The Surprise Trip that Bridgette Planned

As I was preparing Bridgette’s curriculum for her first year in high school last summer, I decided on a special project to challenge her. I decided that she would plan our first Worldschooling trip for her freshman year, entirely by herself! When I brought this idea up to her, she was quite excited about it, but also a little nervous since we were still in a pandemic and many countries, while reopened, had a lot of entry requirements in place. Nonetheless, she agreed to the project right away.

A few years ago, Bridgette had planned a trip to Edinburgh and Amsterdam for us, but I had made myself available to answer a lot of her questions and to help problem solve during the planning. This time, to make the project more challenging, we decided that I would not be involved at all and the entire trip would be a surprise for me. If she made mistakes, we’d let her learn from the natural consequences. Obviously if it was something very serious, or with irreversible consequences, I’d step in, but otherwise, I would let her fully take the lead on this project from planning to execution.

I told Bridgette she could plan the trip for however long she wanted, and she could pick as many destinations as she desired, but she’d need to get approval from Alan on the estimated budget. She was surprised with the lack of boundaries, but the truth was, I trusted her judgement and knew she wouldn’t go crazy with costs. I trusted her to be sensible and responsible. I also knew she wouldn’t want to be away from her friends for too long, so I wasn’t worried that she’d take us away for a year, lol.

During the month or so of planning, I had absolutely no idea what Bridgette was scheming up. I did hear her express exasperation every now and then, and she did reveal that she had to keep making changes due to COVID and other unforeseeable circumstances. There were certainly times where I wanted to step in and help her, but I refrained from doing so because I truly believed she could handle it.

Bridgette didn’t tell me our departure date ahead of time, but she gave me a brief packing list and asked me to finish packing by a certain date. That was difficult, since I’m a planner at heart and always strive to pack efficiently, to be properly prepared for the right weather and activities. But, a part of this project was also my own intention to learn to let go, and that’s precisely what I did.

I was packed and ready to go about a week before our actual (unbeknownst to me) departure date. Each morning that I woke up, I was prepared to take off, only to find myself back in my own bed by the end of the day. 😂 Finally, when I pretty much gave up on thinking “today must be the day” the minute I woke up, Bridge barges into my bedroom in the morning and exclaimed “Mom, get ready, we are leaving in 3 hours!”

My heart was bursting with excitement, nervousness, and anticipation as I quickly made sure I had everything I intended to bring with me on this mystery trip. I prayed for God to keep us safe and for Him to give Bridgette all the wisdom she could possibly need to make every decision ahead. And then….Alan drove us to the airport!

One thing I knew for sure was that we’d be going on an international trip. Bridgette would not undermine her own abilities by planning domestic destinations, so I was not surprised at all when Alan dropped us off at the international terminal of SFO. We hugged and exchanged our goodbyes with Alan (I hugged him especially hard since I had no idea how long we’d be gone this time) and then disappeared into the airport. I followed Bridgette as she looked at the screens to find our check in counter, eagerly waiting for our first destination to be revealed.

Our departure was not without any drama. Bridgette couldn’t find the counter for our airline, and asked an airport staff that happened to walk by. When the staff member directed us to the domestic terminal, we immediately called Alan to circle back to give us a ride there. Once we got to that specific airline’s check in counter, we waited behind a few other passengers, feeling relieved that we got there in time. But, when it was finally our turn, the airline staff redirected us to the international terminal, saying that we were booked on a partner airline! In a panic, we asked if there’s enough time for us to make it onto the flight. The staff looked at his watch, and then back at us, and curtly said, “run.”

With our luggages in toll, we ran towards the airport railway that would take us back to the international terminal, since Alan was long gone by that point. The next 30 minutes was just a mad rush of checking in, getting through security, and then finding our departure gate. We were huffing and puffing by the time we got there, but very relieved that we made it! Oh, but despite the intense rush, I did catch a glimpse on our first destination…

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