A few years ago I decided I would finally see Portugal. I’ve been spending most of my summers there for as long as I can remember, but since the aunts and uncles live in a small village in the south, I never got to explore the country. When I was a kid I was too young, as a teen I had no money. So finally, I thought this was the year. Due to having a student budget—meaning having a lovely tuition to pay for every three months, a monthly rent, and maybe too much take-out—I thought I’d do a mini tour and hit the main spots.
I initially envisioned this vacation to be a road trip with my sister, but after doing my research, renting cars is way too expensive so we opted out. The cities we had the chance to stay in were Ponte Delgada in the Açores, Porto (where day trips were taken to Guimarães and Braga), Coimbra, and Lisbon. From there we traveled back to my father’s in sunny Algarve and took a bus to Sevilla, Spain—where we spent three scorching hot days—and finally a day trip in Lagos, Portugal.
Portugal, as I found out, has very good hostels that are cheap and nice. The transportation—like in the majority of European countries—is cheap. When there are no trains, there are definitely buses, and worse comes to worse, there’s always affordable flights for longer rides.
For months before my departure I daydreamed of this summer, but as the weeks rolled by and the date fast approached, dreaming turned into stress. “What if it doesn’t turn out how I thought it would?” and, “Can I even afford this?” were the main questions that made me toss and turn at night. Every reassurance I’d give myself, my mind would counterattack.
The important rule before going on a trip, I believe, is to just not worry about it. Traveling isn’t supposed to give you anxiety, it’s supposed to make you excited and happy. We have to remember that things never go as planned, and that’s okay. The unexpected usually makes for the best stories. So be prepared for the unexpected, and quite worrying about it.
Stress turned what once made me excited into something I doubted. A friend quoted to me what her father once told her, “Some people don’t live, they only breathe. And that to live, we need to do what makes us nervous.”
It was like a light bulb in my brain. Why was I even doubting in the first place? I was certain at that point that a summer abroad was—and is—what I needed.
Airplane view of Lisbon, Portugal