Exotic locales

by Ada

I enjoyed this recent piece in the Atlantic about someone who has achieved his goal of going to every recognized country in the world – and the 10 places it was most difficult to obtain visas to visit (who knew that Saudi Arabia did not allow tourists?).

The Hardest Places in the World to Visit

It reminded me of this piece published in The Onion during the Arab Spring – when tourists were evacuated from many Middle Eastern nations. A good friend had just been to Libya the month before – she had talked up the trip for months – such a safe place, amazing Roman ruins, really under appreciated. She had a great experience – and fortunately missed the turmoil by a matter of days.

State Dept. Asks U.S. Citizens In Libya What The Hell They Were Doing In Libya

Another interesting take on this is about a place where guidebooks still matter – Myanmar. “The travelers one sees there are mostly Germans, many of them visibly miffed that we’d brought our daughter somewhere so seemingly remote as to be at the very end of the Lonely Planet. If a three-year-old’s there, it must be too late.”

Confoundingly Picturesque

We traveled to the Amazon headwaters to stay in a lodge several years ago. We took a plane over the Andes from Quito, a bus several hours down a dirt road and then a motorized dug out canoe several hours into the rainforest. Our travel time from Quito was about 10 hours. I realized that it would be faster to get from Quito to New York City than to the jungle cabin we slept in

What remote places have you been?


103 thoughts on “Exotic locales

  1. I’ve been to Saudi Arabia because my dad worked there and I was a minor, so I could visit. It is amazing the places that people go to work and that is how they get stuck in some of these countries when things have gone wrong.

  2. The most remote places I’ve been are out to sea and the continental divide.

    Remote but populated include Whidbey Island, the top of Mount Washington (not truly populated, but I was there with about 20 hikers), and Alligator Alley in the Everglades.

    For all Chicago-area Totebaggers, I’ll be in the Chicago area in early November. Email me (graduatestudentlife at gmail dot com) if you want to meet up.

  3. I am actually pretty timid about the places I am willing to visit, because if I am on vacation, I don’t want to worry about being shot at or bombed. China is probably the most exotic place I have visited, but China is about as safe a place as you can imagine since it is a very well controlled dictatorship after all (actually, it is more a dictatorship of local authorities than the central authorities, who have less power than you might imagine, but it is still well controlled).
    So there are many countries that I just don’t feel like visiting because they don’t seem safe, or welcoming, or both. I did not submit to a conference that was beiing held in Israel because I just feel paranoid about flying to Israel. There is no way you will get me to go to Libya, Iran, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Somalia, etc etc. I also have little interest in Mexico because it seems so crime ridden (and I am not a beach resort kind of person so I wouldn’t be able to hide out in one of those places)
    On the other hand, my DS2’s best friend is from Myanmar, and they go back every year, and now I have gotten interested in visiting. I also would love to get to Tibet before the Chinese completely wipe out the culture. I realize there is some diciness to visiting either of those countries, but I don’t think it is on the same level as Libya.

  4. I can’t say I’ve been anywhere too exotic. Although, depending on how one defines exotic maybe I have – Petrolia, Onatrio, anyone?

  5. I have also been bike touring in Iceland, which is sort of exotic, but not in the dark dangerous way that Libya is

  6. I haven’t been anywhere too exotic. The most “exotic” was probably Northern Ireland in 1989. There were big tanks driving through the streets of Belfast. However, Belfast felt much safer than Philadelphia in the 80’s (where I went to college). Of course every place I went felt safer than Philly in the 80’s. And they loved Americans in Northern Ireland – at that point, they had relatively few tourists. One delightful lady told me I had the most beautiful accent she’d ever heard. I knew I’d never receive a compliment like that ever again.

    Lately I’ve been hearing great things about Turkey. We’re thinking of taking the kids to some place in Europe in the next 2 – 3 years. We’d been thinking either Spain or Italy – but now I’m wondering about Turkey. Have any fellow Totebaggers been there?

  7. SSM – Given the civil unrest in Turkey, I would be cautious. My Turkish friends are even cautious about when they go home. If you want more detailed information, I can call up my friends and get places to visit which might be safe to visit.

  8. I’ve been to remote places but not exotic ones. Prekids, we backpacked about 70 mi along the continental divide in the Bob Marshall wilderness and rode the Alaska Marine Highway System from Homer to Dutch Harbor, stopping at villages in the Aleutians along the way. We spent the summer solstice in Nome. We visited the Baltic countries and St Petersburg in 2003, when Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia were still transitioning economies. We honeymooned in New Zealand. And vacationing with me often winds up being a 16 hour/day ordeal.

