How My Travel Preferences were Impacted by Backpacking Across Europe for 3 Months

Traveling around Europe for 3 months with a backpack and a carry-on suitcase had way more of an impact on my life than I thought it would. I knew I would gain a lot of new experiences, meet new people, reconnect with friends, and learn about the history and culture of different areas, but I didn't think I would learn so much about my travel preferences in such a short time.

Here's how my travel preferences were impacted by backpacking across Europe for 3 months: 

Slow Travel vs. Fast Travel

You've probably heard these terms on social media but in case you haven't, here's a quick definition of each: 

  • Slow Travel: spending a long amount of time in one destination; often for about a month or two of time or longer
  • Fast Travel: moving quickly from one destination to the next; often only for a day or a few days in a destination but spanning up to a week or so in one place

Before this trip, I thought I didn't mind either option. So being the optimist I am, I chose to make the entire 3 months traveling around Europe a "fast travel" trip. The longest I stayed in one destination was 8 days, which was a tie for the amount of time I spent in Rome, Italy where I stayed with a friend, and in Braunschweig, Germany where I stayed with another friend. Everywhere else was 2+ nights but more typically 4-6 nights.

When I started the trip, I was spending a week in each destination. After about the fourth week, I decided to shorten time at each destination so I could fit in more destinations. As I kept planning out my path, I couldn't knock places back off my list, so I started to book more and more 4-5 night stays.

I learned very quickly that fast travel was not in line with my preferences. I tried to move way too fast, and I ended up being exhausted after the trip. While I was at the final location of the trip, I pretty much had no desire to explore anymore. I was staying with my friend, and she kept asking what I wanted to do or see, and I told her I have no planning left in me. If she had ideas, I'd come along, but I couldn't make decisions anymore on what I wanted to do.

And since this was when the trip was ending, I didn't necessarily want to go back to the US, but I didn't want to move around anymore.

Small Towns vs. Big Cities

My preference in this arena is opposites when it comes to domestic and international travel. When it comes to domestic travel, I like to go to bigger cities with lot of things to do and lots of people. I grew up in a small town, and the sight of a big city just makes me super excited. I like to be right in the middle of the hustle and bustle where I can walk to anything I want to do.

When it comes to international travel, my preference is not exactly opposite, but close. Smaller towns and cities have so much charm and culture. Don't get me wrong, I love the bigger international cities too, like Milan and Rome, and will no questions asked book trips there, but I found I enjoyed smaller towns and cities, like Bologna and Pisa, and would prefer to go to them instead. I still want to be in walkable areas though, so that's why I say it's not exactly opposite.

Solo Travel vs. Traveling with Someone

While I like both, my love for solo traveling grew while I was traveling around Europe for 3 months mostly alone. Don't get me wrong — if any of my friends called me up right now and asked if I wanted to travel somewhere, the word YES will come out of my mouth before they can even finish the question.

But solo traveling as much as I did and as quickly as I did gave me a new appreciation for my own company. While I was traveling solo around Europe, I also didn't pay for a data package for my phone, so when I was out and about on my own, I was forced to be more in the moment and not on social media. I sat at restaurants eating meals alone while people-watching (not in a creepy way, I promise), because a lot of the places didn't have free wi-fi, and at one point I stopped asking because I enjoyed not having it.

I wouldn't say I necessarily prefer solo travel over traveling with someone, but I definitely prefer traveling solo much more than I ever thought I would.

 

International travel altogether gives you a new perspective on life. In just 3 months of solo traveling around Europe, my travel preferences were pretty significantly altered. I can't wait for more adventures to see how they continue to shape my travel preferences.

 

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