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Travel A Lot. (And Do It On The Cheap)

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As Brian and I approach our 10 year anniversary this fall we keep thinking about where we should go/what we should do to celebrate. But sadly the idea of leaving the country without our kids, since they are so young is giving us both anxiety. Are we being babies? I know they’ll be FINE with his parents but I don’t know, we get so sad every time we think about it, so I think we aren’t going to pull the trigger. With that said, we might go somewhere in the states we’ve never been without the kids – New Orleans maybe? Or even recreate our honeymoon in Montreal potentially.

All of this got me thinking about the importance of traveling while you are young, before you have money, kids, or real responsibility. We’ve traveled since we have had kids but it’s different. It’s certainly not carefree, it’s not relaxing, it’s “fun” and “adventuresome”, and definitely inspiring, but “vacation” it is not.

I long for the days when Brian and I would literally land and say “What should we do, where should stay tonight?” Ugh. We were so cool. For example – this was us in Laos, staying in $7 huts, eating fish from the river. Just being young and cool and carefree.

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But, before that, straight out of college Nicole (one of my best friends) and I saved all summer and went to Europe for two months. We did the usual trip around all the major western European countries (+ Poland), before hostels were $80 a night and when you could stay in a dorm with 12 other strangers (do they still have those?).

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We were two 22 year old girls who had never left the country, before cell phones and it was right after 9/11, but we knew we wanted to get out and travel. I’m sure that my parents were TERRIFIED, but we survived. Actually, we did get attacked and stabbed in Spain but we lived (don’t worry it wasn’t as horrific as it sounds …). Can you imagine getting that phone call either as my parents or Brian?

HA. We kept on trecking and had an amazing time:

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2001 really was the year of oversized boot-cut slacks and sneakers … OH, WAIT SO IS 2016. We had $3k each for the two months and we STRETCHED it. I think that I had to get money wired (Western Union, of course) to us after a while because I didn’t have enough. It was so long ago that we actually brought all that money in cash or cashiers checks as the ATM’s weren’t all connected to the US yet and there was no other way for us to get money. Crazy! Any way, the point is that saving, leaving, and traveling when you are young, broke and have no idea what your future is going to be is so important. I personally think that paying for it yourself (or at least a portion of it) is important as well. I think that we’ll have a deal with our kids when they are ready and wanting to travel, that we’ll match whatever they make and save for traveling. I don’t really want them sleeping in some of the disgusting hostels (dirty sheets, trash everywhere) that we had to in order to not run out of money. But hell, we lived and Nicole and I are both successful people in spite of the trash, in part because of the travel.

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Then Brian and I moved to New York and we took some time off traveling for a while because New York feels like traveling every day. We went to The Dominican Republic once, but mostly just went to Coney Island and the Bronx – we travelled a lot within New York.

But when we moved to LA we both got pretty severely depressed – the writers strike happened, neither of us had work or friends. We had been sooo happy in New York and the abrupt shift was jarring. So after 3 months of crying every day, we decided on a Thursday that we wanted to go to Southeast Asia, and left on the following Monday, for 2 months where it was actually cheaper to live everyday there than it was to live in LA. Brian’s uncle was a pilot so he got us buddy-passes (which is basically 75% off the price of airline tickets). 
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Needless to say it cured our depression and opened our eyes to the fact that our lives were so easy compared to others. I’m sure that things have changed rapidly but Vietnam and Laos are insanely fascinating, interesting and beautiful countries (as is Thailand).

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We have such good memories, ones that make us feel both young and old now. I’m DYING for us to travel again, to go on an adventure just the two of us, to a country that maybe is harder to bring the kids, or maybe a country where’d we have so much more fun without them. We were going to go to Cuba for our 10 year anniversary but now that it’s approaching both of us feel nervous about leaving them. 

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Besides, the sad truth is that if we were to go now, with or without the kids, we wouldn’t stay in those huts. We wouldn’t leave it up to luck and availability where we stayed. We would plan, stay in nicer hotels and have less of a cultural experience. We would still eat street food, but not as much. Doing it on the cheap is so rewarding. We spent NOTHING in 2 months, like $2500. Crazy. 

