2016 Travel Goals

You guys…it’s April!

It’s hard to believe that we’re already a quarter of the way through year! Signs of spring are popping up everywhere, with the weather starting to warm up and our daylilies peeking through the soil. I’ve been wanting to talk about our travel plans for the year, but the last 3 months have been all over the place.

It’s been almost 2 months since I left my job to stay at home with Evelyn and we’ve been busy adjusting to our new schedules, making 2 trips out to California in the meantime. Evelyn is becoming much more independent now too, slowly morphing from baby to toddler (but let’s be real, still mostly baby).

Anyway, now that we’ve gotten into a better routine, we’ve had some time to think about our goals for the year and are ready to start putting those plans into action! We’re still staying domestic this year (I’m not quite brave enough yet to take on a long-haul flight with Evelyn), but I’m still pretty excited about seeing some new parts of the country.

Here’s what we’re hoping to accomplish (travel-wise) in 2016:

What's in store for the Ishmaels in 2016? Our travel goals for the year... // Family Travel | Trips with Kids | Vacation Ideas


We can check this one off the list already! We actually just returned from a long Easter weekend in Monterey with Matt’s parents. We rented an adorable little bungalow (thanks Airbnb!) near Cannery Row and the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and were able to squeeze in some beach time in Pacific Grove and Carmel as well. It was such a beautiful area and Evelyn enjoyed sticking her toes in the sand for the first time.

[Update: join us on our family weekend in Monterey & Carmel]


It’s pretty embarrassing that both Matt and I are yet to visit the Windy City, despite it being a mere 1 hour flight from Omaha. Matt’s been accumulating a lot of Southwest miles with all his work travels, so we plan to burn a few of those for the quick flight this summer. We’re tentatively thinking late June and want to stay somewhere a little outside of the city center near some good food, with quick access to the Loop and Magnificent Mile via the L (Wicker Park? Ukrainian Village? Bucktown?). I really don’t know much about Chicago, so I’m seeking any and all recommendations for where to stay and things to do. HELP!

[Update: we had a great first timer’s trip to Chicago in June!]


My sister Jill turns the big 3-0 this August, so we’ve started planning a wine-filled celebration in Napa Valley! We’re looking forward to lots of good food, copious amounts of Chards and Cabs, and preferably some pool time in there too. Matt and I have spent a lot of time exploring Santa Barbara wine country, but Napa is a “whole ‘nother animal”, so to speak. With so many wineries to choose from, the planning process is a bit daunting! Any memorable spots that stick out to those who’ve been?

[Update: Napa with kids is possible! Here are some of the things we learned that made it happen!]

Miami/Ft. Lauderdale

We’ll plan to round out the year with a family getaway to Florida this fall; maybe as the weather starts to get chilly here and we’re wanting to extend our summer!? We actually had our eye on a pretty reasonably priced rental house with a pool in Ft. Lauderdale awhile ago, but then went back and forth trying to decide between a few other cities we’ve really been wanting to get to. We couldn’t make up our minds, with our immediate wish list including Austin, Charleston, Miami, Portland and Seattle. So I told Matt, “we’re going to put 5 slips of paper in a jar…whichever we pick is where we’re going!”

What's in store for the Ishmaels in 2016? Our travel goals for the year... // Family Travel | Trips with Kids | Vacation Ideas

What's in store for the Ishmaels in 2016? Our travel goals for the year... // Family Travel | Trips with Kids | Vacation Ideas

What's in store for the Ishmaels in 2016? Our travel goals for the year... // Family Travel | Trips with Kids | Vacation Ideas

And wouldn’t you know it; after all that indecision, we picked Miami! There’s definitely no turning back now; it was meant to be!

We’re still debating if we should go for the Ft. Lauderdale house, making the 1 hour drive to Miami on a couple of days for sightseeing, or finding something smaller and with less amenities but actually in Miami itself. I’m usually one to be all about location, location, location(!), but that pool is awfully tempting! Is it crazy to stay so far away from the city?

[Update: after all that fuss, we scrapped plans for Miami, and went to Tulum & Playa del Carmen, Mexico instead! While we still haven’t checked Miami off our list yet, we did also make it to Charleston in the meantime!]

Now the real planning begins; I’ll be over here on Pinterest if you need me! And of course I’d love and appreciate any expertise on where to stay, what to see, and where to eat from those of you who know these cities well!

Thanks a ton to everyone for their feedback on the blog thus far. When I started this project, I wasn’t quite sure if anyone would read it, but I am really feeling the love. I’ve really enjoyed sharing our travels and we’ll have lots more adventures on the way!

What are your travel plans for this year?

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