It’s the beginning of a new year, and the perfect time for every travel blogger on the planet to share their travel plans for 2018. This year, although we have some big trips in the works, our calendar is far from full of travel plans.
Yes, we did just return from our 2017 Christmas Cruise on the Norwegian Epic 24 days ago, and yes, there are plans for about 4 weeks of travel (or just about 10% of what remains of 2018). But if you like to travel like we do, it always seems like there needs to be more travel planned at any given time.
What’s Holding Us Back
Of course, there are many excuses why there is not enough travel! Money is one of the big ones – after all, somehow the bills need to get paid. But there are so many more things that keep us from traveling. School vacations are a big one, but we also have our geriatric animals that we can’t just leave behind.
Our “old lady Newfoundland,” Ayla, is turning 12 years old in a few weeks and she is not so spry on road trips anymore. She still LOVES to ride in the car and to meet new people. But she has slowed down quite a bit and usually naps about 4 days straight after every trip we take. Marilyn, our 18-year-old Siamese-mix cat who recently went blind and has been around the world with us, recently passed away which was tough for us. But we do now have peace of mind that she won’t be distressed if we’re not there.
Another one of our “good reasons” to curb our travel this year is that we are finally fixing up our condo. If you have been following this blog since our start on the farm in Germany, you know this means a lot of the work will be done with our own two hands. In fact, we have tons of plans to build a bunch of our own furniture, recently renovated our kitchen and we have nearly finished painting our walls. New flooring is going in as well. These are exciting times indeed!
“Why, if you want to travel more are you spending time cocooning in your condo,” you might ask?
For one, we’d like things to have a home in our house and for everything to be more organized. So many of the spaces we will complete will not only introduce our style into our home (we bought the place furnished so it’s not quite us) but be very functional as well. Then our home will be ultra-efficient and easy to maintain while we are there, giving us lots of free time for boating, travel and more.
And the nice thing about living in a place where people like to vacation is that you can rent your home to eager tourists. So we plan to create an awesome vacation rental in Naples that we can house-share with visitors to our lovely town when we go away for longer periods of time (once the dog and cat are no longer with us.)
And last but not least, there’s that work thing. While we have made great strides in 2017 to make our marketing agency, Arma Communications, more location independent, there is still a lot of work to be done. Hurricane Irma was a great test for our ability to work from anywhere and it looks like we are 80% there, but we still have some large projects locally that require us to spend time at home.
Now, without any more excuses, here are the plans we have booked and confirmed for 2018. I am sure, like in the years past, there will be other impromptu trips. As Stefan always says “I can resist everything, except for temptation”. This definitely holds true for us and travel.
Our first official trip of the year will take us to Houston and the surrounding areas over spring break. We’ll be flying out of Fort Lauderdale (which is super easy and quick to reach from Naples) to visit my hometown. I was born in Houston and spent the first 14 years of my life there in the suburbs. It has been FOREVER since I have been back to Texas, let alone Houston, and we’re really looking forward to the trip. It will be pretty exciting to visit my old stomping grounds and maybe even catch up with some friends from the past.
In Houston, we are looking forward to visiting some of the museums and exploring the city. We love museums and while there are a few awesome ones here in Naples, it is always nice to visit the more impressive places in larger cities. We are particularly looking forward to visiting the Space Museum and the Downtown Aquarium.
We’re also looking forward to eating plenty of BBQ and good Southern cooking (leave your recommendations in the comments below), doing a little boating on the lake where I grew up and visiting with family.
June Birthday Cruise
Psst. Don’t tell anyone. Stefan is turning 40 this year. He is embracing it and already plans to tell anyone who asks that he is 44 to fish for compliments. Ha! Of course, 40 is a pretty major milestone and that needs to be celebrated. We have been tossing around ideas in our head for the past few months, from lavish parties for our friends to more intimate affairs.
