1.How long were you gone and how many countries did you visit?
We were traveling for 40 days!!!!! 10 countries, stayed in 16 different cities, and visited 27. Our route went like this:
England, Netherlands, Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Croatia, Italy, Switzerland, Spain and France. (London, Amsterdam, Cologne, Prague, Vienna, Dubrovnik, Naples, Amalfi Coast, Rome, Florence, Venice, Interlaken, Barcelona, Mallorca and Paris. )
2. How long did you two plan for the trip? Where did the idea come from?
We had the idea for a while, but it was kind of just something we chatted about and dreamt about, but didn’t actually believe we would go through with. We started putting some money aside after our freshman year in college, and when we realized our little saving hacks* were actually adding up, we didn’t hesitate in planning. We decided off of how much we saved up is how long we would stay for, budgeting ourselves around $100 a day plus a little more for emergencies. We planned out a route during the winter break of our senior year then waited on google flights for prices to drop. Cheyenne checked every week for flights (Tuesday’s are the best days for purchasing plane tickets at the best price) and we finally found a one way price to London that we could not pass up. We booked immediately and planned the rest from there!
$Saving Hacks$: We did that saving challenge one year, where you put aside the same amount for what week it is, every week– so like you’d save $3 on the third week of the year, $10 on the 10th, $40 on the 40th and so on, until you reach an entire 52 weeks. Give it a try!!!! We also waitressed, and every $5 or $10 dollar bill we had at the end of the night from tips we would save in a box in our room.
3. What expectations/thoughts did you have when you first left?
We had all the FEELS. We were anxious and excited, yet absolutely terrified.
Cheyenne: I felt as my stomach was going to fall out of me, I wanted to turn back…. We never left the country before besides taking a cruise surrounded by friends and family. And here we were, leaving the country for the first time. By ourselves. Over 4,000 miles away and for 40 days. We had no idea what to expect, except it was something we were excited to learn and grow from- together as sisters, and as individuals.
Chawnee: We literally were freaking out when we got to the airport……………. I think we both asked each other if it was too late to turn around. LOL no, don’t get me wrong, we were SO excited and ready! But there was definitely a large pit in my stomach because for the next 40 days of our lives we really had no idea what to expect and there is something amazing, yet very scary about that feeling. It was so nice to have each other, though, kudos the souls that take on that kind of journey on solo.
4. You hit a lot of places in a short amount of time, how did you stay relaxed in the midst of stress?
Cheyenne: It was stressful, so stressful. We left Florida never having used any sort of public transportation to go across the world to only get by, by using public transport. But it was thrilling. We loved getting used to a system in one country to arrive in another in 3 days and figure it out all over again. It was like a game, and every time we successfully made it to where we needed to be next, we won that game. I’m actually very proud of us, I’m still not really sure how we managed to make it through all those places without losing our minds. A celebratory gelato cone, when we found our way, may have been what kept us sane 😉
Chawnee: When we started planning we planned off of wanting to visit and see the most cities we could in 40 days and I definitely think we did, but it was not your typical relaxing vacation. We were leaving cities every 2-3 days to end up in a new country figuring out a new language and transportation system. Like Cheyenne said, traveling days were the most stressful trying to figure out new transportation and monetary systems and asking people that barely, but thankfully, spoke little English for help. Luckily, we both can sleep anywhere, so that probably kept us sane considering we took several overnight trains, buses and ferries.
5. What was your biggest/funniest language barrier moment?
Cheyenne: In Cologne, Germany, the people only spoke German, and they have this coaster system with the beer (that we didn’t know at the time) where they continue to refill your glass until you put your coaster on top of the glass. We were at dinner one night and our beer kept getting refilled without us asking and we had no idea what was going on (not that we were really questioning it either) but we didn’t find out the process until we met up with our friend Philip (who was a foreign exchange student at our high school) and he informed us.
Chawnee: In London, shocker right? Who would have thought our funniest language barrier moment would have been in an English-speaking country, but it was hilarious. We were at the station trying to get from the city back to our airBNB and needed help figuring out the system. So Cheyenne asked a security guard how to get to “clap-ham junction” and he just started laughing at her and hit the other security guard and had me repeat my question. They continued to laugh together and then proceeded to make fun of us Americans “pronouncing every letter”. It was true and we laughed with them.
6. What are your biggest personal lessons and takeaways from the trip?
Balance/ patience/ gratitude/ empathy
Love and Kindness is everywhere
Our biggest take-aways from this trip are pretty mutual I believe.
7. What’s your advice to other young women wishing to travel?
Our advice for young women that are wishing and dreaming to travel is DOOOOOOO IT!!! Don’t let anything hold you back- money, family, friends, work, the unknown, etc.
