5 Things We Learned From Backpacking Across Europe

8:38 PM Manda Manning 0 Comments

1. Don't pack for three weeks or longer in a backpack. 
Just trust us on this one. The whole "backpacking" thing is not even logical. It makes no logistical sense. We weren't even half way through the trip, (only second stop/second country in) we looked at each other and were like, "WHY THE HELL ARE WE CARRYING THESE TORTUROUS THINGS ON OUR BACKS WHEN WE COULD BE ROLLING THEM BEHIND US LIKE WE LIVE IN 2015 OR SOMETHING"

2. GPS and cellular data and/or wifi are your two bffs. Don't forget it.
At the last minute, I decided to switch to T-Mobile because I had already been considering it ever since Courtney switched when we were still working together, and on top of that they were also offering a special offer for the new iPhone 6s -- so why not, you know? But then, PLUS ON TOP OF THAT, while I was researching travel tips I discovered that their unlimited data plan also includes INTERNATIONAL data. Wowowow. Luckily, I pulled that off and Leah and I were fortunate to have the most advanced hand-held cellular technology on hand plus an unlimited GPS to use as a compass pointing us in the right direction of our destination. 

3. Food is a beautiful cultural experience. Just embrace it. 
So yeah, I don't know about you or what you're into, but FOOD should 100% be on your list of "trip themes" or things to "do" on your trip. Just listen. Take every opportunity to enjoy and indulge in the local cuisine. It's always worth it. The experience is so enriching. It will feel good to your soul. Whatever that looks like to to you, whether that means just grabbing a croissant and cappuccino for breakfast or go all the way in with a four-course meal, it really doesn't matter. Just go with it. 

4. People are always worth getting to know.
Give people a chance. I can be very deliberate and cautious about the people I let in my life, so this whole "meeting a bunch of new people all at once" situation was definitely out of my comfort zone. But I loved it. I loved every minute of it. It was actually genuinely delightful for me as a natural introvert to meet so, *so* many truly interesting people. It was a treat. Some of those people were only meant to be in my life for that one conversation at the bus stop, but some of them are still in my life and I value that. Anyways, this is also good for your soul, so do it. 

5. Do what you want/YOLO/etc. 
Once you get out into this great, big world, you realize just how small you really are in the grand scheme of things. And then, it makes you appreciate and value your life so much more. It's yours and only yours. You are in complete control of your own life. Make sh*t happen. 

P.S. I'm learning to take my own advice. I'm currently a w.i.p. 

Stay tuned. 


It's hard to sit down and write a recap on our Europe experience because I miss it so badly, and writing about it just makes me miss it more. We have avoided writing this post for over a month, but I am finally settled here in Denver and can't think of any more reasons not to write. Coming back to reality was rough after spending three weeks in pure bliss. As we began our job hunts in our new cities, all I could think about was being back in Amsterdam strolling the city, sipping wine, munching on croissants. 

1. Self
One of the biggest things I've taken away from our trip is how inspiring travel is to my soul. I am inspired now more than ever to open my restaurant and make it something truly special and unique. I have always been so determined to get out of the small town that I grew up in so that I could see more, do more, and experience more. We met so many interesting people from all over the world during our travels, and just over the course of the month I've been in Denver so far I've met a great deal of interesting people as well. It is eye-opening to meet and learn about people who are so different from yourself, rather than staying in your comfort zone with the same group of people. 

2. Money
People keep asking us how much money we saved to be able to afford our trip, and we just keep trying to convince them that it's actually really doable and wasn't terribly expensive considering how much ground we covered. We were discussing this topic with a girl we met at our hostel in Venice who was traveling alone. She said she was constantly asked, "How do you afford to travel so much?" And her response was that "traveling is her priority so she is spends less money on things that aren't as important to her." She goes home and works for a few months, saves money, then uses that saved money to travel. If it is important enough to you, then you find a way to make it happen. We are far more capable than we give ourselves credit for. 

~* 3. The Future
On that note, Ireland: the Manning Sisters are coming for you this summer, and you may have heard that we have a thing for the Irish... and whiskey. ;) *~

4. Goodbyes
We started our road trip to Colorado on November 1. We hugged our parents, hopped in our cars and never looked back, only to each other. The weather was bad on the first day so we stopped early somewhere in Texas where we ate the world's worst sushi (sorry, Manda, I know we agreed we would never talk about that again). The second day of driving was probably the longest day of our lives. We got up at 4:45 a.m. and drove 15 hours to Denver. I passed the time by having real conversations with Sass (if you don't know Sass, she is my Pomeranian/BFF), singing along to old punk music, and calling Manda every hour to see what she was doing. 

5. A New Start
Manda stayed for a few days when we got to Denver to help me move in and get settled, before she had to continue her drive to California. I have also just recently started a new job at Yard House in Downtown Denver, which is a perfect fit for me. Erin and I keep saying how Denver is bringing out the best in us, how we really are where we are supposed to be. I feel so at peace being here, and I have no plans of ever leaving this city. 

I am steady trying to convince Manda to move here, because living apart is the worst of the worst, honestly. We reminisce on our wild memories from Europe almost daily. I know we are best when we are together, so it's difficult to be living apart. But I have faith she will find her way back to me.