    We can’t afford to travel now that we have kids and they are pretty happy to build a campfire and roast marshmallows after a day of hiking and climbing on rocks and logs along the coastline.

  9. Turkey is also on my list of places I’d like to go. I’d probably go with a tour group.

    I’ve never been to remote places, except maybe backpacking in the Southwest US or traveling by chicken bus in parts of Mexico. I regret not traveling to Copper Canyon in Mexico back years ago. Now, I’d be a bit fearful.

  10. I’ve been to some towns in Appalachia that are pretty remote, but I wouldn’t call them exotic. Otherwise, I’m with Rhett! I don’t travel much, so when I do it’s for rest & relaxation and I’m not interested in going anywhere that is dangerous or requires a lot of physical exertion.

  11. Neighbors and another neighbor’s kids are in Turkey now. Posting happy stuff on Facebook. I’ll report back if I learn anything. Most far afield place was Uluru in Australia but even then we were in the teeny, tiny airport in line and I looked at the bag of the people in front of me and lo a behold they were from our town. While in the Peace Corps in Africa, my brother on occasion ran into friends of friends. The world is a small, small place! I think have the DC Metro area was in Nevis when we were there.

  12. SSM — I’ve been to Turkey a couple of times, and definitely want to go back with my family. I probably wouldn’t go to the central part of the country right now, but I’d go to Istanbul and the western coast. So many amazing things to see and do there. And the food! Oh, the food.

    Probably the most remote place I’ve ever been is a tiny island in Japan called Amami Oshima, which is halfway between the southern tip of the main islands of Japan and Okinawa. I was living in Asia at the time, and had a friend who was teaching English on Amami, so I visited her for a few days. It was a tiny little tropical island, and we spent most of our time on the beach. It was lovely.

    WCE, DH and I are thinking about taking a family trip to Alaska in which we’d travel by the Marine Highway system. I’d like to do standard tourist route in southeast Alaska (Juneau, Glacier Bay, etc.) but my very-adventurous DH keeps talking about going out to the Aleutians. We’re trying to negotiate a compromise.

  13. Mooshi, some might think your vacations, while not necessarily in exotic locations, are a bit exotic. I enjoyed your report of your trip to Europe when your family did a lot of biking.

  14. Most far afield place was Uluru

    How was that? I haven’t heard good things. It’s a 2800km drive or a 3 hour flight from Sydney. It would be like going to the US and flying from NYC to Omaha to look at a giant rock.

  15. DH and I used to travel a lot, pre-kids. We avoided a lot of places due to specific terrorist incidents–Egypt, Bali, Machu Picchu are a few that come to mind. Now, most of our travels are to standard tourist-places. We had a great time in Philly/NYC this summer.

  16. NoB, we did AMHS from Bellingham up to Hanes/Skagway and back to Sitka on a different trip. If you want a cabin on the AMHS, book early. There are lots of boats, including cruise ships, along the Inside Passage but only three or four trips annually through the Aleutians. The main advantage of AMHS over a cruise ship on the Inside Passage is that you can get off for a couple days to hike or whatever and then catch another boat. If you camp in a tent on the deck instead of getting a cabin, be sure to take a couple rolls of duct tape to tape your tent down.

    A boat through the Aleutians goes once/month during the summer. So the communities are more isolated and a visit from the boat is a big deal, probably similar to the summer visits from a barge in northern coastal communities. Pretty much the whole town would come onto the boat to buy a hamburger from the snack bar. If school is in session, I think it lets out while the boat is there.

  17. Reading the comments, I’m struck by the fact that I’ve never been to New York City. Almost all the rest of you probably have.

  18. I have been to many of the places you guys mentioned, I love sailing and hiking trips. I was born and raised in the bayous of Louisiana but the oddest place I have ever been was Red Lick, Mississippi. BTW Do the Alaska trip on the ferries, its a blast eps for kids. You might even be prompted to move and buy a sail boat . The Pacific Northwest is lovely as is most the the state of Alaska .

  19. We know a few families that take their kids up to NYC every other year for vacation and it just would never occur to me to do that, because I grew up In Mass. and both of my sisters have spent time living there and so I’ve visited often enough, but it would probably be a fun trip once the kids are older.

