London Travel Diaries: The Planning Stage

Madison Rexroat

An American traveling to London on the Fourth of July seems a little ironic in a sense, but that’s exactly what I’m doing. Flying out on July 4th and coming back on August 7th, which is also my 21st birthday. Your girl sure knows how to party. But in my mind, those are just small prices to pay for spending a month in Europe. Planning the trip, though, is a whole other story.

I soon learned that planning an international trip is no picnic as jetsetters like Bella Hadid and Kendall Jenner would have you believe. Of course, I’m not a model/celebrity/super-rich-person-with-five-assistants either. This would be a first for me and my family.

It all started my freshman year when I saw an ad in British Vogue (yeah, I occasionally buy foreign magazines) for the Condé Nast College of Fashion & Design. Condé Nast is the publisher of Vogue (where I want to work) so it was kind of a big deal. They offer a variety of courses, including a month-long summer course focused on the creation of Vogue and the world of fashion journalism. The only downside is that it isn’t a study abroad program through UK, so all the flights, accommodations, budgeting, etc. had to be done by yours truly. Plus, with family tagging along and operating on a strict college budget, the planning had to be meticulous if not down to the penny.

I started planning for the trip over a year in advance. I knew it would take some parental-convincing and lots of time for them to decompress and concede to such a big request so I’d have to start early. After laying out all the details, expenses, benefits and what I could contribute, they finally agreed. I got a passport, applied for the course, and got the ball rolling.

Since we (me, my dad and my sister) would be staying in London for an entire month, hotel expenses would be through the roof, and I needed to be in SoHo to walk to and from class every day, I figured we’d book an Airbnb in January and everything would be smooth sailing. We didn’t book until the end of March. I must say, my first experience with Airbnb was not amazing. I found a great place right around the corner from the school and requested to book, but since I had never used Airbnb before, I had no reviews from hosts saying how great of a guest I am. That was the problem there, as the host was very strict about who he rented to (probably with good reason). We chatted back and forth and after twice sending proof that I’d be attending the school (with personal information omitted, of course), he said that he’d already booked the place. Fabulous.

But not to fret. I found another, less stylish Airbnb in the same area and after a few hiccups, we were finally booked and ready to go…well, after we booked the flight and got visas and packed luggage and planned itinerary, etc. etc. etc. This traveling stuff is exhausting! Fluctuating airline prices and extensive visa paperwork caused a few more minor hiccups, but if I told the story of every obstacle, I’d sound positively melodramatic.

With all the big expenses out of the way (and hopefully the hiccups), all that’s left to do is look forward to this great experience. It is a fashion school, though, so I probably need an entire new wardrobe, and I need to freshen up on my French for our weekend in Paris (which also needs to be booked…). But on the bright side, I’ve connected with fellow students on Facebook and Instagram (30 new followers, yay!) and might I say this is one worldly group. Students from Ghana, Buenos Aires, Germany, Milan, Paris, Sweden, Oxford and a few Americans…all of them studying with little old Kentucky me.