2018 family travel recap Travel travel ideas Travel Inspiration

Our Travels in 2018…aka…Ideas for Your Next Big Trip

Our Travels in 2018…aka…Ideas for Your Next Big Trip

Each December I write an article recapping our yr in journey. It’s often only a temporary overview of the place we went and what did, informed from the attitude of our favourite photographs and moments of the yr.

This time, I need to do one thing totally different. Quite than write a easy overview about what we did, I need to share with you our travels and allow you to know how one can have the identical experiences.

You go to our web site to discover ways to journey higher, so why ought to this text be any totally different?

So, listed here are our journey adventures in 2018. We hope they encourage you as you make your plans for 2019. Cheers!

A Fast Recap of 2018

Variety of Nations Visited: 13 (USA, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, Austria, Croatia, Slovenia, Germany, Switzerland)
Variety of New Nations: four (Slovakia, Slovenia, Luxembourg, Belgium)
Favourite Vacation spot: Svalbard
Greatest Journey Second: A tie between climbing the Zion Narrows top-down and mountaineering Svolvaergeita in the Lofoten Islands, Norway

New York Metropolis: February

We spent an extended weekend in New York Metropolis, benefiting from a 4 day vacation weekend. Highlights included exploring Brooklyn and strolling throughout the Brooklyn Bridge throughout a night snowfall.

Brooklyn Bridge in the Snow

New York Metropolis is considered one of our favourite cities in the world. We journey to New York Metropolis virtually yearly (plus I spent three years dwelling simply outdoors of the town) and we really feel like we all know it lots higher than our hometown of Baltimore.

Earlier this yr, I wrote an enormous publish on easy methods to spend 5 days in New York Metropolis. It seems like a variety of time to spend right here, however with 5 days, you’re simply beginning to scratch the floor of what there’s to see and do in this superior metropolis. This text has develop into some of the fashionable on our web site.

5 Days in New York: The Final New York Metropolis Itinerary

Florida Keys & the Everglades: February

Later in February Tim and I spent one other (very) lengthy weekend exploring the Florida Keys and the Everglades. My cousin Becky obtained married on the seashore in Key West…fairly a stunning spot for a vacation spot wedding ceremony.

Tim and I flew into Miami after which spent a day street tripping down the Florida Keys, from Key Largo to Key West. After spending a number of days in Key West, we drove again to the mainland, spent a day in the Everglades, and flew residence.

Florida Keys in February


How You Can Do This

In case you reside in or close to the USA, Key West is a superb vacation spot for an extended weekend getaway. This can be a yr spherical vacation spot, however journey plans sometimes get disrupted throughout hurricane season.

In case you are wanting for an excellent concept for a street journey and have 7 to 10 days, contemplate a Miami/Everglades/Florida Keys trip. Spend a day or two in Miami, at some point in the Everglades, street journey down the Florida Keys, and finish with a number of chill days in Key West.

Florida Keys Street Trip: 13 Superior Issues to do between Key Largo and Key West

One Good Day in Everglades Nationwide Park

Paris, Luxembourg, Belgium & the Netherlands: March/April

We wish to benefit from each break Tyler and Kara get from faculty. They get 10 days for Spring Break and this yr we spent our time in Europe.

Paris and Amsterdam are previous favorites of ours however we added in new locations resembling Luxembourg Metropolis, Brussels, Bruges, Ghent and aspect journeys in the Netherlands to Utrecht, The Hague, and Haarlem.

Easter in Paris



Notre Dame

Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris








Utrecht, the Netherlands

How You Can Do This

We did handle to squeeze in a bunch of cities on our whirlwind tour, however since we had already visited Paris and Amsterdam in the previous, we didn’t spend a lot time in these two cities. Most of our time was spent in the locations that have been new for us, comparable to Belgium and the day journeys in the Netherlands.

Amsterdam could be very crowded yr spherical. To flee the crowds (and check out one thing new) we used the practice to day journey to close by smaller cities. And these cities, corresponding to Utrecht and Haarlem, are simply as enjoyable and worthwhile to go to as Amsterdam. In case you are planning a visit to the Netherlands, you must see Amsterdam, nevertheless it’s additionally value your time to go to a few of these much less crowded cities.