    I’ve never been anywhere exotic. I have a cousin whose husband has lived and worked in Saudi Arabia for at least ten years. My cousin was over there with him for a while but then came back as their kids got older because she wanted them to go to school here. I’m not sure how much longer he has over there – he makes silly money doing whatever he’s doing and he gets a full pension once he retires so he’s stuck it out. They seem to go back and forth to visit a couple times of year and usually there’s a trip to Europe thrown in there where the whole family meets there.

  20. “And vacationing with me often winds up being a 16 hour/day ordeal.”

    You’re not a vacationer, you’re a traveler.

  21. Someone else mentioned being in Chicago soon. I am actually going to be there next week. Mostly for a conference but I am going to do some touristing.

  22. That was me! Anyone have suggestions for that area? Places to go, people to see? The Rhode family will have a car for the trip.

  23. When we did Australia – pre kids – we flew to Sydney, but didn’t stay (see later – it was cheaper to go in/out of same airport), Melbourne, Adelaide, Coober Pedy (Mad Max from Thunderdome was filmed there – it is where most of the opal comes from), Alice Spring, Urulu (Ayers Rock – climbed to the top – view was WONDERFUL), Brisbane, Lady Elliott Island (southern part of Great Barrier Reef), and back to Sydney – with a day trip into the Blue Mountains.

  24. @Rhode – I went to visit my brother in the Chicago suburbs for a few days this summer and my favorite thing was the Frank Lloyd Wright house & studio. I’m dying to do an architectural tour of the city next time, but I’m a bit of an architecture/engineering nerd. Some of our family have enjoyed a mobster-themed city tour there too. Baby Rhode is probably too little for the giant playground at Millennium Park, but it’s a cool place. And don’t forget the Shedd Aquarium, of course!

  25. I haven’t been anywhere too remote. All over the England/Scotland part of the UK but not Ireland. France but not the rest of Europe. Hong Kong (pre changeover), Singapore, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, and the Tokyo airport. Limited places in US (east coast, one midwest place, CA, HI).

    Would love to go back to England many times, and to visit Ireland, Germany, Italy, Scandinavia, Czech Republic, Croatia, New Zealand. Also Japan and Vietnam for food tours. But traveling seems like a pipe dream these days.

  26. In Chicago I loved the architectural boat tour and just wandering around millennium park area.

  27. DW and I visited Chicago a while back when one of her friends got married at Northwestern.

    What I remember enjoying there were the Lincoln Park Zoo, some blues clubs, and driving/walking around Oak Park looking at the Frank Lloyd Wright homes. The Northwestern campus was also quite nice, although it may be a bit early for baby Rhode to start visiting college campuses.

    We went to the original Pizzeria Uno but did not enjoy it. The branch near our home at the time provided a much better dining experience.

    I don’t remember the place, but there was one place we ate Chicago-style pizza with one huge slice of sausage covering the entire pizza. That was really good.

  28. WCE, we must be related: I bring an excel chart with the steps to our vacation broken out in 30 minute intervals, down to which line we ought to be in at the attractions.

    DH is used to it, but takes a lot of pictures of his aching feet in protest.

    I have been to a few countries in Europe and Asia, but nothing off the beaten track. Given DD’s allergies I am no longer willing to go anywhere far from an ER, so anything truly exotic – and a lot that is not – is off the table.

  29. Sky, I think I’m + 2.5 sigma active/organized and you are +3.5 sigma active/organized. We only have things broken out by day. In Krakow, we actually struggled to find a place to stay, because the place we thought we had was full. The local tourist office helped us find a place with space.

    I would not enjoy traveling that way with four young children. I like knowing that if the campgrounds are full, we can always still sleep in a Walmart parking lot.

  30. @SWVA, I hear the kayak architecture tours of downtown Chicago are fantastic, but it’s a summer only activity! http://Www.kayakchicago.com. I was rained out of that tour in my last visit.

    For better pizza, try Pequods, on the western edge of Lincoln park. They have good deep dish and thin crust.

    The remotest places I’ve been are not remote at all. I do remember crossing the Paraguay border near Igaucu falls just because it was there, but it certainly wasn’t remote.

    I am loving the Alaska trip advice, by the way. An Alaskan wildlife cruise is on my top 10 list.

  31. It’s official.. there’s too much to do in Chicago… we’re just gonna have to come back again (oh darn…). I have to remember that this time I’m traveling with a baby. And while he’s pretty chill, I can only do so much before he blows top.

    I think we may have to spend a couple of days in Chicago (we are staying ~ 1 hour outside) and divide up what we want to do that way.

