Where will 2012 take you and your family?

Teddy on a pink Fort Myers beach at sunset

I’m starting a new feature today called Travel Questions. Every Thursday I will share a question and my own response to it. Then I’ll open up comments, my Facebook page, and my Twitter stream to your answers or tips. Got a burning travel question of your own? Feel free to send it to me and maybe I’ll include it at a later date.

I don’t know about you, but school and work schedules in my house necessitate that I plan any travel of more than a day or two well in advance. I’ve already written a bit about our 2012 travel schedule, which I started working on in October. But it’s only during the past few days that I’ve committed most of our plans to paper, buying plane tickets and making reservations. I don’t know about you, but I enjoy planning and daydreaming about trips almost as much as the actual taking of them, so this has been a fun and exciting time.

So far, we’ve got five family trips planned between now and August. We’ll be skiing in Vermont in February and at Keystone Resort in Colorado in March. April brings the boys’ spring break, which we’ll spend in Phoenix with Grandma and Grandpa. June will bring our big European trip of the year, with stops in Switzerland and France (including a visit to Bordeaux, a region whose wines I love but which I’ve never had the pleasure of seeing). And then we’ll spend the last three weeks of summer break as we always do, swimming and hiking in the Mad River Valley.

I’m also excited to announce that the picture at the top of this post, which was taken on our trip to Fort Myers in 2010, has earned me an unexpected travel opportunity as well. Last fall I entered a contest at Caribbean Joe, submitting that photo for a chance to win a Celebrity Cruise. I promptly forgot that I even entered, so imagine my surprise when I found out that my photo was selected as the grand prize winner! (On top of the cruise I’ll also get some of the company’s breezy resort wear and a set of luggage.)

Now one thing you’ll notice on my blog is a marked absence of big boats. Our family has never taken a cruise and up until now had no plans to do so because they make Matt nervous. But when I won this prize, he and I realized that we haven’t been away for more than two nights in a row since before I started this blog; our last significant trip without the kids was to Ireland in January of 2008. Much as I love traveling with my children and writing about it, that’s an awfully long time to go without a grownup getaway. So with the chance in front of us to take a really nice trip together for very little money, he decided that he’ll find a way to manage his phobia (I’m guessing that the fact that we’ve selected a Wine Cruise will help). We’ll be embarking Memorial Day weekend for a five-night cruise from San Diego to Vancouver with stops in San Francisco and Victoria, British Columbia. I’m very excited to see two cities I’ve never visited and also to get back to Vancouver, which I visited solo last June.

Of course, I’m sure there will also be numerous, as-yet-unplanned day- and weekend trips on our 2012 agenda. After all, I’ve got all 16 of Delaware’s State Parks to visit as part of my State Parks Project! I’d also like to get back to Baltimore because we only managed to fit in half of the activities I had planned on our recent visit. A recent article I wrote for USA Today about Lancaster, Pennsylvania has me excited to spend some time up there. And then of course there’s Philadelphia. In fact, the boys and I will be taking the train up there for the day on Monday, since they don’t have school.

2012 is going to be another great travel year for The Mother of All Trips family. What about for yours? I’d love to hear where you’re going in the next 11 and half months.

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  1. says

    With a two year old and a new baby due in May, I was not expecting much travel in 2012. And then our calendar started filling up! Seattle in August! Connecticut in September! Bahamas and Tennessee in October! Not to mention our yearly trip to Cape Cod at some point between May and August! It’s going to be a busy year!

    • says

      Mrs. MidAtlantic – You go! I also traveled with a toddler and a baby and it’s completely doable. All of your trips sound amazing. Where in Tennessee will you be going?

  2. says

    I LOVE that you won that cruise!! And what a fun grown-ups getaway (Matt will do great). :-)

    So far, on the books, we have Big Island and Riviera Maya for our family (oh yes, we Coloradoans crave the beach). Solo, I’ll be in NYC, Bermuda and Indianapolis. My kids will fly solo to Boston for their first ever “unaccompanied minor” trip to see Grammie in NH (can’t wait to blog that angst – mine); my daughter will also fly solo to Orlando to visit a friend.

    That’s it to start. 😉

    • says

      Kara – Wow and wow that is a big deal to send you kids off solo. I’m actually looking forward to/dreading that myself, as I know we’ll want to put the boys on a plane for Arizona at some point. I will look forward to reading about how it goes – it’s nice to have friends that brave these things first!

