We did it. We’re all set. Our bags are packed, we’re ready to go. I can’t believe how quickly and easily this trip came together — this time last week, I had a sketched-out itinerary on a calendar and a couple of travel guidebooks and nothing else. No plane tickets, no hotel reservations, no concrete idea of how long we’d stay in each place or how we’d get there.
Since then, the whole trip has come together beautifully — 17 days, 10 cities, 4 flights, 3 countries, 2 car rentals — and 0 meltdowns from me while planning. I was able to fit in almost everything we wanted to do, found some beautiful places for us to stay and to visit (and even found a couple of good deals). I’ve researched the best places to eat in each town we’re staying in, some nice scenic places to stop and stretch our legs during the long drives, and I know how to get from the airport to the hotel tomorrow, whether or not I have access to the internet when we land. All of our stuff for the trip is packed into 2 small-ish suitcases and 3 small carry-ons (the airline we’re flying is very strict about baggage allowances — much more so than US carriers). We have a mid-afternoon flight tomorrow, so we can finish up our packing in the morning AND take showers before we have to leave, and with a little luck, the kids will sleep for at least part of the short (2+ hour) flight.
This all seems a little TOO easy.
Really, though, I think we just have a lot of practice at this. We travel all the time. Liam has, on average, taken a transatlantic flight once for every four months he’s been alive. I can pack our collective carry-ons in about 10 minutes. The kids know what to expect (although B seems completely out of sorts about the fact that we’re flying in the afternoon and not first thing in the morning, which has been our norm from Vienna). I’ve gotten really skilled at selecting clothes that are easily adjustable to different weather conditions, won’t show dirt too quickly and can be washed in a hotel sink and laid out to dry without being ruined. (I also — very cleverly, I think — made sure that the hotel at our halfway point of the trip has a washing machine, so we only packed 1 week’s worth of clothes.)
I think, too, that I’m seeing the effect of having trained myself to not strive for perfection in the details of a trip like this. We might forget something. We might not have everything we need. Our hotels might not be the nicest, or in the perfect location, or at the best price (but I tried to hit at least 2 out of those 3 each time). We are probably going to wish we brought more of something or less of something or that we stayed longer in one place and skipped another altogether. That’s almost certain to happen. We’ve never been to the UK before, so how could we know exactly what it would be like in advance, anyway? We’ll learn, we’ll do things differently next time.
But, most importantly, I am not so worn down by exhausting myself over every tiny detail of this trip that I don’t have the energy left to enjoy it. I’m not stretched so thin that I’m going to snap at the kids or burst into tears when faced with the first frustration or the first bout of whining.
I’m sitting here, the night before we leave for a long trip that I planned in less than 5 days, and I’m doing great. No stress, no worries. My kids are sleeping. My stuff is organized. The plans have been made. We’re ready to go. This feels great.