IT HAD BEEN 14 YEARS since my mom and I last traveled together when we boarded a Viking River Cruises ship in St. Petersburg, Russia, last summer. My godmother, who made California newspaper headlines 20 years ago as the first woman to copilot her own small plane into post-Soviet Russia, also joined us. And to add another layer to the multigenerational nature of this trip, I was 20 weeks pregnant. This would be my last big trip before becoming a mom myself.
In Russia, we explored the Hermitage, Catherine’s Palace, Peterhof Palace, and Red Square, accompanied by knowledgeable guides who helped put the sights in historical, social, and cultural context. While we floated along the River Volga and other waterways between St. Petersburg and Moscow, we passed shores lined with sunbathing families and quaint dachas, or summer cottages.
We stopped at small Golden Ring towns, where we visited churches and schools, and met with locals who invited us into their homes to tell us about how life had changed since Soviet times. Because we were there in June, the sky stayed light until midnight, so inevitably our dinners in the ship’s dining room would last until the wee hours, as we talked about past travels, family characters, and parenthood.
Of course, I will remember the vast museums, the spectacular onion domes, and the cosmopolitan vibe of Moscow, but really, it was the moments shared in that dining room that I will remember most about the trip. Freed from having to plan meals, grocery shop, or cook dinner, we could enjoy simply being with each other. As I embark on this next chapter of my life, I find myself appreciating those times even more deeply.
In this issue, Josh Dean, who writes for Rolling Stone and GQ, contributes a story about his experiences on a small cruise with his father in Indonesia.
Suffice to say that no matter what age you are, when you travel with your parents, there will be numerous discussions about the virtues of sunblock.
Whether you like to plan your own trips or have someone else do it for you, we’ve got an inspiring list of places to go in 2015 and, because they wouldn’t all fit in print, don’t miss our expanded coverage and bonus guides here.
Editor in Chief
Follow my upcoming travels with a baby on Instagram @juliacosgrove.