Ultimately, Stefan wanted nothing more than to spend some quality time away in a faraway place. So after some soul and Internet searching of the best alternatives, we realized that the most practical and enjoyable trip would be to go on yet another cruise. Cruises really are like chips. You can’t just have one.
We will be cruising on the Norwegian Getaway and Stefan picked this itinerary (even though it will be our third time in 2 years to take this route) because NCL’s 7-Day Western Caribbean tour hits some of his all-time favorite stops for snorkeling and scuba diving. The ship leaves from Miami (score, just a short drive for us) and after a relaxing day at sea hits Roatan. The water quality is simply amazing and the vibe is super relaxed. We’re already looking forward to hitting up the Bananarama Dive Resort for some water fun and more than a few of their delicious rum punches. The ship then stops in Harvest Caye (NCL’s private island), which is always a great day to experience everything the ship has to offer while everyone is on-shore, as well as Costa Maya. The final stop is Cozumel, another one of our favorites. Stefan likes it for scuba diving and I enjoy shopping there (you need to have your priorities straight.) We also have a couple of days at sea during our week-long cruise that we’ll be looking forward to.
The Getaway has lots of fun activities to explore on board too, including a ropes course (we loved the one on the Escape), a climbing wall, the Spider Web climbing cage, 9-hole mini golf, 5 multi-story waterslides and more. And of course, all the dining, shows and comedy acts that you don’t want to miss in the evenings.
Couples Weekend Getaways
Stefan and I try to make a few couples weekend getaways each year, so we are looking at our options for a getaway in June and November while Stefan’s parents are still here. Can you believe that we’ve lived just a few hours drive from Tampa for many years but never really visited it (aside from leaving from the cruise port there once in 2016 which was fantastic?) so that is likely to be one of our destinations. The other weekend we aren’t quite sure where to go yet, so maybe you can give us a few suggestions in the comments section.
Weekend Getaway in Ft Lauderdale
We have been hearing and seeing the snorkeling and scuba pics from Fort Lauderdale for a while now and have been itching to get over there. You can walk right from the beach into the water and snorkel just a few feet offshore, something which is virtually impossible on the gulf side if you actually want to see something interesting. We all love snorkeling, so one of our summer trips between camps and boating will be to Fort Lauderdale to do some exploring on land and underwater!
New York Wine Country – TBEX
I am super excited to travel to the TBEX North America Travel Bloggers Conference this year in Corning, NY. It’s a conference I’ve heard about for a long time, and now that we are able to focus a bit more on our blogging and travel adventures, I finally have a good reason to attend!
This event will be held at the Corning Museum of Glass which is supposed to be spectacular, and who doesn’t love upstate New York in September? There will be lots of other travel bloggers there as well as contacts from travel-related companies so it’s a networking dream! Unfortunately, I will be traveling by myself up there and will miss my travel buddies…but I know they’ll be having plenty of fun at home without me!
You may have read our post about how much fun we had during our last Christmas cruise (if not, check it out here). Once again, by the time the cruise ended, we were itching to book the next one.
In 2018, we decided to not cruise over Christmas or New Years, but instead the week before Christmas. The price to go that week versus the Christmas and New Year’s weeks was $500+ and there’s not a lot of difference in the cruise itinerary from one week to the next. So we elected to let Mack miss a bit of school (it seems they just goof off that week anyway) and will be cruising on Norwegian’s newest ship, the Bliss!
The ship has all sorts of crazy features like a go-kart race track, laser tag, and the Aqua Racer tandem tube water slide, in addition to all the shows, dining experiences and other awesomeness that you find on all the Norwegian ships.
Day Trips around South Florida
Last but not least, since we are more homeward bound this year than in years past, we will use the opportunity to spend some more quality time exploring our local paradise. After all, millions of visitors from all over the world come to visit South Florida every year for our amazing beaches and tropical sunshine. We are looking forward to quite a few more day trips exploring everything this area has to offer and will be targeting a few places like the Everglades, Sanibel and more.
What are your travel plans? What are the places we should visit in Florida? Share them in the comments or link to your own post!