Your dream vacation

by Rhett

Describe your dream vacation.


157 thoughts on “Your dream vacation

  1. Dream vacation – For me it varies on the “type”. Some times, I just want to do nothing and be responsible for nothing. Other times, I want to “see”, “learn about” or “do” something specific. For example, I have seen some walking/hiking tours in England that look incredible, but that is not what I would pick as a restful getaway. But, a cruise where I can lounge by the pool, catch up on some pleasure reading and take an excursion or two is the dream vacation after a hectic few months with juggling everyone’s schedules.

    However, I think all dream vacations have some similar qualities:
    1. Money isn’t an issue – just meaning that I don’t feel the need to scrimp and stay on a tight budget, so that if something comes along that I want to buy or eat or participate in, I can.
    2. Home/Work/School/Pets is all taken care of so I am not having to worry about it. This may mean having a pet or house sitter or making sure my coworkers are briefed, etc.
    3. My schedule is my choice – whether that is a 15 cities in 15 days or 1 city in 15 days – it is not a situation of being at the mercy of other people on the trip.

  2. I wouldn’t even know where to start. There are so many amazing vacations I want to take. Since I was in HS, I have always vowed I would get to Tibet one day, so that would be on my list. My airline friend is heading to the Orkney Folk Festival right now, with plans to also do some hiking and see some of the amazing Viking sites. I would love to do that. I would love to go to Singapore and just eat, eat, eat. My husband and I have long talked about doing the Santiago de Compastela pilgrimage by bike, starting in France. There are lots of major Romanesque churches along that route.

    I think my ideal vacation would be some combination of interesting art/history/food, along with lots of activity.

  3. Well, I don’t know if it’s properly a vacation since my intent is to have it happen soon after we retire, but I’ve mentioned before wanting to live in 12 places for a month each over the course of a year. I think that’s enough time to say I’ve experienced a place for real, not just as a tourist. Clearly more time is better but for now the “12 months” parameter is in force.

    That’s about as far as I’ve gotten, although I think I wrote a list once during a meeting. Obviously subject to change based on true discussion with DW (she’s much less skilled and adventurous re language than I am, so will want to be places where English is prevalent), the events of the day, family situation, and whimsy, but here’s my list, with something that tries to answer the “why there?” question, but not necessarily what I want to do there except for soaking it all in.

    South Africa – Johannesburg? Cape Town? I’ve been drawn there since reading Michener’s The Covenant.
    Morocco – more inland Marrakesh – Fes; trekking from a base
    Chile – Santiago. Good friends live there, never visited
    New Zealand. Always seems great.
    A south Pacific Island and stay in one of those open-air “rooms”
    Australia – Darwin? The Great Barrier Reef
    Spain – San Sebastian…the beach and the tapas. If you’ve never had tapas in the Basque region of Spain, they take it to a whole ‘nuther level.
    Turkey – Istanbul – the crossroads
    Switzerland – Ticino (the Italian part) Lugano or one of the towns south of there on Lake Lugano
    Japan – the northern Island of Hokkaido
    Northern Scotland – Aberdeen or Inverness…just seems cool

  4. It changes rapidly, but ever since Denver Dad described his Iceland trip, Iceland has been high on my list. (Another poster has been there as well and had good things to say – Meme possibly?)

  5. My husband and I did our honeymoon in Iceland – camping, with bikes. Yes, we really loved it.

  6. My ideal vacation is one where you are active during the day with hiking, exploring, some cultural learning, lots of outdoor time, but then you come back to a great meal and great hotel at the end of the day.

    I think Napa Valley is a pretty ideal vacation spot. Morning hike, afternoon winery, fabulous dinner, crash in lovely setting, rinse, repeat.

  7. OK, vacation related question: I have long wanted to go to Las Vegas with the kids, mainly to go to one of those really over the top resorts with the crazy fun buffets and insane swimming complexes. I want to do it in the summer when it is hot enough to really enjoy swimming. Here is the problem: it is a long flight. My kids would be good for resort activities for maybe 2 days, and then would want something else to do. Is there anything interesting in Las Vegas besides casinos? Yeah, I know, Hoover Dam, but that is not something that would really excite my crowd. And if it is pool weather, it is too hot to hike in that area. How far is Las Vegas from those Anasazi ruins? How far is it from New Mexico? Maybe we could combine Las Vegas with a visit to New Mexico, where we haven’t been since the boys were 3 and 1, respectively.
    Is there anything cultural or historical around Las Vegas?

  8. And if it is pool weather, it is too hot to hike in that area.

    The average high temp in July is 104.7! They have to air condition the pools. You’ll be in the lazy river and every 30 feet there will be a jet of ice water from the pool water chillers.

  9. MM,

    LA is a 4 hour drive through some amazing desert landscapes if you wanted to go to the Getty and Six Flags and do more touristy things for a day or two.

  10. MM- I’d go the other way if I were you. I.e. fly to Albuquerque, or maybe Cortez or Durango, CO and make my way west (ish) to Las Vegas:
    There are Anasazi Ruins in SW Colorado, most prominently in Mesa Verde National Park which is small and easily walkable. Then going Northwest you can explore Arches NP (UT), then drop down to Bryce/Zion NPs and if you want the Northern Rim of the Grand Canyon then to Vegas.

    Or from Mesa Verde, go south to Petrified Forest NP, then along 40 to Grand Canyon NP then to Vegas.

    Either way stop at 4 corners…run by the natives, but everyone can make like “Twister” and be in 4 states at once.

  11. Las Vegas is a horrifying pit. And the heat in the summer will destroy you.

  12. And we did Arches in August with 6,4,2 yos. Start in the morning, drink plenty of water, stop by lunch and then hang at the pool.

  13. The 104 high is the point. And it is desert so I bet it cools down at night. It is so fun to swim all day in that kind of desert heat, much nicer than here where you get all shivery after an hour.