  3. says

    Congratulations, Mara – that is a beautiful photo! I’m sure that you will have a wonderful time on your cruise – I find that they are a great way to sample cities and decide if you would like to return for more. I was a nervous cruiser the first time but discovered that I hardly notice the movement of the boat and generally forget that I am on a ship.

    I have just started committing to 2012 travels as well. Our two big trips will be Paris for spring break in March and the east coast of Canada (Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick) for the last half of August. Hopefully we can fit in some shorter trips too!

    Happy 2012!!

    • says

      Lisa-Those sound like great trips. What do you have planned in Paris? I can’t wait to hear about it as we’ll be going there in July for the first time in four years. And that Canada trip sounds great – I’ve heard that very route is a lot of fun. August should be a nice time to visit.

  4. says

    Congrats on the cruise! (And a suggestion for hubby to bring along Dramamine in case he gets seasick – even big boats sway!)

    My injury has forced me to cancel our planned February break to Miami :( but I’m trying to be optimistic about a planned vacation to England over Easter. New Orleans over Memorial Day and then something in the summer – perhaps Virginia and North Carolina?? or maybe a trip to Northern CA instead??

    One thing I’ve learned is that as much as I like to plan trips, sometimes life has a way of interfering so I’m trying to be more spontaneous and take day trips around the area.

    Happy 2012!

    • says

      Anne – I’m so sorry that you hurt yourself – and what a bummer to have to cancel a trip. I had a similar experience last spring when Tommy broke his arm right before spring break, although we ended up having a great time (last-minute) in Washington D.C. I totally agree that spontaneity is a good thing.

  5. says

    Congrats on the cruise! My dad had extreme anxiety about a cruise, but finally allowed my mom to plan a European river boat cruise, and he loved it so much they will soon embark on their third cruise in Europe. I hope your husband has a similar experience.
    So far, we’re planning a long weekend in Chicago later this month, 5 days in St. Pete/Tampa in March and a week in Michigan in July. I’m sure we’ll do more, but that’s all that’s on the calendar at this point.

    • says

      Nicole – I hope that this cruise helps Matt get over his boat phobia too! We’ll see. I’m impressed that you have as much travel as that planned, with your new little one. Where in Michigan will you be going?

  6. Stephanie says

    Ha-like you we are heading to Philadelphia on Monday…we have a voucher for admission to the Please Touch Museum that needs to be used before it expires in a few weeks.

    Congratulations on winning the cruise! I hope you have a fabulous time. As for my family…I’m still waiting to see the school calendar for 2012-2013 so I know when we have to be back in town, but so far, we have a week in Maine planned in July, and a few days of meandering in New England on either side of that. I’m hoping the “few days” on one side of the Maine trip can be spent in Boston. We will also spend a week in Lewes DE in August, and hope to make weekend trips to Baltimore and D.C. this spring. We’d also like to try camping at Killens Pond State Park in Delaware. Haven’t given any thought to autumn travel yet…

    I’m curious to know how you manage so much travel during the school year. Is your school very flexible in terms of allowing kids to be out for travel? My oldest is 6 and in kindergarten this year, so I’m new to planning around a school calendar.

    • says

      Stephanie – Have fun at Please Touch – I think we’ve finally outgrown that place, although I’ll always remember it fondly. I love everything on your agenda. I didn’t know that there was camping at Killens Pond – will you be in tents?

      With regards to your excellent question, the answer is no, the school isn’t especially flexible in terms of its attendance policy (which you can believe that I know like the back of my hand). Travel is an unexcused absence and children are allowed up to ten unexcused absences before there are any questions asked. I plan our travel around long weekends and early dismissal days so that often I’m only pulling the boys out for a day or two (that’s the case with our trip to Colorado – it’s a five-day trip, but with an early dismissal the’ll only miss 2.5 days of school). One thing I am careful about is always letting teachers know in advance that we’ll be gone and why and making sure that my kids stay on top of their work. I also communicate with the assistant principal so that she’s in the loop. Since my boys are good students and always make up anything they miss, my experience has been that the school is willing to partner with me. And finally, I don’t schedule travel during periods of standardized testing.

  7. says

    That’s a beautiful picture you took. I would have been waiting by the mailbox for the notification that I’d won if I’d taken it. Especially with a cruise as the main prize. Congratulations!
    Only a 24 hour stint in Disneyland firmed up so far for next year, but I’m sure things will come around soon. Enjoy your travels!

