What makes a great vacation? The road less traveled.

Well, my vacation is close to ending and I’ll be honest… I’d much rather stay on vacation for another week than go home. Today is a down day for us and we’re hanging out by the pool.

Today I have Jill here to share what she thinks makes a great vacation and you know what…. I agree with her on so many points! Being able to just take off and explore can be so much fun.

Thank you Jill for guest posting today while I’m off enjoying my vacation!

“Vacation” is a different idea to every person. Some want mountains, some want beach, some want a reunion of epic numbers and some want to be alone. Some want desolate. Some want city. Some want electricity and running water. Others don’t.

Beautiful sights clench it for me. Which is why one of my very favorite places in the world to visit is the San Juan Island in Washington state. The photo above was taken on Orcas Island and there is no ugly to be found there. Nowhere.

I like all types, but I need two things to make it great. Family and beautiful. Although, I could easily be tempted into believing that a solo vacation could be super awesome, as long as my kiddos are still at home, I may not be taking a solo vacay anytime soon.

We usually only take vacation once every two years because it takes me a while to save up the $$. But when I do plan out a vacation I like to think of how my kids will remember the vacation. Will they remember it as amazing? Will they want to take their own family and make those same kind of memories? Will we see/do things that we may never do again? Those “road less traveled” things.

I like to explore, to jump in the car, drive around and find beautiful. I also like to leave a trip largely unplanned because I want to find the free or cheap stuff that the locals tell me about because that is where the magic happens.

Taking the road less traveled most usually offers up the most memorable adventure.

The photo of the sail boat above you won’t find that location just anywhere on the island, you won’t find it in town, you won’t find it at the ferry dock. Although you can find some pretty other docks around, you will have to get in your car and explore to find this one.

In 2011 we took a 10 day road trip to Arizona for my sister’s wedding (family). We drove through New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and back to Colorado (beautiful). I had ideas of what we would do on the way, but didn’t have the trip planned out aside from which day we needed to arrive where.

On our way to Sedona we stopped at the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest in Arizona. Ah-mazing! After the wedding we drove through the Grand Canyon, we went to the Rainbow Bridge, toured Antelope Canyons at Lake Powell…

But when we were coming out of the Petrified Forest on our way to the wedding I saw a sign for Route 66 and followed it just so that we could say we had been on Route 66 and then we came up on a place that looked like the Cozy Cone in the movie Cars and it had an old red tow truck sitting out front! I can’t say if it’s the real place modeled in the movie, but it was pretty darn cool!

While at Lake Powell, I asked one of our servers “what do the locals do? where should we go?” And he told us about a beautiful beach – I can’t remember the name of it now but we went. And we got stuck in the sand and had to be towed out of it.

The boys thought that was so cool! A little nerve wracking in a rental vehicle, but memorable!

On our most recent family vacation to the San Juan Islands in Washington we took a ferry over to Friday Harbor for a few hours and we mozied (sp?) on into a bbq restaurant and had the best bbq I have ever had. We didn’t choose the big restaurant on the main street, but we did get the best food around!

Anyway, I asked the server there what we should do – rather than the normal tourist things. She gave us a few ideas and then told us about Popeye, the well-known one-eyed seal that some of the locals fed down at the harbor.

The stars aligned that day because when we walked down to the harbor, wouldn’t you know it? Popeye was down there getting fed by some of the local crab fishermen and they offered to let the boys feed him. Now this is no Sea World and they did warn us that he is a wild animal and to be careful, but feeding a seal out of your hand like this? Was one of those things that the boys won’t ever forget!! And not one of the other tourists on our ferry that day can say that they got to feed Popeye too.

Oh, yeah and the other most memorable time that we’ll have from that AZ road trip that I mentioned earlier. I took a wrong turn somewhere in AZ and we ended up in Monument Valley, UT. Yes, I know that Monument Valley is in the middle of nothing so it would seem like it would be hard to take a wrong turn, right? Don’t judge me. Off the beaten path, remember? I gave my kids something they’ll never go see on purpose. 🙂

Do you ever take the road less traveled on vacation? What is your best experience?

Jill is a single mom raising three boys (18, 17 and 9). Somehow she finds the time to run an amazing blog and work!

You can find her on her blog, Facebook, and of course Twitter!