Hi, my name is Steffi Wagner and my plan is to travel through all of Europe.
Ok, that doesn’t sound that fancy. Let’s try that again. Because what I mean is, I really want to see a lot of Europe. Not just the famous places.
Hi, my name is Steffi Wagner and my plan is to travel through all of Europe based on a grid with 9,523 squares.
What does that mean: "with 9,523 squares"?
I took a map of Europe and drew squares on it. Each square has a size of roughly 25×25 km. The way I defined "my Europe" it ended up with 9,523 squares. You can see the map on a separate page.
It is a mixture of the geographical Europe and the political Europe (European Union). Yes, others might define "Europe" differently, but this is the way I made this map up.
But aren’t "exotic" places a lot more interesting?
Well, it depends. Of course there are places that are very appealing. And I live in Europe (in Austria, grew up and working in Germany, to be precise), so this sounds kind of boring. But did you ever recognize that visitors know more about your region than you? I wanted to make sure that I don’t miss what is just in front of my door.
Also I want to include traveling into my regular schedule and that is a lot easier when you don’t do long distance travels. I don’t want to wait for the "big vacation" to come or my retirement. Life is too short to wait for the right time to do things you like.
But there will be really boring squares!
There might be squares not showing up in a travel guide, yes. But every place has its own beauty and its own character. I want to make sure I don’t get lazy and too comfortable and only go to common places or places I already know. For a long time I went to my parents' place in France every year for vacation, just because it was familiar.
I want to create memories, I want to explore not only locations but also myself. When I travel with open eyes and an open heart always something happens. A new idea comes up, a different perspective, some insight. And the more I do this in areas I don’t know the more happens.
Is this a digital nomad thing?
I have two wonderful boys and a normal day job. So, no, I am not a digital nomad. I like to travel but I also like to come home. I need a center from which I can start and to which I can return. At least at the moment.
Is that even doable?
No, most probably not. Let’s do the math. If I could make one square a day it would take me more than 26 years to get this done. I am currently around 50 years old. If I stay healthy this could work. But I have a normal life so I will not be able to do one square a day for the next 26 years and sometimes I might even want to stay longer than a day in an area I like.
But I could become one of those crazy healthy people who are still traveling with >80 (just e.g. like Heidi Hetzer, sorry, text in German only).
At some point of time I could be traveling a lot more than I do currently. Perhaps I change my job and will be a part time digital nomad. Perhaps I take a sabbatical once my kids are out of the house and run around doing two squares a day.
Just because it is not likely to happen doesn’t mean it could not happen at all. So let’s give it a try!
Does that mean I only travel in Europe?
No, I get to other places as well, sometimes because of business, sometimes because of friends and family, sometimes just because I want to. I said I want to travel through all of Europe. But I didn’t say that this is the only thing I am going to do. I still want to see Hawaii, Bali, New Zealand and some other places!
You will find such travels in the Category "Somewhere else" and there is no map for it.
What about languages?
I speak German, English, French and a little bit of Spanish. That helps. But I already figured out that English will not always suffice. There are places where talking with hand and feet is the only way to get along.
In the future I want to make sure that I at least know some basic words in the local language (e.g. "yes", "no", "please", "thank you", "one", "two", "three") so that I can go into a shop and do more than just pointing, which feels awkward to me.
How do I travel?
I don’t have a single way of traveling. It really depends on the timeline, the occasion, the season. Sometimes I take the car and stay in a hotel, sometimes I fly. I also have a trailer that I love. It is like my second home. I plan to get an RV at some point of time because it allows me to travel faster than with the trailer.
Sometimes I travel with friends, sometimes with my kids but I also like travel alone. Again, live is too short to wait for others.
Why do I write about it?
I wanted to have a travel diary and a map with an overview. I am an IT person, so doing it digitally was kind of naturally. Plus if I could inspire one other person to start collecting more memories right now instead of waiting for some perfect future time to come, it would make me very happy!
Do you have a tip for me?
If yes, that’s great! I do some online inquiries before I travel and I play an augmented reality game that takes me to places I didn’t think of before but a tip from you would be highly appreciated. And if we can meet for a coffee it would be even better! Just drop me a note!