There they were, the glittering buildings of the Chicago in front of me, the people bustling around me, and the dust of the freeway far behind. That morning, I had woken up in my small town far outside the city outskirts of Chicago, without any idea that I would end up there later in the day. Chicago is a wonderful city full of streets upon streets of restaurants and shopping – I felt the perfect vacation brewing up in me. I would be right at home there. However, once arrived, the wonderful exhilarating feeling of simply taking off and ending up in someplace new began to wear off, and I wondered where I was at, and for that matter how I was ever going to find a parking space in this city of Chicago.
How I put together the trip at the last minute
With college classes in full swing, the job hunt not going so successfully, and all the normal stresses that come with having a charmed life kicking in as the weather got colder, it was time, I felt, to get away for a while. And being so close to Chicago, I had the perfect opportunity. So I called all of my professors, packed up the boyfriend, and, making sure I had enough cash, set my sights on the city of Chicago, and a relaxing day ahead. I couldn’t have been much more wrong.
Perhaps, had I better planned my vacation, things would have gone a bit smoother. However, I never even glanced at Mapquest beforehand (something I would strongly recommend doing, when going on either a long or a short road trip) and was completely unprepared when my global positioning system barked the order to suddenly merge onto a ramp that was four lanes away full of cars that weren’t about to let me pass. I had the perfect little restaurant that I’d eaten at before picked out for my boyfriend and I to have lunch in. So, at least the destination part was taken care of. However, if I had better put the trip together, I wouldn’t have had to wander around the general Chicago neighborhood trying to find it. Just packing some money, having a restaurant in mind but not its location, and a vague idea to do some shopping later in the day in huge city such as Chicago with hundreds upon hundreds of shopping malls, is not a recipe for success, I had the misfortune of finding out. In retrospect, it would have been smarter to pack a few clothes as though we were spending the night, arm myself with much needed bathroom supplies, call my relatives in the area to see what conditions would be like, and maybe flip to the weather channel.
The pros of last minute travel
The exhilarating feeling of setting out with the wind in your hair (metaphorically, of course, in November) simply can’t be beat. Just getting the feeling of setting out and possibly not returning to your responsibilities, to everything that gets you down, provides for a very blissful and relaxing feeling, at least for the day. In striking out with only a vague destination in mind, such as the city of Chicago but no particular area of Chicago, you might just end up in a new area you’ve never visited before. You could find a new favorite restaurant to eat at, or have a new interesting story to bring back with you.
The disorganization is the main con when traveling at the last minute. Finding a parking space that isn’t an illegal fire zone becomes nearly impossible without paying for a parking garage, and you suddenly find that you need hand sanitizer, but don’t have it. All of these things can be taken care of with by putting just the minimum amount of forethought into your vacation, instead of just taking off.
For the moment, I don’t have too many responsibilities to take care of in my personal life, however when you have kids that need to be babysat, dogs to be dogsat, or bosses that need to be assured that you really are in bed gravely ill, the task of getting away spontaneously can seem a daunting task. However, getting a vacation in when you have responsibilities to tend to shouldn’t become an impossibility. It will just take a little bit more planning to make your spontaneous vacation work, to get away for a relaxing day or weekend.