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Man. I wish I had had my good iphone back then. We had a 2007 digital camera that barely took good photos – but seeing these makes me so nostalgic.
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The point of all of this is that I wish I had travelled more. And I REALLY, REALLY regret not traveling abroad during college. I didn’t because I didn’t think I could afford it, but it’s something I really want our kids to do.
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I think that people are intimidated by traveling thinking that it’s so expensive, but there are still so many countries that are so inexpensive to us and once you land you can live for so little, and experience so much.

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So now that I’ve relived my past, and showed you my ethnic bell-bottoms (listen after you travel for a while you start wearing all this weird hippie stuff as if it’s your new wardrobe), where should we go for our anniversary?? And where would you guys want to travel or recommend pre-responsibility people to go? Maybe it doesn’t matter, JUST GO. If you have a sliver of wish in your head make it happen. We didn’t travel as much as I would have liked, but the trips we took shaped us as a couple and individually.

Is New Orleans too boring for our ten year???? Where else in the US feels culturally different that also has a fun nightlife in addition to beauty and plenty to see and do?? Any suggestions we need to know about?

Fin Mark
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Britt

Love this! Did Brian go to Fordham?

I totally get everything you’re saying and you are so right. People should definitely travel before they have kids! We are blessed with a nearby grandma who has watched the kids while we traveled multiple times – most recently to road trip in Southern Utah (be still my heart!) and to Japan for our 10-year anniversary. So I definitely wouldn’t rule out overseas travel if you have someone super reliable to watch the little ones. But I get feeling nervous about both of you being out of country and away from the kids. What about going to Quebec? It’s far enough away to feel like a different world, but close enough to get back pretty quickly. Alaska would be awesome. What about a cruise on Princess with the kids? I’m actually writing an article about cruises for Redbook right now and the Princess cruise to Alaska is great! Kids program is fun. As a family you can bond while watching a movie under the stars while snuggling on loungers and eating milk and cookies or splash around together in the pool. At night, go check out some shows just the two of you. Puerto Rico is another cultural experience that… Read more »

Julie P

These are all great recommendations but Elliot isn’t old enough to take advantage of any of them. ? That means Emily and Brian are still left without a vacation. I know because I have an 18 month old and the only way to relax is to not bring the baby. The children’s programs on site basically want nothing to do with your kid until after they’re potty trained…

Pollyhitchcock@gmail

No kidding. So frustrating. I spent every moment of our cruise with my then 16 month old.

Lesley

I didn’t have that experience at all with Disney Cruises. My daughter just had her 3rd birthday and wasn’t potty trained, so she was in the little kids section and they do change diapers. My 5 year old was so busy we felt we should check in a couple of times and she barely acknowledged us from the front row seat she had drinking “tea” with Alice and the Mad Hatter. Many sections of their ships are kid-free (grandparents want a break too!), and the kids wear a bracelet that sends a signal to a pager you get, so are free to move around as well. I never worried. Kids wanted to go back, the next year was better, the two were like magpies following the leaders all over, playing dress up.

That said, what’s the real problem? either you want a vacation (no kids, adults bonding, grandparents indulging), or you want a family trip with a couple of minutes to toast your anniversary. Why would you worry if you parents are up to the task of watching those adorable kids???

Bea

Some of the best holidays I’ve had (and I’ve travelled all over the world including inter-railing round Eastern Europe, backpacking in Thailand and Vietnam, mountain biking in Japan, sailing in Australia, skiing in Austria, surfing in France and walking the Camino through Spain) have been at home in England!

Every Easter we rent a holiday home somewhere special and just relax, take long walks and get to know the local area.

There are some great places to stay now including lighthouses, National Trust properties and castles. Perhaps there are similar places in the States where you can just chill but still do it in a wonderful setting?

