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The Secret Trip

The twins are in a computer programming club — think Girl Scouts but for engineering and coding — that I attend as well.  The ChickieNob was sharing a computer with a girl recently, and they were waiting for a dad to come by and help them with their wifi connection.  The girl tilted the top of her computer toward the ChickieNob and pointed at the stickers decorating her laptop.  “I’m really into Star Wars and Harry Potter,” she told her.

“I’m very into Harry Potter, and I used to be into Star Wars,” ChickieNob replied.  “The original three movies.”

The kids are entering into that age of passionate and rabid fandom.  I mean, yes, there have been things they’ve liked before this point — toys they were obsessed with or movies we watched ad nauseam.  But there is a difference now: they have entered that point where every single pore on their body is excreting their love for the objects of their affections.  Where it isn’t enough to just accept and enjoy what is offered by the film director or writer, but where they have stepped beyond into having their favourite things enter their self definition and they want to muse on it for hours like a crush, imagining well beyond what is on the page or screen.

They don’t just enjoy Harry Potter.  They talk about Harry Potter and his world as if they are classmates; family members.

I love it.

We’ve been talking about going to a Harry Potter conference once we finish the seventh book.  They like the idea of finding other people who equally like what they like.  They like talking about that point in the future; when they can go to a conference.  The anticipation is almost as enjoyable as reading the books.

We were driving this week, and I mentioned a family we met at a dinner party a few years ago.  Their kids didn’t know but the morning after the dinner party, they were surprising them and putting them on a plane to London to go to a Doctor Who conference.

“Would you like that?  If I just woke you up one morning and didn’t tell you where we were going until we got to the airport?”

“Are you going to do that?” ChickieNob questioned.

“Well… no.  I mean, I’m trying to figure out how you would feel about that.”

“Yes,” she told me.

“Yes… what?”

“Yes, please, take me to London to do more Harry Potter things.”

“But would you want to know ahead of time or would you want to be surprised?”

“I would want to be surprised or I would want to know.  Mostly, I just want to go do Harry Potter things,” she informed me.

I have a recurring dream where I show up at the airport for a trip and realize that I’ve forgotten my camera.  I’m filled with panic because my camera enhances my enjoyment of every trip and activity: I cannot imagine traveling (or doing anything) without a camera.  Granted, I always have two cameras on me at all times, but still, Josh knows about this recurring dream and how it speaks to my dislike of being surprised, even with nice things like trips abroad.  Part of the enjoyment of travel or a big event is the planning and imagining that takes place beforehand.  I like feeling prepared as I set out.  I wouldn’t enjoy a Harry Potter conference as much if I didn’t have weeks ahead of time to plan out what I wanted to do and re-read the books and re-watch the movies.  Even though sometimes it’s really hard to wait when you know that you’re going.

Where do you stand on the anticipation of travel?  Would you want to be surprised with a really good trip and not have to sit through a long wait, or would you feel as if you missed out on the chance to get excited about it ahead of time?


1 Heather { 07.16.14 at 7:35 am }

Surprise me please! I hate all the lead up to a trip. The planning, the packing, the “making sure I have everything”. If someone wants to take care of most of that for me AND off I go to a great place, sign me up!
I think to, it would make me more receptive of going to a place I may not have high on my list. The less time I have to research and back up my reasons for NOT wanting to go, the better. I’ll accept the trip for what it is, and be more open to what follows.

2 Melanie { 07.16.14 at 8:54 am }

I completely agree with Heather. I get so stressed the weeks leading up to a trip. I worry about the planning, the packing, getting it all done. I’d love the trip without the stress. I’m sure I’d panic a little about not having everything I would have wanted to pack. But I’m sure the excitement of it would trump that and I’d survive with whatever was packed for me .

3 a { 07.16.14 at 9:14 am }

I hate surprises. If you want to surprise me with a trip, you’d better do it several weeks in advance, so I can make sure I have everything ready to go.

Also, I think the anticipation is almost better than the reality of traveling. I can anticipate for a long time, but actual events don’t last nearly as long and often come with irritations.

4 Ann Z { 07.16.14 at 10:25 am }

If the surprise came from someone that has traveled with me before and knows how I like to travel (not overly scheduled) and they did all the packing… I’d be very, very excited about that.

5 nicoleandmaggie { 07.16.14 at 10:59 am }

I also hate surprises. I might have plans! Or I might want to make plans…

6 Sharon { 07.16.14 at 11:34 am }

Hmmm, it depends on who is doing the surprising and where the trip would be. I would enjoy the surprise only if the trip was planned by someone who knew me REALLY well and thus knew what to plan, where I’d want to go, and what to pack for me.

