Our EDventures: 2016 Travel Highlights
December 22, 2016
Oh what a year it’s been! As I reflect over the past twelve months I am amazed and exceedingly grateful for special memories we’ve made on the road. I love many things about travel. The obvious attraction is getting to see some of the most spectacular places on earth, learn about new cultures and participate in unique experiences. But the less obvious benefits to travel are the time we are able to spend with family and friends. As our boys get older, I have to say that my favorite part of traveling as a family is getting away from it all and spending more concentrated time with them. At home we have many distractions that tend to pull all four of us in various directions, but with each adventure we head out on together as a family, it’s an opportunity to reconnect and make new memories with one another. Earlier this year, I read an article from a family travel writer who said, "You have 18 summers with them, how do you want to spend them?" That really made an impression on me. I'm thankful for the memories we made this year and look forward to more!
St James Park - London
This year has been unique in that we were able to take two big trips with our parents. Making those memories with grandparents was priceless for our boys and us. We also enjoyed several trips with friends like a California History Road Trip with another fourth grader and his mom and a trip to the South Pacific with some of the boys’ friends.
While our family has been traveling for years, this past February we started our educational family travel blog – ourEDventures.com. For the first time, we’re sharing about our travels through social media, writing for an online magazine, providing family travel inspiration and meeting other traveling families. It’s been a lot of fun!
So now as we close out 2016, I’d like to share a “recap” of our favorite travel memories from the past year. This past year we were able to explore six countries, ten states, three national parks and made countless memories. So here are our favorites...
We rang in the New Year in Budapest, Hungary! One of my favorite European cities and one we've spent a decent amount of time in over the years, due to the fact that we have relatives living in nearby Serbia. We rented a spacious apartment on Andrassy Ut and were joined by friends and family for a spectacular start to the new year. It sure was chilly, but Christmas Markets and holiday cheer made it extra special. Read about my favorite family-friendly activities in Budapest here.
A chilly walk across the Chain Bridge
London, United Kingdom
In January, we spent a couple of days in London and loved every minute. We hadn't been for years and the boys had never been before. We had so much fun showing them our favorite places, like The Tower of London, the National Gallery, and the British Museum to name a few. Perhaps the highlight of our time there was the evensong service we attended at St. Paul's Cathedral.
Trafalgar Square - London
The English Countryside
From London, we headed out to the Cotswolds to finish up our time in Europe. We stayed in the little town of Broadway at a B&B we had stayed at 10 years earlier. The same owners were still there and that was fun reconnecting with them. We had an amazing time exploring the little villages and also visiting Warwick Castle.
Getting lost along the country roads in the Cotswolds
California History Road Trip
From gold mining to river rafting, to visiting California missions and exploring beautiful San Francisco and Sacramento, this trip was a whirlwind of all things California! It was just perfect for our fourth graders who were learning about our state's history this year. Read about our full itinerary here.
Poking around Columbia State Park
Moorea, South Pacific
We loved the island of Moorea in the South Pacific! We rented a house and just relaxed enjoying the beautiful beaches and lush jungles. My parents and a couple of the boys' friends joined us on this one and it was so fun to share the experience with them.
Bora Bora, South Pacific
When it comes to travel highlights, it's hard to beat Bora Bora. Staying in the over-water bungalows at the Hilton and enjoying the incredible pristine waters was without a doubt one of the greatest travel highlights this year (or any year for that matter). While on this trip we also swam with a large manta ray and that was an experience that took my breath away! Read about our full trip here.
Stand-up Paddle Boarding in Bora Bora
Channel Islands National Park
Living in Southern California, this National Park had been on my "to do" list for sometime. I was glad to finally get out there and enjoy this beautiful one-day destination. We loved sea kayaking in caves, hiking and even the boat ride out was part of the highlight. We stopped several times along the way to watch a pod of whales. Read our family travel guide for Channel Islands National Park here.
The view from Santa Cruz Island
Turtle Release Program - Punta Mita, Mexico
While there are some destinations that stand out as highlights, others are specific experiences and this is one of them! I had heard about conservation efforts for sea turtles in various places in the world but we had never had the opportunity to participate in one before. This turtle release program in Punta Mita, Mexico was amazing. Read about our full experience here.
Releasing Baby Turtles in Punta Mita, Mexico
Antelope Canyon - Page, Arizona
Following other traveling families on Instagram, I knew that visiting Antelope Canyon was a place I wanted to go. This was the year and we loved it! Part of an "American Southwest" road trip this past November, we stopped in Page, Arizona for one day. Read about our experience in Lower Antelope Canyon and how we spent the rest of our day here.
Lower Antelope Canyon
Canyon of the Ancients - Cortez, Colorado
While on the "American Southwest" road trip, we stopped in Colorado for a few days and stayed at a working cattle ranch outside of Cortez, Colorado. This was a first time for us to stay at this type of a property and we thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. Read about the activities and our host's hospitality here.
The view from our cabin
Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado
And of course we had to see Mesa Verde National Park while in Colorado. What an amazing site to see and imagine what life was like for the early inhabitants who made their homes here.
The family selfie at Mesa Verde!
What are your travel highlights from the past year? Please share in the comments below! We're looking for inspiration for 2017!