Our Unforgettable 6-Month Trip: A Journey Through 18 Countries

can you travel around europe for 6 months

In August of 2021, my husband and I embarked on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure that took us through Europe and Asia. Over the course of six months, we visited 18 countries, fulfilling our dream of exploring the world together. The memories we made during this journey will stay with us forever.

The Itinerary: Our Roadmap to Adventure

When we set off on our trip, we didn’t have a fixed itinerary. Instead, we had a list of potential destinations and let our journey unfold organically. Our first stop was Turkey, where we spent two weeks exploring Istanbul, Izmir, Selçuk, Ephesus, Pamukkale, Antalya, and Cappadocia.

The day we spent scootering around Cinque Terre, Italy.

For anyone considering a similar adventure, our itinerary can serve as a helpful guide. We initially focused on Europe due to border restrictions caused by the pandemic. However, as the situation improved, we were able to venture into Asia towards the end of our trip.

Despite the common perception that long-term travel is expensive, we managed to make our budget of $30,000 for two people last the entire six months. It’s all about careful planning and budgeting.

The 18 Countries We Explored

Our journey took us through a diverse range of cultures and landscapes. Here’s a chronological list of the countries we visited:

  • Turkey (2 weeks): Istanbul, Izmir, Selçuk, Ephesus, Pamukkale, Antalya, Cappadocia
  • Bosnia & Herzegovina (2 days): Sarajevo
  • Croatia (2 weeks): Dubrovnik, Trogir, Šibenik, Zagreb
  • Spain (15 days): Mallorca, Soller, Barcelona, Zaragoza, Bilbao, San Sebastian, Madrid
  • Italy (3 weeks): Naples, Rome, Florence, Montaione, Cinque Terre, Ortisei, Fie allo Sciliar, Venice, Lake Como, Milan
  • Vatican City (1 day)
  • Slovenia (4 days): Ljubljana, Lake Bled
  • Hungary (3 days): Budapest
  • Czech Republic (1 week): Prague, Karlštejn, Cesky Krumlov, Jiřetín pod Jedlovou
  • Austria (10 days): Vienna, Salzburg
  • Germany (11 days): Berchtesgaden, Cologne, Baden Baden
  • Ireland (9 days): Dublin, Donegal, Galway, Cliffs of Moher, Dingle, Cashel
  • France (6 days): Paris, Blois, Amboise, Le Havre, Étretat
  • Scotland (11 days): Edinburgh, Inverness, Isle of Skye, Fort William, Glencoe, Glasgow
  • The Netherlands (3 days): Amsterdam, Breda
  • Belgium (1 day): Bruges
  • Switzerland (8 days): Chur, Lucerne, Bern, Engelberg
  • Thailand (1 month): Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Koh Phi Phi, Krabi, Khao Sok, Koh Samui, Koh Tao

Please note that the listing is based on the order of our first visit to these countries, with a few exceptions where we revisited Italy, Spain, and Germany. We separated the visits to these countries with a line break.

How We Planned Our Trip

Contrary to popular belief, we didn’t meticulously plan every detail of our journey before leaving home. Our pre-trip planning mainly revolved around financial preparations, such as setting up a Charles Schwab debit card to avoid ATM fees and accumulating credit card points for free flights.

Our planning spreadsheet to estimate our travel costs.

As for the rest of our trip, we planned as we went along. After a day of exploration, we would sit down and discuss where we wanted to go next. We would then research accommodations, activities, and transportation options for the next destination. Once we had made our decisions, we would book flights, trains, cars, or hotels accordingly.

This flexible approach to planning brought us an unexpected sense of freedom. As someone who has always dealt with anxiety, I found that traveling without strict itineraries allowed me to embrace spontaneity and go with the flow.

Choosing Destinations: Money and Convenience

Our travel decisions were primarily driven by two factors: cost and convenience. When we felt ready to move on to the next destination, we would consult a map and look for nearby cities or countries. We would then compare transportation prices, opting for the cheapest or most convenient option available.

Budgeting played a crucial role in determining our itinerary. We created a spreadsheet early on to estimate the costs of visiting each country. While these figures were based on rough estimates and varied depending on individual travel styles, they provided us with a general idea of how much we needed for six months of travel. Overestimating expenses proved to be a wise strategy, allowing us to stretch our budget further and travel for a longer duration.

