Two Mid-Twenties Ladies, a Eurail Pass and their Backpacks
By Laine Himmelmann
2 years ago I had just turned 24 and I remember sitting in my living room, poor as hell from my entry-level salary, and lamentably eating the only thing I could find in the fridge that admittedly had probably gone bad weeks earlier. I was several martinis deep and drunkenly commiserating with my girlfriend Natalie about how I’d never be able to afford to backpack around the world like my globe-trotting roommate and all those little College graduates that I kept seeing all over Facebook.
Natalie was a student and, as such, was just as poor as me. Also like me, she too desperately wanted to strap on a giant lesbian backpack, ride trains around Europe, and meet beautiful heterosexual European men in tight tastefully colored pants.
Now Natalie and I make a lot of promises to each other when we’re drinking and they usually revolve around us getting brunch the next morning or getting 6-pack abs (two highly contradictory goals) and they also usually (who am I kidding always) never happen. For whatever reason though, when Natalie looked at me with her sad little drunk eyes and said, “Laine, let’s do it!” I just knew this was one libated promise that we would keep.
It took planning, it took coordination, it took Santa Saver bank accounts, it took me having a major crush on this Dutch guy I met in Vegas, and it took 2 years…but 3 weeks ago Natalie and I returned from the most incredible trip of our lives and I’m proud to report that we didn’t have to go all hippy-dippy and quit our jobs to do it nor did have anyone else pay for it or go into credit card debt from it. I can’t say the return has been business as usual, as a trip like this has a way of changing you, but I can say that if we could do it – anyone can.
During our trip, Natalie and I went to 7 different countries, saw some incredible things, ate some incredible calorie-laden GMO free foods, and met some incredibly hot men. (One night we legitimately were taken on the back of scooters through Florence to watch Fireworks over the statue of David while drinking chilled Prosecco – I couldn’t make this stuff up)…. We also encountered bed bugs, accidently dyed all Natalie’s clothes pink, encountered a large snoring middle-aged naked exhibitionist in a mixed dorm, and got brazenly denied entry into several posh nightclubs throughout Europe for being “American”. Oh, and that Dutch guy that I mentioned, I saw him again and he ended up having a girlfriend so that was devastating. But through it all, the good, the bad, the ugly, the embarrassing – our biggest take away was that we discovered a lot about ourselves.
If like us, you have wanderlust but missed out on the opportunity to romp around Europe right after College when life was simpler, know that you can still go, you can still make it happen. Trust me, if we could – anyone can and I can honestly say that 22-year old Laine could never have appreciated this trip the way 26-year old Laine did.
My advice – regardless of your financials, age, or situation just figure out where you want to go, figure out how you can make it happen in a realistic way (it took us two years to save), and go with whoever you can convince to go with you. If you’re lucky, like me, that someone might be your best friend.
Then, if you’re really ballsy and not prone to embarrassment – write about it so everyone at home can get a good laugh and taste of your travels too.
(You can read about all of Natalie and my adventures and mishaps on www.twogirlsandaeurailpass.blogspot.com )
Ciao for now and happy travels all my Sacramento Wanderlusters!