Here’s a website that shows quirky places in England. There’s probably something similar for the States! http://www.quirkyaccom.com/

Leigh

You need to go do something special! My husband and I have traveled many times, starting when our youngest was less than a year and I have to say it has been so good for our relationship. It feels so good to reconnect and enjoy each other without having parenting responsibilities. We are fortunate to have wonderful parents and in-laws (who live out of state but make a special trip to our house to watch our kids) that have made these trips a reality and who also realize that we as a couple need this time to ourselves. Our children were no worse for the wear having us gone, and I feel they also benefit from being doted upon by their grandparents! I think it has strengthened their relationships with each other as well. My kids now have no issues with spending a week away from us at their grandparents homes, which they started doing as young as 4. I can’t say I didn’t worry leaving them, call home daily to check in, or leave a binder with every bit of information they would ever need, but this is what makes you a good parent, it’s normal! I say just… Read more »

Kate

New Zealand! It’s much closer for you in California than it is for us in the UK and you could take the kids and do so many outdoor activities. People are sooo friendly and the variety of landscapes from North to south island are fantastic. You are never far from a beach either. We were lucky enough to spend 2 months there earlier this year (we are in our 40s). We kayaked, mountain biked, zip wired, walked, swam, boat trips, swam with seals, saw dolphins, kayaked at night to see glow worms….the list goes on. We stayed in airbnb most of the way to save on costs and you get to stay in some more interesting areas. Such a superb destination.

Wow! What incredible experiences you have! I traveled for a month between semesters in college and it was the most rewarding experience. If I could do it again, I would have gone abroad for the entire semester. Such a once in a life time thing.

Brittany | thechicette.com

Kate

Oh, and just remembered, my friend took her 2 young kids and dog (and husband) and their caravan and went to Croatia for two months this year. Admittedly it’s a long way from California and you wouldn’t be able to take a caravan 😉 but it just shows that you can still do great travelling with children if you didn’t want to leave them. They had a blast and it really united them even more as a family.

I also have these same travel regrets. Once you have children, your travel plans change. One area of travel within the US that’s on my bucket list is northern Michigan…there’s also Banff national park in Canada, which is practically like the US (at least the shows on HGTV make you think it is).

Jenna

debbie

I was coming here to recommend northern Michigan or Mackinac island as gorgeous destinations that are a little bit off the beaten path (at least for non-Michiganders). I understand the desire to at least stay in the country now that you have kids, and these are a great option. Another thought might be to bring a nanny on the trip with you if you have one who might be willing. Then you can all go and enjoy it together and you can have some time alone. Just a thought.

Katie

I’m going to chime in and recommend Savannah as well. I went with a group of girlfriends this spring to celebrate our birthdays. The architecture and history are rich, the city is easily navigable (the historic district is incredibly walkable), Tybee Island is a short drive away, and there is a ton of delicious food. One of my friends described it to me as a more genteel New Orleans! Of course, Charleston, SC is only a 2 hour drive away so it would be easy to do a southern coastal city tour

Anon

Savannah is SO great. Emily would love all the gorgeous design. I wanna go back ASAP.

Do the open air bus tour (yes, really. It’s good), then walk by everything you drove by for awesome pics of the houses, iron gates, parks. Watch Garden of Good and Evil before you go, or while you’re there.

Warning! Do not attempt in summertime (not sure how soon your anniversary is) unless you are used to heat and humidity! Also, wear a hat and bring water.

Anon

Savannah is essential. Emily would love all the gorgeous design. I wanna go back ASAP.

Do the open air bus tour (yes, really. It’s good), then walk by everything you drove by for awesome pics of the houses, iron gates, parks. Watch Garden of Good and Evil before you go, or while you’re there.

Warning! Do not attempt in summertime (not sure how soon your anniversary is) unless you are used to heat and humidity! Also, wear a hat and bring water.

Christina

Self-invest and invest in your marriage with travel that you are passionate about. It will be the best thing you do for you, your husband AND your kids.