    I massively dislike LA, so that is out. Sorry. And 6 flags we could do in NY. I am looking for something unique and different.

    Maybe we are better off looking for a closer to home but still hot enough, and just do a weekend. But I want over the top. Lots of lazy rivers and slides. And my hotel room right there.

  14. Rhett, I’ve lived in Madrid. If you want to see the Prado, and maybe day trips to Segovia and Toledo, go there. Otherwise start your trip in Barcelona.

  15. Mooshi–I’ve been to Las Vegas in July with kids twice. (Not by choice). The day we went to Hoover Dam is referred to as “The Day of Which We Will Never Speak Again.” Our 1 mile walk up the Strip another day is referred to as “The Death March.” Apart from the pool, just don’t plan on being outside during the day.
    Some people in our group took a side trip to the Grand Canyon, so that’s doable.

  16. Lots of lazy rivers and slides. And my hotel room right there.

    Puerto Rico?

  17. much nicer than here where you get all shivery after an hour.

    You’ll shiver when you get out of the pool. The air is so dry that the water evaporates like it’s rubbing alcohol and you’re actually cold. On the plus side, they have misters everywhere and they are very effective when it’s hot and dry.

  18. Rhett, your trip sounds stupendous. It reminds me of Below Deck Mediterranean, which I watch occasionally? I have no idea how much it costs to charter a yacht and crew, but I always like the end of the show when each the crew gets their $1000+ tip..

    There are a number of Anasazi sites withing a 4-6 hour drive of LV, and many more destinations depending on family preferences. I like LV for the shows and pools, and would like to travel there in the near future.

    I just learned REI offers trips, and this cruise in the Italian Mediterranean along the Amalfi coast and to Sicily has many appealing elements — short hikes, volcanoes, ruins, beautiful coastlines, and Italy! I’ve been to some of the locations but never to Sicily.

  19. I am with Fred — too many places I want to go and see and be for an extended period. I guess my list of “months” would be:

    Food/wine tour of central/N. Italy (lots of cooking classes, visiting producers, etc.)
    New Zealand
    Diving tour of the Pacific (Palau, Truk, etc.)
    Scotland — Highlands, islands, and distilleries (gotta throw DH a bone)
    European Alps
    Rhett’s Mediterranean shoreline trip
    Rocky Mountains and national parks — from northern NM to Banff
    The port/jamon trail in Portugal/Spain
    Central Europe — Romania, Czechoslovakia, etc.

    And I haven’t even gotten to the far northern areas, Asia, or the parts of the world where DH can’t go, either for security clearance or religious reasons.

  20. If you want an interesting desert town, try Tucson. Lots of good food, some interesting cultural stuff, and I’m sure they have fancy resorts. I lived there for a year so I didn’t stay in any hotels.

  21. We are going to Paris and London for the summer. I am looking for a fun activity to do with my 14 year old son (who hates museums). We will cover the major tourist attractions as a family–this is an activity that we can do while DH and DS1 are at the Louvre.

  22. Puerto Rico seems too far for just a 2 day visit.

    From NYC to Las Vegas is 5:45. NYC to Puerto Rico is 3:45.

  23. There are a bunch of things I’d like to do–spend a week at a chalet with my son, like I did with my Swiss family, go to a yoga retreat and nature preserve and stuff in Kerala, India. One of these days, I’d like to work in N Africa or the Levant for a month or two, with vacation time at the end. I’d like to take my son to visit his dad’s relatives in Ghana, whenever he gets over the anger. I’d also like to go on a Mediterranean cruise with him, with a balance of learning and relaxing we could both enjoy.

  24. Oh, yeah–I want to go sailing! In a smallish boat that my son and I could manage together. But first he has to agree to take sailing lessons.

  25. Places I want to go back to–the Outer Banks of NC, visit a friend’s campsite on an island in the N Sea.
    I’ve never been to Pompey, would like to go there and to Sicily.

    I really don’t have any one big dream vacation!

  26. Mooshi, there’s the original springs of Las Vegas. We did a tour there, which was great, and the museum is supposedly really good too. I had to get back to the conference, and the babysitter pulled the kid out after 10 min, so I don’t really know, but you might want to check into it.

  27. “Our 1 mile walk up the Strip another day is referred to as “The Death March.” ”
    I could NOT get over the stripper cards littering the Strip every morning! That layer must’ve been a few inches deep. Cleaned up daily, renewed every night.

  28. Okay, I want Rhett’s trip. I assume the boat is crewed and you are not bareboating? I’m totally in.

    Mooshi – do Atlantis in the Bahamas. They have a GREAT water park, we love it. And you can find all sorts of deals in the summer.

    A retirement trip of 5-6 weeks I would love to actually do: start in Napa, for hiking/wine tasting. About 4 days. Then to Hawaii. Dinner with HM and her husband, then Maui for 4 days. After Maui, New Zealand. At this point I’m tired of dealing with logistics, so we join a fabulous guided tour of New Zealand, including lots of wine tasting. There for a week, maybe 10 days. Then fly to Australia, where we explore Sydney on our own for about 3-4 days so I can recover from having to talk to other people on the New Zealand tour. Possibly rent an apartment for these days, to be able to have some non-restaurant meals. Then we join another tour in Australia for about 12 days. Then fly home.

  29. Houston — Not sure if you and your son are into this or maybe it’s a typical touristy thing but my kids liked the #69 bus ride that ended in the cemetery where Jim Morrison is buried. Of course the cemetery includes other graves that can offer a mini history lesson of sorts. #totebaggyevenonvacation ;)

  30. Going on a trip with my kid is getting to be tricky, because our dream vacays are so different.

    I want
    -to use my body, work hard at something, whether paddling a boat or pulling myself up a cliff face, I want to feel myself working and feel strong!
    -delicious, savory food
    -to learn something, starting before the trip with reading about the place’s past and what there is to do there and planning the days.
    -to talk to people
    And absolutely my own schedule, not breaking the bank, no worries at home are all part of a real vacation.

