EUROPE NOMAD

mediterranean dreams explored one country at a time

Best Of Europe...

9 week countdown until I travel through Europe indefinitely

SarandΓ«, Albania

Let's just get straight to the point shall we.


I am not the first nor last American who wants out this country. ASAP.


Two weeks ago I set my intention of traveling around the world like a hedonistic European expat, and shared a bit behind the decision on this post here. 


Two weeks later and the sheer excitement has naturally been replaced with utter mental chaos, a bit of anxiety, (ok a lottt of anxiety) nervousness, and a hell of allot of adventure adrenaline.  


Why? 


Well, because if you haven't already gotten the memo, I'm not your average travel blogger and I don't lead a double life as a trust fund baby turned influencer. 


I literally just woke up one day last month and said, 

"I've had enough! Something's gotta change..." 

and the rest is history. 


Ahh ok, not history yet obviously. But it will be. 


This is all to say that, NO, I did not win a NY lottery or get a marriage proposal from a Frenchman (though they're more than welcome!) nor did I get invited to Paris fashion week from some big wig advertiser. 



My decision to finally come share publicly that I am without a doubt leaving behind absolutely everything I know here in America to travel the world as if I had a European passport...by of course becoming a European citizen in my meticulously, painstakingly hand-selected new adopted home country, had absolutely nothing to do with travel blogging per se, so much as it had to do with my blog's incredibly lovely readers. 


Between the thoughtful comments, private messages, tweets, and onslaught of emails, I know there are still dozens upon dozens of you yearning for a more fulfilling life. You don't know where to start, but the dream is only flaring up more, not dying down.


And for whatever reason, we tend to choose comfort over adventure, Zara purchases over cultural experiences; bookmarking blog posts or Pinterest travel porn over living our own life. 


So as much as this is for me, it's also for you too, because I had an epiphany last week, and that little enlightenment was that my blog is going to be an inspirational tome for the rest of us. 


You know, the non-trust fund babies who are always perfectly skinny blonde blue-eyed and have the most professional photographer boyfriend! Without fail. Funny how that works. 


No instead this journey is for the fellow fashionable yellow, red, light, dark, pale, tan, purple, and brown-skinned girls (as if we don't travel too!), the alternative minimalists, the rebels and the dreamers. 


Don't ask me why on Earth I waited this long to switch gears away from envying other permanent expats to just doing the damn thing already. 


And that thing mind you, is called life. So with only nine weeks to go until a new chapter, here is how I am making it all happen, literally overnight:


Culling The Wardrobe:

I would be lying if I said I resoundingly woke up ready to travel the world like a European citizen indefinitely. 


Like anything else worth changing in life, I of course had a yearning growing inside of me to just CHANGE. 

Something. 

Anything. 


And the change came to me in the form of travel, especially since I lack a true social life or connection to anyone here in America outside of the parents. As soon as I realized this, say, about a month or two ago, I started pacing my apartment, taking stock of how much crap I had accumulated in my lifetime here in NY. The truth shocked me. Since my last breakup, and since my last move, I did a pretty darn good job of avoiding conspicuous consumption (where I failed was not knowing how to dress though!) and the real obstacle course was two suitcases full of books and vintage clothes in the basement. The chore of prepping my mind to even consider venturing overseas started with bringing two heaping mounds of donations and sellable items upstairs to sort through. When the end goal is a chance to see the world, trust me, it's not such a chore after all.


If you live in a metro or urban dwelling like I do, this is a much more enjoyable task. If, however, you are in a rural area or have afforded yourself a big old house, then I suggest taking cues from the likes of these blogs on how they downsized a full on adult life: Minima/Maxima, Becoming Minimalist, and The Minimalists as well as this insanely handy de-cluttering guide.


