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Life's a Journey: Welcome to Love Winns Travels

Updated: Feb 8, 2022

“Life is a journey, not a destination.” Ralph Waldo Emerson is often given credit for that quote, but I always think of the lyrics in the Aerosmith song, “Amazing”, which came out when I was thirteen years old. That song was on rotation a lot when I was younger, and yes, I know every word to the song, and pretty much every other Aerosmith song as well.

I’m with my family, driving down a road I’ve never been down before in the Utah desert. The wind is outrageously blowing my hair around, as my head is just slightly sticking out the window.

I stick my head back into the car and look back at my kid, who is buckled in their car seat, looking out the window, as the sunbeams right on us. It’s a hot day, in the high eighties, and it’s only 10:30 in the morning. My wife is driving, with her sunglasses on, and with a smile on her face. This is our moment of zen. Everything at this moment is perfect. This is what we’ve been craving after over a year of not traveling, after a year of isolation, and after a year of an unprecedented pandemic and a new way of life that had somehow become our reality.

I was relishing at the moment as I opened the sunroof and a few loose receipts started blowing around the dashboard area. I propped myself up, kneeling on the center armrest console, and I peered out the sunroof from my waist up. And just like the Aerosmith music video, when Alicia Silverstone and Liv Tyler throw up their arms in the convertible, or like so many Hollywood movie scenes, I put my hands up in the air and felt a true sense of freedom, and a new sense of purpose as we drove down that road. I was free.

How it started

I had just resigned from my job ten days prior to this moment, in September of 2021. It was not my intention to resign during this period of the “Great Resignation” when 4.5 Million Americans have quit their job, but the situation at my work was beyond my control, and due to some pretty significant management problems, I was forced to resign. It was a sudden departure that left me without income, including a lack of unemployment benefits. It has been a difficult few months, but I’ve taken the time and opportunity to not only heal and reflect on the past, but to reevaluate my goals, my dreams, and my future. This includes changing gears and following a new career path and doing something that I know will make me happy going forward. I’m following my passion to create. I create with different mediums including music, art, and writing. I decided to go full steam ahead sharing my work, and my story. That is partly how I got here, and how I started this blog, Love Winns Travels.

The moment we fell in love with the National Parks

Looking out at Joshua Tree National Park
Looking out at Joshua Tree National Park

My family started to really get into traveling when our child was about 18 months old and we flew from our hometown in Vermont to San Diego. We set out on a Southern California road trip and drove from San Diego to Los Angeles, and then to Palm Springs. We spent a full day at Joshua Tree National Park getting sunburned and soaking in more Vitamin D than we're used to living in chilly Vermont. We fell in love with that National Park, and life hasn’t been the same since. We finished our road trip and drove South past the Salton Sea and back towards San Diego. It was an epic experience that got us hungry for more.

Mount Rainier National Park
Mount Rainier National Park

Since then, we’ve done several other epic road trips.

When our child was 3 ½, we flew from Vermont to Seattle and then drove 2,350 miles throughout the Pacific Northwest. We visited three states, and one Canadian province, as well as three National Parks and several State Parks. Mount Rainier National Park, Olympic National Park, and the North Cascades National Park blew our minds!

Niagra Falls
Niagra Falls

I'll be sharing individual blog posts on each of our road trips, complete with itineraries, photos, and more, so stay tuned!

When our child was 4 ½ we adventured on a two-week and 1,775-mile road trip from Vermont to Buffalo, New York, and visited Niagara Falls, Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal before driving back to Vermont.

Washington D.C.
Washington D.C.

Throughout the past decade, we've driven from Vermont to Virginia several times with our kids, taking in different routes along the way, from West Virginia through different towns in Pennsylvania, and so much in between. We spent time admiring the wild horses on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and took in Washington D.C and New York City several times. And of course, a trip down that way wouldn't be complete without visiting Shenandoah National Park. We’ve driven Skyline Drive at least five times.

Acadia National Park
Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park

We drove from Vermont to Acadia National Park in Maine, a few times and have spent lots of time in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Acadia is a relatively "short" road trip from Vermont, so Maine is definitely one of our favorite places to vacation at, especially in the Summertime.

I'll definitely be using this new blog to share travel tips and recommendations for folks visiting New England!

