Europe. It brings to mind a plethora of images, from towering castles, meandering canals, and fields of tulips, to ancient ruins and charming windmills.
Backpacking in this enchanting continent is in every traveler’s bucket list, and while it’s a very realistic goal for Westerners, most of us in the Philippines have to make do with just dreaming about it.
There are a lot of travelers like me who work 9-5 so that we can save up for our trips, and dreaming of Europe is as far as we can get.
Or at least, this is what I thought before. Now that I am in Europe for my 70-day solo backpacking trip, I’ve realized that it may not be as farfetched a dream as I had thought it was before for regular people like me. It can be cheap to travel in Europe!
I’m certainly not a millionaire; I have a 30-year mortgage on a small house in the boondocks, and until recently, I’d worked for a nonprofit organization with a salary just enough for me to live on.
What I did have was the belief that anything is possible, that I could achieve something if only I wanted it hard enough (this was what Apollo 17 astronaut Eugene Cernan told me years ago).
For years, I saved up a lot, foregoing shopping for new clothes and buying only what I needed. I made do with jeans and shirts that I owned for years, ate cheaply (but nutritiously), and skipped going to the mall and watching movies.
I also developed the skills I needed to help me become location independent in the future, something that can certainly help keep me on the road.
And with the help of a very good friend last year who became my sponsor in getting a Schengen visa, I am now living my dream: backpacking in Europe for 70 days.
Because I could still earn from my online jobs while on the move, I don’t have to worry about running out of money or using up my savings while traveling. Being location independent, I can backpack in Europe for months without worrying about my finances.
At the moment, I’m spending time in Belgium where my sponsor lives. I’m learning to love this small country (despite up to -20 deg C temperature!)—from its mussels and fries, to touristy waffles, snow, and the hundreds of varieties of beer that I had longed to savor.
I know I have to leave Belgium behind to discover what else Europe has to offer a backpacker like me—from the Netherlands and Denmark, to Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, Italy, and Greece—but strangely enough, I’m loathe to leave this small and beautiful country behind.
It could be the pastries and the other rich Belgian food, or perhaps the sights—what I’ve seen of it so far given the cold!—or maybe the people. Whatever the reason, I’m really finding it hard to leave. I’m consoled by the fact that I still have more than 2 months in Europe—plenty more time to go back to Belgium where I found my happiness again.
I would like to thank the people who have helped me in one way or another to make this trip possible: Meah See of Bahay Tsinoy and Jacqueline Dy for the winter clothes; Hazel Ilano, K, Nis Jensen, Ole Riis, Elma Laguna, and Saskia Hein-Schmidt for the friendship (and the accommodation) given to me; and the numerous Couchsurfing and Hospitality Club hosts who are very willing to show me the best of their culture and their country. Without you all, I would have had a harder time making this particular dream come true!
Do you dream of Europe yourself? Keep on dropping by my blog to learn that it really is possible to make it come true!
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@ Devon Smith: Thanks!
@ Ellen: Thank you 🙂
@ Morringhan: How are you? I hope you were able to go on your Eurotrip.
@ Gracey: Yep. Safe travels!
@ Sarah: Salamat! I’m an editor and writer. 🙂
@ Winston: Please read my summary of my Eurotrip. I spent less than $3,000 in all, including the airfare of $1,200. 🙂 http://solitarywanderer.com/2012/12/solo-backpacking-trip-in-europe/
Hi Aleah, you are an inspiration to all the newbie-traveler like me. Keep inspiring Youngbloods! I would like to ask how much did it cost you re Eurotrip? I am planning to do the same (max of 30 days) soon enough. Thanks and Appreciate it! Sorry I posted it first on a different page.
nakakainspire ka naman ng sobra Ms.AleaH!!!!! sana ako din makatravel ng ganyan … ano nga po ba ang online job nyo po? ^^share naman po
This is in my to-do list already! But first, local tours!
I wish you all the very best on your travels!
Sadly I’m still working on my end of being location independent so I can do the same one day, to be able to go back and forth for weeks to no end and be able to see all I’ve wanted to. Starting off with Europe but them branching out to the rest of the world.
