Planning Netherlands & Spain

September 17, 2010

I must admit, a get a tiny feeling of jealousy when I read other traveler’s blogs and I see that they come from a family of travelers or at least a family that supports their traveling.  A lucky few even have family members that travel with them!  While I have an extraordinary family, they have absolutely no zest for exploration.  My Mother is deathly afraid to fly.  It is so bad that she updates her will before forcing herself to get on a one-two hour flight (that is the longest flight she will take).  My Father is 6’6″ and unless he is sitting first class, he has absolutely no desire to torture himself in a tiny airplane seat.  People who know me and my family just do not get where my insatiable need to constantly travel comes from.  And to further complicate things, not only do my parents not want to travel, they do not understand my traveling.  They are very curious people and love learning, but they both think that everything you need to know about life and the world can be found at Barnes & Noble.

Four years ago, my baby brother (there is a decade of age difference between us), began high school.  He had been previously studying Spanish and was now allowed to take a second language.  My maternal grandparents and my Mother encouraged him to take German, since they are from Germany.  I had just graduated from College with a major in Asian Studies and part of that major was having to learn an Asian language.  Since I knew that I was going into Chinese Medicine School, I chose Chinese (Mandarin).  When I graduated, many doors opened up to me due to my newly acquired language skill.  Thus, instead of German, I encouraged my brother to take Chinese.  At first my family resisted this idea, but after much convincing they acquiesced and my brother enrolled in Chinese.  By his Junior year he loved the language and was so good at it that he won a scholarship to spend a month in China studying it.  I kept my fingers crossed the whole time he was there that the travel bug would bite him, as I had been infected myself on a trip to China.  He returned having had the time of his life, though with no passion to keep on exploring, or so I thought.

As the end of his Senior year approached, he surprisingly announced that he wanted to study International Business with a focus on both the Chinese and Latin markets.  He also wanted to study abroad, in fact he wanted to spend the majority of his college education abroad.  My parents were shocked and I, on the other hand, became the proudest sister in the world!  He thanked me from the bottom of his heart for being an inspiration and for opening up his eyes to a different way of thinking and viewing life.  I wanted to celebrate and encourage this brave decision he was taking, thus for his graduation present I told him that I would take him anywhere in the world for two weeks; he got to choose the destination and I would plan the trip.

Well, I suppose I should not have been too surprised that an eighteen year old boy would choose the two biggest party cities in the world: Amsterdam and Ibiza.  Personally, I would have gone with a more exotic location, however a gift is a gift, and if that is where he wanted to go, then so be it.  I only asked that we make a quick stop to Barcelona in between.

I began searching the best possible way to plan this trip.  I had accumulated a copious amount of USAir points now that I was living in their hub of Charlotte, North Carolina again.  Since we were flexible on our travel dates, I played around for a couple of weeks on their website and just as I was about to give up on that idea I found RT tickets from Charlotte to Amsterdam for only 40k points each.  It would only give us ten days, nonetheless I booked the free tickets and then began the process of finding hotels and flights.  Thankfully, flights within the EU are very reasonably priced and we decided that since we saved a lot of money on flights to splurge on hotels.  Our final schedule would be: 1.5 days in Amsterdam, 2.5 days in Barcelona, 3.5 days in Ibiza, and 1/2 a day in Amsterdam again.

Words cannot express the excitement I was feeling the days leading up to this trip!  It had been 4 years since I had been in Europe and to be returning with one of the loves of my life felt like I was the luckiest person in the world.  I could not wait to show my brother all of the beautiful adventures (and misadventures) that came with traveling!

Just in case you were wondering, I would have been proud of my brother no matter what path he took in life.  I am just overly elated that I finally have a partner in crime within my family and that I get to visit him in the places he chooses to study in.  First up is Hong Kong!

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Andi Perullo de Ledesma

I am Andi Perullo de Ledesma, a Chinese Medicine Doctor and Travel Photojournalist in Charlotte, NC. I am also wife to Lucas and mother to Joaquín. Follow us as we explore life and the world one beautiful adventure at a time.

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60 thoughts on “Planning Netherlands & Spain

  1. Lindsey

    He looks JUST like you! It’s so wonderful that you plan on taking him with you on your travels – Amsterdam is spectacular, particularly in the early Fall and Spring (around May) when the sun is bright, the rain stays away and everyone is biking!

  2. Camels & Chocolate

    My sister’s major is international business, too! She graduates in May. I was also shocked she wound up doing Semester at Sea (though a big reason for that is that Mom and I pushed her to do so–she thanks us now!). Is bro going to school in NC?

  3. Alexis Grant

    What a beautiful photo of you two! This is such an awesome gift — because it’s fun for him AND you get to share one of your passions with someone you care about.

    Plus, I LOVE Amsterdam. The canals (try to take a boat tour), the bikes, the Anne Frank museum — I just love the vibe of the city, and I’m talking during the day, not even at night! Have a great time.

  4. Laura

    The two of you are so pretty! My parents are the same. They can’t understand what do I gain from traveling. They think that money are better invested in something material. Oh, well, I like Amsterdam lots. Have tons of fun!

