Fear of Europe

I’m not generally a person who is afraid of much.  And for most things that instill just a little bit of trepidation, I generally don’t let them interfere.  Except with my fear of falling.  I have tried to kick its butt for many years, and I’ve yet to be completely successful.  Ativan helps me do some things I couldn’t do otherwise, but even that wasn’t strong enough to allow me to parasail with Tigger during his birthday celebration.

Some people laugh when they hear I’m afraid to participate in such gravity-defying feats.  “But, Talon, you’re a diver.  And you dive in wrecks which is even more dangerous!”  Yeah, but that isn’t falling.  That is PTSD-related.  I have finally come to terms that I’m probably not going to get past that one.  But, hey, even Superman has his Kryptonite, no?

So yeah I’ve left the States and traveled with my son through something like 10 countries in the past 1-1/2 years, including living for eight months in one of the more dangerous countries in the world right now.  No problem.  So why am I feeling so intimidated by Europe, a place that I feel incredibly connected to?

It comes down to money.  So far we have been living in relatively inexpensive to downright cheap Latin America.  I’ve enjoyed being able to do a fairly minimal amount of work to earn enough for us to be comfortable.  We’ve been able to enjoy some fun activities (paragliding, parasailing, shark diving) and have been able to fly to some places rather than spend 2-3 days on a bus.

While I’ve never been one who had my eyes set on a luxury holiday in Africa (although wouldn’t that be amazing?), I do have dreams of living in Paris for a month at least.  When I mention to people we’re going to Europe, the first thing they do is purse their lips and say “Expensive!”  Yeah, it has me a little freaked out.

When I went to Paris, I did manage to do quite well with my budget, but I also wasn’t trying to do it on $30 a day for two people.  Luckily we can handle living in some pretty humble circumstances, which might make this work out, but I’m also not holding my breath.  Friends have told me that Bulgaria and some other non-Schengen countries are pretty affordable, so this may be our saving grace.

I have also checked into doing an exchange through HelpX.  I’m actually really excited about this.  You can volunteer on farms, at hostels and B&B’s, etc., for a few hours a day in exchange for lodging and often food.  Many of them are in rural villages which is something I would really enjoy.  I would gain some great experience in some areas, and it would be a phenomenal experience for Tigger.  Many of the exchanges are with families which would really enhance the overall experience.

In the end, I’ll get past this feeling.  In spite of my financial concerns, I am excited to get to Europe and to some place vastly different from the cultures we’ve been experiencing for the last almost 500 days.  And it brings us that much closer to Africa and Asia! If we have to break up our European travels to go to places that are less expensive, well, there’s no harm in that.  The world is, after all, our oyster.  Having no itinerary and no deadline is part of the true freedom that I so thoroughly enjoy.  And, frankly, I’m kind of looking forward to the challenge of making it work.  Like I’ve said before, I believe in creating my own reality.  So bring it on Europe!  And maybe I’ll just say the same about that fancy Africa experience, too.

–In collaboration with Exsus.

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  1. I can understand your fears… as an American in Berlin, I can say this place is cheap to live in… and Germany in general costs less (as far as everyday expenses like groceries and such) that the US did. Also, you’re right, non-Schengen and Balkan countries (Croatia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria… even Turkey) are more affordable. Also here in Germany we have mitfahrengelegenheit, which is a carpool service around the country and to other countries too. For example, y u can pay a 30€ or somewhat similar, to sit in someone’s car cross-country, saving them money on gas and you on transport, and at least in Germany, it’s safe. I would imagine some other countries might have similar things. Anyway, I totally have faith that you will find your way!

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    • That is a very cool transportation system! I really wish the US had more types of services like Europe for mass transit.

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  2. What’s the worst than can happen? You’ve built a wonderful community on the web and it’s quite cheap from BRU to BKK. Thinking of making that plunge myself…next week!!

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    • I tell you the worst… it the picture of flat stanley!! How did that happen and how do I change it 🙂

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      • I’m not sure what Flat Stanley is. LOL

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    • Yeah. I’m actually looking forward to the challenge, but then every so often reality tries to shake me a bit. LOL I’m confident we can do it, even if we need to tuck into cheaper countries for a bit to break things up.

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  3. We’re huge fans of HelpX too. We’re hoping to do some volunteering in Ecuador. Looks incredible. Enjoy Europe. I lived in London for years and there are definitely ways to liven the cheap. Food shopping can be really cheap for starters. just make sure to check the brain aisles.

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  4. Overall, Europe has surprised us. We thought it would be crazy expensive compared to the Central American prices we were used to. Paris was… but on a whole, averaging out our 3 months in France, Spain, and Austria, we hardly spent more per day than in Central America.

    We are doing less in Europe though. In Central America, we did a lot of diving, splurged on canopy tours, bused all over the place and took Spanish lessons for a month and a half.

    In Europe, we’ve had to go to the museums on the busy free days, we walked the Camino de Santiago – where we didn’t need to stay in expensive hostels, we move around a lot less avoiding the expensive trains/buses/flights choosing instead to rent an apartment by the month, and travel by bike.

    It can be done on a budget, but your right, it’s not as easy as Central America

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    • That’s good to hear. We prefer to rent whenever possible as well, and we have no problem with walking so that helps, too.

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  5. I love Europe, and it can be very expensive – it’s tiresome to think about it all the time. It’s no wonder people choose to travel and live elsewhere. But, it’s worth it! 🙂

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    • Yes, it most certainly is!

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  6. As a frequent traveler in Europe, I’ll tell you that I always have the same fear. I’ve traveled in Europe a lot in the past on a VERY tight budget and I have to say that it can be challenging. Yes, you can get around to all the sites and meet a lot of great people but there are a lot of great things to do in Europe that require the output of some cash. Food and drink for example. There are parts of France, Spain and Portugal that are very affordable. Switzerland and Scandinavia? Ouch. Finland is the most reasonable of the far north. Still…I think you guys can have some very interesting experiences that you wouldn’t otherwise have by following this path. Lets be in touch and there are some contacts I can help you with.

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    • Thanks, Jim! I figure we’ll just spend less time in the pricey areas and more time in the cheaper ones. It will work out. Always open to contacts, though!

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