After the experience I had while traveling this past weekend, I had to call my mother and tell her how much I appreciated each and every family vacation she had planned through the years. My mother has been the mastermind behind perfect week all over the United States—from Seattle to Key West, and everywhere in between. Every experience I have had on the Padner Annual Summer Vacation has been positive: the hotels were always clean and spacious, the restaurants authentic and delicious, and the transportation painless and efficient. After doing all of the planning to travel to Italy this past weekend with some of the other Rutgers students who are spending this semester in Valencia, I realized how much organization and prepping goes into each and every trip.
There are so many things to think about when booking a trip somewhere. For example, not only do you have to book a hotel, but you also have to research to find the safest and most interesting neighborhood in a city, as well as the closest train station and metro stops. When going out to eat, you have to make sure that the food is not only affordable for everyone you are traveling with, but that the restaurant makes food that is true to the tradition and culture of an area. The list of things to consider while traveling goes on and on, with more important points than I ever thought possible.
Going through all of the hassle of planning a trip seems intimidating at first, but results in such a rewarding feeling. I can look back on this past weekend and truly be proud of myself because I am the one that made it happen. I got myself there, despite the six hour flight delay. I was able to get around on public transportation, despite the language barrier. I saw all of the sights I wanted to, despite time constraints. This past weekend, as well as all of the planning that had to happen prior to the trip, really left me with a sense of accomplishment and maturity, and I appreciate that. I avoided becoming the victim of pickpocketing, I stayed calm when our hotel reservations had been cancelled without our knowledge, and I met a lot of really cool people.
Since I arrived in Spain, I’ve been thinking a lot about the learned habits I plan on bringing back to the United States with me. Some are simple, such as eating more olive oil. Some, like the ability to plan trips well, will be more difficult to adopt upon my return. However, there are so many places in the U.S. that I haven’t been to yet. Some, like the Delaware Water Gap, aren’t even that far from Rutgers! Now that I know how much planning and organization goes into travel, I know that I can make these shorter, more manageable trips at home a reality. Even the simplest trips need at least a little bit of planning, and the feelings of accomplishment when you put together an incredible day or weekend trip for yourself are worth going out of the way to guarantee an incredible experience, no matter where in the world you go!
(Actual blog posts about the sites I saw and the museums I went to will be available in the coming weeks on the blog I’ve been using to document my entire study abroad experience! The url is http://www.madelinepadner.wordpress.com if you’re interested!)