Hello Again! Where We’ve Been & Are Going in 2024

You might be wondering, who are these people and why did they email me?! If so, we don’t blame you. Many of you started following our newsletter for the updates we provided during Japan’s border closure and subsequent (slow) reopening process.

Aside from some minor updates here and there to keep things accurate for 2023, we’ve largely been MIA since returning from a month-long trip to Japan following the acceptance of self-guided tourists. After the world went sideways and things got derailed in early 2020, we had huge goals for this site and our own travels in 2023. It was to be the year that we finally and fully got back in the saddle, traveling and writing with regularity.

We intended to visit a variety of new destinations and return to familiar favorites, expanding upon our largely Kyoto and Tokyo-centric planning resources with more cities and regions in Japan. We had a backlog of photos and post ideas–and still do, as a monkey wrench was thrown into those grandiose plans.

To borrow a line, please allow us to reintroduce ourselves…

We’re Sarah and Tom Bricker. Oh yeah, and we have a baby now.

Not to name names or play the blame game, but she’s the reason we haven’t been around to provide updates and new posts. And we couldn’t be happier about that. We’ll spare you the full details (they’re here if you care), but suffice to say, after struggling for several years with infertility and ultimately coming to terms that we’d never be parents…we were surprised and overjoyed at the beginning of this year to learn that we were pregnant!

We have since become parents–obviously, that’s a baby in the photos above and below. As you can imagine, the months in between have seen us rearrange not just our travels, but our lives as a whole. Our miracle baby has upended our plans in the best way possible, and we’ve been just a little busy as a result.

Parenting thus far has contained its highs and lows, but we wouldn’t trade it for the world. It’s been a 10/10 experience for us. But this isn’t a family blog, so that’s not the point.

It’s no secret that raising a child changes things. Aside from adopting a new sleep “schedule” (air quotes since the schedule is seemingly set at random), the biggest change for us has been in terms of travel. Or rather, the lack thereof.

Aside from 2020 (an outlier for obvious reasons), we traveled less this year than any other that we’ve been together. Again, we’re overjoyed with our baby girl and this has been, without a doubt, the best year of our lives.

It has also been a bit bittersweet. This was going to be our first big year of international travel since 2019. Instead, we cancelled a half-dozen trips. But we understand you can’t have your cake and eat it too, and we wouldn’t trade how our 2023 has unfolded for anything. It has been amazing.

In any case, the lack of travel has also made it difficult to maintain a travel blog. Not for lack of topics, but for motivation. Each time I sit down to write a new post, I get maybe 20% of the way through before feeling the itch and sting of not being able to travel. With that, honestly, comes a sense of guilt–I should be nothing but overjoyed to finally have what we’ve wanted for so long. But I am human, and we sometimes have conflicting emotions.

The good news is that, as we enter 2024, we’re also approaching our baby’s sweet spot when the witching hour (hopefully) ends and (everyone claims) travel becomes easier. Accordingly, we’ve already applied for our baby’s (expedited) passport and have several trips booked for the first half of the new year.

We are obviously excited to get back on the road and show our baby the world, seeing it through her eyes and seeing how travel evolves for us. With this, we are once again have a sense of anxious anticipation for travel, and in turn, about documenting our experiences here again.

Sitting down to write new posts about Japan over the last couple of weeks, I’ve managed to get 75% of the way through, only stopping due to being overcome with excitement and wanting to plan something else. So that’s progress!

We understand that a family travel blog is not what you signed up for, and that’s not what we intend for this to become. While accurate that we will be traveling with a small child now–and I’m told those slow down the pace of things–we’ve developed a certain cadence over the years and are going to try our hardest not to change that. Undoubtedly, we will fail to some extent.

Regardless, we intend upon resuming broad planning posts, like itineraries and city guides. You can also expect more lists ranking particular points of interest relative to the alternatives, spotlights on hidden gems, and features on specific things to do. Japan is going to be an obvious focus for the blog in 2024, as is Southern California (where we live). There won’t be a new post every single day, but we’re aiming for more than one per week.

Another goal is to interject more personality into posts. We have zero desire to be influencers with the focus on ourselves. The spotlight should always be on the destination and providing practical advice. But it seems like the options for travel are either that or resources that read like wikipedia for travel, with almost no in-between.

Aggregators and AI can do the latter (and creepily enough, the latter now too), so we’re going to do something different. Have a distinct voice, paint a vivid picture of what an experience is like, and offer a ‘warts and all’ window into travel. This is my preferred type of travel resource and blog–even when I get the impression I might disagree with the opinions, I find this style more fascinating, helpful, and authentic.