    He wants to be waited on while he “oozes”.

  31. @Houston: My DS has particular enjoyed the various “Museum of Torture” variants we have found in several places.

  32. Would he be interested in doing that? You can also try it. I’ve done it before and it amazing.

  33. MM – NYC to Las Vegas – 5 hour flight. NYC to Puerto Rico – 4-5 hour flight depending on where you choose to go. Plus lots of eco tourism type stuff.

  34. I know you asked about Paris, but in London they have a variety of Harry Potter based tours. In the Louvre they have a treasure hunt (sort of scavenger hunt) type tour for teens. Also, the catacombs my spark interest.

  35. Houston, there are tons of blogs about living in Paris, living in France, being an expat in Paris, etc. I like this one, but googling any of those phrases brings up many more.
    I believe Scarlett was going to look up local blogs for Parisian families on stuff to do (like Zitty in Berlin or Mommy Poppins in New York).
    I’ve heard that the tour of Paris’ sewers is fascinating. For real.
    Forgive me if you’ve told us before, but what interests him?

  36. Great topic, Rhett. I love your ideas, and Fred’s. Would be thrilled to do any of those.

    I’m like a few others here and sometimes want total flake-out vacations, other times want to learn something, other times want to do some physically adventurous things like hiking, skiing/snowboarding, sailing, camping, mountain biking, etc. I can be equally happy doing any of the three, so I always leave the final decision up to DH.

    With our impending empty nest on the near horizon, we’ve been talking about a month/year in London, and 2-3 months each winter in Santa Monica. We would work remotely from both places, so this isn’t as indulgent as it sounds — and we are not as well off as it makes us seem!! At the end of the London month, we’d see some other places in Europe and elsewhere, and that would be 1-2 weeks of vacation. It’s fun to talk about — we’ll see if all or part of it happens.

  37. I had this place booked for me and DH a few falls ago. We were going to see Yad Vashem. We had to cancel b/c of work things that came up for DH. I desperately want to do this at some point, soon.

  38. I am showing my age, but I really enjoy cruising. Preferably on an upscale line, but it doesn’t matter that much. I find the (barely detectable, usually) motion of the ship relaxing. Food can be upgraded as warranted on most lines.

    But most of all, I like sitting in a chair with my Kindle, seeing nothing but blue, and catching up on everything that I want to read.

    Junior fends for himself very well.

  39. Thanks everyone for the great suggestions!

    Rhett: We’ve already done iFly (and it’s awesome–highly recommend for everyone!)

    Lark: I’ve bookmarked the same food tour as a possibility!

    LFB: Museum of Torture sounds awesome!

    SM: We are doing the Catacombs as a family.

  40. I should note it’s inside the Eiffel Tower and not a tourist trap. I think it has 3 Michelin stars.

  41. Rhett, there are lots of cruise lines that sail your dream route, and then have separate cruises further East to Istanbul. I’d like to find one that did both in one trip.
    I guess that is Freddy Mercury, lol! I was saw the uniform and thought of your extensive knowledge of Adliger, completely ignoring who was wearing it!

  42. I went to Las Vegas in August once and really didn’t think the heat was that bad but then again we were just walking around the strip, nothing super strenuous. It honestly felt worse coming back to Rhode Island afterwards with the humidity there.

    Would love to go back to Napa again – we did it ten years ago before kids. I really like vacations where you are outdoors for a lot of the day, fabulous dinner and wine, and then a good nights sleep. Love the beach but neither DH or I like to sit around all day – we do best with one or two planned things per day.

  43. But most of all, I like sitting in a chair with my Kindle, seeing nothing but blue, and catching up on everything that I want to read.

    That sounds just like my kid!

    Houston, if you’re doing catacombs, you probably don’t need the sewers as well. But that site has lots of other oddball stuff, like a museum of mineralogy. If one of them happens to meet up with his interests, it’d be great (but a miss could be really awkward)

  44. @Lark – your retirement trip sounds perfect to me!

    I like trips with very little self-driving & I start to crave home cooked food after 3 days max. I like doing something active during the day – walking/exploring or something more vigorous like hiking/biking, but I want a good meal and a very comfortable bed & bathroom in the evening. I enjoy the beach very much – but I want to be in a place where I can go for long beach walks/runs & maybe play some tennis or take a yoga class mixed in with the relaxing/reading.

    Take away my Totebag cred, but I have very little interest in going to any less-developed area of the world.

  45. Rhett, there are lots of cruise lines that sail your dream route,

    That would be fun too. But, I like the idea at going at a nice leisurely pace. If the weather was bad just stay in port another day and rent a car and explore.

  46. Houston – your Paris trip sounds fantastic! Can’t wait to hear all about it when you’re back.

  47. Right now, I want away from my employer. There’s a hostile takeover trying to gain traction and I just got caught in the cross hairs. I’m done. Good thing I have a party tomorrow night with a hopefully open bar. If not, that bartender will make a lot of money.

    I need to be poolside somewhere.

  48. “Take away my Totebag cred, but I have very little interest in going to any less-developed area of the world.”


  49. S&M – My husband and I are going to the Outer Banks in a couple of weeks – could you recommend any restaurants and hotels? We are also going through Virginia and over the tunnel bridges onto the Delmarva peninsula and up through to home – any suggestions gratefully accepted.

  50. “@SM — holy crap, I would *totally* do that!”

    Me too! LfB! Can I come?! (says the woman who went on a weekend long ghost hunt in NH…)

  51. Has anyone traveled to Croatia? Between the beautiful scenery (me) and the tie to Game of Thrones (DH), it’s on our radar screen. It seems a good way to visit would be to take a boat and make a few stops along the way so I would be interested in a small cruise tour.

