Thanks for another awesome year!

It’s been another year — another awesome year — and we can’t believe it’s already over.

Here’s what happened to us in 2011:

• Our daughter, Erysse, is five years old and started pre-Kindergarten this year. She recognizes words and numbers and loves art — “any kind of art,” she says. We suspect that she wants to grow up to become a Disney princess, based on her extensive library of movies and closet filled with costumes. (We’re not sure which princess, yet.) Her favorite destination of 2011? Visiting Grandma and Grandpa in Andes, N.Y., last summer.

Iden, our middle child, turns seven next month. He’s in first grade, and having a blast. His best subject is math, “because I can do it fast” — ah, our budding little engineer! At least someone in the family will be earning money soon. When he’s not doing school work, he likes playing DragonVale on his iPad and chasing his cats in the back yard. His favorite place to visit in 2011 was Maui, where he went horseback riding and survived a tsunami and plane catching on fire.

• Our oldest son, Aren, is in fourth grade. He’s nine years old and is fascinated by science, particularly astronomy. He follows the discovery of each new exoplanet and loves conducting experiments at home. When he’s not busy discovering new worlds, he’s always up for a round of Plants vs. Zombies on his iPhone. “I also like to play Uno,” he says. His most memorable trip of 2011 was to Northern California, where he spent some quality time splashing around in the thermal pools of Calistoga and skiing at Mammoth and Northstar.

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Kari shocked us by completing yet another postgraduate certificate, this one in education media design and technology from Full Sail University, which has an amazing reputation for technological innovation. She’s putting her degrees to good use, coaching the kids while they participating in a virtual school program. Just how many graduate degrees does she have? We’ve lost count. Kari is the brains behind Away is Home, which we launched this year. We’re traveling across the country and blogging about it. Her number-one destination was Venice, Italy. We were there on a memorable Adventures by Disney tour.

• I had a spectacular year, too. My first book, Scammed: How to Save Your Money and Find Better Service in a World of Schemes, Swindles, and Shady Deals, was published last week. National Geographic Traveler promoted me to Editor at Large, which is a real honor and underscores National Geographic’s commitment to consumer journalism. I’m also still blogging, with the steadfast support of my readers and underwriters, and writing columns for Tribune Media Services and the Washington Post. My number-one destination in 2011? Montreal. What an amazing place — and the food! Fantastique!

As the curtain falls on 2011, we want to thank you so much for being a part of our lives. This is the third time we’ve done an end-of-year roundup (here’s 2009 and 2010) and we hope you’ll stick around for many more.

(By the way, this video was shot yesterday in our back yard, and the kids had a lot of fun making it. Happy New Year!)

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at

  • Thanks, Chris, for all the amazing work you do for us traveling public. Although I’ve been lucky enough never to have had to ask for your services, I still read every single post. Thanks for a great year and here’s to many more… (because you KNOW there will be enough idiot companies and idiot travelers out there for kazillions more posts…)

  • Chris – you’ve given us a pretty good year as well.  I think your column here is the highlight of my day!

  • amyarrow

    Hi Chris and thank you for the awesome work you do. I love reading your posts and learning new tips for travel issues. I work for four doctors and book trips for them quite often and the tips and warnings in your column are very helpful to file away in my knowledge bank. Happy new year to you and your beautiful family, it is kind of you to share them with us. I can see how much joy they bring to your life. See you in 2012.

  • naoma

    Thanks for sharing the news of your beautiful and wonderful family. May you all have a great year coming — the best to you all.

  • gritchie

    Why is the supposedly factual ‘Close Encounters: Proof of Alien Contact’ video listed in the ‘You might like:’ section?  Have you had a close encounter?  Just wondering.

  • Not that I know of … it might be the reference to exoplanets in the text.

  • Great work, I have always enjoyed reading your blog. Wish you and your family a happy, prosperous and successful 2012

  • Thank you for the enlightenment your very interesting blog brought to us this year.  It was a very eventful year indeed and I want to wish you and your beautiful family the very best for the coming
    year – health, happiness and peace.

  • Carchar

    New Year’s Resolution: Read your blog closer to 9 A.M. the day it is written, instead of 9 P.M. or 1 A.M. the next day. Happy, healthy travels in the New Year and thanks for all you do.

  • y_p_w
  • y_p_w

    It actually works pretty well for me since the entries are typically posted around 12 AM Eastern Time.  I check for a new entries around 9 PM my time and typically find nobody’s posted a comment yet.

    And big thanks to Mr. Elliott for doing this.  I’m not a travel agent, nor do I work in the transportation, tourist, or lodging industry.  I’m just an occasional traveler who finds the conversation about interesting travel problems fascinating.  I’m glad that he’s willing to humor those of use who aren’t travel pros.

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