This month, we’re interviewing women from all over the world and asking them about their experiences traveling through Europe. We had the privilege of speaking with Susan Kuilder about her experience traveling through the region. Here’s a glimpse into our conversation.
Tell us about yourself! What do you do when you’re not traveling the world? Where do you live? What made you decide to go to Europe?
I am a twenty-five-year-old over achiever. No really, back home I worked so much that I truly forgot to enjoy the little things in life and make time for myself. I put life on pause to travel. I call Cleveland, Ohio home. It has been my dream to travel Europe. As I completed my Masters, I juggled ten steady jobs to save money for three months abroad. I spent the past two years teaching at a university and working as a promotional model for extra cash. In my free time, I enjoy a good workout and volunteering with The Make A Wish Foundation. I also love to express my passion for fashion on my blog, Because Its Susie.
How long did you go for? How did you spend your time?
I am currently traveling for three months. I’m spending my time exploring Europe. I have visited London, Paris, Brussels, Bruge, Ghent, Antwerp, Hamburg, Copenhagen, Berlin, Prague, Krakow, Budapest, Vienna and Salzburg thus far. I’m planning to spend the next month and half in Slovenia, Italy, Switzerland and Spain.
What were your most memorable experiences? What were the biggest disappointments?
My most memorable experiences have been the kindness of strangers. I truly have been blessed to be the recipient of so many “pay it forward” acts. In Antwerp for example, I was feeling quite homesick. To my rescue, I stumbled upon a street festival. A local elderly man asked me to dance in broken English – dancing truly fights the blues!
That evening, I was photographing swans in a lake. A local told me to stay put – I thought this was sketchy. He soon returned with bread to feed the swans so I could capture better photos. A bar owner sat and talked to me one night over four hours. My money was “no good” there and he tucked money in my pocket to grab a nice lunch the next day. The sites and attractions are fun, but the people I have met on the road are people I will never forget.
My biggest disappointment was coming home from karaoke in Krakow, only to find a stranger in my hostel bed. The hostel accidentally double-booked my bed and were sold out for the night. Lucky for me, a pilot came to my rescue and gifted me his Hilton points for the night!
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What do you wish you knew before you went?
I wish I packed a bit lighter. I must have cut my piles in half nearly ten times. Layering is great and I really think I brought too many clothes. Bags get heavy fast- especially when walking for hours! I also wish I knew pepper spray is illegal in Europe – I was nearly arrested in Belgium and taken to the police station.
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Any favorite restaurants/hotels/hostels/
sites you’d like to recommend?
The Mosaic Hostel in Prague was one of my favorites, and a great price! I recommend checking Hostelworld- it’s sometimes better to pay the extra 5-10 euro to avoid staying in a complete dump. Also street food is great. I try to eat local everywhere I go!
What’s next on your travel list?
I have a little over a month left on this trip. For my next trip, I am hoping to visit Croatia and Greece with friends. First up, I am hoping to visit new traveling buddies back in the US.