Can’t wait for the update from your new location.
Inspiring Europe posts…:)
That’s awesome. I just did a two month backpacking/hitchhiking trip through Europe on $600 USD. All the travel blogs were saying $8,000 – 10,000 for that amount of time.
It sounds like you have a fascinating life. Keep up the traveling!
@ France: I bought mine in Bombproof, in Galleria. I’m using Towelite, which is less expensive. It’s also very useful! I bring it always on my trips. I think it was around P300. Have fun in your travels!
your blogs have been really helpful, thank you. was wondering about those microfibre towels they talk about, was that what you used too? where to buy them in manila, saw some in powerplant but were really pricey :p also the moneybelt? will head out to sm today, hope i find something useful there. suggestions would be appreciated, thanks 🙂
@ BPS: Kayang-kaya mo yan, gurl 🙂
@ Xenia: Show the consul you have enough reason to come back to the Philippines and you’ll be given a visa. A savings account alone won’t work, as the embassy knows show money can be borrowed.
Hello po. Ask ko lang po, which is more convincing sa consul, is it your ITR showing you earn big, or your savings account po? Hingi po ako ng advise kasi I’m planning to tour with my dad who has not much to show in his ITR but has savings kasi he has online shop as well as ako rin po. Hope you can help me on this dilemma. 🙁
Inspiring yung sinabi sayo ni Eugene Cernan. Nakakakilig even. Biglang bumukas ang floodgates ng adventure imagination ko. Hope to do the same, scrimp scrimp scrimp para matupad ang travel dreams.
@ Annie: Thanks for the message 🙂 Keep on dropping by my blog and feel free to share!
This is super inspiring Aleah!
Take care on your trips.. I look forward to reading your next adventures! *wink*
@ Grace: I miss Belgium already 🙁 But yeah, I’ll keep on traveling. The world is soo big!
@ Leann: Thanks, Nette. Good luck in your plans too.
Congrats on a dream come true, Aleah. More travels and dreams to achieve. 🙂
Hi Aleah! I just stumbled upon your blog when someone posted the article “Date a woman who travels” in FB. I’ve been to Europe too, but only in Brussels and Paris. Reading your post makes me want to go back there. I agree that though Belgium is a small country, its a very lovable place and you won’t feel lonely there. There is a site in every city like Antwerp, Ghent, Brugges and others. Keep traveling girl!
@ Edward Chew: That’s a lot to cover in just 30 days! Must have been a whirlwind trip hehe Yeah, it’s difficult for us to travel there. Good thing we know our way around those challenges 😉
@ Ian: Thanks, thanks. Good luck on your plans too!
@ Ruby Travelling: Yeah, I had a great time! Thanks!
i believed you are having a great time in your adventures..keep sharing..ingat always!
70 days! Wow. And in Europe!
You’re killing me with envy but you also inspired me to do the same. 🙂
Best of luck!
Hey. I’m Edward from Malaysia.
Glad to read that you are backpacking in Europe for 70 days.
I just did mine last October, 30 days in 21cities/10 European countries. Haha. From London > Paris > Belgium > Holland > Germany > Austria > Italy > Vatican City > Greece > Spain
Well as you said, it’s truly a dream for everyone to travel around Europe, a big dream, constrained by expense. And to my country, traveling for 30 days is also something crazy. Hahaha
@ Maletapacker: Unfortunately I got sick and didn’t push through with Paris 🙁 Hoping to go back!
@ Rhoda Gachui: Thank you. I believe you can do it, when you set your mind to it!
@ Geera Alquisalas: Thanks. Please keep on dropping by my blog!
i’ve read almost everything of your blog… you have a very nice stories and i like it 🙂
keep it up
I love your blog!!!! I dream of Europe alot and for me, there is no better way to do it than backpak and travel like a local. Best way to see any place in my opinion. I hope to do this some day!
I had a blast with my Euro trip last October. You must plan a side trip to Paris though. It’s just a train ride away from Belgium!
