I Got Laid Off… And Booked An 8-City European Tour 24 Hours Later
Life & Travel

I Got Laid Off… And Booked An 8-City European Tour 24 Hours Later

I lost my job at 3 p.m., and in less than 24 hours, I booked a one-way flight to Europe.

After the gut punch shock of losing my income and healthcare sunk in, I accepted the moment for what it could be, an opportunity. The chance to travel and explore new countries and cultures unrestricted.

The idea of this trip had been swirling in my mind for months. Yet, the way that I envisioned the trip would only happen by robbing Peter to pay Paul (meaning I would have to use some of next year's vacation time), complete with some haggling from HR and my manager.

My job was remote, so I had the flexibility to bring my laptop with me, but can we be honest… who wants to be in the South of France dragging their laptop and clocking in for eight hours when I should be living the luxurious side of life on the French Riviera?

So, before I updated my resume and before I refreshed my LinkedIn profile, I logged into Google Flights to bring my travel dream into reality.

The Defining Moment

I was working at a startup, which is code for "This job is going to take over your life because you're helping to breathe life into a completely new operation." Vacation days were limited because we were a small team, and the American feeling of "This company needs me" took over. I poured myself into my job, excited to be a part of this grand new vision, and accepted that a true vacation would come later on. "Later on" never came. Instead, my company ceased operations and filed for bankruptcy. Now, I was left with no job, and the saved PTO days that were intended for my fabulous vacation were rendered null and void.

Losing a job is unnerving for a number of reasons, but when the whole company closes up shop, it takes away from the feeling that it was something you personally could have done better. Surprisingly it was my mother who gave me the suggestion to "take that trip you've been talking about."

Mother knows best, right? She gently reminded me that I had a life that was now completely mine. The sobering reality of being an adult is no more true summer vacations… every day is accounted for, a task to fulfill. Her optimism was contagious; yes, I was no longer employed, but also that meant there was no supervisor that I had to "ask" for time off or try to arrange around other coworkers' requests.

It was time to live in the now instead of planning for a future that was full of uncertainties. The recruiters, the job, and whatever was coming next would be there when I returned.

The Lesson

There is freedom in uncertainty, in not rushing to put the pieces back together the minute life unravels. Too often, we move into a new chapter without taking a moment to let ourselves be untethered. I could have easily reached out to my network and started looking for my next job, but if I did that, I would have lost out on the opportunity that was right in front of me.

Sure, it did not come packaged in a way that I would have preferred, but it was there. I could either go immediately back to another 9 to 5 or whisk myself away to the corners of the earth that I’ve been dreaming about since I was a child.

So, I booked a four-country, eight-city European tour.

Living in the Now: My European Tour

Courtesy of Brittany Vickers


In elementary school, my music teacher played Michael Flatley's Lord of the Dance, and decades later, that captivating memory is what brought me a solo, Black woman traveler to the Irish countryside, where I found myself being whisked around on stage in front of hundreds living out my Riverdance dreams! I was suddenly living out my wildest dreams.

For three nights, I stayed in a 17th-century castle bursting with history through every winding corridor and ended the trip in Dublin right in the heart of Temple Bar. For the 20- and 30-somethings outside of St. Patrick's Day, Ireland is not at the top of destination lists, but from the rolling hills in the countryside to the late nights in Dublin, the country offered an unforgettable experience.

Courtesy of Brittany Vickers

Courtesy of Brittany Vickers

Courtesy of Brittany Vickers

Courtesy of Brittany Vickers

Courtesy of Brittany Vickers


I knew Ireland would be the first stop of my tour, but from there, I was open to wherever, as the saints would say, the spirit led me. I simply looked at a map and researched which country I could travel to relatively easily from Ireland. Germany was an immediate yes. I started off in the capital, Berlin, a city known for its eye-catching contrasts with historical landmarks alongside towering modern architecture.

I leisurely strolled through the city into museums and galleries, soaking up everything the city had to offer. The next stop was the third largest city in Germany, Munich, home of Oktoberfest. From floral-lined beer gardens to my fill of hearty German dishes, Munich delivered a unique blend of quaintness and charm.

Courtesy of Brittany Vickers

Courtesy of Brittany Vickers

Courtesy of Brittany Vickers


From Munich, I traveled on a two-hour train ride to a city that rivals the grandest storybook illustrations, the idyllic Salzburg. The fourth-largest city in Austria, Salzburg, effortlessly boasts itself as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe with its steep hills and picturesque mountains. Its scenery is breathtaking.

Here I lived out another childhood fantasy, and I visited the home of the Von Trapp family, the legendary family whose life was portrayed in the classic film, The Sound of Music. On a tour bus with 50 others from across the globe, we belted out tunes from the beloved musical and visited the exact locations where scenes from the Oscar-winning movie were filmed.

Courtesy of Brittany Vickers

Courtesy of Brittany Vickers

Courtesy of Brittany Vickers


There is luxury, and then there is Monaco. With its lavish opulence situated on the French Riviera, the glamorous country is the second smallest country in the world. Complete with dazzling views of the Mediterranean and luxury brands on every corner, in every step, you experience how the other side fabulously thrives.

Courtesy of Brittany Vickers

South of France

Next, I ventured into the South of France to Cannes, home of the iconic International Film Festival, which ironically was taking place when I arrived. I rendezvoused with film professionals and journalists from around the globe as the city buzzed with anticipation of the films that would soon take Hollywood by storm.

When the cameras go off, Cannes is still an extravagant treat to the senses with its white sand beaches and crystal-clear waters. I relaxed with the other tourists that flock to the city for a luxury getaway.


My final stop was a city that pulls my heartstrings no matter where I am. The City of Lights, Paris. I am a lover of French culture and ended my European tour in my favorite city in the world.

My tour cannot be simplified into an Eat, Pray, Love moment. I was not seeking out an in-depth journey of self-discovery. Instead, I gave myself the freedom to fully explore new cultures in countries rich and diverse in their history and their present. I was unencumbered by what was happening at a job and completely free to set travel dates to my liking.

So often, we get stuck in the rat race of life, working towards the next big deal or positioning ourselves for the next big promotion, that we forget there is an exciting world full of promises of adventure outside of our cubicle. According to the Pew Research Center, nearly half of American workers take less paid time off than they are offered. That, coupled with the already incredibly low days Americans are offered in the beginning, shuts us off from the gems around the world.

Courtesy of Brittany Vickers

My story, hopefully, will not be yours. (Bills must be paid! So keep that job when you can, sis!) You don’t need a shattering experience like mine to free yourself from the everyday, just book that flight and experience a slice of the beauty and adventure this world has to offer.

I want to leave you with this quote from one of my favorite novelists, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie:

“You travel to search, and you come back home to find yourself there.”

Months later, back home and settled into the groove of a new job, I am still smiling at the memories made. Remembering the bar in Ireland where locals sang a traditional song in Gaelic to me at the top of their lungs as I drank my first Irish-crafted beer or the lovely couple who invited me to lunch with them in Monaco and the cute French guy who passed me on a Paris street and dropped what he was doing to ask me out for a glass of wine.

Those experiences and each one of those cities are now forever in my heart and helped to remind me of the thrill that comes when you step into the unknown.

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Featured image courtesy of Brittany Vickers

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