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  • Writer's pictureCrystal Norris

My 2018 travel plans

My 2018 travel plans

2017 was a busy year for our family that was full of career changes, a move to Costa Rica and several trips all over the world. We made many memories as we were able to see some amazing places during our travels and as 2018 inches closer we can't wait to see more!

I'm looking forward to a new year that will be filled with trips to new destinations and to cities we love. Our expat family has no plans to find a home base in the next 12 months so we hope to keep filling our passports with stamps as much as we can. For 2018, our travel plans are mixed with a few already planned trips as well as a couple"dream" vacations that may or may not happen. But hey, why not dream big and hope we can see them all, right?

A House of Sparrows 2018 travel plans

Monteverde, Costa Rica

While we still have the luxury of calling Costa Rica home, we are wanting to see as much of this beautiful country as we can. Ryan's German family is visiting for two weeks in January and we have plans on checking out one of the most beautiful cloud forests in the country. Monteverde is a lush cloud forest reserve and has some of the most iconic hanging bridges in Costa Rica. I've been wanting to visit this cloud forest ever since we started traveling to Costa Rica in 2012 so I'm excited to finally get there!

Austin, TX

My little brother is getting married in April and my soon to be sister-in-law asked me to be a bridesmaid. I'm so excited for these two lovebirds and so happy to be apart of their special day! In March I am heading back home to Texas for the bachelorette party which is in one of my favorite cities, Austin. I love this quirky, vibrant city and haven't been able to visit in way too long. Breakfast tacos, live music and I'm sure a dubious amounts of alcohol are waiting for me. Can't wait!


My husbands family live north of Frankfurt and we try to visit them each year. We usually travel during the fall or winter because it is cheaper, but flights from Costa Rica to Frankfurt are actually half the cost year round! So we found some super affordable flights and booked them on Christmas day as Ryan's and my gift to each other. This is typical for us as we love making memories together rather then buying more "stuff".

I am so excited to be back in Germany, especially when it will be warm and full of sunshine! Visiting Germany in December or January has its own perks but man does it get cold and dreary! Germany is a country I hold dear to my heart because of my in-laws, and their delicious bread and beer. But of course family is the main reason (wink).


If you could only see the huge smile on my face when I mention our family is finally heading to Tuscany! I've always wanted to visit Italy but it somehow never happened. When I studied abroad in Prague I vowed to travel to Rome, but it slipped through the cracks and I've always regretted not booking that darn flight. But my wonderful, glorious husband had an early birthday surprise for me; a trip to Tuscany in May!

I've always told anyone who'd listen that my dream vacation is sitting in the Tuscan countryside, underneath an ivy-covered pergola, eating my weight in breads and cheese, while sipping an Italian wine. Pretty amazing dream vacation right?!

Now, thanks to Ryan and his planning its finally going to happen. We found a few Airbnb's about an hour away from Florence that are breathtaking, and reasonably priced too! So while we will fly in and out of Frankfurt, during our three week stay in Europe we will spend 10 days driving from Milan to Florence and back up the coast before heading back to Frankfurt. May cannot get here soon enough!!

Granada, Nicaragua

Last month we almost visited Granada, but ended up heading to Cartagena instead. I'm not complaining because we had an incredible trip to Colombia, but I am bummed we didn't make it to Granada. Someone Ryan works with here in Costa Rica told us we have to visit Granada before we head back to the states. The gem of a city is about an hour south of Managua and is full of culture and color.

I love visiting destinations that are off the beaten path. I hate walking elbow to elbow with fellow tourists and not feeling relaxed while checking out a new city. Granada isn't well-known in the travel community which is surprising. It sits on the shores of Lake Nicaragua and is full of history.

Our family hasn't decided if we are going to drive to Nicaragua or fly. It would be cheaper to drive now that Milena is two and we have to pay for her plane ticket, but dealing with border crossings in Costa Rica are tedious and often times difficult. So, we'll see!

Panama Canal

Many people don't know this, but my great-grandparents on my mother's side lived in Panama for several years in the 70s. They were way before their time and traveled extensively throughout Central and South America. They even made the drive from Texas down to Panama before the Panamanian highway was constructed. True pioneers in the travel community!

They were both fluent in Spanish and fell in love with Panamanian culture. My mother and grandmother joined them for a year near the Panama Canal and they have always told me amazing stories about their travels throughout the area.

I share the same name with my great-grandmother and I've always felt my deep desire to travel is something I inherited from her. Stepping foot in Panama will be an emotional experience as I explore the city my great-grandmother once called home. Panama is a special place for me and I hope the memories they all made there will remain in my family for years to come.

We are planning on flying to Panama City in July when my parents will be spending a month in Costa Rica. That way my mom can come with us and relive some of her memories in the Canal. Its going to be a great trip to not only explore a new country, but to also take a peak into my family's past and see a place that meant so much to my great-grandparents.

Lake Bled

Slovenia has been a dream vacation of mine. I feel I always talk about visiting Slovenia, but I've never stepped foot inside the country.

After our year in Costa Rica, our family is planning on living in Germany for 3+ months depending on our visa status. Even if its just for 90 days, living in Europe will allows us the flexibility to see more while we are there. Slovenia isn't easy to get to from Costa Rica or Dallas, so I hope while we call Germany home, we can fly or drive to Lake Bled so I can finally see this gorgeous lake! We have plans on driving throughout Slovenia but Lake Bled is a must see!


If all goes to plan, my born and raised German husband will finally attend Oktoberfest! While this festival has turned into a tourist hot spot, its still an important festival for Germany and one heck of a good time. Ryan and I love a good German beer, and Milena loves a good pretzel so its obvious our gamily needs to visit Munich in September. Prost!


We can all dream right? Well, Croatia is my #1 dream destination for 2018. We have no set plans on visiting Croatia, but if we are in Europe for a good amount of time, I am going to try my hardest to see this country. Friends that have visited have raved on how beautiful and charming the coastal cities are and the pictures I've seen are always breathtaking. So my fingers are crossed!

Chile or Argentina

Now that our family calls Costa Rica home, we have been looking south for our future vacations. We are so close to South America so we want to try and explore this continent from head to toe. Flying our family of three from San Jose, Costa Rica to Santiago or Buenos Aires isn't going to be cheap. And since we have our sights set on Europe next fall this trip may not materlize. But like the famous quote says "a negative mind will never get you a positive life".


This is a huge itinerary for the upcoming year, but our family couldn't be more excited for this next year. So here's to 2018!

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