  5. Agnes

    OK, a few things. First of all, WOW Girl, you speak Chinese! I am so impressed, you never, ever, ever cease to amaze me.
    Secondly, that photo? I love it, Andi, you…. “glow”.
    And lastly, have a great trip 🙂

  6. kay*

    Wow! Seriously that is such a great story and such an amazing grad gift! I know how proud you must feel – as the only person in my family who likes to travel “off the beaten path” my mom and my older sister are always wondering “Why do you want to go there? So far away? What’s there?” and would much rather I take beach vacations in the Caribbean somewhere. But I continue to do my own thing hoping I inspire at least one of my younger brothers to get out of their comfort zone. You already know in the next few months I’ll be moving to India for a year and my mom and sister have already let me know they WON’T be visiting – but my 18 year old brother told me he’s coming! I can’t wait to show him around and am so proud of him for wanting to see some of the world outside of the ‘usual’ places.

    I can’t wait to read about your adventure with your brother – congrats to him on this new exciting time of his life!

    & you speak Chinese?! Awesome. My Hindi classes start next week 🙂

  7. Alouise

    I can relate to the family travel thing, although now that my brother and I are older they’ve been traveling about once a year, usually for just a week or two. But still anything is better than nothing. My brother on the other hand doesn’t travel, his last vacation (not visiting relatives) was 3 or 4 years ago…. I don’t know how he stands it. I wish I could do a trip with my brother like you are, but travel isn’t his thing. Anyways I hope you guys have a great trip.

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  9. Jenny

    You are such an amazing sister! My family doesn’t travel… in fact I hardly left the state of Texas (besides Louisiana to visit grandparents) until the age of 22! I dreamed about travel since I was a young child and once I realized how beautiful the world was… I just had to see more. I’m so happy and excited that you were an inspiration to your brother. You two will have an awesome amazing trip and you’ll open up his eyes even more! Kudos to you!

  10. Charu

    What a pair of sweethearts you two are! You both look just like each other, and I swear, Andi– you are totally gorgeous! YOu should be in movies!

    A totally awesome gift…


  11. Jenna

    How fun to have a sibling to share it with. Amsterdam is awesome, and I like what you said– that a gift is a gift. Besides, traveling with someone else is always about compromise.

  12. Jeremy B

    Andi, let me say I can relate completely. We took trips as a family growing up but never flew. I took my first plane ride when I was 11 to Atlanta from Myrtle Beach because my dad won a Father’s Day content. Never got on a plane again until I went to Estonia when I was in college. Once my eyes were opened to the world that was out there, I was hooked.

    To this day, my parents still hate to fly. I’ve flown back to SC to visit my parents every year since 2001. They’ve been here 3 times. I didn’t get my love of traveling from my parents but I haven’t stopped doing it. It’s good to see you have fallen in love with it and have inspired your brother as well.

    I hope it was a great trip! By the way, while he is set for school, the University of South Carolina has the best international business program in the country! 🙂

  13. Lilliane

    And if u do get to Hong Kong you should let me know! It’s $100 flight away to Manila. You can come do a weekend dive! Or i can come shop in Hong Kong too. either way, it’s too near to not meet up, finally!

  14. Adam J Rowe

    Im intrigued after i read your profile acually… Soorrry i missed you i am already back from North Carolina…
    and so im excited to read about your travels…and even more excited to hear about CHinese medicine…is there supplements everyone should take? Let me know…i maybe would like to order something… talk to you soon>…

  15. Mary

    What a sweet story! So great that you can experience things together…

    Luckily, I am from a family of travel lovers though my parents don’t do it much anymore.

    Wish him luck in HK. He’s going to love it!

  16. Dave and Deb

    What a beautiful story. I will have to admit, I skim a lot of websites but whenever I stop here, your writing always pulls me in. We both also come from families that don’t travel. You are lucky that your brother found your passion. I would love to share a travel experience with on of my family members.
    P.S. Can you come to China with us? We need an interpreter:-)

  17. Jeremy B

    Dave and Deb, I am with you. I did travel with my family as a kid but it was beach and driving vacations. Those aren’t bad. However, I never traveled outside of the country. To this day, my parents hate to fly. I’ve lived in California for almost 10 years now. My parents have come out here 3 times. I’ve been back there every year. I can relate. And my parents are right down the road from Andi! 🙂

  18. Heather

    Aww, I really enjoyed this story — how wonderful to share this trip with your brother! My youngest sister’s first trip abroad was with me to Australia 4 years ago, and it kicked off a brand new chapter of us as being *friends* in addition to sisters. Looking forward to hearing about the trip 🙂

  19. Kirsten

    This is too strange, my cousin (6 mo younger than I) did the exact same thing your brother did. (Well, almost). He ended up living in China for five years and is now back in the States pursuing his Masters in International Business with an emphasis on China at Columbia in NYC!!

    Congrats to you and him!

  20. Tanner Anne

    Interesting article and one which should be more widely known about in my view. Your level of detail is good and the clarity of writing is excellent. I

  21. Stacy Huckfeldt

    I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this post. I am hoping the same best work from you in the future as well. In fact your creative writing abilities has inspired me to start now.

  22. Merna Lemmons

    Simply would like to say that article is incredible. Thanks a thousand and please continue the wonderful work.

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  24. Natalie T.

    Man, I wish I had the relationship with my brother that you do with yours. That’s amazing. How incredibly supportive of you to encourage his dreams and inspirations.

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