© 2018 by Two Shades of Travel. Los Angeles, Ca 

  • cytarahryan


Updated: Feb 17, 2019


I had never planned out a trip like this before. Neither of us had ever been to Europe and we, of course, had never been on an open-ended trip such as this one. We decided we would take what we had learned from our research and figure out the rest as we went. (It was the best learning experience of our lives) We decided first and foremost we needed a travel route. Seemed easy enough, we knew we wanted to go to France, Greece, Italy, Spain, and the UK! Now before you go plan your own super sweet European vacay, go ahead and pump those breaks juuuust like we had to do. If you are unfamiliar with the Schengen zone, I highly suggest familiarizing yourself with it, especially if you're an American citizen like we are. We assumed we could hop around, maybe a couple of months at a time and really immerse ourselves in the different areas that we had chosen. Well, you can, but you will have to get creative, which as it turns out, is part of the fun! So, as a U.S. citizen, you have 90 out of 180 days to spend in the countries that fall in the Schengen zone. That means if you want to see the more popular areas such as Italy, France, Iceland or Spain you only have 90 days to divvy up between the 26 countries in the zone before you need to explore other areas. Now some might see that as a problem but we saw it as an opportunity! Did that mean we couldn't hop around our aforementioned areas in Europe 2 months per country at a time? Yes, but, it also meant we had to expand our knowledge of Europe and look for places that we wouldn't normally have thought to visit.

We chose to start in the Schengen Zone by going to Iceland, France and spending the majority of our 90 days in Greece. Then the extra fun part of planning started. We used and to find planes, trains, and automobiles to places that were out of the zone. I HIGHLY suggest using those sights, especially for flights because you can be as vague as you like. You can search anywhere and month by month instead of by date. If the flight between your chosen places seems a little pricey head on over to to check out other forms of transportation available. That site will show you routes from flights to ferries and let you choose the cheapest or fastest or slowest (it's your trip, take your time!) We put together a few tentative itineraries and played around with different routes always knowing we wanted to end up in London. In my opinion, it does help to have an end or maybe a halfway destination. If you do it that way, you can work your way over to your chosen destination, by hopping around to lesser known/visited non-Schengen areas on the way, instead of flying directly there. Why the UK? As U.S. citizens we can stay there for up to 180 days! Which meant, we could end our trip by seeing Ireland, London, and LIVERPOOL!! (huuuuge Beatles fan over here) Planning turned out to be such a fun process, we both have our own strengths and favorite aspects of it all, which is why we make such a great team! If planning is not your thing, feel free to reach out, we love to offer suggestions and help in any way we can!


I am a firm believer in a life that is well lived not well worked. I do not believe that we were put on this earth to just work all the time. Don't get me wrong, I am a hard worker but as I've gotten older, I have realized that I want to work for me and for the life I believe in. I want to live, not just make a living. An article about Ikara, the Greek island where residents life expectancy is unusually long, sparked my interest and made me want to learn more about other cultures way of life. I learned about other countries offering ample vacation time, livable wages, and don't even get me started on siestas! (I'm actually writing this during our siesta in Greece right now and I don't know how I'll ever go back to my American way of life) The more I learned about how other areas of the world lived, the more I realized I wanted to change the way I was living.

After researching other couple's journeys for months, the dream started to seem more realistic. There is something about reading how other likeminded people are doing what you want to do, that suddenly makes it seem less daunting and more realistic. We prayed and everything started to fall into place so perfectly, that it seemed like we were supposed to be doing this. After talking and more praying, Ryan and I decided it was time to take back our lives. And you should too! We had so many people tell us," I wish I could do that" and you can! Why not? If your reason for staying isn't going anywhere, then it will be there when you get back and you will be better for having left! People ask us all the time why we want to do this and honestly, we have so many reasons you can take your pick! We needed a change. Neither of us had been to Europe. We aren't getting any younger! We have no kids right now but we want to do this for our future children. We want them to know the world is so much bigger than their own backyard, you know if we have a backyard, which means we clearly would not be in Los Angeles haha! We wanted an experience that was ours. We wanted time together, uninterrupted time together. We did not want to pay rent for a little bit. We wanted to see how other people, cultures, and areas live and exist. We wanted to learn different skills and languages. We wanted to try new food. We worked too hard to not enjoy life. And lastly, because we damn well pleased. So, I ask you, when is the last time you did something just for you, not because you should but because you wanted to? When is the last time you explored the world beyond what you knew? When is the last time you did something for the first time? Whether this blog inspires you to travel the world, your country, your state, your city or even your neighborhood, just go do something! And know that you have two people who are cheering you on, no matter what your adventure is! (we're the two people, it's us cheering) <<Peace.Love.Travel>>

San Simeon Pier