For a studio up to two bedroom apartment, start off simply like I did and just survey each room over the course of a several weekends. Since my ex owned most the items in our kitchen, I paid absolutely no attention to that room and went straight to the bathrooms and closets. I'm not a makeup junkie, just a skincare fanatic, so I chose ONE cosmetic bag and loaded it with my must-haves, keeping in mind the security check line at airports (nothing over 3 ounces ladies!) while tossing unopened goodies in a donation bag, and stocking almost finished items in the mirror cabinet to be emptied out by months' end. 


The closets were a bit tougher, and required that I try on everything to truly get myself to part with items I never wore, no longer fit, or just weren't my style but rather someone else's I so desperately tried to be. Once I found the pieces that would pack easily, hold up well, and looked chic enough for minimalist travel, the rest went into donation bags while the vintage and designer pieces went up on eBay. Hello travel funding source!


Ahhh the books. My beloved books. 


Any fellow book nerds (aka hoarders) here?


I still have two piles on my dresser and they are barely selling. For me books are harder to part with than clothes, but remain the most difficult things to travel with. I have one more week to see if there are any bidders, and if not, half will go to my grandmother and the other half donated. Such a shame, as they are all brand spankin new and were intended for a fantasy library (as seen on Pinterest of course) I created in my mind for the future me.


Don't even ask me about shoes. But yes, the Jeffrey Campbell's are up for sale. Any takers?


TIP: Stop making excuses for your subconscious! Seriously, the only one standing in your way is yourself. If one of your lame reasonings goes something along the lines of "how am I going to get rid of all this crap" then do exactly what I did which was call a volunteer pickup. See there, I've done the work for you and have selected Volunteers of America as the most reliable and stupidly easy donation pickups in the country. Pack the bags, call the number, and just do it!




Technology

This has been a tough one. As of August the devices in my possession included a Canon 20D full kit with lens, an iPod, a Macbook, an Android, a Canon 3-in-1 printer, an Apple hard drive, and accessories like cords and earplugs. I wanted to reduce all that down to just two devices and almost no accessories. But as you can see, clearly I am an Apple fanatic and digital snob, so the best of the best is always top of mind for me.


I did a week's worth of research on cameras based on the decision that it was delusional to think I needed a dslr while traveling, and that surely point and shoot cameras were kicking butt these days. 


After reading this round up of best point and shoot cameras article and cross-referencing it like a maniac against reviews and other bloggers, I decided to spy on the waterproof Nikon Coolpix and most recently (as of today thanks to Wanderlust Project) the Canon Powershot. Will let you know how it goes!


As for the rest of it, well, like a true statistic of a person I settled on the iPad mini. I sold my 2006 laptop for $200 and used that to bid on a 4th generation brand new mini on eBay which I won for just $320. Pretty sweet deal. I had no expectations of my old bum laptop selling for that much, and it was pretty sentimental seeing as how my mother bought it for my birthday a decade ago when I moved out on my own, but everyone has a budget these days, and I can almost promise that whatever you have lying around collecting dust can find a home. With my ipad in tow, I'll have a way to do computing, chat with friends, and make phone calls or watch tv. That's good enough for me. At least to start.

Remember, this is all about no excuses forward movement!


Destinations

Hmmm, you're probably wondering two things right about now. Where does an impromptu American traveler move to during a gosh damn pandemic, and how do you even afford it? 


Well, I saved the best for last of course. While I do plan on making a whole post on how anyone can travel through Europe or gorgeous Mediterranean destinations for just $900 a month which is what I will be doing, I will share my major little secret now: it's called work exchange people! 


Yes, just work in exchange for your room and board. Nothing new. Gap year students have done it for decades, volunteers have made it popular, and now sites like HelpX and Workaway are where you used to be able to find me on any given day just trolling for gigs before I took my very first trip overseas. 


Back then I simply let the category of work determine the destination, it's that simple! 


So for example, when I first got this wanderlust project underway not long after leaving college, I shelled out a few bucks for an account and bookmarked all the places that sounded magical and too good to be true. 


