Step 2: Deciding Where To Go – Part A

Are you already sick of me talking about this extended vacation?

Imagine living with me.

I’m at that early infatuation stage where you stop talking to your friends and start listening to his favorite band.  But there is so much I need to know!  So much to learn!  So many decisions that need to be made before decisions can be made!

I’m actually a little proud of myself because I tend to get really great ideas at the very last minute.  Like the time I asked Crocs to give me shoes two days before I left for BlogHer, and they were like, “ummm, ok… you know this conference is next week, right?”  Or that time I had to have the marketing guy at Aquatica called at home on a Saturday because we were just finishing up details of my visit about 8 hours before I was supposed to show up and review the place.

A planner I am not.  And while I find that characteristic charming, it’s not exactly efficient.

Extended vacations have to be at least a little efficient, I think.  At least while you’re planning them.

All that to say, yes.  I’m talking about it again. Still.

Imagine living with me.

Now that we have evoked sufficient sympathy for my husband, let’s discuss the next decision.  It’s really the first decision, I suppose, unless you count “decide that if other people are traveling for months and years at a time than you can, too.”

Anyway, where we’re going.

We went back and forth on whether or not we should explore the United States or hop on a plane and have a grand adventure in farther flung places.

My heart said we should head to the most exotic place I could think of.  I explained to Jared that it was easy to replace buying shoes with long weekends on foreign beaches.  I had visions of the kids and I pedaling through rice patties on rusted bikes with quaint baskets stuffed with local produce.  I would learn to wear socks with sandals and eat with sticks.  My children would learn multiple languages and come home with pictures of rainbow colored children and an appreciation for life beyond materialism.

“Yeah, we can see most of the stuff in the United States over a long weekend,” Jared agreed.

And it was decided.  Overseas it would be.  Now we had to decide on the continent(s), countries and cities – but we had the ball rolling.

And then 2:30 in the morning happened and I’m lying wide awake in bed thinking about all the things I have not seen in my own country.  I’m thinking of figuring out the most economically friendly way to travel long distances and wondering if it would make the most sense to use one of the vehicles we have or look into some kind of hybrid.  How much would that cost?  Reliable internet access in a first world country that could be accessed by one a monthly wireless card would certainly make working on the road easier – and the ability to work while we travel is the only hope we have of making this dream a reality.  Using my contacts and experience as a travel blogger might be easier in the United States.  No, it would most definitely be easier.

We’d be able to see friends and family.  I know a hell of a lot of people in the United States, thanks to the Internet.  Some of those people might let a strange family of four sleep in their backyard for a night.  Maybe we could even score floor space, which is infinitely less expensive and easier to reserve than a hotel.

By 3:00 it was useless to pretend like I was going to be able to go back to sleep.  I got out of bed and started trolling travel blogs.  I started making lists of places in the United States that I wanted to see, share and experience with my husband and children.  I ate scrambled eggs at 4:00.

When Jared finally woke at 6:00 I was hesitant to tell him about my change of heart.

“So, um, I was thinking that maybe we should take this first trip around the United States.”

“I told you that would be more practical.”

Right.  Of course.

So it looks like we’re headed… home.

And hopefully when all is said and done, we’ll have a better understanding of what that place is.  What this place is.  Maybe we’ll know our countrymen better and have a deeper appreciation for the things that unite us, because it’s easy to forget that we are still a united nation some days.

Our maybe we’ll just end up with a lot of pictures in front of signs that say things like “World’s Largest Ball of Twine”.

Can we stay with you?

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  1. naomi says:

    dang-it … no one EVER comes to visit US!!!!

    I wholeheartedly agree with this decision though … there are SO many amazing things to see/do in the confines of the borders of the U.S. of A … that it it’s almost silly to expand beyond that ….

    I’ve always longed to camp along Route 66 .. wouldn’t that be fun?

  2. If you don’t put Pittsburgh on the must list you are so dead to me…

  3. Also…SQUEEEEE! I was hoping you would say this was going to be an adventure in the States. If you wanna go international, our nation’s hat, Canadia, is a great way to hit that milestone.

