Speak Your Dreams Out Loud + Make Them Happen

Speak Your Dreams Out Loud

bike share

You guys. We have to talk about the most bonkers thing that’s ever happened to me.


Those of you who’ve been reading Petit Elefant for a long time might remember that 6 years ago, my family traveled to Eastern Europe for a month. My husband’s parents still have an apartment in Warsaw, Poland (where they’re from) and travel home every year to stay for a few months. I really wanted my kids to have the experience of seeing where my husband grew up while his parents were still alive to share stories. So we made it happen.  We saved up and worked really hard for a lot of years, and went to Europe.

It was such a cool first international trip for my kids.  We spent a lot of time in Warsaw with my husband’s parents, but also traveled to Krakow, Budapest, Prague, and Salzburg. I fell completely in love with train travel, and Eastern Europe, and ever since, we’ve been fantasizing about how to get back.


But you know how life goes.

Our goal was to make it back to Europe within two years, but it just didn’t happen. Life has been completely untethered at my house for about four years. Things have been extra, extra hard, and vacations just haven’t been at the top of the priority list. But I’m a big believer in speaking your dreams out loud to make them happen, so I do it all the time..  I don’t know if it’s voodoo, or “The Secret”, or if things just happen once you’ve verbalized what it is you want to do. Regardless of how it happens, I genuinely believe in the power of speaking dreams out loud.

Anyway, fast forward to two years ago, when I started talking to my husband in earnest (speaking my dreams out loud) about how much I wanted to take the kids on another trip to Europe.  Especially before our daughter Sofie graduates from high school next year and leaves the nest.


We’ve spent a lot of time talking about it, over the last two years, trying to figure out how to make it work. I started looking for airfare deals, and researching European countries at the top of our collective bucket lists.

And then it happened.

In January of this year, I found round-trip tickets to Paris for $500 each.  Which if you travel, you know is insanely cheap airfare to Europe.  We paid almost triple that seven years ago. My husband and I discussed it for about 10 minutes before we bit the bullet and bought four tickets to Paris for the end of May. We had zero idea how we were going to make the logistics of it work, including how we were going to pay for it, but we knew we’d figure it out somehow.


A month later my son broke his collarbone. As soon as he was mostly rehabilitated, my husband broke his leg and tore the ligaments in his ankle, requiring immediate surgery and total bed-rest. It has been complete madness at our house almost since the minute we bought the plane tickets. We haven’t had time to plan anything, including our plans to, you know, FINANCE our trip to Paris.

And a few weeks ago while my husband was home from work on bed-rest, we sat down and started crunching numbers for Paris. And fah-reaking out, because Paris is expensive, yo. And did I mention we’re traveling for three weeks? Small detail.

bike share

So in-between doctors appointments we planned a little and narrowed it down: we wanted to split our time in Europe between France and Spain. Specifically, Paris and Barcelona. We still worried about the teensiest detail, like how we’d pay for all of our accommodations while in Europe, but proceeded as if everything was fine.

But really, I was genuinely losing sleep over what we were going to do, and the tickets were non-refundable.


And then the craziest thing happened.  A couple of days after the painful money conversation, I got a message on Facebook, from Ofo, a company I’d never heard of, informing me I’d won a travel giveaway they hosted for $3,000.




Mucho, mucho dinero.


antoni gaudi

But wait, what?

Who wins those pie-in-the-sky giveaways? Especially ones we barely remember entering in the middle of the night, while stress tweeting? Not me, that’s who. So I figured it was a scam.  I get a lot of email every day, and plenty of it is spammy.  I honestly didn’t pay any attention to the message until I got a direct message on Twitter from Ofo, as well as an email from a lovely woman who seemed real, and a phone call from an actual human man on the Ofo team.

At this point I whispered quietly to my husband that there might, possibly, maybe, be a chance that I’d won some money in a giveaway. But I’ve been on this planet for more than 10 minutes, so I didn’t really believe it, until an American Express gift card showed up at my house for THREE THOUSAND DOLLARS.

I maybe, 100%, absolutely, totally cried (a lot) when I opened the envelope and it turned out to be true.

Do you know how much money $3,000 is? Of course you do, you’ve also been on this planet for more than 10 minutes.  But as it turns out, it’s pretty much exactly how much money a person needs to buy train tickets, food, hotels, metro passes, souvenirs, and Airbnb rentals for a family of four for three weeks in Europe.


spanish cathedral

Which is a genuine miracle to me, very specific to my wants and needs. And I still kind of can’t believe it, even though it’s true. I look at the gift card several times a day to make sure it’s real. I’ve already booked an Airbnb apartment for Paris, and am currently working on a place for Barcelona. It’s amazing.

Please go check out Ofo. It’s the first non-docking bike share company, (kind of like Zipcar) previously only available in Asia and the U.K., now setting up shop in the U.S.. It’s a super cool company with a very smart, practical business model, and I personally can’t wait until I have the chance to ride an Ofo bike somewhere in the world.

And do me a favor, will you? Speak your wildest dreams out loud, and see if they don’t just come true, in ways you don’t even dare imagine.

images with bikes via Ofo

remaining images via Allison Czarnecki



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Hello there! I'm Allison Czarnecki, founder + editor of Petit Elefant, a blog all about style on a budget for every part of your life: style / home / travel / family. I do a lot of how-to beauty + style tutorials, travel posts, easy recipes, home remodel projects, and cool DIY crafts you totally want to try. I'm super happily married (to a hot Polish immigrant) and am the mother of two kids, a daughter and son, all of whom are featured here on the regular. We live in the country but we're a little bit rock + roll. Welcome!


  1. Jen Price :

    That is AWESOME! Have an incredible time!!

  2. ellen patton :

    That’s so great!! Lucky you! Enjoy your trip. (I won a $2,500 shopping spree years ago when a new mall opened up!)

  3. SS :

    Congrats! We just got home from a few days in Paris and one of the most useful things I packed turned out to be a reusable shopping bag – they don’t do plastic bags in French grocery stores.