We were in Paris standing on a platform on some hill, overlooking the city below. The orange rooftops, small winding streets, churches and cathedrals poking up above everything else and the Eiffel tower off in the distance. I took out my camera to snap some shots and... no batteries! Scott Mac and I had just arrived in Europe, and I'd forgotten the batteries for my camera! This was a disaster. I frantically ran back to find a store that might sell some, they were just double A's I needed after all. But no stores sold them. No one had even heard of this mystery "double A" sized battery. They had completely different kinds of batteries in Europe and I wasn't going to be able to take any photos for our whole five week trip!! My heart sank... "how could I forget my batteries!!??".
Then I woke up. Phew! We were still a few weeks away from leaving for europe! My stress about the trip had now passed the tipping point where I was having nightmares about the most arbitrary things. Obviously they sell double a batteries in Europe. But I was still freaked enough that I needed to make a quick packing list to calm back down. My 70l pack and "day bag" would both be full to capacity by the time we left.
We spent weeks planning the trip. Every night and every train trip had been figured out. We already knew every museum we were going to visit and even the pizza places we'd eat at in Rome and Naples. We had our Eurorail passes, our international student cards (one of which may have been obtained illegitimately) and our international hosteling cards. It was going to be amazing!
That trip was the first time I'd ever been outside of Canada or the US. Five countries in five weeks. Amsterdam, Paris, Bordeaux, Bilbao, Barcelona, Carcassonne, Nice, Genoa, Florence, Rome, Sorrento, Athens, Santorini, Ios. A whirlwind tour with at most 3 nights in each city. I hit rock bottom in terms of home sickness on the overnight train ride between Bilbao and Barcelona (but thankfully perked back up as soon as arriving in Barcelona) and by the time we were half way through Rome, neither Scott nor I cared to look at another museum, cathedral, or ruin again. I guess walking 20K+ steps every day for 3.5 weeks with a fully packed schedule every day will do that. We took the rest of the time in europe (southern italy and greek islands) to mostly just chill on patios and go bar hopping. Exactly what the doctor ordered ;-).
I can't even imagine traveling like that now. Carrying around 80lbs or so of luggage on a rigid trip that meant staying in cities for barely enough time to even enjoy a nice dinner... it sounds a little like torture.
In hindsight, the trip /was/ amazing, and I wouldn't change a single thing about it. Spending the money that we did for that trip (most of the last of my college money) was well worth it. I probably learned as much from that trip as I did in my entire university career up to that point (though I wouldn't realize that until several years after I completed my degree). Though I wouldn't travel overseas again for more than five years (my next trip was to Barcelona in 2007 for Drupalcon), I'd caught the travel bug and there was no turning back. I was addicted.