Everglades National Park
Everglades National Park

One of our longest road trips was from Vermont to Key West, Florida. When our child was five years old we took in the Everglades National Park. We rode bikes right in the Everglades, amongst the alligators, and it was a trip we'll never forget!

During 2020 and the start of the Covid Pandemic, we did not travel. We had a few “staycations'' and explored our own backyard in Vermont.

Mesa Arch, Canyonlands National Park
Mesa Arch, Canyonlands National Park

During our most recent trip, we flew from Vermont to Bozeman, Montana, and then drove 2.294 miles, passed through four states, and visited 3 State Parks and 7 National Parks, including the Mighty 5 in Utah. Our child was seven years old during that trip. Our oldest child, my stepdaughter, is now twenty-three years old, so she is making her own adventures in life right now.

Now we’re planning our next adventure. Right now we’re trying to decide between a road trip from Vermont to the shores of Michigan, to take in all of the lighthouses and beautiful scenery. We would likely visit Buffalo, Toronto, and Chicago along the way, and take in two National Parks (new for us) Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Indiana Dunes National Park. The other road trip option would be to drive from Vermont to Nova Scotia and visit Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick and take in two Canadian National Parks. As of this writing, we have not decided which route we’ll go this year. We always welcome feedback and travel suggestions, so if you've traveled any of those routes, leave a comment below.

To say we love traveling and adventure would be an understatement. A lot of people have this misunderstood assumption that once you have kids, you can’t have as much fun, or that you can’t travel. Well, that’s simply not true. I would argue that traveling with kids makes the adventures more fun and exciting. There is so much to do and explore while traveling with little tots. We have had more fun and have made more memories on our family road trips than we could have ever imagined. We are just at the beginning of our explorations. We hope to do more international travel in the coming years, and visit more places and learn about the different cultures and beautiful landscapes that exists here on this amazing planet, which we are so blessed to be a part of. We also have our sights set on purchasing an RV and traveling full time on the road someday. Honestly, I am not sure when that goal will become a reality, but it's something we're working on achieving. Our family got hit with the travel bug, that’s for sure.

Mormon Row, Grand Tetons National Park
Mormon Row, Grand Tetons National Park

What is this blog even about?

Traveling enriches us and teaches us so much about life, love, and existence. At every step we travel, there is a lesson to be learned. Having resources and the opportunity to travel is something I do not take lightly. I’m grateful for every inch of the earth I’m able to explore, while here on this planet. I'm excited to see, and experience, more of the world with the people I love the most.

This blog is a place for me to share some of the travel tips that I have learned when it comes to traveling with kids. It’s also a place to share some of our photos, videos, and itineraries. Before any trip we’ve done in the past, we’ve always "consulted" with YouTube videos and Travel blogs first. We've watched countless videos from other travel bloggers, and took inspiration and suggestions from others who’ve done a similar journey. I found this to be so helpful to our travel planning that I wanted to provide the same kind of resources for other travelers.

Burlington, VT Pride Parade
Burlington, VT Pride Parade

This blog is also a place for me to share travel tips on LGBTQ travel. We are a queer family. My wife is transgender, and the sad reality is that not everywhere in the world, and even the United States (where we do our majority of travel) is safe for members of the LGBTQ community. Transphobia, homophobia, and hate crimes unfortunately are a reality. Even communities that are deemed safer for LGBTQ people, are still not immune to bullies, discrimination or violence. That is another reason why I've decided to share a glimpse into our loving family, so people can see an example of a thriving, loving queer family, who just so happens to love traveling! Our LGBTQ label doesn’t define us, but it’s definitely an important part of our story as a family. Spreading awareness is important to me, which is why I’ll be writing about this topic. I’m planning to use this blog space to share articles with helpful travel info for LGBTQ travelers, and connect and share inspiration from other LGBTQ travel bloggers as well. There are also a lot of useful apps designed to help LGBTQ people travel safer. Those are just some of the things I’ll be sharing on my blog.

This blog will also be a space to share tips on budget travel. Our family lives a modest lifestyle in Vermont. Our living situation is comfortable, but we don’t have a ton of money, in comparison to a lot of other travelers, so all of our traveling is done on a very tight budget. I’ll be sharing tips and tricks on how to make your dollar go further while being able to adventure and see as much as you can.

