, don’t be afraid to share the locations you’re going to; it’s okay to not just have pictures of food on your feed.
I love how:
Lesson #8: You don’t have to see everything. Be intentional about what you want to see; what is important to you? Do you want to discover food, Christian history, architecture, church buildings, or ___(fill in the blank)? Are you more into beaches or mountains or a little bit of both?
Lesson #9: Going on a short run to explore the places where you’re staying is one of the best ways to discover a place if you aren’t able to be there for very long. You can just take 20 minutes to an hour and discover the town where you’re staying.
Lesson #10: Take those mornings slow at your accommodations until you have to leave. That will refuel your tank for more sight seeing, driving, exploring, discovering.
Lesson #11: Go to their farmer’s markets; they have the BEST apples if you go in the fall. There’s also a significant amount of grapes. Many of them are seeded, but they’re still soo much sweeter than ones I’ve had in the states. And they are really affordable as well especially if you’re in Eastern Europe. However we did find some good prices at a farmer’s market in Leipzig, Germany.
Lesson #12: Take pictures of what you really want to remember. You don’t have to take pictures of everything. It’s okay to just enjoy a moment too.
Lesson #13: Following that up with lesson #13, I would say, ‘Put down your phone.’ I’m not pretending that I”m good at this; I’m kind of like a magnet to my phone, but I have to remind myself that my phone does not control me, and though it’s a wonderful tool for connection and sharing and communication, it doesn’t need to define my life.
Lesson #14: Go to the grocery stores, and have fun checking out with the cashier. Make sure to smile a lot and look at the display to see how much you owe, because you probably won’t understand when they tell you the total.
Lesson #15: Take a few days of doing nothing. Or just drive for a day, and enjoy the scenery. That will refuel your body and mind to go back into the cities and be among the people and learn more and absorb more about the culture.
Lesson #16: There is beauty everywhere. Discover the little hole in the wall restaurants that serve DELICIOUS food for only $3.00 or $4.00. Be adventurous and discover the beauty. Don’t focus on the trash or the bad smells. Focus on the:
Smells of the Flowers, Bakery Bread
Seeing Sheep on the Hillside, Flower Baskets Hanging out the Windows, Bakery Bread Lining the Shelves
Hearing Someone Play Beautiful Music
Watching a Grandma and Her Little Grandson Collecting Acorns (or I think they were acorns)
Psalm 150:1-2, ‘Praise ye the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power. Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.’
Lesson #17: One of the best things is to make friends. We’ve loved going to different churches in the past 3 Sundays, and we’re looking forward to visiting a small church this Sunday, but it is SO fun meeting with them and a tremendous gift to be able to hear the body of Christ worship God in different languages. Last Sunday, we had someone translating into Arabic; there was another person doing Persian; and there was yet other people speaking Greek.
And the sermon was in English.
Isn’t that so cool?
Lesson #18: The mom and pop shops are the coolest, and you should go into them. You can find some really sweet older people inside of them.
Lesson #19: Bring a big bottle of perfume or cologne (depending on whether you’re a girl or a guy). Your travel companions will thank you.
Lesson #20: Journal! I’ve been loving a 5 Minute Journal I have (I don’t love all the quotes inside), but I love the concept of picking the favorite things that you learn from each day, what you’re grateful for, and it’s helped me to stay up on journaling without getting lost in the details.
Lesson #21: Realize that you’re an imperfect person, and you will mess up, sin, fail on the trip. I’ve realized just how much I don’t love, and I am definitely convicted that God’s Precious Word says, ‘They shall know you by your love.’ I have had way too many times this trip of not loving my sisters, not putting them before myself, but God has taught me so much about love and meditating on His great love for me in His Son Jesus so that I can love my sisters.
Yet I’ve seen God’s incredible grace sustain and pick all of us back up especially after the tough days where we don’t see eye to eye on different issues.
Lesson #22: Pack light. Don’t bring really heavy clothing, but bring a good jacket. Actually I might recommend a good jacket and a comfy hoodie that you can wear in your accommodations for the evening.
Lesson #23: If you travel during the summer, you will probably have to plan out your exact itinerary of which city/city or two that you want to visit each day, but if you travel in the fall (September/October) it’s really easy to find rooms/apartments/B&Bs on Booking.com. If you go to Eastern Europe, the apartments/B&Bs will be in the price range of $30.00-$100.00 per night (depending on how fancy you want it.)
Lesson #24: Write about your experiences. I want to read about people’s travel experiences. Julie had some amazing recaps from Alaska and Switzerland this year, as did Robyn from her quick trip to Switzerland.
Lesson #25: Don’t sweat it if you don’t get to do everything. Treasure what’s right in front of you. It’s been wonderful to wake up and rejoice and think about how God has cared for us on every single step of this; it’s been a crazy (cray cray) journey, but it’s been so worth it.
Other Blog Posts from This Trip:
I would love to know:
Do you like traveling fast through countries or states?
What’s the quickest trip you’ve ever done?
How many weeks was your longest road trip or vacation?
Would you like to get a taste of a lot of places in a short time or a big taste of one place in 3 weeks?