7 torthuil { 07.16.14 at 11:40 am }

I’ve never had anyone surprise me with a trip, so I don’t know how that would feel. I imagine it could be pretty cool! but then, they’d better know me well enough so they could pack everything I wanted? LOL Or would I know in time to pack? Back in the real world, for a vacation trip, I actually really like the lead up and anticipation and preparation (maybe the housecleaning isn’t that fun, but I simply must clean the whole house before going anywhere). I always start packing a week in advance at least and think everything through. That’s part of the fun for me. But, I’d be open to a surprise too, I think. I think a surprise would be much easier to plan for children.

8 loribeth { 07.16.14 at 11:57 am }

I’m with ChickieNob. Surprise me, or don’t surprise me. Just take me somewhere, lol. Although I must admit, it would be nice to be surprised, even just once. I have looked longingly at those commercials where the wife drops the husband at the airport & he informs her that she’s coming with him. To Paris. And waves two plane tickets in her face. I’ve made appropriate sighs but I don’t think dh ever noticed, because I’m still waiting for it to happen to me. :p 😉

9 Holly E { 07.16.14 at 12:21 pm }

Surprise me please!! That means I didn’t have to plan, didn’t have to worry, just had to show up and be pretty and that’s my favorite kinda trip!!!

10 Esperanza { 07.16.14 at 1:19 pm }

I am of two minds on this. I really like surprises, but I think sometimes the anticipation of a trip is as good as the trip itself. So I think for most things I would say surprise me, but for a trip I would want to know. I just think the excitement of knowing I am going to go is almost as good as going.

11 Mali { 07.16.14 at 6:22 pm }

I harbour dreams of my husband whisking me away for a surprise trip somewhere, anywhere. It’s never happened in 30 years, and it won’t happen in the next 30 years either! Sigh. (Living in NZ, it’s not as if he can say “pack for a weekend” and a few hours later we find ourselves in Paris or Barcelona or Ljubljana, like those lucky European friends of mine.)

If I was a kid (or my BIL – his wife packs his bags for him), then I think I’d love to be taken on a surprise trip. Packing anxieties put aside – not that they ever can be, for me, as I can’t buy clothes/shoes off-the-rack in a lot of countries (I’ve spent far too much time in Asia where I tower over everyone – throw in Italy and Spain in that category too) – I would love to be surprised and be the passenger, not the planner.

As it is though, I often think the anticipation is a major part of the trip. Perhaps because I am the planner, and I get to imagine and plan the trip many times before we actually get there. And like Esperanza, I love that.

Surprise your kids, before they grow up and become the planners!

12 Mel { 07.16.14 at 7:01 pm }

Now that I think about it, I surprised Josh with a trip to London many years ago. I made an advent calendar, and he got a small gift every day. And on the last day, he got the letters “UK.” Except the U was on its side, so he said with uncertainty, “CK? Like you got me Calvin Klein stuff?” Though he had a week or so to prepare for the trip. I had just gotten the tickets, hotel, etc, and then told him about it a week beforehand.

13 Mel { 07.16.14 at 7:01 pm }

We often surprise the kids with small trips: day trips. But nothing where so much is riding on the travel.

14 Persnickety { 07.17.14 at 6:38 am }

Not sure. I have realised that I have control issues about travel. But I want my husband to do some of the work. I am the one who finds the hotel deals, and the nice hotels. And the one who puts some structure in the days, finding places to go etc. so, it would be awesome if he organised a secret trip, but unlikely to happen. I do sometimes ask him to organise specific things, like a hotel when we go to Melbourne. And he always asks for my opinion before acting.
We have different roles in organising travel, he is logistics and insurance and things that require phone calls. I do hotels and quirky museums.

15 Ellen K. { 07.17.14 at 10:37 am }

I don’t like too much prep time before traveling. It just makes me dissatisfied, esp. if it’s something like a week at the beach (I’m in the Midwest) and I feel that I should be in much better shape because I had so much time, which is precisely how I feel today! The more drawn-out the process, the more likely I am to burn out and the less likely I am to enjoy it. I wish I had understood this about myself before writing my university honors essay, which was far from my best work. Usually we plan a trip for no more than 8 weeks out. I’m fine with 4 weeks. If D. said, “Pack up; we’re going to Bath this weekend so that you can attend a Jane Austen conference,” I’d freak out but in a good way. I’ve never been surprised with a secret trip. I might like it as long as D. didn’t pack my bag — he is color blind, LOL. I do hate tight itineraries and packed-to-the-gills vacations. I doubt we’d ever surprise the girls with a last-minute trip to Disney, because I am terrible at keeping fun secrets, but they are very much looking forward to future trips to NYC, London, and Paris.

16 Tiara { 07.17.14 at 12:45 pm }

When my aunt & I would travel down south, I never knew where we were going until we got to the gate…I knew we were going somewhere warm & there’d be a beach but I never knew the exact destination & I loved that! So I knew the trip was coming & loved the anticipation of not knowing where we were going. I really like surprises!

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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