Getting Around: Modes of Transportation

The modes of transportation we used varied depending on the region. Train travel became our preferred method in Europe due to its affordability and efficiency. With extensive rail networks, exploring multiple cities and countries in Europe became a breeze. We also utilized ferries, scooters, taxis, and walking to navigate different locations.

Our campervan adventure in Ireland.

In Asia, we found that flying was often the most convenient and cost-effective option. While buses and trains were available, air travel provided us with efficiency and comfort, particularly for longer distances. However, we also embraced local modes of transportation like tuk-tuks, scooters, ferries, vans, and taxis to experience the unique flavors of each destination.

When it came to planning our modes of transportation, we relied on apps like Rome2Rio and Google Maps. These tools helped us explore available routes, compare prices, and choose the best options for our journey. We also rented vehicles like campervans and cars for specific regions, adding an extra layer of adventure to our travels.

The Logic Behind our Travel Itinerary

While spontaneity played a significant role in our travels, we still aimed for a logical progression in our journey. Traveling in one direction and making short hops between nearby places saved us time and money. By avoiding zigzag routes around Europe, we were able to spend more time exploring and less time on trains or planes. Although circumstances sometimes dictated otherwise, having a general direction in mind proved to be cost-effective and efficient.

For those planning a round-the-world trip encompassing multiple continents, choosing a travel direction can make the logistics more manageable. Whether you decide to travel from east to west or vice versa, following a logical route simplifies the planning process. However, it’s important to remain open to unexpected opportunities and take advantage of great flight deals that may present themselves.

Factors Influencing Destination Choices

When selecting our next destination, several factors influenced our decisions. Aside from cost and convenience, we considered our bucket list activities and must-see locations. Our master list of places we were open to visiting, coupled with specific experiences we wanted to have, helped shape our itinerary. Whether it was a hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia, exploring the thermal baths in Budapest, or taking the Bernina Express in Switzerland, these bucket list items guided our choices.

Our transition from warm to cold weather during the trip.

We also considered the climate factor during our long-term journey. As we traveled through different seasons and climates, we adapted our wardrobe accordingly. Initially packing for warm weather, we explored Mediterranean regions before transitioning to colder climates. Flexibility was key, allowing us to adjust our clothing choices as needed. While not everyone may have the luxury of receiving a wardrobe shipment from family, finding affordable clothes abroad or shipping items can help manage climate changes effectively.

The Benefits of Flexibility

Our decision to leave our itinerary open was driven by one fundamental desire: flexibility. By avoiding rigid plans, we had the freedom to change course as we pleased. This proved invaluable in situations where flights became expensive or we discovered enticing alternatives along the way.

Imagine booking a hotel in Barcelona months in advance, only to find that flight prices have skyrocketed when it’s time to go. By remaining flexible, you can explore other options, change destinations, and make the most of your journey. While it may seem daunting, finding accommodation on short notice is often possible, and the spontaneity can add an exciting element to your adventure.

Resources for Long-Term Travel Planning

When it comes to planning and organizing long-term travel, a few resources proved invaluable to us. Google Drive became our go-to tool for creating spreadsheets, jotting down ideas in Keep, tracking bookings with Google Calendar, and sharing information with each other.

For finding affordable flights, we relied on platforms like Google Flights and Skyscanner. These websites make it easy to search for the best deals and even track flight prices on your phone. When it came to booking accommodations, Booking.com emerged as our top choice, providing a user-friendly interface and a wide range of options worldwide. In Asia, Agoda also proved helpful for finding accommodations in Thailand.

For travel planning, we found Wanderlog to be a fantastic website for organizing our thoughts and creating detailed itineraries. It offers both web and mobile app versions, providing seamless access to your plans. When it came to transportation planning, apps like Omio, Rome2Rio, and Google Maps proved invaluable in finding available routes, comparing prices, and choosing transportation providers.

Of course, don’t forget to explore travel blogs, YouTube channels, and social media platforms like TikTok for inspiration and insights into different destinations.

If you’re considering embarking on a six-month travel itinerary, or even a longer journey, feel free to share your thoughts or questions in the comments section. Happy travels!

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