When I first told friends and family I was planning to do Eurail travel with teenagers, I got the “you’re nuts” look. But I’ve never let that stop me before.
I’m fortunate for the opportunity to spend time with my two teenaged daughters, working as a digital nomad, and combining a series of planned adventures with ample opportunities to “wing it.” All of this is good in theory, and in planning. But then like the whoosh of a roller coaster dive after a long slow ascent, you find yourself in the moment, hurling through space, heart throbbing, thrilled and not entirely in control any more.
Its 2 am in the morning, somewhere in the Baltic sea. There is no wifi. Marly, my 19 year old, is experiencing anxiety and actual withdrawal symptoms as a result.
She asks, only half joking, if there are icebergs here. Due to the wifi situation, I cannot snap my usual retort, “Google it!”
Instead I reassure her that our ferry is nothing like the Titanic and despite the fact that we are far north enough for near white nights, we are nowhere near any icebergs.
Then I go back to typing this post.
I’m hunched over, sitting semi upright in the bottom bunk in a cramped windowless inside ferry cabin. Despite my exhaustion, sleep is eluding me. Instead I bask in the internet-free glow of my tiny, battered travel laptop. The ship hums and vibrates. My daughters toss on the cots above me. I don’t think they’re able to sleep either but they are better at trying. Jetlag is a thief but so is time.
There are worse things than missed slumber. Missed moments, missed years, missed opportunities.
My friends and family shook their heads at me when I spoke of our summer plans, sketched on napkins and funded by a wing and a prayer. “You’re brave. I don’t know how you do it…”
I can picture them all standing in the hallway outside our cabin door, bemused with me as I rub a little Arnica cream (it leaked in my luggage and I hate to waste it) into my already sore shoulders. My 13 kg backpack seemed perfectly reasonable back home, less so after a plane, train, subway and bus plus two miles of urban hiking. Now I am sore, but it’s the good kind of sore. The kind of sore where you’ve challenged yourself and know you will come out stronger.
Backpacking in Europe as a teenager was one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life.
Every single summer since I’ve felt and resisted the strong pull to go back. It’s something I never intended to only do once, but 20 years have passed and I’ve not gone back. Time, money, schedules, career demands…
Then I won some Eurail passes. This, for me was like a cosmic lottery. A sign. Fate. My daughters are on the brink of leaving home, being grown and flown. If not now, when.
Nothing awesome ever happens in your comfort zone.
I might be crazy to attempt this solo Eurail travel with teenagers summer, but I am also thrilled to be here. I can’t wait to see what’s next in our adventure. Just as soon as we all catch up on a little sleep…
You can follow our summer travels here and on Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat as well as on the Travelfluential Live Video Page where we will be posting live travel video as we go.