Colleen

I really feel like New Orleans is one of the world’s greatest treasures. In a time where social media/globalization means that a restaurant in Bangkok feels like it was ripped from Brooklyn (begone Edison bulbs!), it’s so utterly refreshing to be in a place where the food, the music, the design, feels so utterly OF that place. You will NOT be disappointed by New Orleans. However, I say rip the bandaid off and go abroad! Cuba and Belize (check out Ka’ana) are both easy to get to and feel a million worlds away (in Belize you can hike through a cave that feels like a cross between Indiana Jones and Goonies!). Or take advantage of all the recent Asia flight deals from LA. Sri Lanka for incredible Asian modernist design and amazing food. The Philippines for the food + beaches. Bali for beautiful textiles and furniture + beaches + food. Morocco for all the obvious design reasons and because it’s got that heady North African romance. Tanzania because safari is hands down the most romantic, life-altering trip that a human can take in my opinion. It will redefine your relationship with your environment and a week feels like months away.… Read more »

Kristina

I second Belize!!!

Amanda

1) It’s okay to travel in a different way now than you did then. Needs, means and goals are different.
2) Your kids won’t be impacted negatively by you going to Cuba (or wherever), but you and Brian will be positively impacted. Take a break and feed your relationship, especially if you’ve got grandparent coverage.

Travel and self-care are good. Guilt is bad. Enjoy!

Molly

JUST GO! You will never be able to get over the self-imposed guilt if you don’t just go for it. You and Brian need to maintain a healthy relationship with each other without the children as much as with the children. Healthy and happy parents = healthy and happy family. My parents traveled extensively both with and without their 5 kids and we all are healthy, happy, well-adjusted adults, and they NEEDED those alone trips to maintain sanity. Mostly though, you need to cure yourself of the travel regret. Travel at any age and any stage of life is enriching and eye-opening. Go and enjoy Cuba, or wherever, as a couple, alone, and celebrate your 10 year anniversary. We’ll look forward to the photos and finds you discover. No judgments!

Sarah Z

Uggggh this post made me so nostalgic. I too travelled through Europe on like, less than nothing in college and it was so magical. I would love to have that freedom and carefree spirit again. Now with an 18 mo. old we’re talking about doing a trip to Ireland (we’re Boston based) before we start making moves for baby #2. Do the Cuba trip! Your kids will be just fine and get lots of grandparent lovin’, and you will have another wonderful trip to remember and dream about!

Brandi G

If you plan on coming to Louisiana before late September/October, I wouldn’t. It’s so hot here, it would be too miserable to walk around and enjoy anything. Definitely go to Frenchman street rather than Burbon street if you come to NOLA. Hope you have a great anniversary.

Loribeth

I second this.

Stacyjean

New Orleans is perfect! I’ve been all over the world and its my favorite u.s. City. You will have a wonderful time. It’s super different. Do a nice air bnb, don’t stay in the quarter. Don’t leave your little kids for a big long time, you’ll miss them too much and not enjoy yourself. Trust me, I’m a crazy traveler and mom. When they get a little older like 6 it’s more fun and feasable! Family travel also gets rad again! Chin up- it gets cool again 🙂

I share so many of these sentiments about travel and have now gone down a rabbit hole of nostalgia, thanks to your post. My husband and I have traveled to nearly 40 countries, but most of that was already after we had gotten married. I too regret being so incredibly stupid in college in thinking that travel was too expensive/too dangerous/ whatever other lame excuse I used back then… Yet my baby sister recently turned 19 and has been out of the country 5 or 6 times, and somehow I’ve morphed into my parents, worrying about her when she’s traveling – and even, dare I say, possibly discouraging her from doing so. What is wrong with me?! As for where to go for your anniversary – we are planning a trip to Hawaii when (and if) we ever finish our full-house renovation, which is going on the 13th month. All I know is that we better finish it real quick, because I’ve already taken time off work and am THIS CLOSE to buying the tickets. Anyway, I’ve always preferred international travel over domestic, but due to some timing and visa issues, we’ll have to remain in the states. Once I… Read more »

jenn

I traveled to SE Asia in college, but not for studying abroad, just to backpack! “backpacking” in SE Asia is so different now (my husband and I recently went back to Vietnam this past march). while we had an amazing time and seriously want to go back as soon as possible (plane tix were only $700/roundtrip from NYC!), it’s not as authentic as it used to be. I think we will go to the countryside the majority of the time next time!! I went to Laos in 2008, and I don’t hear of too many people going there (seems like everyone is talking about Thailand and Vietnam right now), so maybe we will hit up Laos and/or Cambodia on our next trip. SE Asia is such an amazing place with incredible food and the nicest most genuine people.