    I’ve seen video of a zipline that travels along the Las Vegas strip and that looks like fun!

  52. Our family goes for fairly active vacations, but that’s partly a function of trying to fit in everyone’s interests and must-dos in a limited period of time. I want to go to all the places; money and time are the limiting factors.

    Austin, re your specification of home/work/school/pets taken care of — Coincidentally enough, I just last night dreamed that we were all off on a vacation and a week in I realized I hadn’t made any arrangements to feed the pets! At which point I panicked and woke up.

  53. My airline friend did one of those fancy safaris last year. Her photos looked similar. I have to admit though, I have little interest. I can go to the zoo.

  54. Our family goes for fairly active vacations,

    The other day I was surprised when Finn mentioned that they have a shortage of doctors in HI. I had assumed people would be lining up to work there. Finn mentioned the challenges including island fever. But now that you mention vacations (and I just googled Oahu’s dimensions of 44mi x 30mi I can see how island fever is a thing. If you want to go anywhere it’s a big and costly production.

  55. This would also be fun. If we’re talking dream vacations:

    As for the safari. 90% of it would be able to answer the question, “Where are you going on vacation?” With, “We’re going on safari.”

  56. My parents went on a safari in Kenya back ~15 years ago when SkyAuction and its ilk were a new thing and still had fabulous deals from time to time (especially in the aftermath of 9/11). They certainly enjoyed it.

    I really don’t see the comparison to going to a zoo. But then again, for those who don’t like less-developed countries, maybe all the parts of the experience that aren’t the animals (meeting people, cities, landscape, villages) are exactly what you don’t enjoy?

  57. I would love to go on that safari vacation. At this point any vacation where I have the least to think about logistics and have all the arrangements made, comfortable travel and accommodations, sign me up. I don’t mind spending extra for things to be taken care of.
    I also don’t mind safari, boats, cruises, hiking, walking as long as I am not in charge – just want to show up and enjoy myself.

  58. Houston — In London, we’re planning to do a half-day sightseeing bike ride with Fat Tire Bike Tours. They have similar tours in Paris. Might be a fun way for your son and you to see Paris in a different sort of way.

  59. If I was going to go to Africa, I would have more interest in culture – there are some very famous ancient cities in Africa – and food. But my friend who did the luxury safari said that was exactly the part that was missing. She said they had very little interaction with locals and saw nothing of the cities. She said they went to one local market, which she thought was mainly set up for the tourists. Based on that, it sounds like the luxury safaris are more for animal viewing than culture – and I can see animals at the zoo. I guess I feel the same way about giraffes that others feel about my pet love, Romanesque art.

  60. My now-college-aged niece was in preschool when my parents went on that safari trip — she had brought in for show-and-tell what was supposed to be video of her in Hawaii over the winter break, but turned out to be her grandparents’ video from the safari. She was annoyed, but her classmates were enthralled.

  61. One of my dream vacations is to go to the Grand Canyon, go down to the bottom, and stay at the Bright Angel lodge. I know it’s not luxurious or anything, but the thought of sleeping on the bottom of the Canyon just seems amazing to me. I don’t think my tired old knees could do the hike, so I would probably need to ride the mules down and then back up again.

    On the same trip, I would also go to Monument Valley, which I’ve always wanted to see. I would want to stay here:

    What a location!

  62. HM – After my mom died and we took her cat, we are now that crazy cat family. 5 indoor cats – OK, we had 3 then one had a major health issue and we thought we were losing her. The youngest is her best buddy and was always trying to play (roughly). She cannot tolerate it any more, so we got a young one who could handle that play. Four was working out well – 2 elders and 2 teens! But, the 5th one stirs the pot – all.the.time. But, I don’t think my kids could stand to re-home grandma’s cat. Then, there is the neighborhood stray who has adopted us. So, pet arrangements are a big deal if they aren’t taken care of. I can totally relate to that dream!

  63. We visited Cape Town and safaried in Kruger before kids. It was wonderful. Rhett: It’s perfect for you! Sipping G&Ts on the plain at sunset while you watch zebras amble by! DH wants to take everyone there as a family trip, but DS2 has no interest.

    My perfect trip is one that’s guided, so all I have to do is show up. That’s why I like cruises. For some reason, I’d like to cruise the Panama Canal. And maybe Cuba.

  64. NOB: Totally on our list! That’s supposed to be the #1 bike tour place for Paris!

  65. Oh ! We got the packet for the infamous Washington DC trip for DS for next year. It counts as days of school and I guess is linked to their Social Studies curriculum.

  66. MM, I’m sure it depends on the trip. When my parents went, they spent a few days in Nairobi (or maybe Mombasa?) on either end, and also the safari group spent half a day visiting a Masai village. It seems like they may have had another side trip too, maybe to Lake Victoria?

    Are you assuming that going on a safari means you cannot spend time elsewhere? I mean, the “safari” part is going to be all about the animals, by definition, but I would assume you’d plan a trip to include the activities and places you were most interested in.

  67. I love, love, love seeing animals. For me, Safari = #1, Galapagos = #2 favorite vacations.

  68. Yeah I’m not that into animals. I wouldn’t mind doing one of those fancy ranch vacations where you ride horses around but getting close to wild animals – no thanks.

  69. Man, I totally have to travel with Rhett. As long as he is paying. :-)

    My dad has gone on a couple of safaris and raved about them — wants to take the whole family on one, maybe next year. I think very much like the pictures, but not quite as luxe — they woke up to hot breakfast every day, went off on their day’s hike, the company broke everything down after they left and set it up at the new location, they had lunch on the trail, and then arrived at their new campsite in time for rest, G&Ts, and a hot dinner. He has pretty amazing pictures of animals at pretty damn close range.

