My family-travel bucket-list

As I write this post we are five days away from a spring break trip to beautiful… Arkansas! I never dreamed I’d be packing our bags for the Natural State for the fourth time in seven years, but that’s what you do when Grammy lives near Hot Springs (Bill Clinton’s boyhood home, FYI).

Besides, the kiddos are excited about visiting the Arkansas Alligator Farm, where they can “pet a real live alligator.” Bennett is especially thrilled we are flying to Easter and is looking forward to all the eggs because when they hatch he’ll have baby bunnies (I know, so cute, right?). Perhaps he recalls how, during our visit three years ago, his second cousin Jackson received a real live bunny from the Easter Bunny on Easter Sunday.

Three years ago this little bunny hopped over for some Easter fun.

Three years ago cousin Jackson’s little bunny hopped over for some Easter fun.

Anyway, Arkansas it is. Before we had kids my husband and I fantasized about all the amazing trips we’d take as a family. We wouldn’t be like those lame-os who go to all-inclusives or opt for the safety of Hawaii or surprise their kids with a trip  to Disneyland. No, we’d be jetting off to Australia to rehabilitate koala bears, schussing in Zermatt and trekking to Everest base camp (evidently, in our travel fantasies we were also rolling around in fat stacks like Scrooge McDuck). Arkansas was definitely not on our family-travel bucket-list.

But the reality is that travel with young kids can be trying, especially when one of them has autism (it’s difficult enough when the kids are both typical). Truthfully, some days I’m amazed we ever leave town. But we do, though our destinations are the very places we used to scoff at: all-inclusives in Mexico, Maui and yes, Arkansas. But hey, at least we are getting out there and seeing new places!

I came across a beautiful Vancouver Sun photo gallery earlier this week: 15 places to see before you die. I scrolled through it and felt that old wanderlust creeping up as images of Petra in Jordan, the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia and Pammukale hot springs in Turkey filled my iPad screen. A couple days later I read a story on making a parenting bucket list, about one mom’s parenting resolutions to her children. It got me thinking I should make a family-travel bucket-list, filled with trips we could realistically take in the foreseeable future that are bucket-list worthy for our travel style. No, not a trek to Everest base camp, but something adventurous and cool, like sea kayaking in the Sea of Cortez.

What adventures await our family of four?

What adventures await our family of four?

Avery went through a similar bucket-list exercise last year but, being six at the time, included things like “Climb a mountain (the highest one)” and “Go to Mexico and dance on a table.” So, in an effort to keep this list somewhat grounded, here goes…

Our Family-Travel Bucket-List:

  1. Raft through the Grand Canyon
  2. Go backcountry camping and swim in an alpine lake
  3. Visit Costa Rica and zipline through the rainforest canopy
  4. Go on a family African safari
  5. Climb a mountain together (not Everest; maybe a Colorado 14-er?)
  6. Sail around the Caribbean
  7. Go on a train journey like the Rocky Mountaineer
  8. Sea kayak in the Sea of Cortez
  9. Ski on a glacier somewhere (Alaska? Heli- or cat-skiing?)
  10. Road trip to Walley World (or, ahem, maybe even Disneyland), stopping in all the beautiful U.S. southwest national parks along the way.

How close are we to actually achieving any of these? Well, we recently returned from a trip to Arizona that saw us hiking in Sedona, exploring underground caverns and horseback riding at a dude ranch. It’s fair to say we’re on our way…

Hiking the Bell Rock trail in Sedona, Ariz. is a baby step toward realizing the travel dreams on our family-travel bucket-list.

Hiking the Bell Rock trail in Sedona, Ariz. is a baby step toward realizing the travel dreams on our family-travel bucket-list.

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