reading about your cheap trip makes me so nostalgic about my similar adventures in 2008!! I wish I could take 2 months off of work now and not lose my job 🙁

Mkw

Have you thought about Glacier National Park. It extends into Canada. The National Park lodges are amazing. Hiking is great

Val

There is NOTHING boring about New Orleans! Great city. And this from a New Yorker!

Sherrie Saag

Oh boy – New Orleans is ANYTHING but boring! I’ve been all around the US and I felt like I was in another country in ‘Nawlins – plus food is unbelievable and it can be very ROMANTIC if you want it to be. Another good choice – Charleston – in the Fall is beyond perfect. After 25 years – I always tell my husband – “I’ll go anywhere – but let’s just GO!”

Eden

Ha. I just went through the same analysis preparing for our anniversary trip away from our little one. We started with Hawaii. Now we are doing a trip in driving distance because we won’t be able to relax if there is an emergency. (We recently tried to spend a weekend away from the tot, and got a call that she was very sick. We were only 45 min away but it felt like eternity to get to her.)) We’re doing a Seattle-Vancouver-Whidby Island trip, and, based on our restaurant reservations alone, I’m very excited. That said, I love New Orleans. Charleston is great too. And I hear Savannah is lovely.

Nicole

I would suggest Costa Rica! Plane tickets there are cheap, and I was able to get 7 nights in various hotels/nice hostels for only $175!! There’s lots of adventurous stuff to do but you can also just chill on a beach–whatever floats your boat. I’m going in a week 🙂 Can’t wait!

We talk about our early days of traveling all the time. It was such a freeing experience, especially in the days before smartphones. I will never for one minute regret those trips. Having a kid has definitely changed the way we travel. We went to Spain (Mallorca) and Italy (Positano) this summer and the quantity of stuff we brought still overwhelms me to think about. Next time we will definitely dial back our luggage!! I would suggest, if Cuba is off the table, somewhere like Costa Rica or Belize. Easy flights and lots of adventure to be had, but also an easy return if you need to! We took a child free trip for our 10th this year. I was nervous the first two days, but it was exactly what we needed.

I can’t even tell you how perfect New Orleans is. We went there three years in a row, starting with our minimoon and I fell in love. It is easily one of my favorite cities in the world and I have been to almost every continent so I say that with experience. You can go for a week and still feel like you didn’t get to taste, see or hear enough of the culture. It is a magical place in the US. Some of my favorites are SoBou and Mat and Nadie’s. I recommend staying at a B&B in the Marigny.

Maria

Florida is a fun place to visit if you haven’t been already. Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Tampa, St. Petersburg all have great things to do at night and interesting things to do during the day (i.e. Beaches, little coastal towns, museums, and tons of thift stores/antique shops with mid-century and palm beach style treasures)!

Amanda

As a 26 year old it’s hard to find the balance between saving money for my future and saving money for things like travel. I currently have a travel savings account in addition to my regular savings but I usually end up buying something home-related when the travel account gets over $1000! This post reminds me, though, that it’s important to travel while I can. Thanks, Emily!

Hilary

Go somewhere…anywhere. Non-kid trips are rejuvenating. What about a trip to the Pacific coast of Mexico, so that you are away, and its kinda “exotic” but close enough that you could get home quickly if need be?

Jessica

Thanks for sharing. Traveling just feeds the soul. My boyfriend and I are traveling to New Orleans on Friday. I’m really looking forward to it. That being said, I don’t think it would be too boring for a tenth anniversary. Food, music and history ! If you’re looking for an other option, I would love to suggest Québec City. It’s two hours away from Montréal. It’s absolutely beautiful. You feel like you’ve been transported to Europe. Why not stay at the Château Frontenac. The food and the scenery are fantastic.

