Two years ago, we had a family trip to Italy that was shut down by the pandemic. If you’ve followed along during the last few years, you’ll remember our family was pretty locked down when it came to following the rules. It was the right decision for us and I’m glad we stayed safe.
Here we were over 730 days later making the determination to go on the trip with a whole new set of situations. Everything from no more mask mandates to uncertainty about a new strand of COVID was on our mind, but we also had a new development.
This August, our only kiddo is heading to Italy for her junior year in high school, yep…high school. The rule of the program is that once she leaves the States, we are allowed to visit, but she doesn’t come home until June of 2023. There was a sense of urgency to have that last family trip.
So, we decided to move forward on our journey. And it was amazing. We went to Rome, visited the school where Morgan will be based (which is about an hour north of Rome), Sorrento and Florence. Then I took my daughter to a work trip to Madrid. Since many of us haven’t traveled internationally, there were a few things I learned:
- Travel makes you whole again. Seeing different countries, people, cultures, food and of course wine just brings the perspective that has been missing for me the last two years. It used to be part of my DNA and I didn’t realize how much I missed it.
- Drink local. Especially in Italy where there are 20 regions according to Wine Folly and 310,000 wineries. While I’ve had the chance to dive into Italian wines, I’m never going to have the knowledge of what great local wine to order in a small town in Italy. Ask the sommelier.
- Life happens, deal with it. About a week into my trip, I was on a spectacular boat tour with my family. As I walked from the back of the ship to the front carrying too many items, I lost balance and back flipped over to the side – losing my iPhone. We had a great driver who dove 30 feet down and retrieved the phone rescuing the SIM card. The phone was unsalvageable, but because I had the card, I could restore most of the information. I took the bright point of view vs the path of bad customer service from AT&T and just replaced the phone (FYI – the warranty with AT&T, which we had paid for over many years but never used, is worthless). The result was expensive, but crisis averted.
- Know the regulations for your local destination. We had to closely follow the changing rules to make sure we could check the box accordingly. For us, the Verifly app was a good guide for what we needed to do.
- Search for the local favorites. Probably our worst meals happened when we just took the easy way out and ate lunch or dinner where we stayed. There are some great hotel restaurants, but sometimes you just reluctantly pay for that great view.
- Hire a local tour guide. It’s a night and day experience to actually have the history and understanding of a place rather than try to power through it. Our first trip to Italy we went to Pompeii but having a guide this time brought the place to life. If you need someone for Rome, Florence, Pompeii or a boat experience off the Amalfi Coast, I’ve got you. Also I highly recommend Viator, who handled both our both by Exclusive Cruises and a food tour we did later in Spain.
All in all, the trip was a chance for us to recharge, refresh and renew our outlook on family, travel, and world. As my precious time with my daughter in Dallas comes to an end this Summer, I couldn’t cherish this opportunity more.