Trip-Stacking Ideas to Consider in 2023

By Lynn O’Rourke Hayes

The pandemic-era popularized the idea of “trip stacking,” a concept that encourages crafting a backup to your primary travel plan. Busy families often face shifting school and sports schedules, unexpected sniffles or fluctuating professional demands that get in the way of executing vacation plans. So, creating an alternate, yet appealing, itinerary might make sense for your family.

Here are five ideas to consider.

1. Dream Trip: Cruise the Med

Oh, to cruise the Mediterranean. While pondering a trip aboard a Royal Caribbean ship, the kids have focused on the latest on-board amenities, including skydiving, virtual adventures, glow in the dark laser tag, and bumper car showdowns. The adults imagine strolling the ancient pathways in Florence and sipping local wines on the Amalfi Coast. With older kids in your crew, perhaps you see your selves savoring the stunning views under the whipping cloth of a Windstar sailing ship.

Backup Plan: Paddle Through the Boundary Waters

But, should an international adventure become untenable, consider a canoe adventure on a scenic lake where the natural beauty is top-notch. Head to the Minnesota Boundary Waters and paddle amid a sparsely populated, 1 million-plus-acre expanse of wilderness. Listen to the waves lapping against the shoreline and the haunting lullaby offered by local loons as you drift to sleep in one of 2,000 secluded campsites that dot the lake region. Wake to the sounds of birds chirping in the birch trees before setting out to explore more of the 1,500 miles of canoe routes that crisscross the waterways. End the day around the campfire, toasting with Italian wine.

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2. Dream Trip: Epic Theme Park

You’ve been saving to visit an iconic park like Disneyland in California or Universal Studios in Florida. The kids have yearned to explore Space Mountain and to experience Harry Potter’s world of magic. But if this isn’t the year to stand in long lines, nudge to the front for the street parade, or to cozy up with other fans while waiting for the Hogwarts Express, then having a plan B makes sense.

Backup Plan: Stunning National Park

Consider exploring 45 miles within Maine’s Acadia National Park via the rustic roads made possible by philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr. The historic, 16-foot-wide pathways were designed to enable the Rockefeller family to navigate the area on horseback or in horse-drawn carriages. Thus, none of the roads are too curvy or steep, making them ideal for today’s family cyclists. History-laden, stone-faced bridges cross streams, waterfalls and roads. Bike or walk them, or take a ride in a horse-drawn carriage.

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3. Dream Trip: Discover French Art and History

Your bucket-list trip to France would ideally include plenty of art and history. The Louvre and other important museums would be on the list. A D-Day-focused educational tour of the beaches of Normandy—including Omaha Beach and the Operation Overlord Museum, as well as the American Cemetery, where more than 10,000 white crosses dot the landscape—would be part of the plan.

Backup Plan: American Adventure History

But if crossing the pond must wait, consider dipping into history a little closer to home.

Discover some of the last remaining natural stretches of America’s longest river—the Missouri—while on the lookout for wildlife and scenic vistas and contemplating the significant history of the area. How might this river have appeared to Lewis and Clark when they navigated their way along the Missouri more than 200 years ago? You’ll learn about the plants, animals and landscapes described in the Lewis and Clark journals and find out how the river has changed course over the years.

The Missouri National Recreational River Water Trail extends from Ft. Randall Dam near Pickstown, South Dakota, to Sioux City, Iowa, mostly within the boundaries of the Missouri National Recreational River (MNRR), a National Park unit consisting of relatively free-flowing segments of the storied river.

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4. Dream Trip: Luxury Scottsdale Resort

Checking in to an expansive luxury resort is a real treat, and a family stay at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, in Scottdale, Arizona, is no exception. It’s a Sonoran Desert gem, and families love the chance to dig toes in the sand at the Sunset Beach pool or join the festivities at the Sonoran Splash pool where water slides, music, games and dive-in movies increase the fun factor.

Backup plan: Scottsdale Home Rental

This may be the year your family chooses to dial it down a notch by booking a home rental in a resort area you are eager to visit. You’ll have an easier time managing nap and meal time and expenses while still taking advantage of the outdoor options, including golf, hiking and star-gazing that a resort destination, like Scottsdale, provides.

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5. Dream Trip

It’s important to carefully consider all change and cancellation policies when planning your dream trip and a backup plan. Given life’s demands and occasional curve balls, your best option may be to give your dream trip the opportunity to unfold when it will be most enjoyed by all.

Backup Plan

Sometimes the best backup plan is to stay home, sweet home and take advantage of the nearby restaurants, parks and other amenities that you’ve always been meaning to visit.

Lynn O’Rourke Hayes ( is an author, family travel expert and enthusiastic explorer.  Gather more travel intel on Twitter @lohayes, Facebook, or via Copyright 2023 Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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