Amy

Maybe you guys could go to wine country in Northern California. Just drink and hang out. I’m not sure if you guys have already done that or not. Maybe explore parts of California you haven’t been too. Just an idea.

I don’t have kids so can’t speak to the traveling with/without them aspect of your dilemma, but I DID just move from Mpls to NOLA, and I’d highly recommend it. Nothing boring at ALL!! Be prepared for the weather – it’s insane right now – whenever you go, and know that it IS a bit like traveling to a different land. Whoa. Magical, historical, weird, gritty, wonderful. You’ll eat and drink well, and see some incredible homes/neighborhoods. I’ll second that Bourbon Street is not what it’s all about but see it, and the Quarter, and then keep on moving. SO much to experience here. (Oh, and don’t say “Nawlins” – tourist identifier x 1000. Everyone just says New Orleans.)

Keep us posted!

Love this post! I am so fortunate to have done so much travel already and I agree that my favorite trips are the ones I did for so cheap, leaving a lot up to luck and “going with the flow”!

xo Bree
http://bree-west.com

Allison

My husband and I both traveled extensively on the cheap before meeting each other and then did 1.5 years of traveling after we got married (that is why we still don’t own a house in our late 30s!). We have a 16-month-old now so I get your hesitation. Of all the countries we have been, Mexico is still one of our favorites. Have you heard of Todos Santos which is about an hour north of Cabo? It is an artist community with amazing B&Bs and restaurants. Great place for a 4 day trip. There is also a beautiful hotel a bit outside of town called Rancho Pescadero which has amazing design elements that I’m sure you would appreciate! I’ve been to the area a few times and loved it, but there is not much in the way of nightlife. It’s a great option though since it is such a quick, easy trip from L.A., closer than most of the U.S. If you are worried about Zika, there hadn’t been any reported cases in Baja when I was down there in July, but of course that can change.

Allison

Woops! Didn’t mean to post this as a reply to Bree’s comment.

You should absolutely go to the Rocky Mountains in Canada, stay in a cabin in the woods. With the canadian dollar being so low, and it’s so gorgeous….

The culture is similar enough that you don’t feel a world away from children and healthcare, but there’s something fun about canadian bacon, maple syrup and the “good” iced tea! Or perhaps hit up Sparkling Hill resort in Vernon BC and travel the Okanagan Valley. Wineries, boating, biking, to name a few.

Corrin

Go to Quebec City!!

Montreal is like your cool older cousin you want to be like. Quebec City is like your eccentric old Aunt who has new adventure stories every time you see here. Cool is an understatement. She’s 70 and still goes down hill skiing… Get it? She rocks! Quebec City is unlike any place in the US and Canada.

Sally

We did a road trip to New Orleans, spending one night each in Chattanooga, Nashville, Memphis and Natchez before arriving on NOLA. Or, just go straight to the big easy. Garden district and amazing antique shops, plus all the food, drink and music you can handle! Happy anniversary. Have fun!

Jessica

Hawaii! Pick an island and a special resort and celebrate your 10th in style. Take part in a few of the less-toddler friendly activities, whether it be a helicopter tour, surf lessons or even a coffee plantation tour (I know my 3-year old would be bored after five minutes on a coffee plantation!).

Flight is only 5 hours from LA so you can get back fairly quickly and the flight isn’t that much longer than New Orleans from LA. Perhaps you have already traveled to Hawaii, but if you have, you know it is worth returning to once again!

I am new about this…. But I like to read your post…

I have to say, this post really resonated with me for a couple of reasons–I’m in my mid-twenties, and have been fortunate enough to travel extensively, sometimes doing things the “nice” way, but mostly living on the cheap and staying in hostels. It’s given me a deep appreciation for how other cultures and people live, something that I think is particularly valuable in our increasingly fearful world. Also, I think it’s so great that you’re travelling with your kids internationally–it’s less of a vacation with your kids, I get that, but my parents took my siblings and I (there are 4 of us) abroad throughout my childhood and it was instrumental in my development as a person. It made me brave, flexible, and curious. Don’t give up travelling with your kids if you can help it, especially as they get a little older! It’s one of the most rewarding things out there I think.

laurel walter

Love the article, I did same 30 years ago and it is the best advice to travel when young, pre-children!
Go to New Orleans….you won’t be disappointed! It is NOT boring!
Its like another world!