Then I did research for visas and vaccinations and realized I couldn't afford to hit up Bali for some Eat, Pray, Love action just yet, but I could do Europe like a Grecian goddess. I got an offer in Greece but that fell through, but luckily a route manifested itself that allowed me magical places to live from autumn through March of which included Turkey, Portugal, (which I shared on this very blog) Croatia, Slovenia, Belgium, and of course Paris! Paris was life changing and I also featured it in previous blog posts.


All I wanted was to know that I had a place to sleep for 6 months out. For you of course your need may be different. Maybe you have kids. Maybe you like luxury. Who knows. 


Either way, now that this decision is all confirmed, I booked my ticket for Albania yesterday! No turning back now, and I could not be any more excited. Seriously, this was all it took. From quitting the unhealthy relationship to making the choice, life plans are not that difficult unless you make it so in your mind.


Finances

Speaking of quitting jobs during a pandemic, I know now that most people fear instability and that is why you'll find a sea of dreams unfulfilled. 


Well, I tried the fancy glam life of a fashion editor and it ain't all that it's cracked up to be. Too many fake personalities, as well as bodies, and I just don't want that life for myself anymore. I quit the fashion world long ago mentally, but it took even longer to officially check out physically too. Thank god I did though because now I work as a renowned business coach for women & digital nomads since 2013 and it literally has been a dream come true to teach others how to run their own entrepreneurial ideas like tiny empires so they have financial freedom like I do.


If you're still on the fence, you can follow suit of sooo many who have already said "see ya later" to all their boring as heck part-time jobs, and joined a freelancing site. There are so many out there for you! From 99designs to Upwork, to Fiverr and even Linkedin.


In just two weeks, with a killer resume revamp and procrastination-driven portfolio, I remember earning in one month what I use to make on a Manhattan corporate salary. 


These freelancing sites even offer benefits. So what's the catch? There is none! I already told you, I am one of the most skeptical and pragmatic people and thought it would be a story of fairy tales to actually feel secure enough freelancing, blogging, and selling on eBay to just pick up and travel the world. 

It's not. 


It is real and it's happened to me many times over before I decided to make this a permanent move. 


If you want it to happen to you to, please take my word for it, just do it. Do one thing. Take one step. I promise it will be okay.





Truth be told, I always felt that a day would come when I will leave my original hometown to a new place and venture off to indulge in various cultures or meet new people. But not just outside of home. Outside of motherland.

A whole new continent.

America just really doesn't leave much to desire as a double minority.


At first, the goal did seem impossible to achieve, but I kept telling myself something will come up, and I will be able to visit + find my happy place. 


I had to move abroad for one reason or another, on what I call Scouting Trips, and no one could change my mind about this. The intention would take shape one way or another.

While others called their getaways a holiday or vacation, subconsciously I always knew exactly what would happen with enough flights under my belt.

The confidence would grow. The impossible seems more probable.


Getting to move to Europe was the only thing I could see and think about all along. The days were moving fast, and I could imagine myself boarding a plane to this new place. How happy I am for this new adventure is hard to explain, and the feeling keeps on getting better and better each day. For many years I have been dreaming of this time which has now presented itself, and I cannot see anything that can stop me now.


If this is a dream of yours to, I promise you this type of unwavering resolve is possible for you too.


Dreams start when we are young, and a move to Portugal or any other cheapest countries in Europe slash Mediterranean was the one I had. 


I know I am not the only one who has had this kind of dream since a young age, as I had friends who did admire the many things found abroad, starting from the culture to the arts to the delectable irresistible food. 


Yes, we all have had so much to learn in our motherland, but sometimes what is needed is a new eye-opening, spiritually-expanded challenge to be inspired and see different people doing different things.



Although so many truly magical places were available to choose from on this beautiful Earth, moving to and living in Europe was still the only one fantasy I could think of day and night. 


The traditions and history and the culture of the people have made me want to be there in person and learn from them. 


I wanted to be an expert in the European languages, reclaim my Spanish and French fluency, which led me to start early training and read magazines written in French and Italian even though I could hardly understand a thing. 

This is how it starts.


