One Year Later: Reflections on our Month of Adventures Abroad | Bjorndal Travels | Hannah Bjorndal

One Year Later: Reflections on our Month of Adventures Abroad | Bjorndal Travels

Last year, Evan and I took a month-long sabbatical from work to travel around Europe for four weeks. We ventured to eight cities across France, Italy & Spain with just two backpacks and a camera bag. And we had the time of our lives!

Reflections on our Month of Adventures Abroad

Now that it’s been a year, the reality of our wonderful European adventure has (almost) fully set in. When we first arrived back in the U.S., we felt accomplished, well-rested & excited to share about our trip with others. The memories and photos have given us so much joy over the past year, and as we celebrated our third anniversary, we found ourselves longing for another month-long trip together!

So a little backstory on our trip:

Evan and I decided we wanted to do this trip while we were engaged, so we started saving and planning for it almost three years in advance. We came up with a budget, Evan got permission at work early on (a year in advance), and we started dreaming up ideas. We settled on making this a two-year anniversary trip and wanted to be on the Amalfi Coast for the day-of (selfie of us on our anniversary is that top left photo!). With those specifications as our guide, we planned our trip.

We ended up settling on a route through three different countries: France, Spain & Italy. I had been to Italy several times before and longed to share the experience with my hubby, Evan had dreamed of Paris & the South of France, and we both agreed Spain was an awesome third choice based on friends & family recommendations. We also loved that we’d be there in the summer, so it would be easier to pack light!

For getting around, we quickly knew that trains would be our main mode of transportation. We bought most of our tickets before the trip, which allowed us to build a framework of where we’d be when. We also booked hotels & AirBnB’s in advance so we wouldn’t ever have to worry about having a place to sleep. We splurged in locations like Seville, Rome & Paris, and looked for deals (and asked our native friends for recommendations!) in places like Amalfi & Florence. Our absolute FAVORITE place we stayed was Hotel Bacco in Furore, Italy. Set atop the cliffs of the Amalfi Coast, the view was STUNNING. This was clearly a hidden gem of the area, as we were the only non-Italians staying there! We were super thankful that Evan’s Italian co-worker hooked us up!

How did I take a month off from work?!

Before you read any further, you’ll want to read about what I didn’t do while I was traveling. Folks, this was a true month off from work. While I did need to check in periodically to make sure current clients didn’t have pressing needs, I truly took a month off! But this was NOT something that just happened all-of-a-sudden. I spent TWO months prepping content, social media & blog posts to keep my business rolling. I also made a plan for how I would communicate with clients WITHOUT having to lug the laptop across the world (I should totally share more in another blog post, huh?!).

The main takeaway was that taking a true vacation requires extra work and preparation ahead of time. Otherwise, I’ll end up stressing about all that needs to be done while I’m trying to relax! Making a game plan and checking off the prep to-do list was key in truly relaxing and enjoying this wonderful vacation with my hubby!

Reflecting on this trip a year later:

The main concept I keep coming back to is the idea of rest. Not “rest” in the sense of sleeping in and lounging around, but instead, resting from the hard work that Evan and I do everyday. We are very fortunate to have careers that we absolutely love, and overworking is the #1 consistent weakness that we have as a couple. We both get easily swept up in our jobs, and very quickly, we find ourselves staking our whole identity & value on the success of our businesses. Let me be clear: this is unhealthy, and not at all the way we as humans are meant to live! 

Yes, work brings fulfillment and purpose to my day-to-day life, but it is NOT where I should be finding my ultimate value & purpose. Taking a rest from our work – I mean, TOTALLY shutting off the phone, social media, email . . . you get it – was a TRUE challenge for both of us. It took us both a full week to really let go and just enjoy the trip without constantly feeling the need to look at email or texts. We finally agreed to do quick checks of email each morning and put the phones away for the rest of the day. It was SO FREEING!

Another strong feeling that we both had was the reminder about how much we love being married to each other. One full month of just being together with no other conversations or communications with the outside world? Dream come true! It was like our honeymoon all over again, and it reaffirmed in my mind that I married the BEST human on the planet. We laughed so much, made so many memories & had a new adventure every day. We worked together to problem-solve, push ourselves out of our comfort zone, and most of all, give one another grace daily. I will cherish the memories of our month-long Euro adventure for the rest of my life!

Lastly, a piece of advice:

There is no time like the present to do something like this. I’m sure we could have come up with a million reasons NOT to go, and we definitely felt that we sometimes had to explain ourselves whenever we’d tell people what we were doing. While I’m well-aware that it was a BLESSING to be able to have the money to do this trip, we planned & saved and MADE IT HAPPEN! We knew that this was not something we’d be able to do after we start a family, and traveling and seeing the world together was a huge priority in our life. So, are you interested in doing something similar? Stop contemplating and start making a plan! You will absolutely not regret it!

I just had to go ahead and share some of my fav photos from our trip, I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed taking them!

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Jul 19, 2018

Hannah Bjorndal

Hannah Bjorndal

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