Welcome to Vacation Coffee. This blog is about the places I’ve traveled or hope to visit . . . the people I travel with or want to meet . . . and the tools that guide and comfort me along the journey. You will find inspiration for your destinations, advice on traveling with and without kids, and stories about wandering this amazing world we share. Thanks for visiting and sharing your stories with me.



I like to wear hats when I travel. It’s my thing.

When I’m not on vacation, I’m dreaming about the next one. I can’t recall a time where I didn’t travel – as a kid who grew up in Hawaii, we flew to Minnesota at least once a year. I recall with fond memories our first family road trip from Minnesota to California in a VW pop-up van, camping and exploring national parks along the way. In high school, I was forever changed by snow-covered mountains when I skied in Idaho, Colorado and Wyoming. And as a college student, the travel bug bit me hard when I spent a semester studying in England and traveled Europe for a month with a couple of my closest friends. And then –

I met Eric.

Hands down, he’s my #1 favorite partner – in travel – and in life (16 years and counting).


Ferry Terminal Building – San Francisco (2015)

We are a good match, travel-wise: we prefer active excursions, adventurous dining and live music. We visit museums, hike up mountains and swim in oceans.

Over the years, Eric and I have become a well-oiled trip-planning machine, plotting out ideas and/or timelines of trips we want to take 3 years into the future. We travel with each other, with our friends, and with our extended families.

He proposed in San Francisco and we honeymooned in Hawaii. We celebrated our 1-year anniversary in Carmel and Monterey CA and went on an epic trip to Belize with some friends. And then:

We had kids.

Most of our current journeys involve our kids, who range in age from 6 to 13.

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a.k.a “the teen”, “the youngest” and “our daughter” – Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen (2015)

They love to travel and have been doing so since they were babies – whether they liked it or not. They now pack (and carry) their own bags – and entertain themselves on long flights. Our trips are no longer hindered by nap-times or early-risers. We have a budding photographer, an aspiring writer, and a talented artist (maybe they should create their own blog) who hold hands (in my dreams) and experience these adventures together. We still hear are we there yet? and how much longer? Just not as often as we used to. Our favorite family trips include outdoor excursions with hiking, nature and ice cream.

Our Travels:

We don’t often venture oversees or go to exotic locales. We are not backpackers or campers who have given up our jobs to trek across the globe. We are middle-aged midwesterners who go on (mostly) average trips in the United States. Our travels include big cities, national parks and local adventures. We go by car or by plane – or both. Our adventures don’t always include a new location; sometimes an old location with new eyes – or new friends – does the trick.


World Cup – South Korea (2002)

Eric’s non-family travel involves his other life loves: soccer and music. Since 1994, he has attended every World Cup tournament (except 2010) with his friends and dad. Maybe one of these days he will bring me. He annually attends festivals like Coachella and Austin City Limits with a merry tribe of hooligans. In our travel relationship, he is in charge of reserving our accommodations and flights. He also takes great iPhone photos – and occasionally I will steal them.


Outside Lands – San Francisco (2014)

I am the “idea-girl” (I usually have a travel idea in my back pocket) – and the researcher of activities and restaurants. When I’m not with Eric or our kids, I go on short girls’ trips with friends or in-laws to places like Sonoma, Quebec City, Nashville or Naples. I am a big fan of tradition: my 3 favorite annual trips are 1) to Lover’s Key (Fort Myers) with Eric and the kids; 2) to San Francisco for the Outside Lands Music Festival with some besties and 3) to the Minnesota State Fair (with anyone!). NOTE: Some might think I started this blog only to write about the State Fair and Outside Lands.

What is Vacation Coffee?

Honestly, it’s a nickname Eric coined for some over-priced, calorie-laden Starbucks beverages we bought ourselves at the airport years ago when we first had kids and travel was hard and infrequent. We had diapers and carseats and bags upon bags of toys and snacks and who-knows-what. I wish I could remember the exact trip we were on – and with whom. I’m assuming we had woken up earlier-than-usual, schlepped a bunch of carefully packed and catalogued baby items through security with an oblivious infant in tow, and were on our way somewhere warm. We happily plopped down $15 for two hot beverages, because: “Hell, we’re ON VACATION!”

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Sweet sweet vacation coffee (2016) MSP > RSW

Sometimes vacation coffee is a glass of wine on the airplane – or that first cocktail on a trip with your girlfriends – or when you spend $50 for “airport snacks” to feed your teen during a long flight.

Not every trip I go on begins with a tangible cup of vacation coffee. To me, the term conjures that feeling of anticipation between planning and experiencing . . . we’ve done the hard work of researching/reserving/confirming/packing – and now we are in that sweet spot of waiting for our new adventure to begin.