@ Alfred: We are only limited in our minds 🙂
@ Grace: Thanks! Sorry for the late reply hehe
@ SLF: Yup, they were sweet! Made sweeter with the cream!
@ SHP: Thanks for dropping by. Let us know when you push through with your own Euro trip!
wow! i salute and envy you! u r living the dream indeed!
my friend and i are planning to visit europe as well but for an
unfortunate reason (work related) e we’ve stop the preparation
until maging ok. just in case, d sya matuloy i am planning
to go by my own.. but since i have not travelled by myself before, lagi akong may kasama, im having doubts esp sa mga lugar na kasing laki ng europe..
and for 70days!? wow! and you really got a nice working setup!
am surely gonna be reading ur prev posts and look forward sa mga isusulat mo p lng.. 🙂
goodluck and enjoy! 🙂
Ah, here’s a bit on Belgium then. But I wanna read more posts!
Man, check out those strawberries! Are they as sweet as they look?
So proud of you! Happy that you are making your dream come true!
a very nice post indeed. you have just proven that travelling has no limits. 🙂
@ Melvin: I still submitted bank statements and credit card statements. This is to prove to the embassy that I’m financially stable as well.
congrats! pangarap ko rin yan.you mentioned something about a good friend na “sponsor in getting a visa”.ibig ba sabihin you didnt have to submit bank certificate?
abangan ko yung mga susunod pang posts 🙂
@ BPS: Yep, definitely!
@ Christian: I’m really enjoying it here 😀
backpacking europe! backpacking europe! backpacking europe! wow!
patingin din ng expenses ha? baka sakali lang na kaya ko rin gawin to in the future 🙂
Uy sarap naman jan. Hope you write a post on your expenses para maestimate kung keri din mageurope tour. 🙂
@ Bhety: I’ll be in Vienna for 4 days. I think there’s not enough time to go somewhere else in Austria 🙁
@ Ace: Thanks for the reminder! Shucks, I wish I’d read your comment sooner hehe
Remember your camera care tips when going out to the subzero degree from a warm room!
Hi, wow goodluck to your travel I travel a lot myself but not a blogger though lol… I currently live in Austria in a small town called Attnang… Vienna, Salzburg and Innsbruckt are worth checking. The best way to travel from city to city here Austria is via Westbahn train… it cost 9 euro during weekend from end to end of the line which is Vienna to Salzburg hope this info helps…
@ Shawi: Will certainly do! It’s so much easier to travel when you’re location independent.
@ Regin: I agree, though I still would want to live in the tropics. I miss the heat and the beaches.
That’s cool. I’ve traveled to Europe too and for me, It is the best place on earth.
way to go girl.
“I also developed the skills I needed to help me become location independent in the future, something that can certainly help keep me on the road.”
true. i think this is important for travelers who’ve been bitten by the perpetual wanderlust. how about writing a post on it in the future? i’m sure a lot would learn from you 🙂
@ Mhe-Anne: Sayang naman. Gandang ganda ako dito sa Belgium. It’s a small country but very beautiful.
@ Ryan Mach: I’ve done it. You certainly can, too, if you plan for it 🙂
This is indeed very inspiring. I hope to live the same dream someday pero ngayon, I need to work hard and save a lot of money.
I’m happy for you Aleah! Go go go. Be safe and keep warm. I wasn’t able to drop by Belgium during my winter trip because of my extension in the US and an expired Schengen visa. I forgot I only requested for 33 days!Hmmm.
@ Renz: Yeah, I can’t live without wifi now! hehe
@ Eileen: Super daming cute din dito sa Belgium!
if you set foot in Italy, pumulot ka lang ng isa diyan, kahit snatcher or drug pusher — pakidoor to door nalang. tapos pasamahan ng isanggulong ng parmesan na din.:)
in any case, good luckan! ingat ingat!
Yan talaga ang beauty ng freelance jobs. Basta may decenteng internet connection… Gora na! Hehehe. Good luck Aleah! Aabangan ko mga susunod mong posts. 🙂