For most Americans, Thanksgiving is synonymous with home. It represents a break from our everyday lives in which, paradoxically, we take a brief moment to realize just how wonderful it is to have these “everyday lives.” It’s a time when families gather together, feast on turkey and (marshmallow) sweet potatoes, and usually turn on a football game or two. Above all, it’s a reminder to live each day with gratitude.

This holiday season we asked Virtuoso travel advisors, who live and breathe travel on a daily basis, about their own plans for Thanksgiving – whether it’s staying home or on the road.

Jay Johnson

Jay Johnson with his daughter.

Every year Jay Johnson, a Southern California-based advisor, and his family hop in the car and make the scenic Route 1 drive from southern California to Morro Bay, just north of San Luis Obispo, to spend Thanksgiving at his parents’ home. As true travelers would, the Johnsons use their annual trip to explore the surrounding area such as kayaking in Los Osos, visiting Hearst Castle, or wine tasting in nearby Paso Robles.

“The holidays are one of the only times when our family can travel together given busy work, school, and sports schedules,” Johnson says. While traveling during the holiday season can often mean crowds and more expensive accommodations, Johnson feels that it’s a rare time of the year when you can take a breath of fresh air, disconnect from the stresses of life, enjoy family time, and maybe even go a day without checking emails.

Barbara Sackheim King and Michael King

Barbara and Michael King with their family.

Barbara, Michael, and their family will stay home in Kansas City celebrating what they call their “second annual family Thanksgiving dinner.” Since the marriage of their son, they have gained new family members, and now host a dinner with their kids, grandkids, and their daughter-in-law’s family. The Kings’ home sits on a tall hill ringed by forest – which Barbara says makes it feel more like they’re in the Colorado mountains than the Kansas City suburbs.

“Being home invites us to wander, to explore, and to share experiences with friends we have yet to meet,” she says – a beautiful philosophy for all who love travel. Michael, an adventurer, will return from Tanzania just in time to co-host this year’s Thanksgiving dinner.

Taegan Taaler Walker

Taegen Taaler Walker with her family.

Taegan Taaler Walker looks forward to cozying up in her Montana home over the holiday – an ironclad tradition for her family. “It doesn’t get more Norman Rockwell than the adults playing cards and all of the young children laughing and playing games to the backdrop of a roaring fire,” she says.

Walker has traveled throughout her life from a young age, living in places like Alaska and Nebraska. It took traveling the country to become passionate about the experiences available to travelers in her native Montana, where she has fifth-generation, pioneer roots. Sometimes connecting with your home is the best inspiration for travel.

Malaka Hilton

Malaka Hilton and her family at Singita Ebony lodge in South Africa.

This year, Florida-based advisor Malaka Hilton is taking advantage of the holiday by traveling to South Africa with her husband, Ryan, and two children – Alex, a high school junior, and Carter, a freshman.

“As the kids get older and become more involved with the sports commitments – Alex for beach volleyball during the summer and Carter for baseball during spring breaks – we have a limited window of time when we can travel,” Hilton explains. They chose Thanksgiving for this reason, pulling them out of school for three days, though the kids are good students and keep up with their educational responsibilities while traveling.

“We’re fortunate that their teachers recognize how travel has shaped and will continue to shape their global perspective,” she says.

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