Money is more than material, we know. But if you want something bad enough, you’re willing to do what has to be done. Every Chipotle meal we gave up to eating at home and every clothing piece we put away because we didn’t necessarily “need” was so worth every penny saved and spent over seas.
Your family will be the ones to scare you, but that’s because they want to protect you from 4,000 something miles away. But they’ll support you, and maybe even pay for your international phone plan so you can talk to them when you’re away 🙂
Your friends will still be there when you come back, waiting on your arrival and you’ll pick right back up… almost as you never left.
We were constantly being bashed by people’s opinions not to go because we were going to get stolen or sold, or because of the attacks that were happening. And yes, those opinions scared us, but anything can happen at anytime and anywhere. The day we arrived in London a tragedy happened right in our backyard. Just because Europe isn’t America doesn’t mean you need to be afraid, we felt safe everywhere we went and we were not uncomfortable once. We can’t let the fear of the unknown stop us from doing what we want to do. But on the other hand, when you are traveling foreign countries as young women it is important to be smart and always be aware of your surroundings.
You have your whole life to work, go now when you have no responsibilities, obligations and restrictions. Don’t think twice about it, don’t over analyze anything. Stick to your gut and follow your heart. You won’t regret it, we promise.
8. How has the transition back into real life been for you?
Sloooooow. We lived such a fast lifestyle while we were gone that it makes the days seem so much longer now. Or maybe that’s jetlag. But either way, we lived each day to the fullest when we were over there. Taking on all hours and not letting one go to waste. We were constantly exploring, learning about cultures and loving every minute of the exhaustion. So we strive to take that back into our everyday life. Just because we’re back in our homeland doesn’t mean we should be lazy and let days slip away from us. We learned a great sense of what makes us happy being away because we got up and decided what to do based on our opinions. No one elses, but ours. And that’s a great feeling. I think we both are really focused on continuing to do that now that we are back.
9. Top 3 greatest moments of the trip?
How are we supposed to decide?!?! This is the hardest question we’ve been asked… And I’m not gonna lie, our answer changes every time.
1.In Florence, Saturday night on the Ponte Vecchio Bridge, with wine and gelato, watching the sunset while listening to live music. It was like something out of a movie and very magical.
2.We lost our Rail Passes about half way through our trip in Croatia and it was a blessing in disguise… We got to change up our route, see more places and meet more people.
3.Being able to meet up with friends over there was incredible. We got to catch up with an old friend from high school and see cologne as a local. We got to meet up with our fellow [JU] Dolphin alumn and see Vienna together, we were able to match routes and experience Barcelona with a good friend we hadn’t seen in 3 years, and we were blessed to see some of the most amazing views and sites with our mother and best friend, when they both decided last minute to join for a little part of our journey.
But seriously, ask us this question tomorrow and we would probably give you 3 more different answers.
10. What experience from the trip have you brought into your everyday lives?
Cheyenne: There’s a day that constantly replays in my mind and it was from our second stop on our trip in Amsterdam. We were on the train heading to our Hostel when a homeless older man came through the cabins playing the guitar and singing. Happy as could be. But instead I was scared, I wouldn’t even look at him because I was in a different country and he was foreign. But he was also human. And my actions disappointed me. I didn’t do anything mean, I just didn’t acknowledge someone who was being himself, and that upset me. In America, I wouldn’t have hesitated to give a smile and a little change to those in need and that shouldn’t change because I was abroad. No matter where you are in the world, people are people and our humanity is something to value. I wasn’t human in that situation, and from that moment on I knocked down whatever wall I had up because I was in a foreign land – and decided to embrace all the people around me and learn a little something from them all.
Chawnee: While we were there we met countless people that were over the top friendly and would go out of their way to help us get to the place we wanted to go when we were lost (which was quite often) or other times just talking to us and making us feel comfortable and telling us about places and things we had to see. I just wanted to bring that back with me- be as friendly as possible to everyone I meet, spark up conversations with strangers and help them if it is needed.
11. As sisters and twins how do you think the experience was unique to you two?
Cheyenne: Absolutely. We knew we were alike, and close, and inseparable but our trip just confirmed how much we know, understand and value one another. We went forty days abroad with not one fight or disagreement. Having the same laid back personality and the same interests really is important when traveling, and that made for us to be the best travel partners. The experience was unreal, and being able to live and see it all with my best friend was unforgettable.
Chawnee: I agree. So many decisions are to be made when you are abroad and I am so thankful that those decisions easy for us because we wanted to do the same things. We didn’t have to please anyone but ourselves. I could not imagine doing that trip with anyone different and I will forever be grateful that I have not only a twin sister, but a best friend I can enjoy experiences with.
Thank you to Cheyenne and Chawnee Gulick for sharing your incredible experience with us!