10 Day Amsterdam Brussels Paris Itinerary

three Days in Paris: The Good Paris Itinerary

One Good Day in Utrecht, the Netherlands

Easy methods to Go to Bruges and Ghent if You Solely Have One Day

Detroit, Michigan: June

Tim needed to journey right here for work so I tagged alongside, simply to see what Detroit was all about. I wasn’t anticipating a lot after which I spent two days wandering round Detroit in the pure bliss that happens when a spot completely blows away all your preconceived notions.

Detroit is an underrated metropolis with a tumultuous previous, however it’s on the up and up. With a wonderful meals scene, Motown, among the best artwork museums in the USA, and stylish bars, Detroit is surprisingly superior. I fell in love with Detroit and I wasn’t anticipating that in any respect.


How You Can Do This

You possibly can see one of the best of Detroit in one weekend. Arrive Friday afternoon, spend Saturday and Sunday touring the town, and fly residence Sunday night.

Detroit Journey Information: Plan Your Good Trip to Detroit

European Tour: June, July, & August

With work and faculty it may be onerous to seek out the time to journey. Tyler and Kara had the summer time off and Tim was capable of work remotely, giving us simply over six weeks to journey round Europe. It was superior, not simply for the 4 of us to have the ability to do one thing like this, nevertheless it additionally gave me a lot to write down about. In reality, I’m nonetheless not caught up…a “problem” that I like to have.


Svalbard, definitely, was our favourite vacation spot of 2018.

This can be a land of glaciers, the northern lights, the midnight solar, and frozen tundra. Svalbard could seem barren, however it’s crammed with arctic wildlife like reindeer, walrus, and polar bears. When you like the thought of exploring the good outside, your choices are virtually infinite, winter or summer time.

Longyearbyen, at 78° north, is the world’s northernmost metropolis. Go snowmobiling, canine sledding, climbing, kayak in entrance of glaciers, take a ship cruise, see the northern lights, attempt to sleep by means of the midnight solar, and in case you are fortunate, perhaps you’ll even spot a polar bear.

Svalbard looks like an journey. New landscapes, new experiences…in case you are like us, it simply might turn into your new favourite place.


How You Can Do This

To get right here you’ll have to fly by way of Norway. We spent 4 days in Svalbard though 5 days felt like it will have been the right period of time for our household.

Mix a go to to Svalbard with Norway for an epic 10-day journey. Plan on 4 to 5 days in Svalbard and put the remainder of your time in both Oslo and southern Norway or Tromsø and northern Norway.

Svalbard Journey Information: Plan Your Good Go to

How A lot Does It Value to Go to Svalbard?

Kayaking Adventfjord and Mountaineering Hiorthfjellet: A One Day Journey in Svalbard

Northern Norway and the Lofoten Islands

From Svalbard we flew to Tromsø and went on an superior street journey via Senja, the Vesteralen Islands, and the Lofoten Islands.

For sure, northern Norway is among the most spectacular locations we’ve got been. With rugged coastlines, small harbors crammed with picture-perfect purple fishing cabins, winding roads by way of the mountains, and seashores that appear to be they belong in the Caribbean, northern Norway is a delight to discover.

That is one in every of our favourite journeys of all time. Each single day right here amazed us. The landscapes, the lovable little fishing villages, the epic mountaineering trails…we thought it will be robust to beat our first journey via the Norwegian fjords, however this street journey is the clear winner.

And it was right here we rock climbed Svolvaergeita, one in every of our favourite journey moments of the yr.




Vesteralen Norway

Mountaineering the Stave Bleik Coastal Path, Vesteralen Islands

Lofoten Islands

Lofoten Islands


Tim Rivenbark



Ryten Norway

Ryten and Kvalvika Seashore


Hiking Norway

Climbing on the island of Senja

How You Can Do This

With ten days you are able to do the identical street journey, beginning in Tromsø and ending in the Lofoten Islands. This may be completed yr spherical, however Might via September is the most effective time to go due to the ferry schedule.

You possibly can skip Senja and the Vesteralen Islands in case you are brief on time, and spend 4 to 5 days in the Lofoten Islands. However in case you have the time, I extremely advocate Senja and Vesteralen, particularly should you take pleasure in climbing.

