Should we go or should we stay? That's the question I've been asking since my son was invited to tour Europe with a high school honors band next year. Sounds like a great opportunity, doesn't it? Especially when friends and family members are also invited.
But did we want to spend 20 times what we normally spend on a vacation in one trip? And what about terrorists - some of the cities on the itinerary have been locations of terrorist attacks in recent years? And how about that 8 hour plane ride? My husband has flown once in his life and was sick the whole time. Was the trip really worth it?
My teenage son was enthusiastic, but really wanted his friend to go too. The friend was hesitant. How would a 16 day absence affect his relationship with his girlfriend? At the tender age of 16, those are the issues that are uppermost in one's mind. Problem solved - they broke up. One obstacle removed.
The other boy's dad was gung ho but his mom was worried. Was it safe traveling in Europe now? I decided to pose the question to a colleague I work with who lives in France. Her respose was, "Yes! Let them go! They will have the trip of a lifetime, see wonderful things, have wonderful experiences, and bring back tons of pictures and memories that will last a lifetime." She reminded me that the big cities have high levels of security, and the small towns are safe. She also commented that unlike the U.S., citizens in Europe do not have access to firearms. It's probably safer in that regard than traveling to New York or Chicago.
Then there's the money issue. Even though my husband and I both have fairly good jobs, my family lives frugally. We don't buy things we can't afford. We put away money for college and a rainy day. We have saved for retirement. But this will be a once-in-a-lifetime trip that could open our eyes to the world, and may open doors of opportunity for the students that they otherwise will not have. This is not something that should be passed up due to the price tag. Let's do it!
My son who is 16 is much less concerned about the risks - he only sees the chance for adventure and opportunity. Oh, the optimism of youth! I'm hoping a little of that carefree spirit of adventure rubs off on me in the process. What is life if you are afraid to go out and experience it?
As for travel sickness, there is always Dramamine and other medications to make travel more comfortable.
And so the deposits have been made, but to be prudent, a travel insurance policy has also been purchased. It covers the trip cost in case we cancel due to illness, or work obligations, or layoff from our jobs, or the travel company defaults, or we miss our plane due to a car accident, or the trip is interrupted due to natural disaster, or the city we are traveling to is subject to a terrorist attack, or someone get sick and has to go home. No sense being too optimistic. It's always good to temper the cavalier spirit of youth with a little bit of worldly caution. The only thing it won't cover is breakups with girlfriends. Let's keep our fingers crossed about that one.
The only thing left to do is to apply for passports, read up on the places we'll be visiting, and start counting down the days to the trip, which is over a year from now. Bon Voyage!