I’m not sure how this happened, but this month I have three friends — all moms of young children — traveling to Europe.
And I just found out another is going to London in October.
Did I miss a memo?
Our next big trip will involve 20-plus hours on a bus packed with middle school students headed to Disney World.
Yes, it’s the infamous band trip, and we have agreed to chaperone. At least one of us has; we haven’t flipped that coin yet.
I’m thinking that since my son is the band student in question, it only makes sense for Dad to chaperone and for Mom to drive down with our daughter separately and stay in a nice Marriott hotel. We’re still working out all the details.
People tell me chaperoning is fun. Really. The kids actually listen and follow directions and appreciate you for taking the time to do it.
In the meantime, we are selling cookie dough, candy, dinner rolls and I think shares in Disney stock to help finance this adventure. The chaperones pay just as much as the kids, so we’re shaving off every dime we can.
Our vacation budget is somewhat limited these days. Besides our regular trips to see family, our typical vacation involves a drive to Indianapolis — or maybe, if we’re feeling really crazy, Chicago.
My globetrotting friends are not wealthy, either, and each has a compelling reason for going to Europe.
One is visiting her mother’s relatives in Slovakia. Another is headed to Brussels (and Amsterdam and Paris) to run in a marathon. A third is in Sarajevo for — can you top this? — the Vatican’s beatification  of her great-aunt, a nun who was murdered by Serb extremists in 1941. And the other is visiting a study-abroad student in London.
Two are taking their kids with them; two are enjoying a trip on their own.
Either way, I have to admit I’m jealous.
The same thing happened a year or so ago, when I had relatives simultaneously visiting South Africa (for the World Cup), Greece, Egypt and Switzerland. My family, on the other hand, was headed to Omaha.
Of course, as much as I whine, there would be one slight hurdle before I could head overseas: the plane trip.
I have developed, shall we say, a slight phobia about flying, one that predates terrorist fears and endless security checks.
I just realized one day that hurtling through the air in a metal tube is just, well, unnatural. As a songwriter once said, “I’m not afraid of flying, I’m just afraid of crashing.”
My nervousness started shortly after I got married. My husband and I flew to Seattle for our first anniversary, and on the way home, shortly after takeoff, as we were looking out at Mount Ranier, the plane dropped precipitously. I grabbed my husband’s arm and said, “We’re going down.” (He’s still recovering from that one.)
About a year later, we flew to North Carolina for a niece’s college graduation. Just after we landed, straight-line winds of 100 mph-plus hit the airport, curling back the metal roof like an apple peel. We were stranded at the airport for hours while they dug the cars out of the debris.
I kept thinking: What if it had hit while we were landing?
Now that I have children, I have a hard time thinking about getting on a plane, with or without them. We’ve taken some vacations to the beach and elsewhere but chose to drive (partly because it’s so expensive for all of us to fly).
I know cars are more dangerous, statistically, than airplanes. I know millions of people fly every year without incident. I know taking (legal) drugs beforehand would help.
But I’m a reporter; we are skeptical by nature. And there’s that whole lack-of-control thing.
(Favorite fear-of-flying joke, by George Carlin: “If black boxes survive air crashes, why don’t they make the whole plane out of that stuff?”)
I’m sure I’ll get back on a plane eventually. My son has already flown, and my daughter is eager to. In fact, she wants to go to Paris someday.
So maybe the next time it’s time to visit Europe, we’ll be going, too. If I can sell enough candy.
Julie Wurth writes and blogs about family issues, social services and the University of Illinois for The News-Gazette. Her family column appears in the paper every other Tuesday. Leave a comment below, contact Julie at 351-5226 or firstname.lastname@example.org  or follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jawurth.
Now this is a fireworks show. (AP file photo)
Maybe I can visit 'Everest' at Disney...
... or go on 'safari.'
(News-Gazette file photos from AP/Disney World)