May what matters most inspire your family’s future travel plans.

Here are five ideas to consider:

Montana Trout family fly fishing

Joy.

Small feet splashing in the surf. First tracks through powder. A really big tug on the fishing line as you float a scenic Montana River. Climbing to the top of the hill through personal pedal power. Those are the moments that bring joy to parents as they watch their children and grandchildren experience a rush of adrenalin and the unexpected thrill of a new experience. Make plans to see the sparkle in their bright eyes today.

Contact: www.acqualinaresort.com  www.Moonlightbasin.com  www.HiddenMooseLodge.com www.MontanaTrout.com

Celebrate.

Whether it’s a milestone birthday, an anniversary, a wedding, a new family member or your clan’s good health, there is reason to celebrate in the months ahead. Modern day cruise itineraries are designed to help you put a plan in motion. Whether you choose to cruise the Caribbean islands, the wilds of Alaska, the coast of California or in more exotic waters, there is something for every age group to experience every day and a way to toast to your collective good fortune every night.

Contact: www.HollandAmerica.com   www.Carnival.com   www.AvalonWaterways.com www.UnCruise.com 

paws up

Breathe.

Reduce the stress of daily life through endorphin-releasing adventures paired with wellness promoting activities that will manifest happy memories as well as healthy habits. Unplug and learn to meditate. Take a yoga class together. Spend the day at the spa. Paddle across the lake. Go for a family run or hike through the red rock canyons in Sedona.

Contact: www.EnchantmentResort.com  www.PawsUp.com  www.Broadmoor.com.

Lone Mountain Ranch

Share.

Perhaps the best we have to give is our time. So plan now to share your wealth with those you hold dear. Plan a getaway with the grandparents, a romantic holiday with your spouse, a weekend with the cousins, and the best Spring Break ever with the kids. Meet your college friends and their families for the big game. Embrace the idea of hanging out with theme park princesses or in a world of wizards while it still matters. Create a shared experience that will last for a lifetime.

Contact: www.Disney.com www.UniversalStudiosHollywood.com www.GraduateHotels.com   www.LoneMountainRanch.com .

 Andaz Costa Rica

Love.

Share the bounty with others. Volunteer vacations enable parents to model their most deeply held values while demonstrating compassion for others who share our place on the planet. Develop new talents, brush off rusty skills and make a difference as a family. For a day, a weekend, or longer, help build a house, teach someone to read, uncover artifacts or improve an endangered habitat.

Many resorts and hotels, like the Andaz at Peninsula Papagayo in Costa Rica, offer the option to give back to the local community during your own holiday getaway. You may also want to consider including a less fortunate friend or family member in your next vacation. As they say, love makes the world go round.

Contact: https://papagayo.andaz.hyatt.com  www.SandalsFoundation.org   www.Habitat.org ReadGlobal.org.

Published in Gather

When I was knee-high to the cattle roaming near my Midwestern home, my grandfather gave me a block of old barn wood for my birthday. Burned into it was that famous Helen Keller quote, “Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”  My grandfather knew a thing or two about growing things in the dirt, and about his precocious granddaughter. 

Later, in a relatively abbreviated period of time, I went from a deliciously luxurious life spent marinating in grand adventures, near and far, to the sometimes austere and certainly crazed life of a single mama running her own business and running after a tiny human.

Where do great adventures factor in?

Do I still take that Chamonix ski trip, but this time pack in my kiddo instead of my ice tools?  Do I throw caution to the Montana wind and buy a ticket to New Zealand? Or do I now buy two tickets and download 20 hours of cartoons to the iPad for the flight?  And do I realize a lifelong dream of learning how to sail, press pause on my Montana life and allow the winds to carry me around the globe…albeit this time with a tiny-human sized life jacket aboard?

The answer is simple.

Yes, yes and YES!

I’ve made many mistakes at this parenting game that I've tackled on my own.

But what I am most proud of, what really sends the gooey, chocolate center of my heart into palpitation, is when my daughter runs up to me and says, “Mama, let’s go on an ADVENTURE!”

