Where I'm Traveling

Five readers tell of the life-changing trips they’ve planned for the new year.
Gettyimages 937957130

A trip can be a great memory-maker, whether it’s a family vacation, a volunteer mission or a return “home” to visit relatives or trace one’s roots. Here, five Bergenites explain the journeys they plan for 2019. Their destinations are all exciting places, but—for reasons close to the heart—what they hope to find goes beyond what’s on any map.


“I’m going to Oahu, Hawaii, in February with my husband and our soon-to-be-4-year-old son. We lived there while my husband did two tours of duty in the Navy, and our son was born there. We left in 2015 and it’ll be our first time back. We’re planning to visit our former neighbors and co-workers, eat at our favorite restaurants for ‘ono grindz,’ see the turtles nesting and big wave surfing on the North Shore, hike a few trails, catch a fire knife performance, do some stand-up paddleboarding, walk around Chinatown, tour the Dole Plantation and visit the Bishop Museum to teach our son about Hawaiian history.”—Mariya Thompson, Leonia


“I am taking my niece to Ireland in March as a college graduation gift. (My sister is coming too.) We were always told we are part Irish, so we plan to explore our heritage. We will attend a medieval banquet at a castle in Shannon, sample traditional Irish cuisine in towns we discover on our drive there and learn about the traditions and history in tours we have booked such as Cliffs of Moher, Ring of Kerry, Blarney Castle and Giant’s Causeway with Game of Thrones sites. Being in Dublin on St. Patrick’s Day will be the cherry on top!”—Lee Ann Mandoyan, Harrington Park



“My husband, my 4-year-old daughter and I love the outdoors and spend a lot of our free time and vacations doing adventurous things. I’m an active member of a group called Women Who Hike, which is organizing a hiking trip to Mt. Kilimanjaro in June to raise money for an organization called Flying Kites Kenya. While I don’t think my husband and daughter are coming along on the trip, my plan is to involve them in the fundraising aspect as well as to include them in the training that will be required before I climb the tallest freestanding mountain in the world. Our journey will leave some time for fun too, as we’ll hike in Aberdare National Park and then travel from Kenya to Arusha, Tanzania; the trip there is considered a ‘mini-safari’ with excellent opportunities to view wildlife.”—Carolyn Montrose Dub, Haworth


“I am a pediatric speech language pathologist and work primarily with kids on the autism spectrum. I always wanted to go on a professional volunteer mission, and Global Autism Project’s July trip to Shangcheng District Special Education Resource Center in Hangzhou, China, seemed the perfect opportunity for me. I and others on the mission will be working with local staff to train them in the best educational approaches and therapy for students on the autism spectrum. We will be working with locals in their environment, so that in itself is very exciting—a chance to see the real China, not the tourist version of it. The trip will be mostly work, but will also include some sightseeing excursions.”—Julia Kogan, Glen Rock


“I will be heading to Kursk, Russia, in August with my 1-year-old son to visit friends and family. I was born and raised in Russia before coming to the United States when I was 20. I plan to stay in Kursk for a few weeks, then trek the ‘Golden Ring,’ a multi-day pilgrimage outside of Moscow that brings visitors to historic monasteries and sacred sites. Nearing the end of my trip, I will visit a friend in St. Petersburg and make one last stop at the Hermitage Museum and Peterhof Palace, where Russia’s last tsar, Nicholas II, spent his final days.”—Nadya Gigante, Fair Lawn

Categories: Bergen Health & Life, Homepage Features