  32. SSM, I was in Belfast around that time and I remember seeing the policeman on patrol in the Catholic neighborhood in the center of four soldiers with their weapons at the ready, very actively scanning all four points of the compass as they moved through. And even in the scenic center of the city, it was a bit creepy to realize that the reason there were no parked cars anywhere was not beautification but to prevent car bombs.

    My dad has been to Turkey for work a number of times and enjoys it, and it’s one of my aunt’s favorite places to go as well. Lots of history there. I haven’t been myself, though.

    I’ve been to a number of remote Pacific islands.

    As far as my vacationing, I’ll go to places like Narvik or the Aran Islands that are accessible by standard transportation, but kind of at the far end of where you can get to easily. But vacationing with kids, we haven’t done anything really far-flung. The younger two kids’ drive with my in-laws up to their cabin way the heck up in rural B.C. was more remote than anywhere we went on our National Park odyssey this past summer.

    My travel spreadsheets are only broken down by day, not by hour. And I do try to leave some more restful days, and some activities that could be skipped, so the troops don’t get too mutinous.

  33. Kiribati is one I’ve been to, and I was surprised to see it on the list, although from the write-up it seems like it was just kind of a fluke that it was so hard for the writer to get there in the first place.

  34. I was in Belfast in the early nineties. I remember the guide books said to make it obvious one was an American. I also remember walking down one street, seeing four military personnel, obviously on alert, all walking forward. A few blocks later, I passed another patrol, three facing forward, one watching the rear. I turned around and went back the way I came.

  35. Lincoln Park Zoo and the architecture boat! Both are awesome. I also love the Field Museum, the Museum of Science and Industry, and the aquarium

  36. Rhode, If your guy is easy, it is still pretty possible to travel with a toddler. We took an 15 month old to Chile. Although Chile is incredibly child friendly, once we figured out that everyone did better with a bit of a nap, the trip was a lot of fun.

  37. Most remote and interesting places I have been are probably Baguio City in the Phillippines and the DMZ between North and South Korea. Went to both in high school, Phillippines with my entire family and DMZ with my mom and sibling. I did not want to go to the Phillippines as it was under martial law at the time and all the news was about mayhem and murder but it was a great trip, very beautiful and interesting. That trip was my first exposure to abject poverty which was quite a shock to my MC system. DMZ was just bizarre as the N Korean soldiers look through the windows at you with their guns. I now realize how adventurous my mom was in taking the kids to some of these places although it seemed normal at the time. My kids have had much more pedestrian travel experiences.

  38. I am en route to my remote, but not exotic, work locale today. Brief stop in an airport to catch up on the internetz. Always enjoy hearing about others’ travel.

  39. How could I forget the Lincoln Park Zoo? And the Conservatory at the northern end of it. DD was ~5 the first time we visited and my brother lived in walking distance of Lincoln Park. We spent 2 whole days there!

  40. I love hearing everyone’s stories. So interesting! On Belfast, I was there after the Good Friday Agreement and still encountered the tanks and police as described above. Definitely a strange feeling.
    Boundary Waters Canoe Area is pretty remote for being in the lower 48. Still no cell service.

  41. I backpacked by myself through Europe for 4 weeks when I was 20…this was pre-internet and pre-cell phone days, so I relied mostly on Rick Steve’s Europe Through The Back Door, and Let’s Go Europe. I would rip out the chapters as I was done with them to lighten by backpack. It was little lonely but incredibly awesome.

    This post is doing nothing but giving me travel fever, thanks guys. Grrr!

    It looks like DH may not be able to get time off during the boys’ spring break. I want to suggest to him that we’ll be fine, I’ll just take a Disney Cruise with them, but I feel bad doing something like that when he can’t come. Is that the wrong thing to do? It’s not a case of he wouldn’t want to (I know Houston has sent her crew off skiing because it was her preference), it’s a case of he probably can’t.

  42. “How was that? I haven’t heard good things. It’s a 2800km drive or a 3 hour flight from Sydney. It would be like going to the US and flying from NYC to Omaha to look at a giant rock.”

    We flew. It was actually really lovely. Took a flight to see it from above. Went to nearby Kings Canyon and toured Kata Tjuta which is kind of cooler than Uluru. More like going from New York to see the Grand Canyon. The scope and the remoteness coupled with the Aboriginal history is something to see. Camel tracks over Lake Amadeus – way more than just a rock!

