Posted by Tabitha Yeasley
September 24, 2016
We purchased one way tickets at the end of May. The sixth month lease we signed in March, with the intent of saving money and hitting the road at the end of it, was up at the end of August, so we used Google's flight search and looked for the cheapest flights in September. We landed on September 21st, a Wednesday, when ticket prices from summer travel dropped significantly. It was cheapest to fly into London, so we received a confirmation email that night and went to bed knowing that all we had between us and the adventure of a lifetime was one crazy summer.
Mid-May, my dad was in the hospital in California for a couple of weeks. Michael sat through some of the hardest days of my life at my side, and when we got home to Portland, the desire to be alive was pulsing through us both. Michael had been talking about long term travel, especially in Europe, since the day we met, and we decided months back that it was something we should do together. You stop thinking in "What Ifs" when the "What If" of losing life becomes all too real.
This summer much of our time was occupied with family vacations, film projects, working music festivals, and exploring the great outdoors of the Pacific Northwest we are so lucky to call home. Michael was the line producer on a short film, and so much of his energy went into that while I finished up my time at an event company downtown. We got lucky with our landlord too, extending our lease by half a month free of charge if we helped find new, reliable tenants. We were able to do so easily as a great couple we knew happened to fall in love with our place as much as we did. The rest of our efforts went into planning.
I'm a planner by trade, Michael is not. So we spent our spare time doing our own versions of planning for something that we knew was impossible to actually plan for. 3 months abroad wouldn't even sink in until we landed on foreign soil. I bought a Rick Steve's book "Europe through the Back Door", Michael looked into Music Festivals. I spent hours online, comparing hostels and AirBnB's, forced Michael to renew his passport and help me secure travel insurance, and I bought packing cubes and a new toiletry kit, while he insisted he was fine with the backpack he had. I spent more hours comparing prices of purchasing a Eurail Pass vs. single train tickets, but when he made the point that we would have the most flexibility renting a car, I agreed. I then spent two full days being throughly disappointed by the prices and limitations on rental car sites, until I found the most incredible deal from Peugeot through France's Buy Back leasing program. We purchased our International Driving Permit's days before we left, an easy process at AAA.
Seeking sponsorship was Michael's idea. We were going regardless, and I was saving like a mad woman because I knew those student loan payments don't go on vacation. So wouldn't it be easier if we put our skills to use and generated video content for companies while we travel, having some sort of an income along the way? Michael drafted a well thought-out email, and I made blind introductions of us until we gained the attention of some great companies whose values aligned with ours. We were certain that we could promote the lifestyle of their brands and products with the great footage we would already be obtaining throughout our travels. In Michael's words, "I'm a videographer traveling through Europe with my beautiful girlfriend, who wouldn't want to take advantage of that?"
So in August, a great company called Matador, based out of Boulder, CO, signed up to be our first sponsor, sending us with their awesome, packable travel gear. Soon after, amidst me quitting my job, us packing up our apartment, putting our stuff in storage, and moving into his parent's house for a few days, Hi-Tec equipped us with some sturdy new shoes, jackets, and deemed us their newest brand ambassadors just as we set off across the pond.
Thursday, September 22nd, 22 hours after we started our day the morning before, we landed in Gatwick Airport, an hour south of London. We arrived at our AirBnB in a northern borough of London called Stoke Newington, about two hours and a delirious taxi ride later. I told Michael we needed to stay awake until that night, but around 4pm, he thought he could just "take a quick nap," and after some futile resistance, I joined him. Jet lag, shmet lag. Rookiest move in the book. I woke up at 10:45pm. I woke up Michael and he thought, it's early morning right? Wrong. It's 11pm. We were up, and we were starving. We ate toast and jam we found in the kitchen, and laughed at our classic mistake for a few more hours before we could fall asleep again at almost 3am. Somehow, we were up with the rest of humanity Friday morning, to enjoy a day around sunny London Town.