As people say...


 having a dream is free, but getting to work on it will pay the cost. 

I remember well this particular night we had gone out with my friends, and I expressed my desire to move to Norway or even more Portugal. No one could believe how determined I was in my quest, and some of them even said it was a dream too big to achieve. How vast the culture gap would be! How strange I would give up such first-world modernity! Why would anyone ever leave the greatest country on the planet!


Clearly you can tell how brainwashed and ignorant we Americans are to say shit like that to our friends.


In my mind, I was prepared and ready to pay the price, ANY price, both real and perceived, and move abroad no matter the cost.


As time went by, of course things did go differently thanks to this excruciatingly prolonged pandemic, which made me question whether I will move to Europe one day. The desire and the will to move abroad never left, but the circumstances at hand made me press my dreams down. 


I knew what I wanted but had no idea the path of how I was to get there with little to buy my way into citizenship or even chances to be allowed through closed borders. 


I had to find a plan that will make me realize my goals and also help me move to the cheapest countries in Europe, such as Albania.


Work had been booming for the past years, but things got tougher due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I felt it was the right time to take a break to relax and rejuvenate. I had saved some cash, and it was time to travel to one of the cheapest countries in Europe. There were many states in Europe that I could visit; however, Albania has always been the one on my mind. Yes! I was over the moon with excitement because, for the first time, I could see myself achieving one of my dreams. The feeling I had at the moment was unexplainable. The thought of being in Albania and experiencing a new culture and environment did blow my mind.

The D-Day did arrive.


I did practice my communication skills as well as research tips to interact with completely new historical people. I joined every forum and group I could to ensure people of like-mind would be there to await my arrival. And sure enough, I was already making friends by the boatload. Everyone in this lovely country I come across is as excited as I am that I have chosen Albania for my new home for the next year of my life.


Why Albania?

At this time of the pandemic, and also let's be real...total political unrest and divisiveness...nothing matters more than being safe. Both health wise and mentally. And if you haven't noticed, I have brown skin. That precedes me and my decision making at all times.


One of the ways to be safe during these challenging times is by avoiding ground zero racist zones and crowded places. 


Albania is a hidden jewel in the Mediterranean with a low population, making it a safe destination during the pandemic. Regardless of the country being small, it has many interesting sites to visit. Albania has beautiful beaches with crystal clear water, mountain beauty, gorgeous landscape, and unique culture and food. I must say that, besides the enjoyable nature of Albania, the friendly attitude of the locals is the main reason why the country is absolutely my number one choice. But...


Is it a secure place to be?

While there are myths and contradictory stories about the place, I can gladly say that it is a safe place to be. It is more secure than most of the countries in Europe. Its crime rate is astonishingly low. Just like Portugal. Where I hope to move to permanently after this pandemic clears for good.


The best part is my year spent in Albania doesn't even depend on my visa and passport validity because they allow Americans to move there freely no requirements at all. Not even a Covid test or quarantine upon arrival. So this is the perfect entry point for my new journey toward dual-citizenship in Europe.


I have nothing to say except a big thank you to all my friends and family members who stand by me during this period of life-changing decisions. Without you guys by my side, I could not have gotten where I am now. 

And to my readers and clients and social media family, you are all beautiful people, and all I have is love for you. Never will I forget what you have done to me for the past few weeks and years. My only intention now in life is to inspire as many women as humanly possible to make any of their European dreams come true too.
 




  Do you have wanderlust that you ignore because of fear, excuses, and planning? Tell me in the comments!

Comments

  1. Anonymous1:40 PM

    This is amazing! And totally inspiring! I'm reaching a similar place where I'm realizing day jobs, NYC, and the "industry" ain't everything they're cracked up to be. What freelance sites are you using? I signed up for a few, but never quite got beyond filling in my profile. I hope you'll post from the road!

