6 People You’ll Meet While Traveling In Europe

6 People you'll meet

While traveling in Europe over the past few years I’ve met a LOT of people. The streets are always filled with travelers eager to get a taste of the art, history and overall experience that Europe has to offer; and as a solo traveler, I am always more than happy to share my journey with them. Toward the end of my last trip I started to take note of the trends in who I was sharing planes, trains and airplanes with and I thought I would share a few with you lovelies. So here they are – have you seen them? Leave a message with who I missed!

1. The Recent Grad:  These lovelies are the class of 20__ and are loud and proud about it. Whether hailing from the “great” U.S.A!, Canada, Australia or some other English speaking country, you’ll probably be able to pick these travelers out of a crowd by their looks of beautiful naivety and their constant need to tell everyone that they’ve recently graduated from college. Little do their beautiful soft minds know, we don’t care so much what you’ve learned from a book, but how you’ve applied it so far. Getting out of your comfort zone is a great starting point, but sometimes I want to tell them to not let that one three month European trip be the last time they push themselves beyond it.

2. The Family: Strollers in tow, these parents aren’t quite ready to settle down behind their white picket fences (at least, not all the time) and are out and about with their growing family. And don’t get them wrong, these families will be climbing mountains with sleeping babies strapped to their chest. I love seeing these families because I think it’s so important to introduce children to travel early on. My love of travel is because from a very young ageI was packed up and traveling all around the US – the fearlessness of travel is a learned attribute and I love seeing these kids learning it at such a young age.

3. The Band Of Brothers: There’s something beautifully bonding about the group of guys that travels the world together. Or at least that’s what they’ve all told me. But it’s not only the dudes who are bro-ing out. Shout out to the ladies who also have some tight knit pacts binding them together over countries and continents. Whether it’s a post graduation exploration, or just because their parents didn’t want them to be murdered when traveling alone (because that’s what happens to all us solo travelers – duh.) these groups can be fun to watch – and that’s pretty much all you’ll probably have the opportunity to do. Groups generally aren’t as inclusive as couples or singles (or even families) who travel. In much of the same way there are pros and cons to traveling alone, it’s a blessing and a curse to already have your friends with you when seeing the world.

4. The Boho Hipster: Yeah, yeah. We know. You are above living under the thumb of “the man” so you’ve decided to spend a “season” wandering the earth seeking enlightenment. Believe me, if you’ve met this person you will know it – mainly because they will be constantly reminding you of their alternative lifestyle. And you know what? That’s okay. Props to them – I don’t know how anyone travels with that many additional restrictions to their lifestyles. That’s right, I’m talking to you vegan, glamper who lives off Nietzsche, vintage wines and posts Instagram selfies of your daily lens flare/travel quote/#nofilter #travelpics #blessed.

5. The Nomad: A bit different from the Bohemian (mainly monetary differences, if we’re honest) this person actually doesn’t have anywhere else to go, and therefore approaches the world as their back yard, ready to be perused and explored. Hobbies may include, but are not limited to: epic story telling, guitar playing, resourceful repurposing, dread lock growing, Volkswagen driving, smoking certain plants that may or may not be legal and hanging out with the locals around dinner tables, fire pits and hostel front doors with long talks and smokes at 2am.

6. The Couple: Yes they’re in love. Yes you’re going to know it at every. single. moment. you’re with them. Whether they’re newly-weds, the couple who just never got their honeymoon or the empty nesters/retirees who are ready to take on the world, Europe called and they answered. While some of these couples may seem like an awkward alliance, don’t pass them by so quickly – some of my favorite introductions I’ve ever had were with older couples who had life advice, travel advice and were just solidly awesome. I love seeing the same enthusiasm I have as a single twenty something reflected in the eyes of couples who have been married for forty years. Wanderlust knows no age.

Yesterday’s Ceiling Is Today’s Floor

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Totally not my graduation. But entirely the right graduation picture.

This week I received an invitation from my alma mater to attend my five-year reunion. I had to decline the invite, since I live 5,000 miles away from where I went to college (and flying back to watch a basketball game and drink punch doesn’t really seem worth the $1500 plane ticket), but getting the email made me think. This is year five. When people asked me in college what my five-year plan was, this is where they were asking about.

The same as most twenty-somethings, I remember people frequently asking me where I saw myself in 5 years. I never really had an answer. I knew I wanted to be happy. I knew I wanted to feel like my life was moving, and not static. But beyond those two things, I honestly had no idea.

