Friday, May 16, 2008

Are You Ready?

With only 24 days left before we take off, the question that everyone asks when I see them is, "Are you ready?" And each time I pause wondering exactly what that question means. Does it mean, do we have our passports, visas, and airline tickets? Yes! Does it mean, do we have our bags packed? Yes! Does it mean are we ready for the sticker shock that will occur when we arrive in The Netherlands and see how little our US Dollar will buy? Probably not! Or does it mean, are we ready to live our life on the road for a year; have our worldview permanently changed; or to begin an odyssey that will most likely change who we are for the rest of our lives? Yes and No! How can you possibly ever be ready for that and yet, if we weren't prepared for that to happen, would we have ever planned this trip in the first place?

Friday, May 2, 2008

Practice Makes Perfect?

Over Spring Break we decided to take a trip to Chicago using public transportation. First of all, it's the "green" way to travel and second of all, we figured it would be good practice since most of our travel over the next year would be using public transportation. We boarded the double decker Megabus at 8:45 AM with smiles on our faces. About 6 1/2 hours later we arrived in Chicago, during a snow storm ,not as enchanted with Megabus as when we started out.

Riding on the top deck proved not to be a good move as 3 out of 4 of us felt motion sick. The family movies that were suppose to be showing the "whole" ride made no appearance at all, and we discovered just how rude people can be with their cell phones in close quarters. Lessons: Prepare for the worst case scenario; you don't always get what you are promissed (even in the US); ear plugs are good to have in your backpack just in case!

On the way home, we had a departure time of 10:00 PM. Megabus has no terminal so you just have to stand on the streets (cold/wet streets) until the bus gets there. There is no signage to indicate which buses go where so hoards of people run for an arriving bus only to discover that it's not the bus they want. Only the kids were able to sleep on the bus so I decided that I would be productive and read only to discover that my overhead light did not work. We arrived in Cincinnati at 4:00 AM and had to walk over to our car parked in the garage to drive home and crawl into bed. More lessons: We will have lots of inconvenient departure and arrival times so buck up and get use to it; only those made of rubber i.e. kids can sleep on public transportation so plan for a down day after an overnight trip; ear plugs would come in handy once again; and our kids are real troopers!

We had a fun time in Chicago -- American Girl Place, Field Museum, John Hancock Tower etc. All in all, this was the easiest trip that we will be taking over the next year so hopefully the lessons learned here will transfer and that they will continue to accumulate over the next year. This time next year we'll be pros!