The BIG Travel Secret

There's this secret I've been holding on to for way too long. Waaaaaay too long. It's been killing me to not be able to say anything. I mean, a few people knew, but not the main person. The person that is a part of the secret. The person who knows nothing about what is going to happen.

I'm going to Europe this summer. And I'm taking Elias. And until last night, he had no idea.


I didn't think I'd be able to keep the secret for as long as I could. There were so many times I almost said something. But I didn't. Mom didn't. No one did.


This secret started a while ago. Michelle mentioned her daughter Meghan was getting married in Amsterdam and asked if I would be interested to go to the wedding. Michelle and I went to Moscow several years ago when Meghan was studying there (if I get the gumption, I'll transcribe my notes onto the blog one day). So I know Meghan. And Michelle knows I'll take any opportunity to go on a trip. All I could say was, "I'll be there!!"

Last summer, Elias and I went to Cedar Point (home of my massive migraine experience - aka "Carrie isn't as young as she used to be") and I offhandedly mentioned how cool it would be if I could get him to Europe with me. We talked about it during the trip and knew the biggest issue would be getting him on the flight. I could pull off paying for the hotels. I couldn't do the flight too. Especially when I knew flights were going to run in the $1000+ range. We talked about it for a while. Then we stopped.

A few months later, I got the Save the Date card. And to my amazement, my Plus One had already been decided. The Save the Date was addressed to me AND to Elias. Not gonna lie, I almost cried. I had talked to Michelle once and said I would love to get Elias to come with me. I had forgotten all about that conversation, but she hadn't. And she told Meghan.

I called Mom and told her about the Save the Date. She talked to Grandma. Within days we had a plan...Mom, Grandma, Joanna, even George were ready to help with the flight to Europe. I started watching the fares. I spent a few months paying attention to the flights. became my best friend. I would get to work and every morning as part of my "pre-work routine" (Facebook, TMZ, HuffPo) I'd look at flight options.

When Amsterdam was brought up at the beginning, I looked at the map to figure out where else I could go. I mean, Amsterdam by itself, fab. But Europe is a place where you can bang out a few locations in one jaunt. So...Amsterdam...Check. Where else?? Why, Belgium, of course.

Belgium wouldn't be a place I'd normally flock to. Not that there's anything wrong with Belgium. It's just not the first place I'd think about going by itself. But as a front or back end of a trip, yeah. Why not?? Plus, it's so freaking close to Luxembourg. Three countries in one fail swoop...let's do this.

In late January, the stars aligned and I found a flight from Chicago to Brussels and from Amsterdam to Chicago in June for less than $1000. I paused, but only for a moment. I knew Elias's flight was paid for. And I was looking for something under $1000. was time. I gave Mom the heads-up and texted her as I was booking the flights. When the deed was done, she said, "Good. This will be a great surprise for his birthday."

Wait. What??

His birthday was in April. We weren't even in February. I can't hang on to a secret for THAT LONG!! Especially since I knew we were going to go to DC in March. Three months. THREE MONTHS, I'd have to keep this secret. And it has been hard. How many times did I stop myself from saying, "You know, when we...I mean...nevermind..." Even Mom has said in the last few days that she kept almost saying something. We were dying here.

Elias's birthday party was last night. We had pizza and cupcakes and salads and wine (well, some of us *cough* ME *cough* had wine). And we had gifts. THE Gift.

(can't have a party without themed cupcakes)

Mom had a box that would work. It originally held a puzzle or something. But it was shaped like a suitcase. And I layered the gifts. First, a luggage lock. Then, a passport holder. When he got to an invitation with his name on it, he seemed to realize what was up. And he suddenly stopped talking. His hands got all shaky and he opened the envelope. I think he kept saying, "Oh my god." Which is pretty much all you can say at that point. He didn't even look at the itinerary that I'd put in the box. Which is more than fine. You get an unexpected 10 day European trip dropped in your lap and you need time to digest everything. Especially when it'll be your first trip out of the country.

The flights are booked. The hotels are booked. All we have to do is decide what we're going to do on each day and where we're going to eat. And we have a little over a month to get it all planned. Which means I'll go into crazy-planning mode starting...just about now. So anyone that has tips on Amsterdam, Brussels, or any cities in that area, feel free to drop some knowledge on me. This foreign trip is going to be different than all the ones before. It's going to be epic...


  1. I am just reading this fir the first time and crying. Simply cool.


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