    • says


      Thanks for the kind words. Twenty-four hours at Disneyland – that’s a flying visit! Are you going to go in with a game plan to maximize your time?

      • says

        Oh we’re not trying to maximize anything, we’re just trying to survive. We’re Disney veterans, so getting on rides isn’t really a concern for us. The 24 hours is just the leap year promotion day when Disneyland is open for 24 hours in a row, and we’re going to try and stay there the whole time. Why? I have no answer for that question.

  8. says

    We’re in the midst of planning our 2012 travel! So far, we have a Highway 1 (CA) boutique hotel road trip planned, with stops in SF, Big Sur, Santa Barbara, and more. We also have lots of backpacking and unique camping reserved (such as staying in a fire tower and a teepee!) and our annual visit to Laguna Beach. We’re skiing in Tahoe in a few weeks, and visiting Taos in July. A trip up the Pacific NW to BC and Alaska is a possibility for 2012 or 2013. Congrats on winning the cruise! I look forward to hearing about it, as another non-cruiser.

    • says

      Amy – I’m not sure how much I’ll write about the cruise (given that it is going to be a vacation and Internet costs something like 75 cents a minute) but I’m sure I’ll have something to share. Sounds like you’ve got tons of cool stuff to do on the left coast this year.

  9. says

    Congratulations on winning the cruise! It is nice to know someone who actually won a contest like that. I always wonder! So far, we have Atlanta planned for January, Nashville in February, and a trip up the coast (may finally drive by you this time!) sometime this summer. Other than that, everything is still very much up in the air.

  10. says

    Beautiful photo! Congrats on winning the cruise. How exciting! We actually ended 2011 with a family cruise. I didn’t win any contests, unless there was one for “most generous in-laws”. :-)

    Our big vacation this year is a trip to Washington, D.C., followed by stops in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware (which is the only state on the east coast I haven’t been to yet), and New Jersey. We are on a mission to see all 50 states before my kids graduate from high school. I have an 8th grader, so we’ve got four years. I’ve got a spreadsheet with all our trips planned. I wanted to save the DC trip until my youngest daughter was old enough to appreciate sights like the White House, Capitol, and monuments.

    We’ve also got some smaller trips planned here and there. We’ll escape the cold to go to Alabama this winter. My kids go to different schools that have different spring breaks this year, so we won’t be going anywhere then. When we’re not on a trip, we spend our summers exploring our home city of Cincinnati. And I’m still contemplating a last-minute short trip this weekend.

    • says

      Terri – how cool is it that you want to visit all of the states with your kids! You’re much more organized than I am – I am always telling myself that I should keep better track of where we’re going. But at least I’ve got this blog to keep me somewhat honest.

      I know you’ll love Washington. We really enjoyed our tour of the Capitol when we were there last spring. What do you have planned in Delaware? I live there and would be more than happy to meet with your family and show you around or to make recommendations if I’m not going to be in town. Hope you have a great time.

  11. says

    Your itinerary for 2012 looks wonderful! On our plate are a trip to Arizona in mid-February, promptly followed by a trip to Nashville for me. An Irish Fest just south of Chicago in May, with a feis (Irish dance competition) for my eldest daughter. Then 2 weeks in Ireland in June, 10 days of National parks fun (Little Big Horn, Yellowstone, Paradise Valley, Big Sky, Devil’s Tower & Mt Rushmore- part of that a trip with Austin Lehman Adventures that I won), then a shorter trip to Ireland for Christmas. There is a big break from July to December- I’m sure that will fill up with something. :)

    • says

      I can’t imagine that you won’t find places to go from July to December! This sounds like a great agenda though, even if you don’t.

  12. Sharon Everingham says

    I just discovered your blog a few nights ago. I was up too late getting ideas for our Summer trip to France and read about your visit to Paris. I have planned a trip for my family; 2 daughters, 2 grandchildren ages 2 1/2 and 7 and a son-in-law joining us at the end. I have booked a house in Lourmarin (Provence) for one week. Then 9 days in Paris, including a side- trip to DisneyParis (sounds lame I know), but everyone wants to go!!!! We also love day trips , so we will plan a few of those out of Paris. I have been teaching my grandson some French and we are also taking a French class together at our local children’s bookstore. He can already count to 100 in French! He is excited to take the bullet train (TGV) to and from Paris. I will continue to read your stories, they will keep us traveling with children!

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