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(This arti­cle may or may not con­tain affil­i­ate links. What does that mean?)

When news of a new virus in Chi­na first began mak­ing minor head­lines, I was bliss­ful­ly enjoy­ing my time in Kenya, help­ing to build a school dor­mi­to­ry for girls and enjoy­ing the peo­ple and wildlife that call Maa­sai Mara home.

Today, schools are closed. Gath­er­ings of more than 10 peo­ple are strong­ly dis­cour­aged, if not pro­hib­it­ed. Ser­vices at hous­es of wor­ship, wed­dings, and events are can­celled until mid-April at best, most like­ly longer. But you know all that. We’re all fac­ing this new real­i­ty togeth­er. It’s shock­ing how quick­ly every­thing can change.

 

 

I’m not writ­ing to dwell on what we’ve lost. I’m writ­ing to remem­ber what we still have, that, for most, this will all be tem­po­rary. Tem­po­rary but life chang­ing, maybe even affirm­ing for some, depend­ing on how you choose to see it.  Life will return to our dai­ly rou­tines but maybe we can have a com­mit­ment to live big­ger, to see more, to engage with the world the way many are doing now in their neighborhoods.

This is the time to dream and plan your next fam­i­ly adven­ture. Where will you go when we can all final­ly go some­where besides our kitchen, our liv­ing room or our bedroom? 

Roundtrip or One Way?

Travel Photos

I usu­al­ly end up trav­el­ing to places when I see a pho­to that inspires me to go there or I find a great deal on air­fare to get there.

Explor­ing a new loca­tion after being beck­oned by its spec­tac­u­lar pho­to is a favorite way to find a new place to check out.  This hap­pened when I went to the Win­ter Car­naval in Que­bec, Banff, the Inter­na­tion­al Hot Air Bal­loon Fes­ti­val in New Mex­i­co and many oth­er places just because I hap­pened to see a pho­to some­where and added it to my wish list.  That list gets longer as I sit at home and day­dream — Nor­way for hik­ing, Belize for bird­watch­ing, Min­neso­ta to rent a house­boat in Voyageurs Nation­al Park, and more.

Don’t these make you want to start exploring:

Standing in front of one of many large icebergs at Jokulsarlon Iceberg Lagoon in Iceland in 2018

Stand­ing in front of one of many large ice­bergs at Jokul­sar­lon Ice­berg Lagoon in Ice­land in 2018 © Paula Vogler

 

Such beauty at John Day Fossil Bed's Painted Hills section in Oregon

Such beau­ty at John Day Fos­sil Bed’s Paint­ed Hills sec­tion in Ore­gon © Paula Vogler

 

Get a taste of Greece with­out leav­ing the coun­try at Cen­ten­ni­al Park in Nashville with its Parthenon, Athena Stat­ue and more his­to­ry.  Does­n’t it make you want to know why it’s there?

 

A statue of the Goddess Athena is located inside the Parthenon in Nashville, Tennessee

A stat­ue of the God­dess Athena is locat­ed inside the Parthenon in Nashville, Ten­nessee © Paula Vogler

 

The Parthenon, not in Greece, but in Nashville, TN

The Parthenon, not in Greece, but in Nashville, TN © Paula Vogler

  

 

Where can you find travel photos? 

With the Inter­net, pret­ty much any­where, includ­ing trav­el web­sites like ours L.A. Fam­i­ly Trav­el. We have pho­tos and infor­ma­tion to get your trav­el juices pump­ing while sites like Dream­stime give you a feast for the eyes.  Sim­ply choose an area of the world, hov­er over a pic­ture that catch­es your atten­tion and you’ll have a des­ti­na­tion to add to your buck­et list. 

Here are just a few of the places we vis­it­ed because of pho­tos that piqued my curios­i­ty or a cheap air­line tick­et (or both!).

 

Wales scenery is gorgeous and with so much to do in terms of hiking, visiting castles, and simply driving around the country, I'm surprised we didn't visit sooner!

Wales scenery is gor­geous and with so much to do in terms of hik­ing, vis­it­ing cas­tles, and sim­ply dri­ving around the coun­try, I’m sur­prised we did­n’t vis­it soon­er! © Paula Vogler

 

What a wonderful opportunity to stay in a cliff side cabin and watch the sunrise and sunset in Palo Duro Canyon State Park in Texas

What a won­der­ful oppor­tu­ni­ty to stay in a cliff side cab­in and watch the sun­rise and sun­set in Palo Duro Canyon State Park in Texas © Paula Vogler

 

Hraunfossar Waterfall in Iceland was just amazing, especially in the fall.

Hraun­fos­sar Water­fall in Ice­land was just amaz­ing, espe­cial­ly in the fall. © Paula Vogler

 

One of the many amazing glass sculptures by Dale Chihuly at his Glass and Garden museum in Seattle.

