Future Travel, Longer Range Planning, Etc

July 13, 2023

Longer Range Planning

I got my 2024 call schedule! I’m rather happy with it – no major holidays next year (this year, I’m on for Thanksgiving — so that makes sense). AAAAND I thought I might have to work Mother’s Day, but that is going to be the magical week I get nights/weekends covered, so that takes care of that.

Now planning next year’s adventures can begin! Things under consideration:

  • Spring break ski trip (tentatively back Montana). Hopefully our travel budget will recover by then, plus it appears that lodging/flight costs are lower that time of year (compared to Christmas week when we were there last year). Bonus: it won’t be dark at 4:30 pm!
  • Summer . . . in New England? I’ve been dying to do New Hampshire / VT / Maine or Upstate NY as a family trip, because we used to go to the White Mountains and I am nostalgic.
  • Winter break 2024: maybe a week in Costa Rica, inspired by Kae‘s adventures there! Alternatively, a national park? Is there a national park that is great in the winter?
  • Possible races: Big Sur + Chicago or JAX (same one as this year)
  • Will Taylor Swift go back on tour? Because I could plan some of my travel around that . . .

With A entering middle school, the “all 3 kids at home” years are starting to feel finite and I hope to make the most of them.

Of course, Josh does not get his call schedule so far in advance so sometimes making more concrete plans (ie anything not refundable during a holiday he might have to cover) has to wait.

Do you think about your family (or personal) travel a calendar year at a time? Once I get my call schedule I basically want to go full speed ahead and book/figure out the entire year.

(It did backfire in 2020.)

(But not really, at least I had the anticipatory fun I suppose, and generally got refunds/travel credit.)

Here is what I am using for this longer range planning:

EC Monthly Petite Planner, 18 months (July 2023 – Dec 2024)
practical and pretty 🙂

Shutdown Rituals

Loved the comments on yesterday’s post and yes – I probably need a shutdown ritual A LA Cal Newport. BUT I also need to actually schedule that important-but-non-urgent stuff so that it doesn’t feel like I should be doing it all the time. I’m pretty good at assigning myself a reasonable number of tasks and checking them off, but even when they are checked I don’t FEEL done and I think this is in part becuase that i-but-not-u stuff doesn’t have a home in my planner or calendar.

Plus it’s very true that working from home poses an additional challenge. So my plan is to work on my personal shutdown ritual AND find a home for that category of work.

Speaking of WORK and VACATION

I am thinking about how I want to handle our (LONG) trip coming up in ~2.5 weeks. I don’t really want to do any work on vacation, outside of some big picture thinking, planning, scheming. I hope to read, journal, hang with the kids, see things, just immerse myself in the surroundings + experience. I probably *will* post here, because I want to have that record and also, I enjoy it. Not sure the cruise wi-fi will be able to handle my uploads but I guess we will see.


  • Reply Emily July 13, 2023 at 6:48 am

    I definitely like to plan things a year in advance, particularly for trips like national parks because lodging often needs to be booked early (for example, we’re doing a southern Utah trip next June and I wanted to stay at the lodge in Zion so I’ve already booked it). Plus it enables you to consider the whole year if you’re looking for some diversity in the types of trips you do. I also keep a list of “next 5ish years” trips for planning purposes (my kids are A and C’s ages) and I find a lot of fun scheming about putting the puzzle pieces together for the next few years even though it’s too early to actually book things that are further than a year out.

    The eras tour will still be going on in 2024 (European edition!). So you could always do Europe 🙂

    A summer New England trip sounds super fun especially because it’s so different than Florida. For winter national parks, I’d recommend Joshua Tree or Death Valley (obviously the Florida national parks are fun in the winter but I assume you’d be looking for something different).

  • Reply Omdg July 13, 2023 at 7:45 am

    If you’re thinking New England why not plan a trip to Boston/cape cod?My parents live in a vacation town in the Berkshires and it’s ok… but maybe not for a full week, esp if you’re not going for a niche interest (like cycling or bird watching). I’d imagine the places you listed would be similar.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger July 13, 2023 at 7:52 am

      True and then I could try to visit Nantucket which I am now super into after reading many Elin Hilderbrand novels …

      • Reply Omdg July 13, 2023 at 8:51 am

        Lol I was thinking Wellfleet was like The Paper Palace only without the sexual assault. We’re going to one of the ponds to swim this morning!

