The most common comment I hear when talking about the recent trip I took to Europe with my 14 year old has been something along the lines of “So you didn’t book a tour? You planned everything on your own? That takes courage!” Yes, it does. I know this because of the couple of mild panic attacks I experienced while planning this trip, the very first one right after pressing “confirm” when deciding on flights to Amsterdam and returning from Venice twelve days later. It was booked. I had to go. I continued planning. Five cities in twelve days, all connected by trains. Maps for every city, and details on how to get from the train station to the hotel. A few excursions booked. Oh my goodness, I was really doing this.
Looking back seven years ago or so, I remember when I needed the courage to travel to Mexico. I had never been, and my trip was really just to get back at a boyfriend who had planned to take a trip without me. It had been many years since I had traveled to anywhere on my own. One of my friends had moved to Mexico and had invited me to visit, repeatedly, and so I finally said yes and booked my flight. Then I panicked. I would be staying all by myself in a condo in Playa del Carmen. My friend would be working during the days and we would meet up in the evenings for dinner. Was I crazy, I mean wasn’t Mexico dangerous? Was I putting myself in danger – I was a mother, after all. But I summoned the courage and went. I didn’t sleep very well the first night and I spent the first two days confined to the condo complex, afraid to venture out. Honestly. But on the third day I took some steps outside and that first trip led to a love affair with Mexico that has changed me. A number of trips later, Mexico now feels like a second home. It all started with that first trip.
Then there was the time I had booked a house to rent in Costa Rica with a girlfriend, her son and my daughter, and the girlfriend bailed a month before departure. There was that fear again, gripping my heart. I could have cancelled too but instead thought, “Screw it, I’m going.” It turned out to be a great experience and one that my daughter and I still look back on and talk about.
If you have the desire to travel, I would suggest booking a flight to somewhere you want to go. Get the time off work, book the flight for some months in advance and work it out. Search travel websites for hotels to stay in, things to do, places to see, events to take in. Make some plans. And know that if you suddenly feel panicked at the thought of going at some leading up to your departure date, many of us go through this and you are not alone.
Planning our trip this year to Europe was both thrilling and frightening but the payoff was worth any trepidation I may have felt. Not everything went perfectly as planned (it rarely does) but I am full with memories of so many experiences during those twelve days with my daughter.