    Georgia – the DMZ!! That’s awesome!

    Alaska cruise I cannot recommend enough and I hate cruises. Whole family went years ago and still trip of a lifetime. Still get goose bumps thinking about the whales breaching and the bears and the stars at night….. Go, Go , GO!!!

  43. Lark–I wouldn’t do a Disney cruise without my DH. I would spend the whole time wishing he were there and feeling guilty.

    How about DC or New York? DH wouldn’t care if we went without him to these cities, as he goes there for business and doesn’t think they are special. London would also be an option for me if I were in your situation.

    However, each family is so different that the Disney Cruise might be the best option for you.

  44. “I’ll just take a Disney Cruise”

    For those of you who’ve taken cruises, was motion sickness ever an issue? My family is prone to motion sickness (DD threw up right after Star Tours), and DW has never considered cruises because of that concern.

    If it weren’t for that, it would seem like a cruise might make sense for a multiple-stop tour, e.g., along the Mediterranean or Baltic coasts.

    Has anyone here been to St. Petersburg? The one in Russia; I’m guessing PTM (not to mention SM) has been to the one in FL.

  45. There is no cell service in Smoky Mountain National Park, at least not the last time I was there, and it is hardly remote. There was also no cell service at Mt Rainier, until oddly enough, we got high enough on the mountain

  46. MM is is beautiful. A great experience for kids. I’m fortunate that getting to it is not difficult, but for the rest of country it is an ordeal to get there.

  47. Both my kids have been to the Boundary Waters (DS with the Boy Scouts) and rave about it. But they both love primitive camping, and they are young…,.
    I have been no where even remotely exotic. However, I am planning (with friends) a European river cruise and am unreasonably excited about that.

  48. I think I am just too claustrophobic for a cruise, though I am sort of tempted to try one through the Norway fjords. For a lot of locales, though, I would hate the idea that I had to eat dinner on the boat rather than out in the cool restaurants in the place I am visiting. I guess that wouldn’t be a problem for people who don’t mind eating their main meal at lunch, because they could sample the restaurants while off the boat. But I find heavy lunches and intense touristing to be incompatible.

  49. Lark – that’s what I was doing back in 1989! I spent 6 months backpacking around Europe with Let’s Go and Europe Through the Back Door. I still have my battered copy of Let’s Go.

  50. This is my kind of topic. DH and I love to travel. Nicaragua is beautiful. We slept on the deck of the ferry crossing Lake Cocibolca and then a boat ride down the Rio San Juan to a jungle lodge. In Peru, we traveled to the Cordillera Blanca with amazing mountain views and took a long boat ride down the Tambopata to a research center lodge. In China, we traveled to the Vietnam border to see the Detian waterfall. In the US, we’ve explored a number of slot canyons in Death Valley and did an easy backcountry trip in Denali. I’ve gone on a week-long kayaking trip in Fiji. My DH has more exotic destinations on his list including crossing the Pacific in a cargo freighter to China and visits to Tibet and Mongolia. We’re hoping for a trip to Namibia and Botswana next year.

  51. I never did the classic backpack-through-Europe, but when I was a grad student, my then-boyfriend (later DH), bike toured through Holland, Belgium and Germany. We mainly camped and carted all our crap in panniers on the bikes. We were there most of the summer. It was really fun

  52. I get motion sick, even on small inland lakes, but I went on a Disney Cruise and loved it so much we are going again this winter. The key is to get the ear patch, and a cabin that is midship, midlevel, with at least a window.
    Lark – unless your DH has no interest in Disney or cruises I wouldn’t go without him.

  53. “I don’t remember the place, but there was one place we ate Chicago-style pizza with one huge slice of sausage covering the entire pizza. That was really good.”

    Sounds like Lou Malnati’s. I prefer the sausage crumbled on my deep dish, but I do enjoy Lou’s once in awhile. Particularly in the dead of a Chicago winter.

    Welcome Mooshi! Rhode, I sent you an email as well.

    I think the Shedd is one of the circles on hell – it is always insanely crowded, and it is not all that big or special compared to any other aquarium. I prefer every other museum/tourist spot. I always recommend the architecture river tours, which are great. And if you don’t have the time/$, you can always take the Water Taxi for the same view. Taking the Water Taxi to Chinatown for lunch is a great little trip.