Now, to a nearly 3 year-old the term ‘adventure’ means a slew of different things.  We often load up on crusty bread and ‘adventure’ on our bikes to the MSU duck pond and share carbs with our webbed friends.  We also ‘adventure’ to nearby Yellowstone National Park for geyser gallivanting, to practice our elk calls and then spend the evening bouldering on grassy slopes high above Gardiner with Electric Peak on the horizon. 

And most recently, ‘adventuring’ has included Kaia’s inflatable dragon floatie that we’ve launched for many aquatic missions across Montana’s rivers and lakes (Lake Upsata is a recent favorite…full of lily blossoms, loons and trumpeter swans!).

As my daughter grows older, she continues to astound me with her simple wisdom.  She is correct in that ‘adventuring’ does not always have to include lengthy plane rides, schlepping gear up a far-flung mountain or river, and scaring myself silly in general.  All of that is good in moderation, but what we are so lucky to enjoy in Montana is the spectrum of adventure.  From meandering ambles scouting for bear grass on the Whitefish Trail in northwestern Montana, to leisurely canoe paddles in the stunning Missouri River breaks, to dawn patrol backcountry ski days filled with homemade muffins and fresh powder tele turns in Hyalite just south of Bozeman…we can fill our boots with adventure in any fashion we choose.

All we have to do is walk out our front door.

Becky Edwards is a runner, climber, skier and all around mountain lover who resides in the shadows of the Bridger Range with her family.  She owns a communications and marketing consulting company: www.SunSnowCreative.com and is a founder of www.MontanaMountainMamas.org

Published in Travel Essays

Fly rod in hand, I eased into the cool waters of the storied Madison River. My son, Ben, was just steps behind me, eager to wet his line. Despite my felt-bottomed shoes, I faltered slightly, slipping off the rounded, moss-covered rocks below my feet.

Published in Travel Essays

During a recent outing I was reminded why they call one of my favorite sports “fishing”.

And not “catching”.

Published in Adventure

First time casters and veteran anglers enjoy the natural places that enable a fly fishing vacation. Test your tippet deep in the wilderness or perfect your back casts on the resort lawn.  

Gather your gear. Then enjoy the beauty and art of fly fishing:  

LL Bean Outdoor Discovery School. Freeport, ME or Columbia, MD.

The knowledgeable instructors at LL Bean can jump start your family into the wonderful world of fly fishing with their one or two-day introductory courses.  You’ll learn about fly-tackle, delve into knot tying, fly tying, and fish-food identification, then move outside to practice casting skills in a nearby pond.  Continue the analysis and improvement at home once you’ve viewed their video of your newly acquired skill.

Contact:For class registration:   www.llbean.com

Chetola Resort. Blowing Rock, NC.

The only Orvis-endorsed fly-fishing lodge in North Carolina has plenty to offer the entire family. Pack a rod for a half day trip to “The Refuge” on Boone Fork Creek, a destination deemed ideal for beginners and families.  When not casting a line, check out the children’s camp, a heated indoor pool, fitness center and nearby rafting and golf.

Contact:  www.Chetola.com.  

Match the Hatch. Montana.

Great places and great experiences and best when shared with people you love. Spend a day on the Madison River with Joe Dilschneider, owner of Ennis, MT-based TroutStalkers and your family members will go home with more than basic casting skills. You’ll learn to “match the hatch”, fish pocket water from a raft and how to maximize a day on the famed Madison River, the Yellowstone River, a long stretch of blue-ribbon trout habitat or nearby spring creeks. You are sure to enjoy time on Montana Rivers, where the scenery is as compelling as the lure of a trout on the line.

Contact: www.MontanaTrout.com  

Fishing on the Farm. Blackberry Farm, Walland, TN.

With two ponds and a stream on site,  plus more than 700 miles of fishable trout streams in the neighboring Great Smoky Mountain National Park, this gem of a property offers the novice or experienced fly fishing family the opportunity to enjoy great water as well as a sea of additional activities. Horseback riding, mountain biking, cooking schools, the Farmhouse Spa and charming accommodations on 4,200 pastoral acres, combine to create a picturesque haven for a gathering clan.

Contact:  www.BlackberryFarm.com .

Published in Adventure