Emily V

I would LOVE a follow up post describing your decision making process. I am actually going through the exact same thing right now. My husband and I never got a honeymoon, and I unfortunately didn’t have the opportunity to travel in college. We have agreed to go somewhere for my 30th birthday next spring, but I am nervous about traveling abroad away from our babies. We have considered Quebec and Puerto Rico…but I can’t decide! I want the biggest bang for our buck. I can’t wait to hear what you ultimately decide!

Anne

In your words…JUST GO! We would plan a trip for all our milestone anniversaries and left the kids with our parents. Its hard not to feel guilty but everyone wins! Once you arrive at your destination you both will be relaxed and excited about the time together. You can call and check on the kids (which you will find will be less and less as the trip goes on) and you will find that they are doing just fine! 10 years is a special anniversary and its time to celebrate!

julie

Are you sick of Pacific Northwest or would you consider Tofino/Clayoquot Sound BC? or Fogo Island for a Maritimes/East Coast retreat? Both fairly remote (ahem – goop just went to Fogo Island Inn) but still North American so might feel slightly more accessible. Both would be unpredictable weather wise I think but also pretty magical in any season.

I’m still thinking about your new house. It’s going to be absolutely brilliant.

julie

just seeing all the other comments – of course you should also totally go to Cuba and completely guilt-free, everything will be fine and you will have an incredible time and well-deserved break!! as a Canadian fan just couldn’t resist putting those options out there!!

Erin

Do NOT go to New Orleans?? You have to be kidding. no way, no way. I live in Florida (closer to New Orleans than Cali) & it is not a popular “vacation” spot. It’s boring, kinda dirty, and way over rated! Go out and see the world! Your travel pics are giving me major wanderlust.

Kelsea

Hope you give New Orleans another chance sometime!

gail

New Orleans is the number 2 tourist destination in the nation, so yes, it is a popular “vacation” spot, as well is should be! It is brimming with beauty, charm, character and culture. As a resident for the past 9 years, I can guarantee that there is more than enough to keep you busy for a long weekend, and if you’re interested in exploring the (quickly disappearing) bayou, even longer. DON’T LET THE WEATHER SCARE YOU. It’s really not as bad as people say. Just sip a daiquiri and chill on a balcony, you’ll be fine.

Sara

Go with Brian to Cuba! I was scared to leave our two kids for a week this summer (they are the same age as yours) but my husband and I went to France for our anniversary and it was incredible. In the chaos of kids/life/work/etc it’s easy to forget how funny/charming/amazing/handsome your spouse is sometimes 🙂 Besides the kids will have a blast with their grandparents!

New Orleans is not boring at all. It’s visually stunning and there’s tons to see. Savannah is also great. Stay downtown and you won’t need a car at all. I don’t know when your anniversary is, but do NOT go to New Orleans or Savannah from June-September. It’s miserably hot. I’ve been to New Orleans in March and October and Savannah in December, and the weather was perfect.

If you want to stay in the States, I recommend Alaska or the National Parks in Utah.

I second what everyone else says about traveling without your kids. It will bring you and Brian so much closer. You may not want to hear this, but your kids will have a blast without you. As a kid, I adored staying with my grandmother and I wish I could have done it more! Children find their grandparents a lot more fun than their parents.

Lisa

Aw Emily, I could have written this post (minus the cool trip to Asia). We have a 19 month old and I FEEL you. We took a last minute trip to Hilton Head and Savannah Georgia this summer (ie super family friendly), but it’s not nearly as fun as our honeymoon in Greece and Turkey, or my time abroad in college. I would love to do a fun vacation abroad, and I am not hesitant about leaving my daughter, but work obligations and wanting to save my vacation days for a future maternity leave make it difficult. Hopefully, we will get the guts to just GO at some point, but it is much harder in your 30s with responsibilities than in your 20s.

