Traveling Standby

You know what they say?  The best three things about the teaching profession are June, July, and August!  On a teacher’s salary, it is challenging to fly with a family of five, however, we are fortunate to have a pilot in the family (my brother-in-law).  Every year, if possible, we try to take advantage of the buddy passes that enable us to fly to destinations otherwise unattainable.  The only potential drawback is that we have to travel standby.  We have gone to Europe and Florida with the use of buddy passes, and while not predictable, the experiences have offered some measure of adventure to our trip. 

We always have a plan.  If we need to split up, who is going to go with whom?  Are we willing to go to different hubs so that we end up in the same location?  Yes, we are!  Last year, we were waiting until the very last second to see if we would all make the same flight to Florida.  Finally, they called our last name and told us to run down the plank to the plane!!!  It got our hearts pumping.  We had plan B in place in case plan A didn’t work out, but so far, with our multiple flights and connecting flights to Europe and Florida, we have never once had to split up. 

We are preparing to go to Europe again…the loads look really good right now for us to fly together, but maybe we’ll end up with plan B.  These experiences are what memories are made of!  I feel a little bit guilty honestly, when people I see in the grocery store ask, “What are your summer plans?” And I respond, sheepishly, “Oh, you know, going to Europe!”  Then they usually ask, “The whole family?”  They must think we struck oil out here on the Baaken Plains.  But no…we just try to make it more affordable by sacrificing the predictability.

It is not always a bed of roses, though.  One time, we woke up at a very early hour; 3 a.m.-ish, drove 45 minutes to the airport, and discovered that some flights somewhere had been cancelled which caused our flight to be too full for us to travel that day.  So we went shopping…at the Mall of America!!!  Then we woke up the next day and did the same thing.  That time it worked like a charm and we got out.  So our advice is to go for the adventure.  Try to be cheerful no matter what the circumstances and go with the flow.


Europe Bound!

In only three days, my family of five will be heading on a great adventure for the second time.  In 2009, we had the opportunity to travel as a family with my husband’s German exchange program to Europe.  We stayed with a long-time friend, Walter, in his beautiful home near Cologne, Germany.  Let me start closer to the beginning, so it all makes sense.

This is one of the most spectacular cathedrals I have ever seen

My husband teaches German in Williston, North Dakota.  He has taught at WHS for 13 years and when he began teaching, the exchange program was already in existence.  Here’s how it works.  WHS has a “sister” school near Cologne.  In the fall, they send a group of about 15 students and 2 chaperones to Williston.  The students all stay with a host family for three and a half weeks.  They go to school with their host student and do a fair amount of travel.  Then, in late May, the American students go to Cologne and stay with the student that they hosted in the fall.

The Europe trip can change the lives of the participants.  Many of these kids have never even been out of North Dakota, let alone out of the country!  It is a wonderful experience.  The students get to travel in Europe to the following destinations: Berlin, Amsterdam, Paris, and London.  They will usually do some other interesting things with their host families.

So back to my family’s upcoming adventure.  We were able to join my husband in 2009 as well.  At that time our kids were 10, 12, and 14.  This year, our kids are 13, 15, and 17.  Our eldest son, Schyler, has the opportunity to participate this year as a hosted student.  He is in German III, and so his classmates are also participating in the exchange.  The rest of the family will stay with Walter.

I hope to be able to update this blog frequently while away.  Bon Voyage!