Where TF Have You Been?

Pre-Departure Front Door.jpg

My dad took this

Isn’t that cute

You’re here because you’ve either followed my travel via Instagram (hi, love u), or you recently received a copy of my resume (hi, I’m very smart and interesting and would be a huge value add to your company). Regardless: hi, welcome. This is a great place to start if you’re curious about my European travels.

While I was gone, particularly in the @heycourto era (RIP), I got a lot of questions about what the heckin heck I was doing galavanting around Europe with no supervision. So, I thought I would just lay it out in a “Women Tell All”, E-Inspired, pre-memoir of the most exciting time in my young adult life.

“Are you traveling for work?”

Fair question because I did travel to Europe for work at the beginning of 2018, but NO, this was 0% work funded (or 100% work funded because I used my salary to pay for it? Technicality). From the day I started at the firm (let’s just call it JT Marlin), I knew my time in finance would be temporary. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my degree, and JT felt like a super safe bet. And it was a good job, just not for me. So I quit to do something I really wanted to do¯\_(ツ)_/¯. Realistically I need an additional post on how I wholeheartedly knew I had to quit my job, because it’s WAY more complicated than just quitting...coming soon.

“How are you paying for this?”

I could chock it all up to me being super financially responsible (which TBH I really really am), but I’m also #blessed. I graduated with no student debt (thanks Mom, Dad, and in-state tuition), and with no car payments (thanks, again M&D), and absolutely could not have traveled without these privileges. But, I’ve used these privileges to my advantage. I didn’t choose finance because the industry is well known for not paying well. I knew I ultimately wanted to move out of Delaware, so I started a savings account right out of college dedicated to eventually sponsoring a move out of town. I booked my accommodation way in advance, chose budget flights and took overnight busses, and even pushed my trip back and moved home for two months to save a little extra moolah. I rarely ate out, walked instead of calling a cab, and was thoughtful about every purchase.

I prioritized this life investment (as I like to call it) over moving out of my hometown, over leaving my job at the time I wanted to, and over lots of material things that ultimately felt less important. But really, I could afford this because 1) I’m a planner 2) I had no debt coming out of school.

“How did you decide where to go?”

Originally, I was only going to Paris because I have a huge crush on the city in general, but I also wanted to go somewhere where I spoke the language. I took French in high school and retained a lot (merci beaucoup, Madame Smith!!!), so I felt most comfortable in a city where I was positive I could say “thanks,” and “excuse me,” and “this espresso is shit.”

But, it felt like a waste to quit my job for just one city, so when some friends invited me to stay at their flat in London, I jumped at the opportunity to turn this into a true adventure. And I didn’t book a return ticket...maybe because I didn’t want to admit that I eventually had to leave? For lots of people, I’m sure this would cause anxiety, but for me it kept things open ended and hopeful. This ended up being the right move because another friend called me while I was in Paris to ask if I wanted to meet her somewhere. Like yes duh of course thanks for existing. She really wanted to go to Spain, and I really wanted to go to Portugal, so that’s what we did. Because we’re two badass ladies who do whatever TF we want.

I had just over a week between the end of my scheduled stay in London and when my friend was available to meet in Lisbon, so I asked my well-traveled friends where I should go. Cue huge applause for Amsterdam. Check. Dull roar for most of the other cities that were within a short flight/train ride away from Amsterdam, so I kind of arbitrarily picked Bruges? I had a couple friends who had gone to Belgium and said Brussels was kind of “meh,” and I was so tired of making plans that I said “f*ck it,” and booked a train to Bruges.

So, overall, a little bit of love, the power of suggestion, and general exhaustion helped me pick where I wanted to go.

“Who are you traveling with?”

All by my own self! Until I met up with Anastasia (old friend) and Nikki (new friend).

I’ve never done a solo trip before, but I knew I would be just darling at it. I found that it takes a unique personality to enjoy traveling solo: someone who doesn’t mind doing things alone (which is more than just being alone...it’s also going on tours and eating and exploring alone), someone who isn’t afraid to step outside his/her comfort zone to challenge him/herself, and most importantly someone who is flexible and adaptable to unexpected changes in the plan (this one’s for you, hiring managers).

“Do you want to stay there?”

Yes, absolutely. I’ve always wanted to live abroad because ?? I don’t know I just have. I haven’t found the right way to explain how interesting it would be to live outside the US: the culture, the people, the clothes...it’s all so different, there’s so much to learn. Before I left, JT Marlin was actually in the process of transferring me to Edinburgh, Scotland, but tragically my work visa got declined (i.e. I wasn’t cleared to work in the country). This became the prevailing theme as I interviewed for roles in London and Paris: “Sorry, you’re great, but we don’t sponsor work visas.”

I asked every working American I met how they got sponsorship, and literally all of them were on student visas (international students can work part time on student visas), or partnership visas (you can apply for a partnership visa if your long-term significant other is a citizen/working in the country), so moving just wasn’t in the cards for me this round.

”How long were you gone?”

Almost three months…a month in Paris, a month-ish in London, and a month spread between Amsterdam, Bruges, Lisbon, Sevilla, and Barcelona.

“Now what?”

For now, I’m enjoying retirement. But after retirement, I’m moving to New York. Just gotta find a job…

I think that covers most of the people’s curiosities. BUT I have a lot in my brain, so stay tuned for additional interesting bits and bobs about the trip of a lifetime.

Travel GalCourtney Bannon