Expect the Unexpected - My Family Travels
Sunset at Monticello


In March of 2014, I journeyed with my junior class of twenty-six students on a road trip to Washington, D.C. We not only visited the Capitol and most of its sights, but made numerous other stops along the way. A few of the many places we visited were Monticello, Jamestown, Williamsburg, Appomattox, and Gettysburg. As I expected, I learned a great deal about history. More importantly, I gained a lot of experience on how to survive a ten day trip with a large group of people. Here are just a few tips to have the best trip possible.

At the beginning of the trip, be selective in choosing your seatmate. While this may seem obvious, let me illustrate to you the full details. If you want or need to sleep, be sure to sit with a quiet friend. Both of you should have the same mindset. However, if you are the type who is talkative or too excited to sleep, do not, I repeat DO NOT, sit by your sleepy friend as this will cause unnecessary friction throughout the trip. From my experience, when a group of teenagers are all crammed together on a bus for a lengthy period of time, any type of conflict, no matter how small, WILL create drama.

On long bus rides, be prepared for singing. People seem to easily get bored and need something to occupy themselves. For some, singing is their likely choice, regardless of ability. You may find it annoying when people sing, but may be forced to grin and bear it to avoid becoming the problem yourself.

Keep in mind you’re going on a trip with very different people, which may include obnoxiously loud, embarrassing, or  immature individuals. You’re probably going to be irritated from time to time, but don’t let this ruin your trip. When everyone begins to get loud and you have no tolerance for their behavior, just put your headphones on and let the music take you away.

Recovering from serious knee surgery, this trip gave me a new perspective on the disabled traveler’s difficulties. When we walked far distances, I had to be pushed in a wheelchair. We were challenged with ten inches of spring snow in Washington, D.C., which caused all the federal buildings and museums to be closed, and unraveled our plans for the day. Needless to say, maneuvering a wheelchair through heavy snowfall is, at best, challenging, and at worst, impossible. Be prepared to be flexible with your schedule because anything can happen.

Leading up to the trip, we were told to “unify” as a group. We became so irritated about the sponsors’ reminders to unify, we actually unified by creating our own joke– spelling out #unity with our hands.

Make the most of your experience because it is rare to ever travel across the U.S. with your classmates. This is a once in a lifetime trip with many people you may never see again. If you practice patience and tolerance with those around you, by the end of your journey, you will have forged an unbreakable bond with most of them. You will have shared with them an experience no one else can claim.

Despite our differences, after sharing this experience together, I have realized how truly blessed I am to have such an awesome class and sponsors. I will never forget this trip. From being snowbound in a hotel to watching a classmate experience seizures to eating at a delicious Amish buffet to walking in the the footsteps of our Founding Fathers, this was the best trip I have ever taken.

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