We’ve just returned from an amazing two weeks in England and Scotland – I can scarcely believe it’s happened already! Time spent traveling flies by so quickly, but the time on the front end of things, well that’s another story. Before I unpack our trip (literally – bags are waiting for me upstairs), I wanted to share a little behind the scenes of everything that went into us getting there.
Let’s back way up to when Joe and I were engaged. We spent the first four months of our engagement separated by an ocean because of my love for travel – I chose my college experience based on the travel exposure it would allow, and worked hard to create those opportunities for myself. I’m firmly in the idealist camp when it comes to travel – I really and truly believe that gaining experience outside of ourselves makes us better human beings and citizens of the world. This is one of those mountains I’m willing to die on, and my hopeless optimism on the subject has carried over to my darling husband, who is the perfect exploring partner.
When I returned from study abroad and we began planning our wedding and our life together, we had a lot of space to dream and decide what some of our family priorities would be. We worked together to determine our own family model and what those values might look like, and sure enough, travel fell high amongst the ranks. With everything else in stride, we began tackling our first few years of marriage and started saving away money for our untitled travel fund – we didn’t know where we would go with that money or when it would be used, but we saved anyways, letting it grow year by year. We let all of our travel for the next four years be family based (read: family funded) and decided to forgo vacations for just the two of us in order to keep adding to that little travel fund. We were faithful in protecting that money, even when we bought our house last year and I wanted to put every dollar we had into a decent sized downpayment (and also wanted new furniture, let’s be real). We kept our heads down and just kept on saving.
Last year it finally felt like time to do something with our travel savings. We daydreamt of Greek ruins and Norwegian coastlines, but when our friend Joseph began studying at Cambridge, we thought it would be a perfect opportunity to visit the British Isles. I began reading up on Scotland and quickly fell in love with the thought of the place, so we decided on England and Scotland as our visit. Since we’re both teachers with sizeable summer breaks, June made the most sense for our trip, and I quickly got to work booking and planning and researching. I made a six page itinerary, with more detailed notes to add now that the trip is over, and I practically memorized the London transport system. I logged countless hours scouring Tripadvisor and blog reviews. I began packing in my head at least one month prior to the trip. Finally though, it all fell into place, and we left our familiar lives behind for two weeks while exploring some of the most beautiful new places.
If I’m being totally honest, there was a fair amount of internal conflict that came along with this trip. I worried that I was posting too much about it, that maybe it would all seem like a brag. I worried that we could have been better stewards of that money, putting it to work outside of our own gain instead. I worried about what people might think of my experiences or my priorities. I worried that I might need to add a thousand disclaimers – about our finances or how we haven’t taken a vacation since our honeymoon four years ago. I worried that I would regret not going to more cities or different countries. I worried that I would wish we went to Copenhagen instead. I worried that I should have done more research on those anti-theft wallets. I worried about what my hair would look like without being able to style it at all for two weeks. Hell, I worried about what I would look like in pictures, whether I’d feel good about myself in all of the photos we’d surely take.
And let me just say, those worries melted the moment our feet hit foreign soil. I remembered all the reasons why Joe and I chose travel as a priority for our family. I remembered what it was like to navigate a new place with just a map, to be unplugged (between free wifi spots), and to be in a new place. I wouldn’t describe myself as a thrill-seeker by any means. I’m scared of a ton of stuff. But I love new places. I love learning their history, their secrets, and their streets. I love the interactions with people who have a different view of the world and grip on life. I love finding the rhythm of a new place and, for a brief moment, adding myself to that flow. I love the experience of it all, and I especially love experiencing it all with my partner by my side (or slightly behind, since I tend to walk quickly through streets and crowds when I’m excited).
So that’s how we got there. A lot of time spent waiting and saving and dreaming. Even more time reminding ourselves that this is our priority as a family and that it’s right for us. A couple months of planning all the details. Then, finally, two weeks of spending it all, seeing it all, eating it all, walking it all, taking in the sheer wonder of it all.
Over the next few days and weeks, I’ll break down our trip into a few more posts, because #allthephotos. And in the meantime, a million thanks for all of the support and encouragement along the way!