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    1. Hi Cambrey!
      I'm so giddy to serve up some inspiration. And glad you are already feeling this "enviable NY life" is more propaganda than actual fact. Too much hustling for little reward. I would love to give you tips about the freelancing sites I use. It has been nothing short of amazing. There is a definite learning curve for finding the high paying jobs and slushing through the crap, but shoot me a message on my contact page and I'll spill the beans ;)

      Will definitely be blogging while on the road...

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  2. I commend you for this! This is very brave of you and beyond outside so many of our comfort zones. Too excited for the blog posts ahead. :)

    xoxo,
    Maya| Petite & Unique

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    1. Thanks Maya, you're such a dear. I too am excited to see what posts I concot once I start traveling as I've spent too long drooling over the images of others and wishing I was there. Never thought I would do something considered brave, but I appreciate the sentiment and only hopes it an at least inspire one person to do the same ;)

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  3. Wow, you rock! I so admire you for not only deciding to do this but for sharing all of the gritty details with your readers.

    I think this especially speaks to me as just last week - fresh out of grad school - I started my very first "real" job at a local jewelry design and manufacturing company in the marketing department. I was so excited going into it. On paper it seemed like all I had ever wanted or could even dream of. But when I got there - I was never treated with respect or like a real person - basically got shoved into a corner cubicle and told to input data. The exact opposite of the job I wanted.

    So after only being there 1 week and dealing with daily migraines, no eating or sleeping - I left. I don't have another job yet, but I decided that this dreamer just cannot be held down like that. Even though your move is much more risky than mine - I can relate and so admire you for your courage. Now I am also curious about those freelancing sites. So I'll shoot you a message. Thanks for this post, I needed it.

    xo Aubree

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    1. Ahh Aubree what a special comment, thank you! If I wasn't so exhausted from the day I'd respond to your email right now! Promise to get to it in the morning.

      Now about that job, its exactly what I've kep quiet about the fashion world and don't know why, but the truly rewarding and glam jobs are clearly only for those at the top, and by that I mean the boss not the top in a social circle sense. I feel more and more than if you're truly passionate about this industry the quintessential route is one you set for yourself as either second in command at a more intimate company or as first in command at your own little company. If your job was marketing that could mean takin on freelance for designers to work in house OR starting a boutique marketing agency exclusively for accessory designers. I would thrilled to share some tips because it really is easier to do than most people realize. I took a chance trying it out one month ago and now feel confident enough to this route the rest of my life or until I find another passion entirely, whichever comes first. No one should be someone's slave in this country. That was not the dream they spoke of ;)

      xx

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  4. wow. I've been following along with your posts for some time but I don't think that I've left you a comment expressing how amazing I think this is / you are. I am very much looking forward to following along as your adventure continues.

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    1. Thanks doll! So nice to have you join in on the chatter ;)

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  5. Wow! This all sounds like a magical whirlwind Leticia! Congratulations on choosing your own adventure for life and making the change! I've been doing Workaways in France and I'm sure you'll have a fantastic time traveling this way in Europe. Just for curiosity's sake, what free-lance sites did you sign up with? I've been blogging for over a year now and am looking to make writing my full-time career. I'd love to hear your advice/tips. Send me an email at thebarefootbeat@gmail.com. Also, bon voyage/ buen viaje!

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    1. Thank you Mariah! It is indeed! Would love to hear about your workaway experiences so far. Will email you and we can exchange tales okay. Thanks for commenting. Would love to know what your blog is as well.

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  6. Wow, this is really exciting and inspiring! As for the books, before I did my own international adventure 7 or so years ago I donated a bunch of my future-self library and I regret only getting rid of the ones I didn't read... because I've re-purchased them. Then again, it's not a true regret because the weightlessness and freedom you will feel once you're on your way is worth the price!

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Letitia

Letitia Elizabeth is the author of EUROPE NOMAD, the travel blog for daydreaming fellow travelers who love cheap countries in Europe, beautiful countrysides, and magical quality of life. Here you'll receive packing lists + guides, Europe travel tips, digital nomad working life advice & living in Europe as an American stories. Welcome!