    Me, if I’m not top of the local food chain, I want solid walls and a real roof.

  70. Me, if I’m not top of the local food chain, I want solid walls and a real roof.

    With your professed love of wall diving?! Don’t you know the big sharks hang out at the bottom of the dropoff?

  71. “Don’t you know the big sharks hang out at the bottom of the dropoff?”

    But I am not on their menu. Nor am I asleep at the time. :-)

  72. I find when going on vacations, it’s best not to add up the expenses. This mind game is the only way I can go on nice vacations, as I tend to be frugal. LFB: I suggest you use this trick when you plan your safari. : )

  73. Can’t recall who wanted to see Austraila. We spend a month there and were city/location hopping about every 3 days and saw about 1/4 of the country. IT is big! Would like to go back and see northern part and far western part. Would like to see New Zealand as well.

  74. New Zealand is beautiful, but make sure you leave enough time for both islands. We missed the south island because we planned to spend most of our trip in Australia. I hope that we will be able to go back when DD is much older because I want to go back to Australia with her. Even though I’ve been there several times, I still haven’t been to Ayers Rock or Phillips Island. There are a lot more places that I want to explore outside of the major cities, islands and vineyards.

    I was in Las Vegas for four nights in July 2016. It is hot, but it is different than NY heat (or PR). I can not stand the humidity and that is why I try to avoid places like DC or the entire south from May -September. I think it depends on whether you are ok with the dry heat…I did find there are breezes and shade to keep you at the pool. We did go for walks on the strip to visit restaurants and shows. I became an expert at how to move through the A/C hotels. It is good/bad. You get to see A LOT of different hotels, but everyone else is doing the same thing to beat the heat. Vegas has become more kid friendly. There are still people handing out cards for shows that vegas is famous for, but there are just as many attractions and restaurants that were developed for families.

    It is definitely really hot, but it is different than what you experienced on a day like today or yesterday in NY with the heat and humidity. I once went to San Juan in September for a conference and I never want to experience that again because it was SO humid.

    I agree with Lark about the Atlantis. The flight is shorter than Vegas or PR. Lots of stuff for all ages, and the rates are much better in the summer. It will be sticky, but there are so many pools that it might be bearable. The beach is beautiful there too.

    I still want to visit Italy. When we started to plan a trip to visit this summer, I was overwhelmed because there were just so many places that I want to visit that it was hard to make a choice. My dram would be to have at least 2 -3 weeks there to see cities, museums, churches, Tuscany, Lake Como and the coast. I don’t want to be rushed, but I want to visit when it isn’t a busy time such as September. We are NOT going this summer and we actually have no plans for the time that DD is in camp. We will figure out something, but it might just be a visit to the Lodge at Woodloch.

  75. Any vacation I can take a) with my husband OR b) to someplace exotic while still young-old is a good vacation. After all, I am (within my financial constraints) livin’ the dream already.

    Hot and muggy or anything that involves snorkeling is definitely not on my list, and I have to be careful with altitude – allergic to the meds (so nothing over 10000 ft)

    Destinations with DH (cruise or train) –

    North Sea/midnight sun. (this June)
    Eastern mediterranean – Spain, Algeria, Malta, etc
    Santiago to Buenos Aires around Cape Horn
    Black Sea /Turkish Coast
    Russia river cruise IF new govt, but I think Putin will outlive DH so not likely
    Alpine railways
    Rajasthan/Delhi/Agra on the luxury train
    Hawaii multi island

    For me solo or with a daughter

    Namibia (Sept)
    Argentine Patagonia (Mar)
    The rest of Iceland
    Western National Parks including Canada (some are return visits)
    Sri Lanka

    And finally, the older-old dream, living in a small bungalow (the shacks start at $1.5 M, so fantasy) near the beach in Santa cruz with my own kayak and a couple of indoor-outdoor cats.

  76. Lauren, a guy I know–a university librarian married to a prof–kept posting updates from Lake Cuomo and Lugano. I couldn’t figure it out. Eventually I realized his son was going to Franklin University, one of many colleges there. Might be worth a look (or a study abroad program) with your daughter!

  77. Las Vegas in the summer is not fit for human habitation. My face cracked from the dry heat. Literally. I stepped off the plane in Boston and could feel it healing. Also literally. YMMV.

    I always prepay my vacations (mostly organized trips) very early and buy insurance. It is a lot more fun to plan when the big bills are paid and long forgotten. If finances get tight, so you don’t plan another until they loosen up.

    I am trying to take more short trips with DH while he is able. For example, I just arranged a long weekend in Manhattan – we are invited to a private event at a watch exhibition, and the night before I just bought us seats behind home plate for a Mets game (I know, why bother with good seats for that train wreck, but he loves them).

  78. Hijack – I need a reality check – Roughly half my parents’ assets were under management of their “financial professional” (PFP for short). However, while they used this PFP for more than a decade, they never shared information about the other half of their assets with PFP.

    There has been a lot of hoop jumping with PFP to get the assets retitled based on my parent’s trust and wills. And, this hoop jumping caused more tax ids and income tax returns to be filed. One portion is still in process, but according PFP there is just one last hoop. This has been going on for almost a year. In the meantime, I consulted my “financial planner” (MFP for short) to evaluate the whole picture of my old and these new assets and give me recommendations. I will be taking some of those recommendations and moving some, but not all the assets from PFP to MFP.

    Because I couldn’t find any information on my parent’s account fees, I asked PFP and was told that they had a transaction based agreement. When I asked for more information, I got a vague answer. When I pushed for more detail, PFP asked me if I was planning to move money and I said that I was working with MFP to evaluate all my assets. PFP pointed out that PFP’s firm could provide the same service. But, then in the same breath, PFP said, well you know its been a lot of work to get this all straightened out only to see the money likely walk out the door.

