Jackie gets a plane ticket to Europe for Christmas...wrapped in a Rick Steves moneybelt.
I survived high school, but will I survive the next month? Tomorrow, I fly to Europe. This time will be different, however, from the past 18 summers of traveling to Europe because I will be traveling with no parents. It will be just me and my friend, Juliana.
I am following in the footsteps of both my dad, Rick, and my brother, Andy, who also went on trips to Europe right after they graduated from high school. Just like them, I have taught piano to fund my trip, I will use a Eurail Pass, and I will be on a tight budget. Unlike my dad when he was my age, I will have much more travel experience under my belt, visiting some cities for the fifth time. Unlike my brother when he was my age, I will follow a thoroughly planned itinerary. He and his friend wanted flexibility, but I want well-planned structure.
I am equipped with a six-day three-country Eurail Select Pass, five Rick Steves' guidebooks, hotel reservations in half of the cities and hostel reservations in the other half, a little black Moleskine journal in which I am writing this “blog”...oh, and it kind of helps to have a dad who knows a little about travel in Europe.
So it may sound like this is just one more trip to Europe for me, but in fact this one is completely different from the rest. People who know that I am the daughter of Rick Steves think I know everything about Europe. I actually know very little about travel in Europe.
Sure, I know how to pack light, how to get over jet leg, how to order pasta with meat sauce in Italian, and how to get around crowds at the Louvre. However, I know little about using a Eurail Pass, about withdrawing money from ATMs, about using a cell phone in different countries, about which museum pass is the best value, and about reservations that are required for this and not that.
During this past spring I worked Saturdays in the Travel Center at Europe Through the Back Door to earn money, and at the same time, while researching and answering customers' travel questions, I learned a fair amount about travel.
To give you the honest truth, I am nervous — not scared, just nervous — about traveling alone. Sure, I traveled last summer to Morocco without my parents, but I was with a school group with adult leaders. Yes, I've been to Europe about 18 times before. However, I didn't have to worry about pickpockets because my passport was safe in my dad's money belt. I didn't have to worry about missing the plane because my mom would wake me up from my nap when it was time to board. I didn't have to navigate Amsterdam because my brother read the map and led the way. Now all of that is up to me and my friend. Also, I have never been to Prague or Istanbul before, where we will be traveling for half of our trip.
One thing is for sure — this trip is bound to be an amazing adventure. Above all else, I am incredibly excited. I'm excited to discover tricks at being thrifty to keep a low budget, excited to make friends in hostels and bars, excited to get lost in Prague, excited to observe the convergence of cultures in Istanbul, and just ready to be totally independent.
About This Entry
You are reading "I Survived High School, but Can I Survive Europe with No Parents?", an entry posted on 16 June 2008 by Jackie Steves.