        • Reply Alyce July 13, 2023 at 11:05 am

          Ahhh, Wellfleet! It’s one of my favorite places, and truly the best part of the Cape. It’s really the best part of the Cape, especialy for a family vacation. You can totally do a daytrip to Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard from Wellfleet, but without some of the logistical hassles of actually vacationing on one of the islands. But the Cape is glorious, and has delicious food.

  • Reply Jami July 13, 2023 at 8:57 am

    My husband I both have conference travel1-3 times a year so we generally know locations and dates about year ahead, though we don’t start really planning. those until a few months or even closer (some of the conference are really long and we have to wait until we receive our presentation times to know when we need to be there). This year however we book flights about 5 months out because of sales. Our schedules are fairly flexible – no call schedules to consider! But we both work in academics so we have general times that work for vacation. And unfortunately we’re currently in a place where he and I, and our daughter have 3 different spring break schedules. I’ve started a travel wish list, but we we’re really not planning locations until 6 months out.

  • Reply Erin July 13, 2023 at 9:08 am

    We did a New England family trip last year and it was so fun – Boston, Cape Cod, Portland, and North Conway NH. My kids LOVED all the different types of beaches on the Cape, and the mountains in NH!

    As for winter break, my coworker did Zion/Grand Canyon/Bryce Canyon in January and loved it. You can’t do all the hikes but there are zero crowds, and after experiencing Zion in June, that would be a huge win.

    Taylor’s current tour (as someone says above) will be international in 2024 and tickets are already a huge fiasco lol. You already had to sign up for access, so it’d be the secondary market again.

  • Reply Marie July 13, 2023 at 9:37 am

    For a winter national park – consider Saguaro National Park in Tucson, Arizona. There are two districts of the park, as well as a great living museum/zoo/garden called Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and another family-friendly hiking area called Sabino Canyon. Lots of great food as well! We like the Loews Ventana resort in the eastern foothills. Lots of other things to do within a day trip from Tucson, and you could also split your time between Tucson and Phoenix. In Phoenix, a few favorites: the Musical Instrument Museum, spring training baseball, the Heard Museum, the Desert Botanic Garden, etc.

    New England / Northeast ideas to consider:
    – Acadia National Park – so much to do here! Great short hiking trails, whale watching, bike rides on carriage trails, great coastal town, lobster rolls and blueberry ice cream, etc.
    – Finger Lakes: Corning Museum of Glass is incredible, tons of beautiful waterfall state parks (Watkins Glen, Buttermilk Falls, Taughannock Falls, etc.), college campuses to walk around, lots of agriculture/u-pick, great food

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa's Yarns July 13, 2023 at 9:56 am

    We don’t do a ton of travel yet since our youngest is still at an age where travel is not super fun. I looked at the school calendars for the next couple of years and spring break falls on a week that my husband absolutely cannot miss work. I could pull our son out of K and go at a different/less peak time, though. Or him and I could go do something together and leave the toddler and dad at home. We like to go somewhere warm in the spring to get out of the bitter cold temps of Minnesota and then there is fall break where we could do a smaller trip. But we’re kind of holding tight on travel plans for the time being. My husband is not a big planner and we don’t have call schedules/patient scheduling to work around so that simplifies things.

    Enjoy your time away for your long trip! I’d try to work as little as possible and just soak up the time away!!

  • Reply Amanda July 13, 2023 at 10:08 am

    My husband and I actually receive our call schedule on more of an academic calendar year, which overall is fine but in some ways makes the planning a little more difficult. However, we are both fortunate to be in big enough groups that we can usually make switches when needed. Right now I am pretty much planning travel about 6 months out, rather than a full year.

    We are still in the very little kid years of family travel and trying to figure out what is worth it. **Suggestions welcome!** We went to a Florida beach for a Spring Break type trip this year with a 1 year old and it just was not worth it from either a time or money perspective. And we did not even stay somewhere like the Ritz. We are doing our first Disney trip in November which I’m really hoping will be a hit for everyone. We have grandparents coming to help, and will have a 5 year old and a 20 month old by that time so hopefully a little easier. If so I’m thinking maybe we’ll do Disney every other year. But otherwise until the kids are bigger I just don’t know if I want to spend the $$ to fly places and pay for accommodations. I’m thinking more local state and national parks, camping, and trips to the lake (which my husband and I truly do enjoy). We did go to Lake Michigan this summer and while it was still hard it was more enjoyable and more budget friendly. I do like doing a trip about every 3-4 months, and we’re fortunate enough with vacation time and budget to be able to do this so I’d like to keep it up. It is crazy to me how many of my colleagues don’t take their vacation time!