Teresa

Just go! It really doesn’t matter where. Its all about checking back in with each other and reminding yourselves that you once began this journey just the two of you. No kids, no real jobs, no real responsibilities.

The kids will be fine. Getting spoiled by grandparents is part of the fun of being little. If you really can’t stand the idea of not taking the children, then bring the grandparents with you. Everyone gets a vacation.

Caroline

ALASKA!!!!

I went with my family on a trip to Alaska, and it was absolutely incredible. Obviously nightlife isn’t something that they’ll have, but it will blow your mind. I’m dying to go back with my husband since he’s never been.

New Orleans is fun. Also, I adore Savannah, Georgia — a humble, laid-back little sister to Charleston but just as beautiful.

Jill

I agree with everyone that says you should just go and enjoy your time with Brian and feed your relationship. Your kids will be better for it.

Tulum, Mexico is one my favorite places I’ve visited. It has good “high class” food + amazing street food, beautiful beach, tons of fun outdoorsy and cultural things to do (cenotes, monkeys,jungle, snorkeling, Mayan ruins). You can stay on the beach, which is a bit more upscale with nice resorts (or ecofriendly resorts), nice restaurants, and cool shops, but the village is a few miles away with all the Mexican shops and super cheap tacos, etc. Plus, its a pretty romantic place.

Suzanne

For what it’s worth, I think you’re just in a brief family-travel hiatus – it will become increasingly easy and fun to travel the 4 of you as the kids get older. We took a break from big trips when our kids were young because it just wasn’t fun (dealing with naps, entertaining kids, etc), but we got back into the swing of it when my youngest was 5, and I have to say I now love traveling with kids. It changes the types of things you might choose to do…but that can be freeing. Fewer museums and guided tours – more exploring, doing fewer things in a day but taking your time with what you do, more treats (a pastry as a “good hiker reward”!, etc), the excitement of trying something completely new. I love seeing the world through their eyes. Of course, it is more expensive and takes more planning, but it’s so worth it. So hang in there…it will feel like vacation again soon!

Rachel M

I have wanted to go to Iceland for years now and made it happen as a 30th birthday present to myself. I’m visiting Norway and Iceland at the end of the month with a friend and I couldn’t be more pumped! It’s not the cheapest but I gotta make it happen while I can, even if it means a little credit card debt. I’m still young! I can live off of their famous hot dogs and ice cream!

I recently also traveled with my mom to Budapest, Vienna and Prague for her 60th and it was magical. Loved Budapest and Prague the most and would love to go back and explore more.

Next on my dream list are probably New Zealand, Greece and Portugal.

In the States, I’d have to say that Montana (and especially Glacier National Park area) is the most beautiful place I’ve been yet. Still need to see the Grand Canyon but driving and hiking through those mountains was a breathtaking experience. Since I’ve moved to Oregon, I’ve gone back twice for long weekends because I love it so much.

I live in New Orleans (and LOVE it), so feel free to drop me an email if you decide to come down and I’ll send you some recommendations. Having said that, I’ve also been to Havana, albeit a good while ago, and it was one of the most memorable trips I’ve ever taken. I can’t wait to go back with my husband. Another option – spend a long weekend in New Orleans and then fly to Cuba from here. A few days in each city, that would be my ideal. But GO! Everyone will be just fine. (I echo the sentiments about weather, however. Both New Orleans and Havana are best enjoyed with lots of walking. You think it gets hot in California, but it’s the humidity that really gets you. Fall should be lovely, though.)

Anna

I feel ya on the anxiety of leaving your kids. And of course THEY will be fine, but you might not enjoy your exotic (longer) vacation if part of your heart is left with them and your mind is occupied worrying/missing them. Pick somewhere in the 5 hour flight pocket, keep the trip fairly short, and it should be wonderful. I know *everyone goes to Hawaii, but really, it is relaxation incarnate and so so lovely without kids. Maine, Banff, Glacier, Southern Utah…all sound great as well.

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