  4. I can’t say I’m not disappointed that you won’t be camping in my living room, but hey, you gotta start somewhere. Looking forward to hearing all about your plans. :)

  5. Annettek says:

    I love that you’re doing this and I love hearing about it. If you come to New Hampshire you have a place to stay. :)

  6. Kristin says:

    You can totally come stay with us.

  7. avitable says:

    You call it an extended vacation, but it seems like it’s a total lifestyle. “Vacation” just seems to sell it short as the type of amazing experience it will be.

  8. RW says:

    I think a trip around the States is a great idea. But seriously, I’d start out thinking I was going to meet every surly halfwit (and obviously we have millions of them) we have – and then set myself up to be pleasantly surprised by the good folks I met. I think this is better than starting out looking for everybody to be a like-minded friend and then close every day feeling like an idiot after running into my fifty-ninth toothless trailer park hick who thinks they’re an expert on foreign affairs.

    Plus four corners. You already live in one, so maybe plan to see the other three. That would be Maine, S. California and Seattle.

  9. beccasaun84 says:

    If there’s a stop in Cincinnati, we have plenty of beds (no floor sleeping!) :-D And I must say, just having lived in the area my whole life- the Appalachian mountains are an amazing little gem most people don’t mention. ;-)

  10. Just Me says:

    You are more than welcome to stay here if you come to GA….only if I can play guitar hero or rockband with you guys! :)

  11. Hockeymandad says:

    Ummm, you can come visit with us I guess. ;)

  12. If you go to Massachusetts, and wish to see the lovely Island of Martha’s Vineyard, I can get you a place to stay, for free. My parents always have guests, and if I tell them you are friends, they will open their home to you! Plus my mom knows all the cool places to go (not just touristy spots) to explore the island. It’s a great weekend or week getaway!

    P.S. they have a king size bed and separate bathroom in the guest bedroom. YAY NO TENT!

  13. Raven says:

    Have you been to Colorado? We went summer before last and had a most excellent time. I talked about it a bit on Style Lush here:

    This past summer we did the drive down Hwy 1 from San Francisco to Carmel, Monterey and Big Sur. We also spent a couple of days in San Francisco too and I’d be happy to tell you about what we did and where we stayed for that trip too.

    Any questions about Arizona? I can hook you up there as well (that’s where I am originally from) we have done several vacations there with the Sprog, starting around age 9.

    The Texas Hill Country has a lot of neat stuff to check out and pretty places. Austin is very cool, if you haven’t been, I’d recommend it. (I live in Houston and am NOT A FAN, but I suppose there are things to do here as well)

  14. Faiqa says:

    You can totally stay with me. It’s really nice here.

  15. Karen says:

    Yes. Yanno, if you count Canada into the equation. ;)
    and no, I’m not sick of hearing about it. I’m a little jealous though!!! I told my family about your plans and they all think it’s a great idea.

  16. KBO says:

    The summer before we got married, my husband and I drove from St Louis out to San Francisco and up the Pacific Coast to Seattle. Plenty of camping along the way, and we saw pretty much every type of landscape the US has to offer.

    Utah is gorgeous and has many great parks right near Moab.

    I can’t say more because I’m getting exceedingly jealous.

  17. Finn says:

    I’ll kick the family out and you can absolutely stay with me! ;)

  18. PaintingChef says:

    YES you can stay with me!!! My house is less than half an hour from the Smoky Mountains… those are awfully pretty…

    Oh what the hell… I’ll throw in some cupcakes.

  19. Laura says:

    Aww, love the idea! We really do have an amazing Country and amazing people here. Though international travel is so alluring I think for your first extended travel here is a great place to start.

    ps – when you swing through Illinois give me & @mochamomma a shout ;-)

  20. Haley says:

    I’m from LA, and I LOOOOVE California; my husband is from Denver, and it’s gorgeous there too (just in a very different way). But we’re currently living in Utah, and if Utah is on the list, you can crash in our 2nd bedroom/living room :)

  21. steen says:

    One of the biggest items on my bucket list is to travel the US. (Well, and to get a fridge magnet from each state I go to.) The husband is on board so we’re going to try one vacation a year, at least until we’re making enough money to possibly get two a year! We’ve already decided that, for our fifth wedding anniversary, we’re going to Hawaii for a week.

