The Surprise Trip

I had so many emotions building up while waiting for my mom’s arrival in the Madrid airport.

 As it was her first time to ever leave the USA, I wanted her transition go very smooth.  Saying that, I should add that I must not have wanted her transition to go too smoothly or I would have told her all that I had planned for us during the whole month ahead like she wanted.

“Sarah, what is the plan? What are we going to do next week and where will we stay?” she asked countless times. “

“Mom, just relax and enjoy the ride.  You are in good hands.”

 Knowing me better than most people in the world (and thus knowing my love for couch surfing, hitchhiking, shared cars with strangers, etc.) her hearing: “Don’t worry you are in GOOD hands” from me is that last thing in the world that brought her comfort. 

I gave her a general update: 

  • 1-2 days in Madrid
  • 5-6 days in Zaragoza
  • 12 days in Barcelona area
  •  7 days at my Spanish family’s beach house in Peñiscola, Spain
  •  And the 7+ days are unplanned and for days of travel
Six days into the trip, I gave her an update and strict orders. We are going on a trip to Girona which is near Barcelona.  
I told her to pack the following: bathing suit, clothes for beach, comfortable walking shoes, dress up clothes, casual clothes and put all your liquids in small clear bags that do not exceed 100 ml.
“Why do I need to limit my liquids? Are we going in an airplane?” she asked. “No,” I replied.  I explained to her that we will be getting on trains. The security is very strict in Europe and trains follow the same rules as airports.  
She did not question me and she packed as I told her to. We finally had everything packed and then my mom pulled out her map.  She looked very closely at the map, then her guide book, and back again at the map.
“Sarah, I don’t see any information on Girona in my updated 2014 guidebook and it’s barely even on the map.”
Knowing that she was right, I looked to my friend Alicia, who also knew my secret plans.  Alicia said, “I don’t understand why there is not more information in the book.  It’s one of the most beautiful places in all of Spain.”
I mentioned to my mom that Alicia had taken her mom on the same exact route that we are going on and her mom was blown away and had the best time.
“Right, Alicia?” I asked. “Yes, of course,” Alicia joined in. “Darrah, don’t worry.  You are going to have the best time.  The beaches are wonderful and there are a lot of things that you will enjoy doing.”
We were such good liars.
We said our goodbyes to Alica and off to Girona we went!  Or no?
 About half way into our bus ride, my mom again pulls out her travel book to double check the location.  I told her that it was important that she trust me because I knew exactly where we were going.  She put down her guide book and and gave a sigh.
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 She was overwhelmed with wonder and nerves, but secretly I think she liked it. We arrived at the Barcelona station and waited for our train to Girona.
As we were waiting, I pulled out a pink envelope with my mom’s name on it.  I reminded her that Justin and I had a gift for her from her birthday, but we wanted to wait until I saw her before I gave it to her. The time had finally come.  
She opened her pink envelope and pulled her round trip tickets to Italy!  
I explained to her that everything would continue to be a surprise, but her one hint was that we would be getting on an airplane in two hours instead of going to Girona.

She was completely shocked and at a loss for words at our new plan:

  • 2 days in Pisa, Italy
  • 3-4 Days in Florence with stops in Siena and Tuscany
  • 4 Days in Rome
Boarding our plane to Italy

Boarding our plane to Italy


Seeing the excitement in her eyes and knowing that she has always wanted to see Italy only made it that much more special.  
I understand that it takes so much strength and courage to be the mother of a daughter who is not living the comfortable, “normal” life.  
I know I put many grey hairs in her head and that it is difficult to not have me near her. However, she has supported and loved me through all my wild decisions of living abroad, skydiving, bungee jumping and passionately chasing after my dreams.
If anyone deserves a wonderful vacation full of surprises it is my mother.
Don’t forget to read: 
  • Have you ever given someone a surprise experience
  • How did the surprise turn out?
  • Share your stories below! 



Sarah - thenomadicdreamer.comThe Surprise Trip