Ashley Milliken, mom of 2, entrepreneur

I’d love to have our readers get a sense of who you are…
What are 3 words that describe or are important in the way you travel?

  1. Sense of adventure
  2. Learning something new
  3. A challenge – physical or a new way of thinking

Please share one of your favorite travel experiences.

While on a trip to Costa Brava in Spain, my husband, Peter, and I hiked north of Barcelona on the rocky, craggy coastline full of inlets with picturesque beaches.  At each sandy shore we had picnics of simple sandwiches and fruit, went swimming and stared out at the beauty of the blue Mediterranean.

We began about 1 ½ hours north of Barcelona in Palamós, headed next to Calella de Palafrugell and ended our hike seven days later in Cadaqués.  This trip was incredible because the logistics of the trip were planned ahead for us, and then Peter and I did the trip on our own.  Before the trip, the company we worked with, Ryder Walker, provided us with comprehensive maps with step by step instructions of how to get where we were going, restaurant recommendations along the route (which I like to cross reference with Food & Wine and Bon Appetite reviews), and made inn reservations, each with a view of the ocean. The logistics were impeccably handled and allowed us to really relax.

When we were younger, we hiked more rugged, hard-core hikes – in Tibet to an Everest basecamp, backpacking in Colorado, and more recently took trips to Switzerland and as a family to the Dolomites.  Over time our love of the outdoors has deepened… and so has our desire for comfortable lodging. The simple but lovely inns where we stayed were each authentic and comfortable.  We’re getting softer as we get older!

Spanish townWe prefer to travel off the tourist trek and when it’s not high season, so on the trip to Spain, we went during the last 2 weeks of September when the beach towns were less crowded.  Locals told us we were fortunate to be there at that time. We followed our plan from one small, Spanish town to another and had the freedom of choice to explore further each day.

When I was thinking about this trip, I realized that when our kids were little, we often thought we were “leaving the kids behind.”  Some couples might feel badly about that, but in our experience our girls’ grandparents came to stay with them and these opportunities allowed deep relationships to form while they all lived together.  Having my folks with the girls gave my husband and me the peace of mind to enjoy the luxury of being away as well as time to focus on and appreciate our own relationship. Our girls are older now and don’t really need someone to stay with them when we are gone, but my parents still come and stay… just as an excuse to be with them. It works for everyone involved.

What is your favorite memory from this trip?

Swimming alone in a cove in the hot sun and blue water and then trail running to the next town where we lunched at a very basic beach shack.

What tip would you give your best friend if she were going to Costa Brava next week?

I have two recommendations – seek out authentic, local restaurants and beach shacks for your meals so you can experience more of the true Spanish culture.

Definitely visit Dali’s Museum and arrange a guided tour in advance.  We loved the museum, but didn’t realize tours must be pre-booked and wish we had.

What’s on your bucket list?

Bora Bora, Nepal and Greece.

Extraordinary Experiences for
Adventurous Families

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