    There’s so much to see in our country!

  22. Miss Grace says:

    Santa Cruz, California.
    It’s pretty.
    Look it up.
    And I’m here.

  23. Angella says:

    If you come to Canada, YES. We’re only an hour north of the Oroville, Washington border crossing…

  24. muskrat says:

    Cool. Don’t forget to look at the book I recommended.

  25. Lynne says:

    Why not do the motorhome thing? Take your house with you. You can always get a rental car if you stay in one place long enough. That way you eliminate the packing/unpacking thing. You can put bikes on the back. Yup, I’d definitely do that if I had kids.

    • Miss Britt says:

      My biggest concern with going the RV route is that they aren’t terribly fuel efficient. Like – at all. I’m not comfortable with the idea of trying to be less wasteful all year so that I can drive around a gas guzzler, you know?

  26. Mandi Bone says:

    You can totally stay with me.

  27. Headless Mom says:

    I’m in SoCal and you can use us as a home base for a while since we’re like 30 min. from a bunch of stuff. Plus, we have a guest room that you could take over. And, if that’s not enough, our boys are the same age so your kids would get some kid time, too.

  28. Jina says:

    One of our friends just did/doing a long long road trip- when they were relocating from Reno, Nevada to NY. And they covered all of the 50 states and most of the landmarks and non landmarks.
    Its just a pleasure to just see their pictures. Its like living vicariously through them.

  29. Colorado is a must: especially Denver, Telluride and Wolf Creek Pass to Pagosa Springs to Cortez (Mesa Verde/4 corners). Also, with a stop in Colorado Springs for Garden of the Gods on the way south from Denver. Wolf Creek pass is the most gorgeous drive I’ve ever taken in my state (but you have to do it in the summer, since they get about 25 feet of snow in the winter).

    By the time you get on the road, we’d probably have room for the 4 of you for a couple of days as you see Denver. Lots to do here.

    I’ve always wanted to take extended travel breaks, say 8 weeks at a time. Work for 6 months, take 8 weeks off. Work for 6 months, take 8 weeks off. Sounds like a plan to me.

  30. Micki says:

    I know you don’t know me… but I live in Phoenix and you would be more than welcome to bunk here if you need to. Of course, in a city this big, you probably already know someone here. But I would love to meet you in person if you didn’t stay with us. :)

    I would LOVE to be able to travel for extended periods of time. I find others’ lives so much more interesting than mine. Even if they are more difficult, have to do with less or thought of as undesirable by others.

    Look forward to your journey.

  31. OF COURSE you can stay with us! I think staying domestic is a great idea because there are so many flavors to our own country to fill your pictures and travel journals with quite enough color!

  32. Poppy says:

    Emma and Devin can still learn new languages and draw pictures of rainbow children here in the States. We *are* a melting pot, after all…

  33. Nyt says:

    I have an uncle who travels the country in an RV. Here’s some of his “take” on RV’s.

    He gets to decide when he comes and goes.
    He never worries about overstaying his welcome.
    If he needs a few extra days for illness or whatever it costs him very little.
    He figures he saves a ton of money by not having to eat every meal out.
    He knows who’s slept in his bed

    A few years ago, we did all the research on RV-ing through Alaska with another couple. It worked out to be something like 50% less than conventional travel. Gas-guzzling is relative to size and if you factor in the energy used by hotels and restaurants (who must light up whether there’s 1 customer or 100) you might find that you’re leaving less of a footprint than you think.

    I think it would be great for the kids as well. My daughter is a year younger than Emma and she’s way into consistency. So am I for that matter. RV’s give you consistency and freedom all at the same time. Who knew??