    I haven’t done a lot of exotic travelling, and honestly, I am not sure that I ever will. I like the idea of seeing these remote parts of the world in theory, but the actual experience of traveling to them does not seem worth it. Maybe when I’m retired. I spent a lot of time in NYC for awhile, and now realize that it has been 8 years since I’ve been back. We plan to go next year to see the Cubs play @ the new Citi Field among other things.

  54. @ Houston, I think you are right. I would feel very guilty without him. I was just thinking that was something that would be easy to do solo since I hear there is so much for the kids to do. We are actually hitting NYC for fall break and did DC already this year, but city trips are a good idea.

  55. Harking back to yesterday’s topic, apparently today is “daughter day”. Not sure when “son day” is.

    I have done island hopping on small Bahama cays. We took a seaplane. It was gorgeous and mainly isolated. Not tough at all.

    I’d like to travel to Vietnam.

  56. I did the water taxi to Chinatown last time I was in Chicago. The water taxis are great. And I like the Shedd. Maybe because it is the first aquarium I ever visited, when I was about 13. The Atlanta aquarium is far, far more crowded.

  57. Actually, I would love to take them to Chicago – have only been myself once for a conference. Ivy, is March too cold? I’m afraid that might not be the best time.

  58. Rhode, I think just go to the Baltimore aquarium, do stuff in Chicago they don’t have at home! If the little one will deal, we loved the architectural boat tour in Chicago.

    Bayside, I wanna go with you!

    Cost of college – what is this “daughter day “nonsense, thought it was a facebook thing. You know when daughter day is at my house? Every single stinking day! I wake her with kisses, I drive her places, I do her laundry, watch shows with her. How about a day that isn’t daughter day? Maybe that’s mothers day! Now get off my lawn!

  59. March is unpredictable. There could be snow on the ground, but it could also very easily be in the 60’s, particularly in late March. The boats usually don’t start running on the river until late March for Spring Break season. What area of the country are you from? Will early Spring in the Great Lakes be shocking or just a little colder than usual?

  60. Lark – I’m dragging the family in November… windy, cold, and maybe lake effect snow. March will be an adventure! LOL! Though, I’d defer to Ivy or MidA…

    If lack of cell service = remote, then my list of places just skyrocketed – but they were all quite populated, so it’s not that remote. Just at the limits of technology.

    Ivy – thanks for the email. I can’t wait to meet Totebaggers!

    I want DS to be old enough to enjoy these adventures! Like Alaska, or Mediterranean cruises. Whoever asked about sea sickness – I found that larger ships are easier on me than smaller ones (a really rough oceanographic cruise or the small tender ships that bring you from the cruise liner to shore can get me good). Also, choosing the right time of year can help – if you choose a time when hurricanes or large storms aren’t likely, then the chances of real waves are smaller.

  61. I’d love to take cruises with him, but my concern is safety. I’m not lugging his car seat around, and he’s too small for most life vests on those tours. Am I being ridiculous?

  62. Bahrain is not really exotic, and it’s certainly not remote, but it’s the–I don’t know–least Western, least touristy place I’ve been. The hotel was a nice retreat with good restaurants. The souk is loud and chaotic and stressful and, in my opinion, a bit sinister feeling. The shop and restaurant owners are very nice. The cab drivers are dirtbags who try to rip you off. It can be a never-ending negotiation with them, from before you even get into the car up to when you’re still getting out. The standard advice is that, eventually, you just throw whatever you think is a fair fare on the seat of their 20-year-old Nissan Sentras and walk away. If they wanted a set rate, they should have used the meter like the law requires, but they don’t want to do that. I don’t have any desire to go back.

    Exotic and remote, for me, has been my mode of travel via open-ocean sailboat racing. That’s like nothing else in the world. I’d be up for doing that again someday.

  63. “Am I being ridiculous?”

    Yes, but so what? You’ve got a long time to go on cruises. Do it when you want to. Traveling with babies is tough. It’s nice having a big car and a hotel suite or rented house as a base of operations.

  64. Mooshi – Hurtigruten has some nice cruises, including ones with a more physical and/or family focus. Norway is on our short list if I can figure out an itinerary that isn’t too strenuous for DH. One good option is going one way in a boat and back on the train, or even a train trip with a side day or two on a fjord cruise. I am thinking of something with the Shetland Islands and the Faroe Islands and only a couple of days of fjords as an option as well.