    My estimation of the cause of all the current work is 80% PFP’s firm, 15% not getting my dad’s estate settled before my mom passed, and 5% my dad’s human error. I haven’t asked PFP to do anything other than just get the accounts titled and moved the way my parent’s trust and wills directed.

    Am I wrong to feel that was unprofessional comment?

  79. Atlanta – I am with you! Not big on wild animals. I like looking at dolphins from the shore while I walk/run along the beach. That’s fine. I would be okay with the fancy horse ranch too, but DH would not. He’s never been near a live horse & says he would like to keep it that way.

    I have no interest in saying I’m going on safari. I’m not embarrassed to tell people that I’m vacationing in Naples instead. ;)

  80. “My face cracked from the dry heat. Literally. I stepped off the plane in Boston and could feel it healing. Also literally. YMMV.”

    Haha! Definitely true that YMMV. When I’ve stepped off the plane in the desert I’ve sometimes felt as if all toxins are sucked out of my body while in humid locations I feel like I’m in a steamy cloud of energy-sapping humidity.

    As others have mentioned, I’ve started to like the planning part of traveling less and enjoy it more when everything is arranged for me. At the same time I’m a control freak so I’m conflicted.

  81. Ayers Rock was fun. As was Coober Pedy, where they mine opal and filmed a lot of Mad Max from Thunderdome. Make sure you take money to buy yourself something!

  82. Here are photos of accommodations on the sort of trips I take.



  83. AustinMom, it sounds unprofessional to me, too.

    “well you know its been a lot of work to get this all straightened out ”

    It seems it was their job to keep all the accounts organized. Maybe I’m missing something.

  84. As others have mentioned, I’ve started to like the planning part of traveling less and enjoy it more when everything is arranged for me. At the same time I’m a control freak so I’m conflicted.

    I like to mix it up some. Have parts of the trip where I’m putting it all together a la carte, and parts where I can just sit back and follow the program. The latter can be anything from a day tour to a multi-day thing, like the program we did in Yellowstone. For this summer’s trip, we’re doing a one-day package of ziplining, lunch, whitewater rafting, and a winery tour, which packs a lot in without me having to worry about whether we’ll finish up one thing in time to make our appointment for the next and so on.

  85. My in-laws went to Namibia a few years ago, btw, and really enjoyed it. My MIL shot photos and my FIL shot animals.

  86. As for being able to say something cool, I purchased a long embroidered silk Kashmiri jacket in a bazaar on my travels. It is really special, although it is now a little too big on me (a good thing). When people ask me where I got it, I get to say

    K-k-k-k-k-k-k- Kathmandu

  87. I love my hair in Vegas. Even though I’m really hot, there is no frizz. Everyday is a great hair day. Skin is another story.


    This was a great and reasonably priced trip with horseback riding we took 7 or 8 years ago. Structured enough to take with friends – set meal times with enough variety to keep everyone happy. (When we travel with friends, it is nice to not negotiate when or where we are eating.). A few days spent at great cultural sites that didn’t feel so touristed. As promised, Mexican adventure run wth Swiss precision.

  89. I spent many summers of my childhood in the desert part of Washington State, where it was over 100 most days in July. I loved it. Swimming was the best there, but I also did not mind doing things like horseback riding or simply going to the playground in the heat. OTOH, I hate the heat in the South.

    And as for the safaris, yes, I know you can tack cultural stuff onto the trip at the beginning or end. But for me, why bother with the safari part at all?

  90. Lauren – I talk about missing the desert all the time. Sometimes I wonder if I am mostly missing my good hair.

    Coming home from a conference in Vegas right now. Feels like it’s gotten less family friendly. Maybe because my kids are old enough to ask why a restaurant would be called “eggslut” Maybe I’ve gotten more conservative.

  91. Old Mom,

    The Outer Banks is kind of a food desert. If you’re going to be in or near Duck/Southern Shores, you might like Eastside, the Blue Point or Paper Canoe.

    People rave about Owens, and it’s been there forever, but the food is really meh IMO.

  92. Of course, my hair is lank and straight all winter, and the first humid day it waves right up, which I love. And I sleep with a humidifier from Oct to May. My mileage really varies from many of you. And although I am not quite as heat sensitive as L, I didn’t go out kayaking when the temps hit 80 and sunny the other day and they finally opened the rental place – I am waiting for overcast and 65 tomorrow. The high in Tromsø on July 1 is expected to be 56 deg F – my kind of summer vacation.

  93. Austin: You need to move those assets ASAP. Have a joint conference call with PFP and his/her supervisor, communicate your thoughts, and work out a timeline.

  94. PS: What a dick! I have the same thoughts about FIL’s broker, who charges him high fees and gives him poor service. FIL is a soft touch and will not move his money, though he complains about his broker.

  95. “My ideal vacation is one where you are active during the day with hiking, exploring, some cultural learning, lots of outdoor time, but then you come back to a great meal and great hotel at the end of the day.”

    Add shopping, and I think that describes DW’s ideal. Since my ideal vacation includes DW, this also describes my ideal.

  96. “parts of the world where DH can’t go, either for security clearance or religious reasons.”

    Does the clearance restriction go away when he retires or changes job?

  97. Mooshi, I’d suggest something similar to what Fred suggested, but I’d suggest flying in and out of Vegas. Spend a couple-few days enjoying the pools, lazy rivers, etc., at Vegas, then go on the road to places like Zion NP, Bryce Canyon NP, Grand Canyon NP, then end the trip with a another couple-few days in Vegas.

  98. “I love my hair in Vegas. Even though I’m really hot, there is no frizz. Everyday is a great hair day. Skin is another story.”

    Yeah that was the plus for me about Vegas. But Denver has the same hair effect for me – and it’s actually a place I like to go.

