I wish I could tell you that my first time traveling to Europe was a breeze.
I wish I could tell you that my countless spreadsheets and hours of research saved me from travel mishaps on our trip to Europe — but that wouldn’t be true.
Many of the issues we faced on the first day of our trip could have been prevented by doing better planning, but some were just simply bad luck. Which is why I’m writing this post… Traveling abroad isn’t easy. If it was, it wouldn’t be so rewarding.
I left my phone on the plane
Almost immediately after stepping out of the secured area of the airport in Europe I noticed that I had left my phone in the seat pocket of the airplane. Scurrying around looking for help, I finally arrived at an information desk. The attendant was less than helpful.
“Sorry, the flight you were on is already boarding for another trip. The flight attendant can’t check the seat you were sitting at.”
“Please,” I said, “I am in Europe for 35 days starting today. I know it’s in the seat pocket. Can’t they just ask the person sitting in that seat to check for it?”
“No. You will need to call IcelandAir when you are back in America and see if they can ship it to you.”
The saddest part was that I had downloaded e-books, short stories, podcasts and over 300 new songs for my time in Europe. Lesson learned, always double check your surroundings when you’re sleep deprived.
We needed WiFi to install our SIM Card
Ironic, isn’t it? Needing WiFi to get the ability to have WiFi. First, we couldn’t open our iPhone SIM Card slot because we didn’t have a small pointy object. This led us to ask women at the train station if we could borrow their earring, thinking that would do the trick — not something I’d recommend.
Once we got the new SIM Card into our iPhone, we were prompted to get into a WiFi zone to configure it. Picture this, we’re in the middle of nowhere, running on very little sleep trying to access directions to the city with no WiFi and no ability to make phone calls. At this point, I think we all considered turning around and heading back to America. Better luck next time!
My bra broke mid-flight
Ok, this was mostly my fault. My bra was old and the wire was likely already starting to pop out, but I didn’t check it over. I just packed my most comfortable, tried and true items and assumed they’d work fine.
Some might think buying a replacement bra in Europe would be simple. No…it was nightmare. Imagine trying to find a clothing store in Regensburg on a Sunday; everything was closed (including the Tk Maxx I found in town). Plus, you can’t search for “Macy’s” or “Kohls” in Europe, so I had to research their clothing stores and see what each store offered (mind you, this was done on spotty AirBnb WiFi). I ended up waiting four days to purchase a bra in Prague at a massive shopping mall.
We missed our train because we thought it was a bus
We just had given up and given in to the stress of the situation. I could blame it on the bloodshot eyes, the lack of WiFi, the language barrier, or the confusing transit system, but that wouldn’t be the truth. We had several train transfers from the Munich airport to Regensburg, one of which we swore was a bus because the icon on our ticket was different than the others. We scrambled with our large, 22 lb backpacks, and asked where the buses boarded when a local said, “The bus you’re looking for is actually a train.” It had left just a moment before, right behind our backs.
The three of us laughed it off, boarded the next available train, and bought a beer the second we arrived in Regensburg. It was 8 a.m. back home in Colorado, 4 p.m. in Germany, and 5 o’clock somewhere.
Our ATM Card had a withdrawal limit
Prior to leaving, I smugly reminded my dad to call his bank and let them know he would be traveling. “If you’re bank doesn’t know you’re leaving the country, they’ll turn off your card,” I told him.
Little did we know that Wells Fargo also had a $350 withdrawal limit on our debit cards, and in Europe it’s foolish to take out less than 400 Euro each ATM transaction. Finally, after five attempts to take out cash and five very frustrating “error” messages, we gave in and called our bank. We made the call internationally, which cost us $10.
The first day in Europe felt like a nightmare. Very little went right and so many things went wrong. In my journal I wrote, “I feel like a failure. How can I even call myself a travel blogger when I make all of these mistakes?”
I soon discovered that no matter how much planning you do, you will still run into issues along the way; it’s a part of the journey. But here’s the beautiful thing — each time you run into something that’s difficult or unexpected, you’re learning and growing. And to me that’s worth all the broken bras, lost iPhones and headaches in the world.
If you want to follow along on our European journey from the beginning, read my blog We’re Going To Europe! Part 1: Planning.
Thanks for reading,