Do something random. Make a real memory.
This picture was taken 4 years ago. It was my first time getting a tattoo in over 10 years! I was traveling through Europe on a month long vacation and decided to hop on a train to Amsterdam. I originally woke up that morning in Rome.
I stayed in a small backpackers hotel near the train station not too far from the Colosseum.
I would map out my stays based on their proximity to airports, monuments, train or bus stations. This made it easier for me to navigate a city by foot.
I'd been touring Italy for about a week by train, hopping off in whatever location I wanted to see monuments in. From Venice and Milan down to Pisa and Rome, I got to see some ocean, some city and some countryside while there.
When I planned this trip I originally only had 5 countries I wanted to visit. But by managing my time and money- I ended up being able to see 9 countries in 32 days!
Outside of actually going to Europe, I planned everything else about this trip on the fly! Like where I would stay and what method of transportation I wanted to use to get around. There are buses, trains, flights and ferries that take you all throughout the entire continent making it very easy to see multiple countries in a short period of time.
That morning I woke up and decided my next destination would be Amsterdam.
I didn't know what I wanted to do there, but I wanted to see what the hype was all about.
So I went!
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It was a 19+ hour train ride from Rome to Amsterdam. I made sure to stock up on water and snacks for my long ride. I also made sure to select an overnight ticket. This gave me 3 advantages: it allowed me to save money on renting a hotel for the night, I still had a decent place to sleep (on the train) and I got to enjoy a peaceful ride while seeing Italy from the bottom to the top.
As a solo female traveler on a budget, precision planning is important. I didn't want to spend more money than necessary so I always looked for ways to stretch what I had.
I would buy foot long sandwiches and snacks to eat throughout the day. I'd refill my water bottles at grocery stores or get a couple free ones from my hostel. This wasn't the type of trip where I would eat a fancy meal every night. I would only "splurge" on the things I found really valuable to my experience.
After arriving in Amsterdam, I found a map of my location and caught a city train to my hotel. There's an app you can download that will tell you everything you need to know while traveling.
Things like the current exchange rates, flight times, vacant hotels, train locations and destinations-- even things like what time certain attractions open and close.
I use this app everywhere I go, including at home. It's called Google and it likely already came installed on your smart phone.
It is literally the most helpful app on the web for just about all things known to mankind! Use it sometimes!!
I checked in, dropped off my belongings and headed out to explore for the day. I walked around for hours taking in the excitement of it all. I had some lunch in a restaurant and stopped by a couple of museums. I also strolled through the world famous Red Light District. I saw a lot of interesting things before finally deciding that I wanted to get a tattoo in order to commemorate my time spent in the Netherlands.
I went to about 3 or 4 tattoo shops all located in the red light district to get price quotes. I ended up going with a shop called the Red Light Tattoo. And the rest is history....
This was one of the best things about traveling... While others only see a picture, I see an entire story.
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Additional websites and apps I used for assistance on this trip include:
- Hostel World for finding hostels and backpacker hotels
- Expedia for finding great travel accomodations
- Flixbus for booking bus tickets to different countries
- Google for navigating my entire trip
- Google Maps for finding my way throughout cities
- Google Flights for real time flight updates
- Viator to search for different activities in my area
- WhatsApp to contact local establishments
- Talk-a-tone to contact people back home