And lastly, this blog will include information on traveling as a vegetarian, as well as traveling with food allergies. I’ve been a vegetarian for over a decade now and will use this space to share some of the challenges, and some of the wins, that vegetarians face while traveling on the road.

I’ll also share some of the challenges we face traveling with life-threatening food allergies. Our child is allergic to Sesame and Peanuts, and one wrong bite could lead to the emergency room. Food allergies are a very serious epidemic and often misunderstood by society. I have been involved recently in some advocacy on both the State and Federal levels to try and make life safer for people with food allergies. Traveling is one of those areas where I strive to make things safer, not only for my child but for everyone out there who is dealing with the everyday challenges of living with a food allergy.

Following My Dreams

2021 was a bumpy road for me, as I know was the case with so many other people, during the height of this continued pandemic and a collective uncertainty about the future. As a society it seems as though we are struggling to find our strength and find normalcy during this everlasting climate of economic and political turbulence.

After already dealing with 2020 and a year of the Covid-19 pandemic, living through a year of complete isolation from friends and family, I thought that perhaps 2021 would have been a better year, but it certainly had its challenges as well.

In 2021 my abuelita, my last living grandparent, passed away. I resigned from my job over a situation that was beyond my control. My work situation had caused me so much stress leading up to my resignation, that I literally lost some of my hair and had developed bald spots on my head (which have thankfully grown back). I watched my nephew pass away in my sister’s arms. That was the single most devastating event I've ever experienced in my life. The heartache and grief still catches me at random moments and I simply cannot control my emotions. The loss of my nephew is something that is difficult for me to even express at this time. So yes, 2021 was a hard year for me, and I realize it was hard for so many other people as well. It's during difficult moments that I somehow find myself gaining the most clarity. With deep breaths, self-reflection, and re-focusing, I am able to see more clearly. Through this process, I decided I was going strive to make this year better somehow, and with that, I had to make some significant changes in my life. I'm now focusing on a healthier lifestyle, which includes more yoga and less craft beer, and a career change with new business endeavors. The excitement of these life changes gives me the tingles, even as I write this.

Sometimes on your journey, you reach a fork in the road and you’re torn as to what road you should take. Should you go left or right? Should you go forward or backward? The uncertainty that lies ahead sometimes is too much to bear. Trying something new and different can be scary. Then there are other times on your journey where you reach a fork in the road and you know exactly what path you’re going to go down. Maybe because you’ve strayed down to many dark and windy roads before, you’ve learned from experience, and something in your gut tells you that this time it’s different. And suddenly, if even for a moment, the road flattens out and you can see the signs ahead. You can see the path that you want to be on. And you know you’re heading in the right direction.

Well, I’ve been driving on a bumpy road for many years. I’ve been through some wild, life-changing events, enough to inspire me to start writing my own memoir. What seems to be some of the only smooth parts of the last decade for me, have been those awe-inspiring moments when I'm traveling. When I’m standing on top of a rock on some mountain top in a National Park, miles away from home, looking at the most epic scenery I didn’t even know existed. Don’t get me wrong, I do have awe-inspiring moments from my own backyard and the comfort of my own living room at home. Beautiful people and beautiful moments surround me every day. But those travel moments are the moments that have helped to keep me grounded and together after all these years. Those are the moments I strive for. I’ve overcome a lot of obstacles to get to this point in my life, and I’m finally ready to go down the road I know, with all my heart, is the right path for me to go down. I’m here now. I’m going down that road with this new blog, and I hope you’ll come for the ride.

Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

Come for the ride

This is just the beginning, so journey onward with me. Follow my blog for updates. Follow my family’s adventures and celebrate our Pride and love for travel. I hope you'll follow Love Winns Travels on social media. You can find us on Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok! Feel free to comment below and let me know where in the world you're reading this from. I’m here to share my love for traveling and how we can all travel this world, one step at a time, with more compassion, kindness and love in our hearts.

Steven Tyler once said "If you don't have a dream, there is no way to make one come true." If Aerosmith taught me anything from my nostalgic early teen years it's that life is amazing. "With the blink of an eye, you finally see the light, it's amazing, when the moment arrives, you know you'll be alright." I'm taking comfort as I start this new chapter in my life.

Life’s a journey, not a destination. Travel with love, and come for the ride.


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