Our 2008 Summer Vacation

This will be the mother of all series. Suanne and I sat down yesterday to plan this series and ended up with 64 blog entries. If we just blog one entry a day, it will take us until the end of summer to do this — rendering this more of a travel blog than a food blog.

Anyway, we’ll stick to the plan for now … we’ll put up 64 blog entries but could change our plans if we got bored with it or if you all foodies got tired of travel stuff. Here goes …


This year we managed to get both Arkensen and Nanzaro to attend separate summer camps for 2 weeks. That frees Suanne and I to go for a vacation on our own and doing stuff we like to do. This means that we do not need to crack our head to find a theme park, endure “are we there yet?” questions … and this also means that we can do stuff like museums.

The last time Suanne and I had a vacation on our own was 14 years ago. We wanted to make the fullest use of our time together.


Planning started in earnest a month before. We decided on a theme and that was to learn about American history and culture. We also wanted to visit a part of the country we had never been to before. We had two weeks in all which is a lot of time to cover a lot of area.

We first came up with a general plan to visit the main historical cities of the US and narrowed it down to Washington DC, Philadelphia and New York. The three cities will be the base of our trip. We then allocated the number of days we wanted to spend in each. Half the fun of the trip is planning for the trip. Between Suanne and I, we did a lot of research and put up a detailed plan. Of course, we also had a lot of advice from you readers which proved invaluable.

Our plan was as follows:

  • Fly from Vancouver to Washington DC
  • Stay 5 days in Washington DC and make side trips to Colonial Williamsburg and Mount Vernon
  • Pick up rental car in Washington.
  • Drive to Philadelphia for 4 days and make side trips to Lancaster, Gettysburg and Hershey
  • Drop off rental car in New York
  • Spend 3 days in New York City
  • Return flight from New York City to Vancouver


We managed to get a few great deals when planning for the trip. For starters, our flight tickets costs a total of only $80 … that is return flights for two people. Can’t beat that right? As some of you already know, I work in the aviation industry and do get standby travel/vacation passes on almost all airlines.

Car rentals and hotel accommodations are a bargain if you look hard enough. We did a lot of research and ended up with quite a few good deals through Hotwire and BCAA.


I always had the tendency to pack the entire house because I wanted to have every toy with me. He he he … I often pack 2 to 3 pairs of shoes but it was just 1 pair for this trip. I tried to pack only the absolute essentials as we told ourselves wanted to travel as light as possible and not check in any luggage at all. So, the tools of the trade for this trip is just only:

  • A notebook computer with wifi to store pictures and also get online,
  • The trusty Canon 350D with a wide lens and a long zoom,
  • A handy and backup point-and-shoot camera,
  • A GPS, and
  • A notebook to take notes (me take notes for the blog and Suanne takes notes for the expenses)

I remember our vacations just 10 years ago … you know, those days before digital cameras, internet and GPSs? I don’t know how we managed. Those days, I used to pack something like 15 rolls of camera film just for a 1 week trip!

Oh … also, I remember that after each trip, about the only people who have the slightest interest in our vacation was our own brothers and sisters. We literally had to beg or force them to sit down to look at our precious photos while we tell them the boring details.

For some reason, blogs are another thing … I somehow think that there are a heck lot more people who will be interested to read of our vacation. For Suanne and I, there are no better way to preserve the memories of this little vacation of ours than to write about it and share it.

Hope you all will enjoy reading this series. One blog entry down, 63 more to go … hang on now!

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  1. Jessica

    I’m so jealous about your flight price deals 🙂

  2. KimHo

    I second that! I have to travel to Toronto in a couple of weeks and looking at the ticket prices just make me shiver… Also, a colleague of mine will be travelling around the same time from Sydney, Nova Scotia. Her ticket will cost more than mine. Ouch.

  3. sofei

    Welcome back! I can’t wait to read your 63 entries since I’m interested in both eating and traveling!

  4. Lin

    I am looking forward to read all 64 entries =)

    lol in Sydney Australia, before GPS, we used maps, and sometimes had to stop at the side of the road to look at the direction.

    I have just moved to NY for 1 year, the roads here are sooo complicated, a lot of exits. I wonder before GPS, how ppl knew their way?

  5. Ann

    I’m planning a trip to DC and your thorough posts were very helpful!

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