January ~ Canoga Park and Arrowbear Lakes, California
For 2016, we decided to travel on the odd months, and stay in So California on even months. We will see how that works out, but that was my starting point for mapping out plans for this year. The first thing I did was review my wish list destinations, and jotted down the top two on each continent. Then I researched the best time of the year to travel there. With that information in hand, I started filling in my calendar for 2016 and 2017.
The goal was to get to four or five different continents each year, maximize our travel budget, visit new places we have not seen before, be on the road about 30 days, then home 30 days, switch out our wardrobe (or at least wash it, lol) and then repeat to the next place.
In the midst of my planning, Gate 1 came up with a fabulous travel deal offering 50% off for the companion rate on all of their tours (not including airfare). This lit a fire under me, and pushed me to get some trips booked to take advantage of this savings.
So here is how our 2016 is shaping up:
January ~ We will still be covering the shop for our son and GM for the first 8 days, but on January 9th we will hop on the Ruby Princess right out of Los Angeles (San Pedro harbor) for a 15 day cruise to Hawaii. Four days at sea and then daily stops on the big island (Hawaii), Kauai, Oahu and Maui. Five more days at sea, then a day in Ensenada, Mexico before returning to Los Angeles on January 24th.
February ~ At home
March ~ SouthEast Asia ~ March 2nd we will fly from LAX to Singapore, spend a couple of days getting acclimated and do a little sightseeing on our own. I still need to book a couple of nights in a hotel there both before and after cruise. We will board the Sapphire Princess on March 6th, for the 11 day Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam Grand Adventure cruise.
Embarking in Singapore, our stops will include Ko Samui and Bangkok, Thailand; Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Singapore; Penang, Langkawi, and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; then terminate back in Singapore. We plan on spending two more nights in Singapore after the cruise and then will fly from there to Phnom Penh, Cambodia on March 19th. I have booked two nights at the Chana Phnom Penh Palace Hotel.
We will meet up with our first Gate 1 tour of the year (15 Day Cambodia & Vietnam) in Phnom Penh on March 21st.
The highlights of this tour (per the Gate 1 web site) include:
- View the impressive Silver Pagoda on the grounds of the Royal Palace, Phnom Penh
- Stand in awe at the architectural masterpiece of Angkor Temple Complex
- Ox cart ride in the lush farmlands and visit the National Museum, Siem Reap
- Ho Chi Minh City Tour includes the Notre Dame Cathedral, City Hall and the magnificent Saigon Opera House
- Old City of Hoi An a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Tour of the Imperial City and the 19th century Citadel, Hue
- Sail on Halong Bay, one of the most breathtaking places on the planet
- Visit the Museum of Ethnology and attend the world-famous Water Puppet Show, Hanoi
April ~ We fly home from Hanoi on April 3rd.
After a three-week rest, we will head to Africa and Europe. I have not booked my flights for this next segment yet, but planning on tackling that job soon. We will probably depart Los Angeles around the 24th or 25th of April. We have two Gate 1 tours booked back to back with a few days in between to allow us some independent exploring and then fly from Morocco to Portugal.
- Explore the remarkably preserved Volubilis, once a major African outpost of the Roman Empire
- Join a Fez family for a dinner of home-cooked fare in their home
- Meet the women of the Argan Oil Cooperative and see how they extract nutritive oil from this nut
- Camp in the Sahara under an endless canopy of desert stars
- Explore Ait Ben Haddou, an ancient desert village on an old caravan route
- Marvel at the circus atmosphere of Marrakesh’s Djemaa el Fna Square, bustling with acrobats, performers, and snake charmers
- Stroll the inviting medina in seaside Essaouira, bustling with crafts shops and fish mongers
May ~ The Morocco trip ends on May 12th. That will give us three days to get to Portugal for the start of our next tour:
- Visit the Stock Exchange, renowned for its exquisite façade and ornate gilded Arabian Hall in Porto
- Enjoy a Port Wine Tasting in Porto
- View the Coimbra University Library, a National Monument in Coimbra
- Visit the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary in Fatima one of the most important Catholic shrines in the world
- Tour the Convent of Christ in Tomar, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Stop and view the unique Ossuary Chapel in Evora
- Visit the Jeronimos Monastery built in the late Gothic Manueline style in Lisbon
- Enter the Church and Monastery of Santa Maria, the first Gothic buildings in Portugal in Alcobaca
This takes us up until the 24th of May. The next part of this trip is still a little up in the air, but what we are aiming for is to meet up with our friends Dick and Karen in Northern Spain. You may remember that Karen was walking the Camino this past May and had to quit early due to injuring her foot (possible stress fracture). She is determined to complete what she started. Depending where she is on her trek when we finish our tour, we would love to cheer her on. Also we have never been to Madrid, so a possible few days there before flying home toward the end of May or early June is an option.
June ~ At home
July ~ We are hoping to take another Uniworld Cruise this summer. I have my eye on one called Legendary Rhine and Moselle, but we would be traveling with some friends who are leaning toward Spain and Portugal. When traveling with others, it takes some coordination, and is sometimes more of a challenge to get things nailed down. This portion of our travels needs to be flexible. It is also possible that the river cruise will get pushed back to September when the airfare to Europe is better.
August ~ At home
September ~ ROAD TRIP! ~ We would love to take the month of September to drive north to see Glacier National Park, continue up into Canada, take in Banff, Lake Louise area, and head west from there to Vancouver and Victoria. We are still trying to find a small motor home, but if we don’t have one by then, we will just take our car.
Side Note: If the River cruise gets moved, we may end up flip-flopping September and July plans.
October ~ At home until third week and then Ecuador and Galapagos Islands.
On Oct 22nd we fly from LAX via Panama City to Guayaquil, Ecuador. Our final Gate 1 tour of the year is a 15 Day Ecuador with 5 Day Galapagos Cruise (22 Oct). We added two extra nights in Guayaquil before the trip, and three extra nights at the end in Quito.
- Embark on a journey to the beginning of time in the Galapagos Archipelago of volcanic islands
- Travel along the coast on a panga while Naturalist-Guides explain the area’s dramatic geology
- The unique environment encourages sea lions, Sally light-foot crabs, penguins and flightless cormorants
- Walk in an impressive cactus forest surrounded by land and marine iguanas and blue-footed boobies
- Snorkel on magnificent white sand beaches with plentiful marine life
- Visit the Charles Darwin Research Station’s giant tortoise Breeding Centre
- Visit Colonial Quito and walk through its cobblestone streets
- Stand at the Middle of the World monument
- Browse for local goods at the traditional Otavalo Market
- Stay in the heart of the Amazon
November ~ fly home from Ecuador on the 10th of November, and no other travel plans for the rest of the year.
December ~ At home for the holidays…
GRATITUDE MOMENT: Are you kidding me?!?!?! How could I not be over-the-moon grateful for living my travel dreams.
We hope that you will follow along, comment, and please share if you would like to.