    I really hate Vegas. Vegas and Orlando are the two places that I have been multiple times, but I dislike greatly & would rather never go again. Unfortunately, both are popular for conferences. (As I’ve said before, we’ve never done the family trip to WDW. We plan to go to SoCal at some point in the next few years – we will do Disneyland then along with Dodger stadium & some other bucket list items.)

  99. I would like to see the national parks near Vegas. But no more Vegas, proper ever again would be fine with me.

  100. A request for vacation help: the weekend before the eclipse this year, I want to go rafting in a place where we can see the full eclipse on Mon. I’d love to find a good overnight trip Sat-Sun, silimar to what HM mentioned. Any suggestions?

  101. Old school mom, there is a big grocery store right when you cross the Mainbridge to the Outer Banks. I can’t remember what it’s called. There is also a smaller “gourmet” grocery store up north by Duck.

  102. Be braced for disappointment, S&M; my friends who want to see the eclipse booked their rooms a year ago and I hear it’s very hard to find accommodations.

  103. I think Vegas can be a good trip if going with a big group of people. There are the pools, and fun shows, good shopping, interesting hotels, nice restaurants, nice spas, golfing, and obviously gambling. Something for everyone. My biggest complaint is the smoke. I spend virtually zero time in the casinos when I go there, but I still end up with blood shot eyes and a cough just from being forced to walk through the casino when leaving my hotel room. I stayed at a hotel without a casino last time and enjoyed the experience much more. Plus great hair! And my blow out lasted a long time because it didn’t get smoky after 20 mins.

  104. I detest Orlando, but I went a couple of years ago for a conference and I brought my middle kid. The conference was at one of those resorty places, and we really enjoyed it for the 3 days we were there. We did a lot of evening swimming which was special because it is usually too chilly to do that in our area. And then we went to Legoland with S&M. It was truly special. But we avoided most of the stuff people usually do in Orlando.
    That is why I was thinking that a couuple of days in Vegas at some similar kind of place would be fun, but we couldn’t do it for more than a couple of days because then it would get boring.

  105. Austin – +++ on the move the assets out of PFP’s firm asap. Even if temporarily to the brokerage arm of where you do your banking, especially if the assets can be moved in-kind. Then once moved, you can take time to think about what’s appropriate.

    Also, wherever you move the assets, that firm will give you forms to complete and then they will do all the backoffice stuff and contact PFP to complete the transaction. As long as you are authorized to trade/withdraw assets from the existing PFP account they cannot stop a properly presented request to transfer. This will make it less personal for you. (Do you really want to talk with them at this point other than to determine what assets are in the account? Which hopefully you have from the most recent statements.)

    Good Luck.

  106. Rocky, that’s one of my favorite websites, because I am a nerd. I hope you’re wrong about campsites, but guess I’m about to find out–after we get home from this weekend at Disney.

  107. On Vegas, we did it with our boys when they were younger and it’s one of our favorite memories. Yes, the pools are cool. And there is enough stuff at most of the big hotels to make the walk through interesting. The Bellagio gardens and fountains, the white tigers, one has aquariums, etc. We did one or two Cirque shows (if memory serves, one with kids, one without). We also did Hoover Dam and loved it. Our big highlight was driving to the north rim of the Grand Canyon through Joshua Tree National Park. We took a helicopter down into the canyon, and then did a pontoon boat cruise down the Colorado River. (Christmas card pic for that year out of the way early!!) All of that was in early July and it was super hot. But we still enjoyed it, even my endurance-challenged DH. He is why we did the helicopter ride – he couldn’t begin to hike any meaningful amount. This was a way for us to do the Canyon, and it remains one of our all-time highlights.

  108. For those whose dream vacations includes kids and at least two adults, the first idea is a home run. #3 is so basic to me I can’t understand counting it as a “tip”, but I see people who don’t do it snapping at their kids all the time. Focusing on the positive, they label these as “tips” and not “travel hacks” ;)

  109. SM, try the Nantahala Ourdoor Center in Bryson City, NC for rafting and eclipse viewing. Quick look suggests vacancies for camping and it is in the path of totality.

    My home is in the path of totality and I couldn’t be more excited! The school district is extending the day (normal dismissal time for elementary school is exactly when the eclipse is at its peak) and a local business has donated 11,000 pairs of the eclipse glasses so all the kids can view the eclipse safely at school. Should be a fun day.

  110. OK, latest vacation idea: fly to France, spend a couple of days in Paris (Musee de Cluny, Notre Dame/Sainte Chapelle, St Denis, Pompidou Center), then head to Brittany in a car rental, stopping at Chartres on the way. In Brittany, book a cottage at one of those holiday parks with all the pools (we did this in Belgium and the Netherlands and loved it). Visit Quimper, Carnac, and any sites with megalithic or Celtic stuff. Maybe Mont Saint Michel. Go to this big Celtic festival
    Eat lots of seafood. Then another day in Paris and head home.

    I checked today and saw the fares to Paris are much lower than last year for the same dates.

  111. HFN, those look perfect. Thank you so much! I’ll have to look more carefully tomorrow, and what with RSM’s kick in the pants, get something booked. Email me if you’d like to get together while we’re in your area.