10 Day Lofoten Islands and Northern Norway Itinerary

Uncover Northern Norway in 25 Superb Pictures


For 2 weeks we toured Poland, visiting Gdansk, Warsaw, and Krakow. Our go to to Poland ended with mountaineering in the Tatras from Zakopane earlier than shifting on to Slovakia. Our moms, Kathy and Valerie, joined us for this a part of our European tour.




Warsaw Poland



Tatras Poland

Mountaineering from Zakopane, Poland

How You Can Do This

With 10 days, you’ll be able to take the identical journey, beginning in Gdansk and ending in Krakow. Journey by practice, day journey to Malbork Citadel, Auschwitz-Birkenau, and the Baltic Sea. Proper now, it’s cheaper to go to Poland than many different cities in Europe, so think about going quickly. It’s getting extra well-liked and with that, crowds and costs will almost certainly go up over the subsequent few years.

10 Day Poland Itinerary: Gdansk, Warsaw & Krakow

The right way to Hike to Koscielec in the Polish Tatras from Zakopane

25 Nice Issues to do in Krakow


In 2017 we stored listening to fantastic issues concerning the Excessive Tatras. So we visited Slovakia simply to go mountaineering. And it was fantastic.

The Excessive Tatras are a mountain vary that straddles the Poland-Slovakia border. Mountaineering is the #1 factor to do right here however in case you are not a hiker, the Excessive Tatras are nonetheless a worthwhile vacation spot. This beautiful little spot in Europe is rather a lot much less crowded than many different mountain locations.

Whereas in Slovakia, we additionally spent a day in underrated Bratislava.

High Tatras

Climbing in the Excessive Tatras


Bratislava Slovakia


How You Can Do This

If you wish to discover the Excessive Tatras, you’ll need a minimal of three days, simply to offer you adequate time to do a couple of hikes and journey the cable automobiles. Extra time is best. You may as well drive round to Zakopane on the Poland aspect for a barely totally different expertise.

In case you are planning out an extended journey in Europe, think about pairing the Excessive Tatras with Krakow, Bratislava, Vienna, or Budapest.

Mountaineering the Excessive Tatras of Slovakia: The right way to Plan Your Go to

Prime 10 Issues to do in Bratislava

Plitvice Lakes

In 2017 we visited Croatia however by no means made it farther north than Cut up. Plitvice Lakes seemed spectacular and we couldn’t miss it once more on this journey via Europe.

I’ve combined emotions about Plitvice Lakes now that we have been there. Sure, this can be a beautiful spot. And sure, it’s well worth the go to. However it will probably get uncomfortably crowded through the busy summer time months. Nevertheless, there are methods to keep away from the crowds and have one of the best expertise, and you may examine learn how to do it in our article about Plitvice Lakes.

Plitvice Lakes

Plitvice Lakes Croatia

Plitvice Lakes: The way to Have the Greatest Expertise

The Istrian Peninsula, Croatia

It’s usually scorching on the Istrian Peninsula in July, however it was made worse this yr by a warmth wave that hit Europe and wouldn’t launch its grip till mid-August.

Crowds are notoriously dangerous in Dubrovnik and Cut up in mid-summer. The cities of Rovinj, Pula, Porec, and Piran (Slovenia) get fewer crowds and are a pleasure to go to, even in the summer time.

Rovinj Croatia

Rovinj, Croatia



Piran, Slovenia

How You Can Do This

To go to the Istrian Peninsula we advocate a minimal of three days. Base your self in one of many coastal cities and day journey to the others. A go to to the Istrian Peninsula works properly on a street journey via Croatia or with a street journey by means of Slovenia. Venice is just three hours away, so you may as well go to Italy as properly.

Rovinj, Our Favourite City on the Istrian Peninsula

Methods to Spend One Day in Pula and Cape Kamenjak


We spent roughly ten days street tripping by way of beautiful Slovenia, visiting Ljubljana, Lake Bled, Lake Bohinj, Vintgar Gorge, Triglav Nationwide Park, and the Soca River Valley.

That is considered one of Europe’s greatest outside locations…good in the event you take pleasure in climbing, swimming, rafting, or paddle boarding.