    The camp near Tiniteqilaaq in East Greenland is my most remote destination. Since we were iced in during mid August and helicoptered out, with the bags snaking through the icebergs back to the “big city” pop 2000, I think it qualifies are adventurous, if not particularly dangerous. When we went to Bhutan in 2009, luxury hotels were already in existence in the main cities, but outside on the winding roads it was still pretty spartan. Botswana is very safe with lots of private air strips. The issue is always in remote travel, how far and how long to a really good hospital. That is why all of those trips make you buy 200K of medical evacuation insurance. Bhutan was probably the worst in that regards, because once you left the city it was, radio for a helicopter, wait till it gets to you in the hinterland, returns you to the main airport area, then you have to wait until a plane can actually land and take off (winds are the issue in the death defying undersized airport ringed by mountains), then a long flight to Bangkok, probably. Traveling to company factories in less developed areas of China and India was also a lot of fun, but since I was completed escorted and there were millions (literally) of people in the vicinity not particular “remote”.

    My family has traveled a lot in Turkey. I have only been to Istanbul, and may yet get my trip to Capaddocia and Nimrut, but not in the near future.

  65. Fun topic. I wish I had a chance to read all of these posts earlier in the day.
    The most remote place that I’ve been is a remote island in Australia. We had to fly, and then take a boat to the island. It was very developed with a beautiful resort, so the most difficult part was the travel.

    I love Australia and I’ve been able to visit a few times on vacation. The bonus trip was for work, and it was a true bonus because I got to see even more cities, and islands.

    I’ve been to several national parks that required very long car rides, but it was worth it in every case. I love the parks. My friend wanted to visit the Badlands. It was in a “remote” location for this city slicker. My favorite parks are Yellowstone and Acadia even with the crowds. I still have to visit Yosemite. It is on my bucket list.

  66. DD really wanted to take a disney cruise even though she was worried about being sea sick. We took a short 4 day cruise through calm waters in a quiet time of year for storms. It was a good trial to see if they could adjust to the motion of the ship. I felt it, and I think you get used to it quickly on some of these very, very large ships.

    it didn’t really bother them on the boat once they were used to the motion, but I definitely felt like I was still love for at least 24 hours AFTER we were home.

  67. Yes, the Shetlandsand Faroe Islands sound great. I don’t think I would combine with Norway though – too much for one trip. I usually prefer to really focus on one area

  68. My favorite national park is Mt Rainier, and it contains my favorite campground (Ohanepecosh). I like Acadia and the Smokies too, but was kind of disappointed in Yellowstone

  69. rhode, I understand your safety concern, but there were a lot of babies/strollers on our cruise. The thing that surprised me (especially on Disney) was that anyone with a swim diaper is not allowed in any pool. I guess it makes sense since they are hyper vigilant about cleanliness and norovirus on these ships. The only area for swim diapers was in a segregated sprinkler mini park.

  70. HM, it was ocean kayaking through the Yasawa Islands. Mostly calm waters so did not require a lot of expertise. We camped on the beach most days and snorkeled some cool reefs. Even got to swim in the grotto where they filmed the Blue Lagoon.

  71. I went to Yellowstone almost 30 years ago, and I don’t think it was as busy as it is now. Some of the parks are just too crowded at certain times to really enjoy them unless you actually can take hikes etc.

  72. Yellowstone you just have to get off the road to lose the crowds. It’s still my favorite. It has so much — all the thermal features, the animals, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, the rivers, Lake Yellowstone, the mountain scenery.

  73. Baysidegirl, I was thinking that I didn’t remember much in the way of navigable rivers there!

  74. Take Dramamine on a cruise–DS2 got a little sea sick on the first night of the Disney cruise. Granted, it was rough water in the middle of winter, but I was surprised at how much such a large ship could sway. That said, there was Dramamine for sale in the ship’s general store.

    Lark–Keep us posted on what you do for Spring Break. Unfortunately, Chicago will likely still be cold and gray.

  75. If you have had bad reactions to Dramamine (it makes many people woozy/disoriented), try Bonine. That is what I carry, although I have had no need of it yet.

  76. Finn, we went to St. Petersburg in early May, 2003. The Hermitage is amazing, and I am rarely interested in art. A large portion of the collection was “Acquired, Unknown, 1917.” The churches are beautiful and the layout of the city is interesting. The subway system was very good and built far underground to double as a bomb shelter. I had no sense of direction in it, but fortunately Mr WCE did. The maps are good but everything is in Cyrillic. It had rained for about 3 days and our only pairs of shoes had not been dry in that long. I remember going to a McDonald’s hoping for hot chocolate but being willing to settle for hot tea. We tried “hot chocolate” and “cocoa” and “not hot tea” and a cashier working on English figured out want I wanted and sold it to us. “Chicken McNuggets” was the word easiest to recognize in Cyrillic because of the double g.