  34. Rhonda says:

    I’ve always wanted to take a trip all over the U.S.! I am so jealous! And I think it would be amazing for you to stay with readers and other friends and family.

  35. Aimee says:

    I have only seen most of the US from a plane. White and fluffy.

  36. Momma says:

    Get a VW camper! You can get good ones at pop top heaven in Cali, and with a add on tent, it’s big enough. We travelled in an older one with 4 kids (when Dee was only four years old)

    A GREAT trip is up the Cali coast, thru Oregon, Washington and then yup, into Canada. (British Columbia). You should check out Vancouver Island, (see Victoria, very british with high tea) where you can travel to by ferry from north of Seattle.

    Then, from Vancouver Island, drive up the coast, catch a ferry to Savary Island, a little warm place in Canada called the Hawaii of the North. (completely of the grid) Then, back on Vancouver Island, check out the hiking trail ‘The West Coast Trail” world famous! You can check that all out on line.
    Same continent, same internet,

    Then drive over to Calgary and Dee ;o)

  37. Becca says:

    Any time you’re in Missouri, you are welcome here!! I’m sure we could find something to keep you busy!! :)

  38. Amy says:

    If you head to North Texas you have a place to stay! I think this is wonderful and I’m loving hearing about it!

  39. Lisa says:

    Of course you are welcome here! My house is small but it has unlimited hot water, and we have plenty of space if you do go the RV route. We are close to Lake Tahoe and the California border. And there’s always the campy old West stuff to do here.

    I tend to agree with the idea that traveling by RV probably would leave less of a carbon footprint than you might think, and you’d be more comfortable.

  40. mel says:

    I’m loving these posts and am sooo jealous you have the ability to do this. What a great experience for your kids too.

  41. Darla says:

    LMAO! World’s largest ball of twine.

    Pick me, pick me! Oh right, you already have lots of people in Iowa to stay with. Well, there goes my 15 minutes of fame. Sigh.

  42. Stay with me. I’m only 35 minutes from Disney!! Just kidding.

    I think the USA is a great idea, because of the kid’s ages. You can see the country they’ll be studying in school. They’ll be able to relate to their history and geography classes when they talk about it in school.
    If anyone (God forbid) gets sick enough to abandon the trip, you aren’t in a foreign country.
    You internet friends can point you in the best direction for amazing things to see that aren’t in the travel books.
    This could be the practice trip for when you do it again on another continent!

  43. Jill says:

    As someone whose kids have ONLY lived overseas, I’m excited to finally be back in the States where my kids have the chance to learn about OUR culture …

    We’re in a rented beach house in Newport Beach – let us know if you come this way – we have an extra bedroom too!

  44. zchamu says:

    Friends of mine did this. They traveled all over the planet. Their blog is here although as you can see by the first post, they are not traveling a lot right now, ha.

  45. Patty says:

    If you pass through here…we will give you dinner…or lunch…

  46. Lanora says:

    Mi casa es su casa!

    Convenient to Chicago, just off the tollway and 10 minutes from two commuter rail lines. Just give me advance notice to clear enough horizontal space to accommodate you all.

  47. Glynis says:

    Friends of mine did an extended family travel trip around the Mediterranean. Not to say you should go overseas, but you might find some inspiration in the idea of traveling around the States from their adventure, back in 2004.

    And if you make it to the Canadian prairies, you have a room here!

  48. We have you covered in DC. I have a guest room and air mattresses (if you can pretend like you never noticed the mess).

    You could stage a number of amazing trips just from this area. Whole birth of the country and such.

    And if you didn’t stay here…oh you wouldn’t want to meet my wrath. ;-)

  49. kateanon says:

    Salt Lake is gorgeous and you can stay here anytime.

  50. VDog says:

    You can totally come crash in our bonafide guest room and the kids can take the unused nursery.

    Seattle-ish. Put it on the map, baby. Lots of bloggers to see here. ;)

  51. [...] to earn an income in less time, especially since I’ll be needing to earn an income while my family travels around the United States for a year.  After all, it’d be great if I actually got to see some of the places we’ll be [...]

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