Pre-Trip Planning (Prologue)

It's day one of the A-Z blog challenge! This month I'll be sharing all about my Christmas and New Year travels in NYC and Europe providing insights to the places I've been, reviewing the hotels I stayed at and sharing my story. Today's concepts are: anxiety (stress) and anxiously awaiting (excited). Feel free to follow along as I make my way through the alphabet this month!



Scene 1: a coffee shop just outside of Atlanta, GA. It's 6pm on New Year's eve, 2014.

The ever-optimistic one, I send a text 4,668 miles across the ocean to Germany wishing longtime friends a happy new year. Their response? A picture of friends and family having fun and celebrating in the only way Germans know how: BIG. (And probably drunk.) My response? A picture from the coffee shop … and later a picture of kids watching a movie.

As it turns out, I was babysitting for 7 children that year. SEVEN.

Ninety percent of the time I don't really mind babysitting on holidays. I'm close to the children. I don't tell on them when they do something wrong; they don't tell on me. That's how it works. :) So spending a holiday watching the movie Pitch Perfect with them rather than going out drinking with friends or partying like mad isn't exactly a sacrifice.

But with 6 little words texted back to me: "That doesn't look like a party…" I began to feel guilty for being different. Why was I working on a holiday when the rest of the world was out spending time with people they loved? (Which is not to say that I don't love the kids I watch; I do.)

To make matters worse, that particular year, I had off the week of Christmas while my husband had the week between Christmas and New Year's off. :( If he was going to have vacation time, I wanted that time with him! It wasn't fair that I had to work.

Guess where we went!

Shortly thereafter Justin and I went to have dinner with a friend of mine who announced her engagement to a German guy. Knowing all of the ups and downs she had been through with guys, I was thrilled that she had finally found the one. I knew that I needed to fully support her as she prepared for marriage. Trying desperately to please, I informed her that no-questions-asked I would be at her ceremony in Germany provided that she wanted me there.

MARCH 2015

Things had just gotten crazy around my household. My sister-in-law announced her engagement and got married within a month's time. My husband's cousin was getting married in Nashville which meant I needed to take off work a day. I was stressed to the max when I received a text: "You know what? Don't come to my wedding. And I won't be able to meet up with you afterward either. I hope you understand."

In the time since January, my best female friend of ten years had been slowly pulling away from me. First, she was elated that my husband and I would spend whatever it cost to be at her August wedding. Then she told me that her wedding was more important than the birth of my nephew. Shortly thereafter, she said I could come to the reception but not the wedding. That text above was the last straw. Rather than dealing with it, I ignored it. I quit calling her on a weekly basis and focused on blogging, work, and making it to all of the weddings. I was feeling hurt; I didn't know whether to lash out at her or be understanding, so I just didn't respond at all.

Figuratively speaking: The end
MAY 2015

By the time my friend moved to Germany, we were barely communicating. I messaged her a few weeks beforehand saying "Hey! Let's meet up before you move!" We picked a date. I suggested a time, but she told me: "Come at any time." So, Justin and I went on about our business getting errands done, then I texted her saying "Want me to bring you lunch? I'm on my way." Turns out she had made other plans; we didn't see each other that weekend.

Or the next. (She was packing.)

Or the next. (Selling her car.)

When I realized we wouldn't have a chance to meet-up before she left, I texted a very sweet message to her thanking her for her friendship and wishing her best of luck in Germany. She responded that "it's not goodbye, just see ya later".

It's been almost a year and I haven't heard from her since despite multiple attempts. That certainly sounds like "goodbye" to me.


In the time between May and September, I grew increasingly agitated. Prior to my friend's engagement I had realized we weren't going to Europe in 2015. As much as I wanted to, we had debts to pay. Maybe 2016?

But then with my friend's wedding and the endless searching I did to find good deals on hotels and flights prior to being uninvited, I felt let down. All of that work for nothing?

Justin and I made a deal: if I could find flights for approximately $500 (half the price we paid in 2014), we could go.

I looked and I looked and I looked. I got the dates our German friends were available to meet up with us, so that when the perfect flight became available I could book it, no questions asked. And on September 4, I found that flight: one from Paris out of NYC. Thinking I could get a flight to NYC for relatively cheap, I booked.

Something to look forward to…

All September, I worried and worried and worried. My car broke down 3 times in 2 weeks in August, and I knew I was going to an out of state wedding in November; how the heck do you ask for more time off in December with all of that going on? And in a service job? I didn't want to get fired! But I didn't feel comfortable booking anything else until I told my employer what was going on. It really became a waiting game – a test of my nerves.

Finally, I pulled myself together (time was running out), and I just spilled everything out allatonce. I felt so relieved when my employer understood and even felt happy for me. What a relief!

Quickly I had to start planning.

First, I booked Delta flights to Florida for the wedding, applying at the same time for the Delta Amex, which would get me 50,000 miles and $50 to use towards the trip. With my newly accrued miles, I booked a free roundtrip flight for myself and my husband on Christmas night to NYC.

Following in the weeks after, there were emails back and forth with friends as well as lots of research on hotels, the best use of my points, train travel in Europe, the best "Christmassy" things to do in NYC and various cities in Europe, and lots of husband convincing. "We need to do this," I'd say. Luckily, he'd agree. ;)

"Somewhere in my memory…" (And the song.)


About this time I realized I was going to a very cold place during the dead of winter. Georgia flip flops wouldn't work. Trip attire and shoes needed to be obtained.

Let's not talk about the gifts I had to buy and wrap, the hotels and train travel I had yet to book, or the fact that there were 2 birthdays I needed to remember. I didn't give up on the idea of sending Christmas cards until a day or two before Christmas.

And packing? How do you pack light and sweaters at the same time? #ThingsIWillNeverKnow


Finally, Christmas Day had arrived!

I won't tell you that we finished packing only moments before we had to leave for the airport.

I also won't tell you that we missed out on time with family due to the last minute packing.

But I will tell you that everything worked out! :)

I'm looking forward to sharing the rest of this travel journey with you over the next 20 days!

Please tell me that planning travel for you isn't nearly as stressful as it is for me! ;)

You can see a timeline of my 2015 travel plans here.

Join the A-Z Blog Challenge in April!


  1. I feel your pain, on several fronts. One, I hardly ever get holidays. I have a dogsitting business so while everyone else is traveling over the holidays or going on lavish Spring Break trips, I watching their dogs! So I hear ya about having to work on holidays.
    I've also had a few "friends" like the one you describe. Certainly we now know they were not friends in the first place. People are weird. People change. Sometimes we think we've met someone who is going to be a lifelong friend because the connection is just that strong...only to be let down and disappointed to discover the friendship was only bound for a short season, certainly not a lifetime. People disappoint. I've learned over the years not to have expectations. You can't get disappointed when you have no expectation.

    I'm glad your trip worked out. And I'm looking forward to hearing more about it!

    Hope you're having fun with the A-Z!

    Michele at Angels Bark

  2. That sounds like some serious stress. Sorry your "friend" let you down. I'm glad things worked out for you with the trip, though!


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