Looking Back: Mistakes from our Beyond Vacation Kick-Off Trip

Shortly before we left for our Beyond Vacation kick-off trip, Andy and I talked about our goals for the trip. It wasn’t just an extended vacation, it was the beginning of a new lifestyle. I realized that since I shared our goals with you before the trip, I should also let you know how we did with our goals and what kinds of mistakes we made along the way. If you’re planning something similar, hopefully some of these will give you another perspective to think about.

Rome, Italy Colosseum

Our goal to travel

Well, obviously we accomplished this. Before our trip this summer, we hadn’t traveled in about eight months and it was torture. We were very happy to finally be traveling again. However, we may have gone a bit overboard.

We realized early in our trip that travel can be like a muscle that gets weaker if you don’t exercise it enough. We traveled too quickly and didn’t give ourselves enough time to just BE in another place while still seeing the sights. I skipped the museums in Amsterdam, we took a day trip from Brussels to Ghent but skipped Brugge, and we regretted splitting up our journey from Brussels to Italy with a stop in Nice. Too many cities, too many activities, too little time to relax.

We also didn’t have enough flexibility in our trip. We had good reasons for scheduling and booking most of it ahead of time, but there were places we wished we could’ve stayed in longer, left earlier or skipped altogether. I love planning, and it’s certainly useful in some situations, but we both want more freedom to figure things out on the road next time we travel like this.

Castle Gravensteen, Ghent, Belgium

Our goal to test out work on the road

Andy and I both kept up with blogging while we traveled. I reorganized the categories on Ali’s Adventures so posts that were previously categorized by continent are now categorized by country, and I cleaned up the tags. But we both had grand ideas for revamping our sites, and that just didn’t happen. A week or less in each location was not enough time for us to enjoy where we were and put a lot of time into big website projects.

In the future, if Andy has a project working remotely and we’re traveling, we have to have several weeks or more in one place. We’re also both focusing more on writing now, including fiction novels, and it’s important that we have enough time to work on those as well. We learned we need a lot more time that we originally thought if we want to do more than sightseeing as we travel.

how much we spent traveling in Belgium

Our goal to find balance

We spent 52 nights on the road, and overall I think it was a good amount of time. Now we know we can handle a long trip like this, and we’ll be comfortable with an even longer trip if we remember to go slower. We were also happy to sleep in our own bed again when it was all over, so I think we achieved a good travel/home balance.

While we didn’t have as much time as we had hoped for work, I’m glad we at least realized travel was more important on this trip. I don’t think either of us would’ve been happy sacrificing exploring Rome in favor of website revamping. It’ll be a little different if Andy has a contract while we’re on the road, but we’ll keep working on this balance.

Rome, Italy views photos

Our goal to help you

I don’t think I can really say definitively that we’ve accomplished this goal, but I think we did a pretty good job of it. As I wrote about the different places we visited, I provided information about how to get there and what the entrance fees are. I provided my opinions and tips to help you make decisions. Andy has done this as well on Grounded Traveler and Ctrl-Alt-Travel. I have also written several posts showing you how much we spent traveling in Europe and broken it down by location.

Over the past few years, renting apartments instead of staying in hotels has become our favorite way to travel and experience a place. I’ve talked about this a little on my site, and I plan on digging deeper into this topic in the future. Andy came up with a helpful apartment checklist as we learned what works, what doesn’t, and things we need to research more before booking.

how much we spent traveling in Europe for two months

We’ve also been sending out our Beyond Vacation newsletter once a month to provide an inside look at how our lifestyle is going. We often discuss things there before we write about them on our sites, like announcing our three month stay in Berlin, so if you haven’t signed up yet, you can sign up here. Any other travel stuff I can help you with? Just let me know!

Our goal to get more pictures of us

Um… We didn’t do so well on this one, and I apologize for that. We both really enjoy being behind the camera and often forget to ask others to take our picture. Someone took a picture of us before we went out for dinner in Bologna on our second anniversary, but it turned out a bit out of focus. We do have the one below from Pompeii, which is probably the best one we got. We tried to take one with a timer while we were on our terrace in Minori but it didn’t work out too well either. Again, we’ll keep trying on this one!

visiting ancient Pompeii in Italy

Our silly goals

Here are the things I kept track of besides how much money we spent:

  • Number of times we did laundry: 7
  • Number of castles we saw: 9
  • Number of trains we were on: 28

Emilia Romagna photos

This is still a work in progress. We made a lot of mistakes on our trip, but hopefully they will help us on future journeys. We approached Berlin with a different mindset, and we’re trying to use what we’ve learned as we begin to plan our escape from the German winter. I have no doubt we’ll continue making mistakes, and Beyond Vacation will continue to evolve. I’m just happy to be living a life filled with travel and exploring the world with Andy!