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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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