    I just stopped by to drop off my “review” on the Disney resort we just spent a night in. We don’t normally stay in the deluxe resorts, but I saw a price in the mid-$200s and snapped it up because it’s at that level. Even though it was a big discount, I don’t think it was worth it. We’ve hung out (but not stayed overnight) in the Polynesian, Floridian, and (less frequently) Animal Kingdom Lodge. I figured that the Wilderness Lodge would be roughly the same, but it was disappointing. Part of that was the incongruity of the totally fake, not-even-trying-to-look-real plastic imitations of log furniture housing a flat-screen tv in the wardrobe. Part of it was the temporary closing of the pool and quick-service restaurant (the reason for the discount). Part of it is the pool and restaurants that are available. The Copper Canyon pool was closed, so we were only in the one by the main lodge. (Milo says the two are roughly the same). The pool we were in was about the same level as the Coronado or Caribbean Beach resorts. There were three restaurants we could choose from this weekend–the higher-priced fine dining option, which we didn’t try, the table service “family” option that I’d usually expect to eat at, which was so loud we heard it in our room (with closed door), and an outdoor place a short walk away from the pool, where we had supper Sat. The portobello salad I had there was good and Isaac liked his chicken strips. Fine. We ordered room service for another meal, because we really didn’t feel like dealing with bus or car to get to a different place to eat (or repeating the “pool vicinity” spot in the same day, especially because those were the only things that looked good to us); I got an interesting, really tasty salad, and he got a pizza with a thick layer of cheese and a bit of grease on top. Looked gross to me, but he liked it. The lodge did have an innovative way to get people to use the stairs and not elevators; there were big wooden staircases where you’d walk ~10 feet to get to the next level, so it wasn’t tiring. The other way to get to our fifth floor room was a long, winding walk from the elevator. The resort was built on the same plan as the other deluxe resorts, which must be why it’s included in that category; there are 7-8 floors of rooms opening onto an atrium, and there is a balcony (totally useless in Florida summer) at the other end of the room. The moderate resorts, otoh, have numerous buildings, generally 3-4 stories, with all rooms opening directly to the outside.

    A better choice would’ve been returning to Port Orleans Riverside, which a different regular suggested years ago. (Hat tip to that regular, even though I’m not 100% positive I remember correctly who it was). Riverside’s pool was imaginative and fun and I don’t recall looking for more variety in the food or friendlier restaurants.

    We spent our time today hanging out at the Kidani Village pool, which has lots of corners somewhat hidden by plants and different levels. There are two spray/splash pools, with water squirting from many directions (and not the usual big bucket that will tip at an undetermined time). It has a zero depth entry, several “arms” that are 3′ deep, small, medium, and large slides, a functioning bar with a limited menu–it’s wonderful. Just inside from it is the Sana restaurant, where we have enjoyed eating before, and from which you can see the animals imported from Africa.

  112. Livin’ the dream without leaving home. If all the money for travel and cruises evaporates tomorrow, I can stay home and pay $95 a summer to use a kayak everyday on public waterways maintained by the Metropolitan District Commission. Today was my first day out on the Charles River (Lakes District – Waltham/Newton). I let the kayak drift while Mama Swan came right up to investigate and make sure I was no threat, since she had just finished shooing away some Canada geese.

  113. Feedback on College Visits for you Northeast US folks. My DD#1 removed a school from her list and I have looked at flights/trains/cars/ etc. and this seems to make the most sense, but not knowing how much to rely on google for timing. Does this seem doable to you all?
    Sat – fly to Albany, get rental car (flight gets in late afternoon)
    Sun – check out city and surrounding area (part of our family is originally from a town about an hour away and we’d like to go see it)
    Mon – Event at RPI (called and it should run 9 am – 2 pm). Then drive to Penn State (says just over 5 hours, but we’d stop for dinner along the way).
    Tues – Visit Penn State for the morning tour, which should be over by 12 as next pm. Have lunch (hopefully on campus) and drive to Newton, CT (about 4.5 hours) where we have extended family and an invite to spend a couple of nights.
    Wed – Drive to WPI in the morning (about 2 hours), take a look around the town near campus and take the 1 pm tour. Drive back to Newton that evening or on to New Haven (also extended family).
    Thurs – Drive to New Haven (if stay in Newton – about an hour) – turn in car and take train to NYC (train leaves about 11 am). I don’t really want to drive in the city and DD#1 wants to take a train somewhere in the trip.
    Thurs afternoon – Sat late afternoon – see NYC highlights.
    Sat – fly home from NYC.

  114. Meme – I loved canoeing on the Charles. I loved the quiet stretches of the river. I didn’t like the waves caused by the boaters and sort of felt unsafe in a kayak, hence the canoe. If we had stuck to the quieter parts I wouldn’t have minded the kayak. Our friend at the time though insisted on the being out on the wider river. Once we were out for eight hours after rowing to the Hatch Shell. Going back to the kayak rental place took so long that they were closing and were about to send a search party for us (the spontaneous stupidity of twenty year olds).

  115. Meme, so cute!

    Austin, that Weds plan seems like a LONG day, but I don’t like a lot of driving, so YMMV. :)

  116. Austin – yeah that’s doable, even though it’s got you backtracking on the run from Troy to Penn St. to Newtown. More efficient would be
    – flying to State College on Thurs (or Pittsburgh, then driving to State College). See Penn St Fri.
    – driving to Albany area Fri Night / Sat, visit ancestral home & do the RPI event Monday
    – WPI Tues
    – then relatives in CT
    – then NYC.

    Obviously subject to other constraints.

  117. Austin,
    PSU is a huge campus, and you may not be giving yourself enough time for a visit, especially if your DD has a serious interest in the school. And it’s a long drive from your other destinations. I would think about spending the rest of the day there and possibly an overnight.

  118. Thanks! Fred, we are constrained by (1) can’t leave sooner because of an internship that ends the Friday before and (2) RPI has a specific event on Monday she wants to attend. Scarlett – thanks for the heads up on size. Yes, an overnight there might be a good idea. Right now this is not as high up as the other two as she is targeting small (25,000 and under schools).

  119. “Am I wrong to feel that was unprofessional comment?”

    Not even close. Sounds like he still hasn’t answered your question about fees, just chose instead to divert to an attack on you. If I were under control, I would probably say something like “I am trying to evaluate where to put all the money by comparing the fees in both locations, so please answer my question directly”; if I were royally PO’d (more likely), I’d say something like “thank you, your refusal to answer a direct question confirms that I have made the right decision.” What a doink.

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