    Maine is 100% one of my future dream destinations when kids are older. My friend got married there before I had kids and it was one of my favorite places to visit of all time. I’m glad you are hitting such a nice season for family travel!

    • Reply Omdg July 13, 2023 at 1:16 pm

      Not sure where you live but low key beach vacations (lake MI, Jersey shore, cape cod) are all I could handle with a kid that age. Age 7 was when we could finally go someplace that was fun for adults too. It does get better eventually.

  • Reply Jenny July 13, 2023 at 11:14 am

    Very hard to do long range planning with our family! My schedule is easy- there are pretty much no days that I CAN’T have off (as long as I’m okay with not getting paid.) But my husband’s schedule is really up in the air- again, he could plan a trip but could then end up missing out on some lucrative work. Then the kids are on such different schedules… luckily we’ve decided that our family becomes dysfunctional when we all vacation together, so we’re not really missing out on anything. Yes, plan as much as you can in this stage! You’ve still got a ways to go with all three kids at home… but the years do go fast (sigh.)

  • Reply Stephanie July 13, 2023 at 10:21 pm

    Do the Grand Canyon in the winter so you don’t have to do it in the summer and the extreme heat.

  • Reply Grateful Kae July 14, 2023 at 9:30 am

    We did a 2 week New England trip in 2021, a road trip from WI. Here was our itinerary in terms of places we went/stayed:

    Day 1- Drive from WI/ stopped in PA.
    Day 2-Driving/ arrive to Bennington, VT for 1 night, Bennington Battle monument, dinner etc.
    Day 3-Did Bennington, VT stuff a.m then long day meandering through Vermont, stopped at many covered bridges, picnic lunch, Norman Rockwell museum, old country stores, etc. Rt 7A to 100 with stops in Manchester, Weston, Woodstock. Such cute towns, beautiful views. Stop in Quechee at hotel overnight.
    Day 4- Quechee Gorge in a.m, then drive to North Conway, NH. Along the way did Lost River Gorge and Caves in NH (must do- kids fav thing of trip), The Basin, other NH stuff. To Airbnb by evening for 2 nights.
    Day 5- White Mountains NH all day- North Conway in a.m, lunch at Omni Mount Washington Resort (cool place to see, sooo beautiful), natural swimming holes with natural “waterslides” (rocks) all afternoon the kids loved, hiking, scenery, etc.
    Day 6- Check out late morning, Drive to Portland, Maine. Went to Cape Elizabeth, other area lighthouses, sunset boat tour, dinner in Portland etc. Overnight Portland. Could spend more time in Portland of course but we had to limit to 1 night.
    Day 7- “coastal” Maine day from Portland –> Belfast. Did Maritime Museum in Bath, Boothbay Harbor, Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, overnight at waterfront hotel in Belfast x1 night.
    Day 8 – Belfast in a.m., then drive to Acadia National Park by p.m. Hotel outside of Bar Harbor x5 nights.
    Day 9- Acadia NP
    Day 10- Acadia NP
    Day 11- Acadia NP
    Day 12- Acadia NP (*Acadia deserves PLENTY of time; do not rush Acadia if it’s a 1x visit. SO glad we had ~4 1/2 days there and we still didn’t see it all by any means.)
    Day 13- Drive Acadia to PA
    Day 14- drive Acadia to OH
    Day 15- National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, OH
    Day 16- OH to WI

    There are about 5,428 different versions of Vermont/ NH/ Maine trips that could be done! This is what we did and we loved it; we like the variety of seeing Vermont, NH and Maine all in one. Many people combine Boston in but we wanted to save Boston for a separate, dedicated trip sometime (maybe we’ll just fly there and just do Boston sometime). There was SO much in the White Mountains for families- we could easily have stayed in that area a whole week between hiking and swimming holes and waterfalls and other activities…. the covered bridges and scenery in Vermont are wonderful too. Vermont seems best suited to “wandering” from town to town, bridge to bridge, etc. That’s what we did. I can send you even more details of other activites, or also I have detailed blog posts for each day of this trip too on my Travel page!! Sharing here in case anyone else wants New England ideas 🙂

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger July 14, 2023 at 1:19 pm

      LOVE THIS KAE!!!! Thank you so much! I will be mining your old posts, too!

  • Reply lawandcreative July 15, 2023 at 5:24 am

    Taylor is coming to England next year but it’s the same situation as the US – way more people want tickets than there are tickets. A friend and I have even contacted the venues for their hospitality packages, and even they are flooded… we’re on a waiting list. Ugh!

  • Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.