Lake Bled Drone

Lake Bled by drone


Vintgar Gorge

Vintgar Gorge


Lake Bohinj

SUP on Lake Bohinj

Hallstatt, Austria

After seeing quite a few pictures of this fairytale vacation spot, we couldn’t resist a go to right here. Plus, virtually every thing I learn listed Hallstatt as an off-the-beaten-path vacation spot in Europe. Properly, the phrase is out. Hallstatt was probably the most crowded spots we visited this summer time. Positive, it’s beautiful, nevertheless it was one among our least favourite journey experiences this yr.

Nevertheless, we did experience the cable automotive as much as Dachstein, a mountain peak simply across the nook from Hallstatt, and this was a a lot better expertise.

Hallstatt Austria

How You Can Do This

You solely want someday to go to Hallstatt. For one of the best expertise, do most of your sightseeing early or late in the day. Or, go in the low season.

One Good Day in Hallstatt

Alsace Wine Route, France

From Hallstatt, we made a fast go to to Salzburg after which drove throughout Germany to Colmar, France. For 4 days we explored Colmar, Eguisheim, Riquewihr, Strasbourg, and extra…cities that seem like they belong in a fairytale.

Eguisheim France


How You Can Do This

You want a naked minimal of two days to go to the Alsace Wine Area, however extra time is best. You will get right here by high-speed practice from Paris, so this might make a pleasant Paris-Alsace journey. Spring and autumn are fantastic occasions to go to.

10 Fairytale Cities to Go to on the Alsace Wine Route

The Zion Narrows: October

Zion Nationwide Park is certainly one of our favourite spots to go to in the USA. This was our second go to to Zion and our sole cause for touring right here was to hike the Zion Narrows.

Tim and I really like huge day hikes. And climbing the Zion Narrows from the top-down is an enormous day. It’s 16 miles in size and for most of it you hike in the Virgin River.

In case you are wanting for a hike that may astound you, check your limits, and offer you a larger appreciation for the great thing about the American Southwest, the Zion Narrows is ideal for you.

Zion Narrows

How You Can Do This

There are a number of alternative ways you’ll be able to hike the Narrows. You’ll be able to hike it as a fast day hike from the bottom-up or you’ll be able to hike your complete size of the Narrows from the top-down. From the top-down, it may be finished as a two day backpacking journey or as a really lengthy and difficult one-day hike.

Zion Narrows Prime-Down vs. Backside-Up: Which One Ought to You Select?

American Southwest: December

Tyler and Kara had one other break from faculty so we returned to Arizona and Utah for one other epic street journey. We flew into Las Vegas, spent a number of days on the Grand Canyon, after which traveled north to Utah and went climbing in Arches, Canyonlands, and Capitol Reef Nationwide Parks.

On the Grand Canyon, Tim and Kara took a tremendous helicopter flight over the Grand Canyon. In the meantime, Tyler and I hiked the south rim to south rim, one other beast of a hike that’s 17 miles in size with almost a mile of elevation achieve.

Our days in Utah have been very chilly, with temperatures struggling to succeed in 30°F, however crowds have been low and snow made the parks much more magical.

The federal government shutdown had virtually no influence on our journey. The parks have been nonetheless open however Customer Facilities have been closed. At Capitol Reef, the scenic drive was closed as a result of a current snowfall coated the street and with out authorities funding, plows weren’t obtainable to maintain the roads clear. That gave us extra time for a leisurely hike and a household snowball struggle.

How You Can Do This

This can be a nice street journey. We flew into Las Vegas after which spent three days on the Grand Canyon. From the Grand Canyon, we drove via Monument Valley to Moab, Utah. Moab was our residence base for 4 nights and we spent three days exploring Arches and Canyonlands Nationwide Parks in addition to the underrated Lifeless Horse Level State Park. From Moab, we drove to Capitol Reef after which onto Salt Lake Metropolis and flew house the next day.

South Kaibab Trail

South Kaibab Path, Grand Canyon, at dawn

Grand Canyon on Christmas

Christmas Morning in the Grand Canyon


Delicate Arch in December

Tim and Kara at Delicate Arch


Dead Horse Point

Lifeless Horse Level State Park

Capitol Reef and Snow

Capitol Reef Nationwide Park

Since we simply did this (in reality, I’m typing this text as we fly residence), we would not have any articles to share, at the least not but. However keep tuned…we now have numerous new info to share and funky itinerary concepts for exploring the American Southwest.

We hope this text provides a couple of new locations to your journey want record. Glad travels in 2019 and if in case you have any questions, remark under!

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