Going to a small conservative university where “ring by spring” was more the ideal, than a catch phrase, a lot of people had marriage, kids and white picket fences on their list of five year objectives. And while there’s nothing wrong with any of those things, I never felt right saying any of them as an answer (at least not within my 5 year span of time).

Was “having an adventure” an option?

I always want to be in a place where I’m moving forward. I think my biggest fear in life is waking up one morning and realizing that I’ve wasted years of my life hating what I do and who I’ve become. But when I look over the past five years I don’t see that. Did I become the person people thought I would become, while I was in college? Who knows. But I do know that there were dreams, so deeply buried in my heart, that I didn’t even know they were there until they were realized.

The mere fact that I can’t attend my reunion because I live in EUROPE is amazing. I never would have even dreamed that this would be an opportunity for me.

And as I’ve looked back over the past five years I can safely say I’ve had quite a few awesome moments that I’m so proud of.
And, in the spirit of five, here are my top highlights:

  1. I became an artist: I’ve been creating art since I could move my hands, but over the past five years I finally learned to embrace it as who I am. I am an artist. And no matter how much I want to be a doctor, lawyer or astronaut, that’s who I am. Art is what I dream about. What gets me out of bed in the morning. It’s what I think about when I’m riding the metro, it’s what I look at when I’m walking down the street. I never before felt comfortable declaring myself as an artist. But over the past years I’ve been able to make some incredible friends who have helped me embrace that this is my identity.
  1. I became a writer: My whole life I’ve written stories. I used to force my siblings to have story writing competitions with me and we would cut up cereal boxes to “bind” out books together. Libraries were always my second home, so it makes sense that stories became my second language. While I did get my BA in journalism, I never had any idea what I would do with it. I had no interest in brooding news stories. And I used to shock my journalism professor by telling him that the only journalism I was interested in was writing for a tabloid (what no journalism prof. ever wants to hear).
    I always felt like everyone else was always just better than me at being a journalist. From editor to fellow writer, they were a beautiful brooding bunch that stayed up late watching CNN and talking about world events and politics. That wasn’t me. And no matter how much I wished I could be like my stylish editors or the praised writers in my classes, I couldn’t change that.
    I was pretty lost for direction until the past couple of years when I discovered that writing doesn’t always have to be about reporting world events (although that’s important too!). It can be fun and colorful, it can mean going on adventures and writing about them! And then the best part ever happened: me. Little ‘ole non-journalistically inclined me, became an editor…and I love every minute of it.
  1. I travelled the world: I don’t think I would have ever guessed how much travel would be involved in my future, when I was in college. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always loved to travel and learn about/experience other cultures, but I never thought I would have the opportunities to go out and experience so many of them. I’ve gone with groups, I’ve gone solo, I’ve lived in other states and another country (on another continent!) and I’ve been able to learn so much about myself by looking through the eyes of people around the world.
  1. I worked for organizations that made a global impact: Societal change and sustainable business is SO important to me! And regardless of where I work or what point in my life I’m at, I want to always find a way to give back to the communities around me. Being able to work with non-profits and with small businesses over the past five years has forever changed my outlook on the world and on the way that I interact with it.
  1. I made friends for life: Something great happens when you’re dirt poor and forced to live with three other people in an apartment that should probably only hold two people. I think American society teaches us to fear those growing points in our life; the parts where we have no money and have to work weird jobs to be able to pay our utility bill. But my best memories in my life have come out of times when I had no money, weird jobs and had no idea where my life was going. Was it comfortable? No. Did I cry a lot and ask God why the hell he had put me there. Maybe Yes. But now, looking back, I understand why. I get why in seasons where I thought money was the object, the actual title of the chapter was “Friendship” and I could not be more grateful for the relationships that were molded during these times.

Note. None of these things have made me filthy rich, Instagram famous or listed on “America’s most influential 30 under 30.” But if I was asked if I accomplished my five year goal I would say “Yes.”

Because I am happy. And I am free to do the things that make me happy. Over the past five years I’ve gone on too many adventures to count. I have so many stories I could write a novel. I’ve met some of the coolest people I think I could find on this planet, and I have never felt more loved or supported in my life.

I am me. Uninhibited, nonconforming and entirely me. And I think that’s something to celebrate.

And now, it’s time to dream EVEN BIGGER., and to add some new goals for my next “five year list!” I have no idea how I’m supposed to top this one, but here’s to brighter tomorrows and bigger dreams.
What are some of your guys’ dreams from the past or for the future?