One of the many amaz­ing glass sculp­tures by Dale Chi­hu­ly at his Glass and Gar­den muse­um in Seat­tle © Paula Vogler

 

 Let’s not for­get what we in the Unit­ed States should take advan­tage of: Nation­al Parks.  We have so many beau­ti­ful nation­al parks, mon­u­ments, and sea coasts, as well as lots of pro­tect­ed nat­ur­al and his­toric areas, find­ing some­thing to make even the most reluc­tant trav­el­er say wow is easy to do by vis­it­ing the Nation­al Park Ser­vice.  Here are just a few pho­tos of nation­al parks to plan your visit!

 

Not snow but minerals leave a unique picture on the Mammoth Terraces in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming

Not snow but min­er­als leave a unique pic­ture on the Mam­moth Ter­races in Yel­low­stone Nation­al Park in Wyoming © Paula Vogler

 

Snow in the mountains and pristine blue lakes in Glacier National Park in Montana

Snow in the moun­tains and pris­tine blue lakes in Glac­i­er Nation­al Park in Mon­tana © Paula Vogler

 

 

Riding bikes through Hawaii Volcanoes National Park where in the distance we could see where the active lava flow was hitting the water

Rid­ing bikes through Hawaii Vol­ca­noes Nation­al Park where in the dis­tance we could see where the active lava flow was hit­ting the water © Paula Vogler

 

Anoth­er fun day-dream­ing option is to vis­it a state’s tourism web­site.  When I planned a nation­al parks tour in 2013, two days before we left, the gov­ern­ment shut down, mean­ing, they closed the nation­al parks. I found there was so much more to see in many states than just the nation­al parks for which they were famous.  We had a great time and bare­ly missed not see­ing the nation­al parks. Here are just a few pic­tures of loca­tions that, while not nation­al parks, were still spectacular.

 

You can have fun scrambling around all the rock formations found at Goblin Vallely State Park in Utah

You can have fun scram­bling around all the rock for­ma­tions found at Gob­lin Val­ley State Park in Utah

 

Besides seeing and learning about prairie wildlife, staying in a train caboose is another fun thing to do in Wildlife Prairie State Park in Illinois

Besides see­ing and learn­ing about prairie wildlife, stay­ing in a train caboose is anoth­er fun thing to do in Wildlife Prairie State Park in Illi­nois © Paula Vogler

 

Girls in front of Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota on our first big road trip in 1999, 4 weeks from the east coast to the west and back.

Girls in front of Mt. Rush­more in South Dako­ta on our first big road trip, 4 weeks from the east coast to the west and back

 

Continuing the fun with family travel by hiking to Booth Falls in Colorado

Con­tin­u­ing the fun with fam­i­ly trav­el by hik­ing to Booth Falls in Col­orado © Paula Vogler

 

 

Great Deals on Airfare

An easy way to find inex­pen­sive flights is to sign up for cheap-air­fare email alerts through sites like Scot­t’s Cheap Flights, Trav­el­zoo and Mat­t’s Flights. There are free and pre­mi­um ver­sions of their pro­grams.  Instead of me spend­ing hours scour­ing the inter­net for good deals, emails show up in my mail­box with deals they find.  They send out week­ly-ish emails of places to vis­it with dis­count­ed fares that you won’t find in a reg­u­lar search; some are air­line glitch­es that offer a fare that has to be booked with­in a cou­ple of days, or even hours, while oth­ers are deals offered by trav­el agen­cies.  Being flex­i­ble on where and when to go is a must for trav­el­ers want­i­ng to take advan­tage of some of these deals.

I’ve also used Sky Scan­ner to com­pare air­line prices. It has fea­tures that allow you to search by the cheap­est month to vis­it a des­ti­na­tion or by the month you want to trav­el to that des­ti­na­tion.  Why not throw cau­tion to the wind and put ‘every­where’ in the loca­tion box and ‘cheap­est month’ for depart­ing and return­ing and let the site find your next adventure!

So what will I be doing dur­ing this time of uncer­tain­ty?  I’ll be dream­ing of when things will get bet­ter and then back to nor­mal (they will) and plan­ning on more hap­py fam­i­ly times togeth­er.  Those times togeth­er will be remem­bered long after mate­r­i­al things wear out and the cur­rent pan­dem­ic is a dis­tant memory.

Paula Vogler is a writer and reporter for many local papers in Mass­a­chu­setts where she calls home. She is an avid trav­el­er who has been to all 50 US states (many more than once), 20 coun­tries, and 5 con­ti­nents and is always ready with one foot out the door to set off on a new adven­ture. As one philoso­pher said, “The world is a book and those who do not trav­el read only one page.” 

Rina Baraz Nehdar con­tributed to sec­tions of this article.

 

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