    We also had good experiences riding the train in (from Tallinn) and out (to Helsinki). On the way in, a 70ish woman gave us the coins we needed for subway fare because exchange booths didn’t open for at least another 3 hours in the train station and there was no other way to pay for the subway. On the way out, the customs official wanted to ask us about Mr WCE’s nuclear experience and the Russian physicist we’d been chatting with explained Mr WCE’s experience (internships as a power engineer) in a way that wouldn’t hold us up. The physicist was traveling to Helsinki for a meeting and drove us around for a couple hours to see the major sites, since he had a couple hours before his meeting and we had a couple hours before our ferry to Stockholm. He had business interests in both Helsinki and St Petersburg. Russia had a lot of people trained as physicists, I think.

  77. Thanks all. I meant those little boat tours around Chicago. I don’t think we’ll be doing a real cruise for a while. We have adventures planned for the next 2 years. Next year is Idaho with a side trip to Yellowstone. Going with a 15-16 month old. I think that will be a scarier trip than Chicago. Baby Rhode will definitely be more mobile.

  78. I would like to take a few travel trips to the more exotic places. I don’t want to call them vacations because to my mind there is little relaxing unless I am at a beach resort. My DD would be a better travel companion because I honestly can’t see DH or DS in some remote locale. I grew up in and I have travelled a fair bit so exotic has a different meaning for me. The most recent trip Meme took with her DD sounded great. The temples of Angkor Wat sound good but the jungles or bazaars of any other places would feel familiar to me.

  79. On a related note I have started to read – Dark Star Safari by Paul Theroux, about his journeys in Africa. I’ll report back on how I like it.

  80. So, is anyone organized enough to be booking next year’s trips? Not me. I seem to wait until the last minute, usually 1-3 months before the trip.

  81. DW has been looking at a possible trip next summer. It’ll be the last summer before DS graduates, so we definitely want to do something as a family.

    Our initial plan was to prioritize DS’ college visits, but he recently told us that there’s no college he really wants to visit at that time that he hasn’t already visited, and he’s thinking of visiting after he gets his acceptance letters. He’s hoping that, like the older brother of one of his friends, the college may pay for the visit at that point.

  82. CoC, I booked our Glacier trip a year out, but that was very unusual. I typically figure the U.S. will have been invaded by Madagascar or something by the time a year is up. I’m sure I’d get better deals if I were a little more optimistic.

  83. lol, RMS!

    Finn, AFAIK colleges may pay in cases of scholarship competitions or diversity recruitment and a few other cases. Are there other recruiting visits that colleges will pay for? I guess athletic recruits get paid trips sometimes.

  84. We’re planning a trip to Iceland for next summer. But we have a couple of family events that we have to schedule around and they haven’t been set yet.

  85. we never plan far out because I never know if I might be pregnant when we travel (could still travel , but depending what we are doing/where we are going might be limiting) like a friend that went on an all inclusive resort trip right after she found out so she couldn’t drink.

  86. “next year’s trips”

    Ha! Hahahaha. No. I am lucky if I can remember what we did for last Thanksgiving and Christmas to remember what to tell our parents about whether we are traveling or not.

  87. I have a trip booked for March spring break, but the ONLY reason is because we’re going with friends. We just had to copy the flights and the hotel.

    I really want to go to Italy for my bday. It is next summer and it is easy for us to travel in the summer due to camp. The stumbling block is financial. My DH is still recovering from the extra costs in our renovation (at same time as market tumble), and we are already putting down some deposits for bat mitzvah stuff in 2017. We have no other large expenses “planned” for 2016, but I know he wants to have a recovery year before we hit the bat mitzvah.

  88. It is possible to spend very little on a bat mitzvah, or to go crazy like a wedding.
    The reason that our whole year is going to be expensive is that we will have to throw our own party. My child wants a “party”, and this is more expensive than just having a small thing in a restaurant. Also, we live in a community where she will be invited to a lot of parties from school, and camp. This means gifts for all of these kids. If we are invited as a family – the gift is very expensive.

    I want to hold down the costs for her party because I think it is a waste for a kid’s party for a few hours. I was surprised to learn that my husband is not on the same page. He is thinking – one kid, older grandparents, many friends…let her have the party that she wants to have to celebrate.
    I think it is going to just be an expensive year.

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