Happy New Year!! I hope your 2017 is off to an active and exciting start. For the 3rd year in a row I am laying out my travel dreams in writing. I haven’t quite gotten prepared enough to actually purchase any tickets this year, but I am putting my lofty aspirations out there so the universe can work it’s magic!
Last year I was able to do quite a bit from my 2016 Travel Dreams list. San Francisco, Seattle, London, South Africa and Ireland were all crossed off the list. Unfortunately Yellowstone was not. Instead, we added Central Oregon, which was amazing. Either way, it was a fantastic year for travel. I also did not get to do many of the things on my personal to do list, but I will try again this year.
Being obsessed with travel means having a never-ending list of places to visit. Since this list basically includes almost everywhere in the world, it is hard to actually narrow it down to what will happen THIS year. Right now, based on our family’s interests these are the top priorities that we hope to make happen. But I already know some are pipe dreams in the works, that we hope to accomplish in a few years! We do not have any set in stone trips planned for this year yet, so I am not quite sure what the year will turn out to be, but it will be fun and full of adventure even if it’s closer to home than it was last year.
I had my first taste of a Dude Ranch this fall when I was in Tucson. During my 10 day visit, I went on 3 different trail rides through several different ranches. While we didn’t stay at a ranch, we visited several, rode their horses, and learned all about what they offer guests. It’s something that has been stewing in the back of my mind for a while, but I was waiting until my son was the perfect age to do it. He is now 6 which opens so many more doors during our travels. To this point, he had only been on ponies at the park that are trained (or exhausted) to go in a circle at a very slow speed. However, this year it all changed when he was able to on trail rides on a beach in Oregon, in the Arizona desert and in Death Valley. Ever since, he has been begging for horse riding lessons and to go on a “horse vacation”. I’m pretty sure this means a Dude Ranch is in our future! At the moment, we are looking at ranches in Colorado to coincide with our yearly trip to a national park with our Texas friends.
Costa Rica has been on the top of our family to do list for years now. I don’t understand how it keeps getting pushed further down the list, but I think this year we are going to make it happen. We may not get the 3 week trip I would love to do, but even a week will be awesome. I know my little outdoor adventurer will fall in love with the scenery, volcanos, jungles and of course the abundance of animals! I have been dying to stay at the La Paz Waterfall Gardens Hotel since before I got married.
For the past 2 years we have been lucky enough to visit both Fiji and the Cook Islands. Now I have my eyes set on Tahiti, Bora Bora and Moorea. For someone who is normally not much of a beach or sun person, I have fallen in love with the South Pacific. The amazingly blue waters literally fill my body with happiness. The white sand, collecting beautiful seashells, and swimming with Picasso fish and other amazing sea life has taken over my heart. I have put my hat in the ring to win a trip to Tahiti.. if I win I will be SO excited. If I don’t.. I might just have to find my way there somehow.
I have been to Mexico only once in my life shockingly. I am always on the hunt for new countries, so it gets pushed to the back burner over and over again. However, I have had a hankering to return to Mexico. It’s such a large country with a wonderful culture that I know there is so much more to see and do there. I have been thinking about staying a month there this summer with my son to take spanish immersion classes and get back into the spirit of living abroad. My son loved our time in England this past year that I think he would enjoy another long mommy and son vacation! I am looking at options in Mexico City as well as the smaller expat town of San Miguel de Allende. Pass on your tips if you have any!
Unless you have been hiding under a rock, you probably already know Iceland is all the rage right now. Pristine, untouched out of this world scenery, coupled with extremely nice locals, amazing wildlife (uh hello adorable Icelandic horses and colorful puffins!) and plenty of space to explore has shot it to the top of everyone’s travel list. I was so close to buying tickets for my birthday, but I was so worried I would be too cold to even leave the hotel room! Not likely with me, but the cold sort of scares me! It’s still a possibility.. but I would much rather go in June before the hoards of people arrive for summer, but when we can actually drive the entire loop road and possibly even see puffins. And the horses, gah! I am in love with them!
During my time in Tucson I met a family who lives in Alaska as well as a woman who runs a small family friendly cruise line there. Alaska has been on my mind for a few years, but these two interactions really spurred my interest! Can we make this happen this year? I don’t know. But how amazing would it be to see bears, pristine national parks and to experience America’s 50th state? This would be a perfect family summer excursion for sure. Come on world.. lets make this a reality!
Following in the footsteps of one of my favorite family travel writers, I asked my 6 year old where he would go if he could go anywhere this year. Of course he said Madagascar. Not because of the movie (he’s never seen it!), but because of the animals. He said he wants to be surrounded by lemurs and wants to seek out the elusive foosa (no clue what that is? I didn’t either! Read more about it here.) This is one lofty goal for our 6 year old son, but one I am working hard at trying to realize for him. It would be a tough trip with long days in the car to the remote interior jungles of the island, but would definitely be a once in a lifetime experience.
Last year a friend of mine went to Nicaragua for 2 weeks and wrote about it for me here. I have been finding myself going back to that post a lot lately. I’m becoming Latin America obsessed again. I went through a phase of this in my early years of travel, and now it’s back. Not always the easiest places to travel, especially with kids, but I love the culture, food and textiles! In addition to everything Misti did on her trip, I have been obsessed with Morgan’s Rock Ecolodge. It looks so family friendly and the perfect place for a few days of pure relaxation amongst the wilds of Nicaragua. It is high on the list for a short week trip for my birthday in February. This would give me my 40th country before the end of my 40th year!
No year is complete without our family visiting some of America’s finest National Parks. Every year I put one or two specific ones I want to visit on this list and so far that hasn’t worked out. This year, I’m going general!
I asked my son what his goals were for 2017 and just like his mother, he could only come up with travel related goals. The first one being to visit and earn badges from 13 national parks this year! What? I am not sure we can really achieve this without an epic summer road trip.. but never say never!
We have tons still on our to do list – Lassen, Yellowstone, Glacier, and so many in Utah. Which ones we will visit I have no idea, but the goal is to rival 2016’s eight at least! What are your favorites?
The one thing all of these adventures have in common is nature, well and maybe animals too. These are the core ingredients for a family vacation for us and is something I want to inspire more of my readers to do as well this year!
Hope you have a wonderful 2017 filled with adventures near and far. Remember, travel doesn’t have to take you to distant countries, there is so much to experience so close to home if you just look for it! Happy Travels!
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