KJ Dell’Antonia, mom of 4 teens, 3 dogs and 2 cats, author, podcast host, Lyme, NH
I’d love to have our readers get a sense of who you are…
What are 3 words or phrases that describe or are important in the way you travel?
- Off the beaten path
- Well planned ahead of time with flexibility in the moment
Please share one of your favorite travel experiences.
To give you some context, we like to travel with other families and we travel best when we’ve thought through our itinerary ahead of time, made a schedule with planned activities and then do many of them but have flexibility in the moment to change or skip something. This prevents asking “what do you want to do today?” and hearing back a lot of “I don’t know.”
My favorite family trip by far was to the National Parks last summer. We visited so many places, it’s hard to remember them all. Luckily they are memorialized in a t-shirt.
It was the best vacation ever! Every day we had something amazing to do and see, but it wasn’t too much. We had time to just be in beautiful outdoor spaces. We went on leisurely hikes, read and enjoyed nature. We hiked 80+ miles in 2 weeks. We traveled with another family, who we’ve traveled well with before, which helps ease up the family dynamic.
The trip was an ideal balance of planned and unplanned. Almost everything was scheduled ahead. There were some things we couldn’t do because we didn’t reserve 1+ years ahead, but that was ok – we just found other things to do and they ended up being amazing. We had guides when we needed guides and went places alone when that worked well. We ate at fun restaurants and small, local coffee shops. There was something for everyone to enjoy – biking, candy stores.
We had many glorious moments. On some of our drives we followed online directions and tried to find petroglyphs–ancient rock art–that weren’t officially marked by anyone. On 2 out of 3 stops we found them, which was a success. To me, just trying to look for something without much guidance was fun, but I think people were frustrated with me when we didn’t find them.
It was an untoppable vacation.
What is your favorite memory from this trip?
Boy there are so many moments from that trip! I recall one particularly memorable moment when our guide at Capitol Reef took us to a cave full of petroglyphs. We sat on the ground, eating our picnic lunch, surrounded by ancient drawings. It was really amazing.
What tip would you give your best friend if she were going out west to the national parks next week?
The majority of visitors to Yellowstone don’t get out of their car or don’t go past Old Faithful. We walked the first 7/10ths of a mile on a path (towards ?) with oodles of people, and then as we continued on there were none. Everyone else had stopped at the main sight. A lot people just do the obvious. Do the smaller things and worry less about the bigger things. I highly recommend getting local guides – they add to the richness of the experience. Skip the mule ride down the Grand Canyon in favor of a day hunting rock paintings off the beaten path.
What’s on your bucket list?
I often wrestle with the fact that I like to go both places I’ve been to before and to places I’ve never been. I enjoy the familiarity of returning and the ability to get more immersed in local experiences and what it’s like to live there. I also enjoy the discovery of a new destination. My list is a combination of both.
- Return to Spain