Europe (map)

They say that one of the best ways to make sure you work hard and achieve your goals is to publicly declare what you want. This is exactly what I am going to do now.

I am going to Europe in May 2010.

There, I said it. That means that I can’t take it back anymore. It’s out there, and I’ll have my loyal readers to keep reminding me of my goals.

This isn’t one of those spontaneous, compulsive ideas, though. It’s a trip that’s at least five years in the making. After graduating from college, one of my friends went on a backpacking trip to Europe for one month. When he returned, my friends and I all started talking about going to Europe together and doing something similar. We thought it would be a great thing to do while we weren’t tied down by work and other commitments.

One of my friends had just entered medical school at the time, though, so it was agreed that we would do the trip once he completed medical school as well as the board examinations. The years passed by, and every time we all met, we would briefly talk about the trip to Europe. However, since it was still years away, we never really took the time to figure out where exactly we would go, where we’d get our funding, or when the trip was actually going to be, for that matter.

Flash forward to the end of last year. Our friend’s graduation from medical school was fast approaching. We quickly realized that our “in the future” target date was coming closer and closer. That was when we first started seriously discussing plans for the trip. “How about October or November next year (2009)?” my friend asked. Everyone else agreed that it was too soon; despite all the time we had back then, we never really got around to saving up for the trip because it felt too far away, so we needed more time to save cash.

A few more months passed. While the idea of a European trip remained on our minds, for whatever reason, we still didn’t get around to planning it. Meanwhile, thanks to CouchSurfing, I started to make new friends from Europe, who offered to either host me if ever I made it to their country, or at least have them show me around. It made me even more anxious and ready to do the trip. Finally, about a week ago, I popped the question(s) to my friends: When are we going, for how long, and how much do we need?

The October/November timeframe came up again, but three months wasn’t going to be enough time to raise funds; early 2010 seemed more feasible. My friend also said that a three-week backpacking trip around Europe was doable on a budget of PHP 60,000-90,000 (approx. US$ 1,250-1,900), excluding airfare. Once I got home, I did a little research and started contacting my friends in Europe. I decided to take charge and plan the trip, because if I wasn’t going to do it, nobody will.

I’ve determined that May 11, 2010 (the day after the Philippine elections) would probably be the best time to go to Europe (I don’t think we would have appreciated winter, anyway). After some quick research on average daily living expenses, Schengen visa requirements, and airfare, I computed a ballpark budget of PHP 150,000 (approx. US$ 3,000). So at last, after five years of just thinking and talking about Europe, we have a target date and a target budget. I’ve also come up with a rough itinerary. As it is, we’re likely to go to a few cities in Germany; Vienna, Austria; Copenhagen, Denmark; Stockholm, Sweden; Tallinn, Estonia; and Helsinki, Finland. This itinerary is subject to change, of course.

So there it is: A much more definite plan. Now comes the hard part: MONEY. Ten months until the trip, 8-9 months until we need to raise the money for airfare and the visa application. I’m already doing some scrimping on my part, and I also have an idea for an article about how saving for a big trip can also help you lose weight. Heh.

I’m sure that we’ll be able to do it, though. After all, I’ve already made my public declaration, which means I have lots of people who will hold me to my promise. Also, isn’t the universe supposed to conspire to help me achieve that goal anyway?

Wish me luck, and I hope to see you in Europe next year!