Europe Travel Q&A

With eight weeks in, six countries down, and fifteen cities visited, it's hard to believe that I'm about halfway through my massive trip around Europe, and even harder to believe that I’ve still got eleven more weeks to go!  And what an incredible journey it’s already been!  I've found myself making new friends from all over the world, exploring so many spectacular places, and eating so. much. good. food!  As I have been moving from city to city and sharing much of my travels on Instagram, I've received countless messages and emails with questions about just how, exactly, I am doing this whole traveling for 4+ months thing... especially solo and as a woman.  So I’ve gathered alllll of your questions, put them into categories, and and will attempt to answer them for you right here!

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How I Got Out of Debt

Just about a year ago, I celebrated paying off all of my debt — over $28,000 in 21 months — with an unexpected confetti party while sharing my journey on The Dave Ramsey Show.  To give you some backstory to my debt situation, I put myself through private college and by the time I graduated, I had about $25k in student loans.  Then a few months later, my old car bit the dust and I had to buy a new (used) one, taking out a $12k car loan.  Let's do some math: at only six months out of undergrad, I was looking at over $35,000 of debt.  I was barely 23 years old, working two part-time jobs as a nanny and children's ministry leader, and staring at a crap ton of money I had to pay off that didn't seem possible at the time.  So I just made my minimum payments for a while and life went on.

Fast forward a few years, and I found myself living in Nashville and working at Dave Ramsey's company, where an integral part of what they do is teach people how to get out of debt.  If you've never heard of Ramsey, I highly recommend you check out his 7 Baby Steps and/or read Total Money Makeover.  After working there for over a year, I found myself deep in prayer with God about what He really wanted to do with this life of mine, because I had a deep sense that there just had to be more than what it looked like at the time.  Through prayer, I felt Him impress on my heart that He did have more, but that He couldn't take me there until I dealt with my debt... and that was what really ignited my fire to pay off my debt as fast as I possibly could, because I knew that I didn't want to miss out on what He had waiting for me on the other side.  So 21 months later in December 2016, I made my last student loan payment, and shortly after shared my story on Dave's show...

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Travel Tips: How to Save Money

Guys, I am so excited for this post, and even more excited to share that I bought my plane ticket to Europe a few nights ago, making this whole "Gennean's going to Europe" thing a reality!  I've been slowly starting to plan some parts of my itinerary — like a packing list, a spreadsheet of cities/countries to visit and in what order, and getting in contact with some of the people I am going to be seeing/staying with — but I've been hesitating to purchase my one-way ticket in spite checking potential flights daily.  Sometimes I can be cautious to make big decisions, and this definitely felt like one, but the other night, I said "screw it!" and bought my flight to London... for $300!!!

Now I will be the first to admit that I am no travel expert, but I have been researching and reading up on news articles, blog posts, and dozens of other sources for almost a year in anticipation of this trip, which has definitely given me an edge when it comes to planning such a big trip like this.  Plus, when I realized that my ticket to London cost me just a bit more than a ticket to Nashville (what the what!), I knew that I had to share some of the things I've learned and implemented.  Again, not an expert, and you may find some of the things I share are common sense, but they've helped me immensely through my planning process, so I think they will help you, too.  Alright, here we go!

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On Debt and Budgeting

About a year ago, as I was preparing for the next year, I found myself wrestling with and questioning where I was, what I was doing, and how to get to where I believed (and still believe) God ultimately wants me.  I began feeling a deep conviction over an ugly four-letter word in my life: DEBT.  See, as I had been praying about all of the questions that were plaguing my heart, I felt the Lord tenderly say to me, "Gennean, while I need you to stay faithful to where you are now, the truth is that I cannot take you to where I've planned for you go until you take care of this."

For some backstory, you should know that I put myself through college, which was especially tough since I decided to attend a private, Christian university (a.k.a. expensive, but I have no regrets; my experience there was key to my spiritual growth).   I was beyond blessed to have received multiple scholarships while in school, but still graduated with around $20,000 in student loan debt.  Rough.  And just a few months after graduation, I needed to get a new car and chose to invest in a more reliable vehicle than my previous one, walking away from that purchase with a $12,000 car loan.  Okay, let's do that math... I had racked up $32,000 of debt only six months out of college. Yikes.

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