Gone with the Grins

Who We Are

The Grinstead Family

Let us start by telling you who we’re not. We’re not 20-something backpackers trekking the world after college. We’re not 30-something nomads living on the road with our grade schoolers. We’re not even retired Boomers with a lifetime of savings to fund our travel addiction. The reality for us is much different, and it goes something like this…

Rick has a full time TV engineering job. Karen is a part time flute and piano teacher. We own a house, two cars, and we’re raising a teenager who is working on both high school and his Eagle rank. College expenses are looming. Traveling must be done over Thanksgiving, Christmas, Spring, and Summer breaks. Sound familiar?


On the red carpetOnce upon a time, we both worked for NBC and traveled pretty regularly. Karen wrote and produced news stories, while Rick made sure the TV signals actually got where they were supposed to go.

One or both of us have covered Democratic and Republican National Conventions, the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, the OJ Simpson Trial, World Youth Day, Presidential Inaugurations, and the Oscars.

Traveling for work was interesting, but it was still… well… work. Traveling for fun was so much better.



Rick and Karen at Champs Elysees

We have fond memories of driving a little rental car all over England, exploring the Paris catacombs with a rowdy French school group, barely missing a hurricane on a Caribbean cruise, and rescuing a pair of stranded German tourists at a lighthouse in Maine.

Mind you, all of this was pre-parenthood. We quite willingly hit the pause button on travel in exchange for baby bonding and Barney songs.

Fast forward about nine years, and we can blame a family trip to Hawaii for reigniting our desire to see every last place on earth.



Our friends think we travel ALL THE TIME, which sadly isn’t so. We wish it were true, but the demands of daily life keep us in town far more than we’d like. Perpetually spinning the globe and anticipating the next bucket list destination is what really keeps us going. While hitting everywhere will require a lifetime, here are some highlights of our already-been-theres. We have…

  • raced each other on the longest twin ziplines in Central America
  • explored 10 U.S. National Parks
  • watched a sloth walk across a dirt road
  • soaked in volcanic hot springs
  • visited the world’s only remaining Grand Duchy
  • stood at the westernmost point of England
  • twice climbed the Eiffel Tower
  • sailed in the Florida Keys
  • between us, traveled to 43 of the United States, including Hawaii and Alaska
  • sat atop the world’s largest gypsum dunefield in New Mexico

The unique gypsum sands of White Sands National Monument in Alamogordo, N.M.

So how do we do it? Well, first off, traveling is Priority Number One around here… usually a big family vacation each summer and a few smaller ones throughout the school year. To achieve this, Karen is a bit of a Nazi when it comes to budgeting and saving, and she hoards credit card points and frequent flyer miles.

Because we’re pretty anchored to our middle-class life, we plan for these trips far in advance (no cheap, last-minute weekend fares). Because we’re a little bit older mature, we demand some creature comforts while traveling (no couches, please). Because Rick’s hobby is landscape photography, we pick locations with breath-taking photo ops. (Dinant, Belgium anyone?) Because our son doesn’t respond well to culture shock, we will never go to Asia while he’s living under our roof.

So we hope you’ll stay awhile and read our impressions of the great -and not so great- places we’ve visited. Peruse Rick’s beautiful photographs. Learn how to pack without taking along the kitchen sink. And when you’re done, grab a calendar, write your bucket list, make friends with Google Flights, and start following your own travel dreams right on out of the suburbs.