We promised our kids Vietnam, but it’s not my dream trip.
In week 2 or 3 of homeschool, the teachers realized the parents were losing it. Maybe it was the 700 emails a day; perhaps it was that half the kids on the morning Zoom call were still in their PJs sulking and eating cheerios, crunching in defiance of groundhog day.
We got an email from the Principal stating that effective immediately, we would be transitioning to a 4-day school week, and Fridays would be virtual field trips and catchup days for the entire school. Um, awesome. Can we do that next year too?
Week 1 was Australia. My lucky little bunch has been there, so they were enthusiastic and earned extra credit.
Week 2 was Greece, which is one of my favorite destinations of all time, so it gave me an excuse to reminisce and tell funny stories about daddy nearly driving mama off a cliff on an ATV.
Week 3 was Vietnam. We’ve never been, and we only know one other couple that has, so it’s pretty unknown to us.
On the worksheet, the school includes links to top attractions, cultural lessons, crafts, recipes, and related videos. We use AppleTV to put it on the big screen and watch it all back-to-back as if we were planning a trip. It’s been such a fun family escape.
Did you know Vietnam has this cool underground cave lake thing that looks like Pandora? It was incredible to watch, as were the hikes.
We’ve visited Fiji and Belize in real life, and both have that lush vegetation, otherworldly waterfalls, and innumerable green variations of every plant imaginable. Still, the highlights of Vietnam were so compelling that it moved from off our list to Top Five.
How far is Vietnam from Singapore, Thailand, and China? Distances have never been my strong suit.
I thought we’d have time to swing by the Great Barrier Reef from Sydney, not knowing that’s like swinging by Disneyland from Denver. We have so many Top 10 destinations in Asia now that we are going to have to stay awhile.
By the way, I think it’s funny that people are crossing China and Italy off of their lists. I understand it in the short-term but have some perspective people. Those countries are so much older than ours, and this is a blip on their timelines, nothing more.
Anyway, our wanderlust has turned to wanderaggressiveness. The pull to go has been so strong that I fantasize about our next trip. My husband mumbles about booking something during his morning coffee because he dreamed about it, and the kids made me pinky swear four ways that we will go somewhere as soon as it’s safe.
It seems I’m not the only one. A bunch of Mama Writers are feeling the same way, so our writing prompt this week was, “what is your dream trip?” Here’s my answer, in part, inspired by the news.
The Costa Deliziosa left Venice on January 5, 2020, before the Coronavirus pandemic changed the world and finally docked on Tuesday, April 21, 2020, after a 115-day voyage, over five continents and seven seas. There were more than 1,600 passengers and 900 crew members on board, and none of them tested positive for COVID-19.
In the fall of 2008, we flew from Denver International to Washington Dulles to Leonard de Vinci-Fiumicino Airport in Rome to officially kick-off our honeymoon. We would spend a few days hitting the highlights of Rome before boarding Holland America’s Noordam for a 20-day cruise through the Mediterranean. Then we’d get another few days in Rome before flying home.
All told, we’d be gone for one month and make stops in 18 cities, nine countries, four continents, and spend just four days at sea, crossing at least six seas. I’ve lost count of all the details, but I collected sand and waded in the water, every time the name of the sea changed.
We picked the Mediterranean because he loved Barcelona, and I loved Greece, but also because we wanted to fit in as much as possible. It was a trip of a lifetime.
We booked as many excursions as possible, as much backstage, behind-the-scenes access, and private tours as we could afford, and meticulously researched everything so that we wouldn’t miss out on anything. It was incredible — every moment.
When we returned, our wanderlust was undeniable. We fell into a comfortable routine of traveling as much as possible: 3–4 domestic trips/month, 1–2 international trips/year, and one cruise every other year x 5 years, give or take.
But all along, our secret dream trip was a world cruise. For those of you who aren’t familiar, you typically board a ship for 120–180 days and sail from one end of the Earth to the other, and around the other side.
For example, the Oceania 2021 World Cruise starts in Miami, Fl, stops in Key West, then moves to Cartagena, Columbia before stops in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Acapulco, Cabo, Ensenada, then LA.
Then it moves on to the Hawaiian Islands, French Polynesia, Samoa, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Japan, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Singapore, Myanmar, India, Dubai, Oman, Jordan, and Egypt before cruising the Suez Canal.
Finally, it docks in Israel, Turkey, Greece, Italy, France, Spain, the UK, Portugal, Ireland, Scotland, Demark, Iceland, Greenland, Canada, Maine, Boston, and finally concludes in New York. Some of the ports are overnights. Some countries include multiple stops. All in all, it’s a fantasy come true.
Except, it’s horrendously expensive. In terms of experiences, it’s remarkably affordable, but in terms of real dollars, a small fortune. We saved from the day we returned from our Mediterranean adventure. Every month for ten years, we put $200 in a world cruise savings account. Our goal was to pay at least one full fair around the world in cash. It turns out; we had three kids instead.
So, when we went to cash out our anniversary fund, a world cruise was out of the question. Instead, we spent a month in the South Pacific as a family of five. I’m not complaining; it was incredible, but it didn’t quench our thirst for anything. If anything, it only motivated us to save more aggressively and be more strategic about traveling, and earning, going forward.
So, to answer the question, my dream trip is still that one. Around the world by ship. It’s the only way to go. No navigating, no complicated connections, no pieced together itineraries or border crossings. You (over) pack once, and don’t worry about a thing until it’s time to pack everything you brought and acquired back home.
Every detail is managed while you sleep. It’s like Christmas morning every single day. You go to sleep with a tummy full of decadent desserts on Christmas eve and wake up with a new gift to unwrap each morning. And arriving in each city’s harbor at sunrise never disappoints — it truly is a gift.