Bad Trip, Good Trip – Part 1

By: Stephanie Reynolds

The trip was months in planning and anticipation. Money that was squirreled away just for this trip was drained in five clicks of the mouse. The tickets to every attraction were bought. Blogs were read, travel tips memorized. The schedule was meticulously written and re-written, polished and massaged until it was perfect. Every day would be filled with wonder, delight, tasty treats, and well-placed naps.

The bags were packed and arranged in a manner that would make even Amazon amazed at the logistics (Seriously, you rocked it. If the phone rings, answer it. It might be Amazon with a job offer.) The vacation started even before the vacation, because anticipation might be the most delicious part of travel.

This was it! The BIG TRIP™. THE trip that everyone would remember throughout their lives. The trip that would live in fame and artistically styled Instagram photos. If there was ever a Nobel Prize for trips, this would definitely be in the running. This was your one chance to have the Perfect Family Trip ™.

The few days before, though, were almost unbearable — minutes measured in calendar years for the kids, and busy, frantic days filled with last minute “must dos” passed in a blink for you: Water the plants, take the dog to boarding, talk to the neighbors about mail. Clean the fridge. Clean the house. Last minute laundry. Last minute banking. Everything “last minute.” If you can just make it to the airport by 6 a.m….

The day arrives. The BIG DAY! No one, of course, had slept a wink. The kids were more rambunctious than usual, meaning that the trip to the airport was loud, frantic, and late.

Run through check-in. Race through security with mild panic—were there any liquids in 3.5 ounce bottles instead of 3 ounce bottles? Will they separate the kids from Mom and Dad? What if the line was long and the flight was missed? Is it better to have slip-on shoes for speed through security or lace-up shoes in case there is a problem with the plane?

With a minimum of tears and maximum of stress, security is cleared. Another puzzling race through concourses and trams and gates and finally it’s time to sit…

Except someone has to go to the bathroom. And someone is hungry. And someone wants to look out the window and someone needs to stay with the carry-ons, and who is that weird guy and is he looking at the kids? Charlie Brown’s teacher apparently has been hired by the airport to give Very Important Announcements and everything sounds like “Attention. Waaa waa wawawa, waaa wa, please wa wa wa, immediately!”

It’s okay. Just make it on the plane and everyone will have to sit strapped in until landing. Dramamine for everyone, just in case, and there is only a tiny bit of Mom guilt that you bought the drowsy kind, not the non-drowsy kind. You reassure yourself that it is for the best because they will need to be well rested for the next part of The Big Trip.

A little turbulence, but not too much. Slightly cramped seats, but the budget wouldn’t allow first class and speed passes. The Dramamine and the screens kept the kids quiet for the flight. It wasn’t much of a rest, but it was enough for you to catch your breath.

Each bump of the landing built more excitement (which is the kindest word for mild panic). You were even able to force a fake smile to those who apparently thought that they needed to be first off the plane, as if you weren’t going to be waiting at the same luggage carousel for 20 minutes. You are too much of a lady to smirk at them when your luggage comes off first, but you noticed. Oh, you definitely noticed.

Everyone is excited about the rental van with its built in this and automatic that. You gaze out the window with a contented sigh. The clouds are puffy and tall. The horizon is a little dark, but that’s fine, you knew that there could be a little rai…shoot, you forgot to pack raingear! In your very diligent studies, you read that going to the parks in the rain is actually a good thing — most people stay indoors and the lines are shorter. You checked the weather a few days ago, but somewhere between last-minute lawn mowing and rescheduling a dentist appointment, you forgot to pack raingear. No worries, there are Walmarts everywhere. As long as it doesn’t thunder.

By: Stephanie Reynolds, Athens-Limestone Tourism Association