If that sounds appealing to you, we hope you’ll continue to stick around. Of course, we will also cover some of our evolving experiences traveling as a family–the kinds of things we’d like to read for ourselves right now. For instance, is it an absolutely atrocious idea for baby’s second-ever flight to be from Los Angeles to Tokyo? Stay tuned!

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17 replies
  1. Maddie M.
    Maddie M. says:

    Your blog helped me to plan my honeymoon to Tokyo and Kyoto that we took in November 2023! We had a blast – the Kurama-dera hike followed by a lunch in Kibune was an absolute highlight. So glad to see you back at it, and I look forward to following your posts (and recommendations) about traveling with a little one!

  2. Helen Frost
    Helen Frost says:

    So lovely to hear your news. Sorry for the late reply but we have had our “Japan’ family to stay. My son and his family now live in Kamakura after many years in Tokyo and we love it there. They built their own house high up with an amazing view of Fuji. I followed you all through the pandemic and fund your blog very informative. Keep it up please!!

  3. YYC mom
    YYC mom says:

    Excellent news! I’m so glad you’re getting a chance to travel in a new way. I hope that your baby is a “miracle baby” who actually likes to sleep and eat!
    I also wanted to say that I started following you for your original Disney posts, which were very much “a day in the life…” sorts of posts. I loved those. I hope that that type of post is what you have in mind here. The planning resources are great, but it’s more fun to read about the personal experiences.

  4. Raman
    Raman says:

    I appreciate the personal touch you bring to your travel experiences, offering insights that go beyond the typical tourist spots. It’s evident that your passion for exploration shines through every post.

  5. Alex
    Alex says:

    Congratulations! So happy for you both – such good news to hear 🙂

    “But it seems like the options for travel are either that or resources that read like wikipedia for travel, with almost no in-between.”

    100% agree. Keep doing what you’re doing – it is much appreciated!

  6. Megan
    Megan says:

    This is an amazing update, I’m so happy for you guys! Clicked over to the Disney Travel Blog and could not stop smiling at all the pregnancy announcement photos with the mascots. I’ve been relying on your wonderful Japan itineraries since 2018 for four separate trips and I really appreciate you both. I hope baby gets to go to Kurama-dera and ride Sindbad’s at DisneySea!

  7. Stephen G
    Stephen G says:

    Congratulations Tom and Sarah, this is really good news.
    We are regular Japan visitors (mainly Kansai area and also Miyako Islands). Main purpose is to spend time with our family (including grandson who is now fast approaching 10).
    Our grandson is really amazing – speaking both Japanese and English effortlessly. I would encourage you to develop this ability in your baby daughter as it is wonderful to see him switch from talking to his mum (Japanese) and us (English) in an instant.
    Following link from BBC maybe of interest: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-43947365
    Any thoughts anyone else ??

    NATHALIE says:

    So great news. Congratulations. I wish you 3 the happiest life together. Merry Christmas. Happy new 2024.
    and thanks for your blog I discovered when I had to postpone ( September 2022) my travel to Japan ( April 2023). I did your analysis, the different scenarios.
    With my warmest thought to you 3

  9. John Cooper
    John Cooper says:

    Welcome back and congratulations on your new family member! We have friends who had a similar experience – and were successful after adopting a baby (I’m convinced that stress and mothering affect female hormones.)
    We spent the month of April travelling to 10 cities in Japan by various means and visiting with several of our friends – one couple and their new baby in 2 parts of Tokyo (because they moved from the first location when we first arrived to the second for a few days on our return home), and a professor friend in Kanoya, Kagoshima after flying from Tokyo.
    We have many stories and thousands of photos from our 6 trips and one year of living/working in Japan. It’s like our second home country! We’re planning a return trip in 2024.
    We look forward to reading and seeing photos about your future travels and parenthood.
    Merry Christmas and Happy New year 2024!

  10. TimWarp
    TimWarp says:

    We (me68, DH70, DD24) spent most of November in Japan (in Tokyo, DLR, and Kyoto) relying heavily on your web pages for what to see. Being *significantly* older means we got about 1/4 done in a day that you did – we never did see any Kyoto temple fall nighttime lights, because we just couldn’t stay up that late! But pretty much every recommendation that you had that we were able to do knocked it out of the park, and we had an excellent time. Extra bonus points for the leaf-peeping train to Kurama-dera and the Kurama-dera to Kibune footpath – but hysterical laughter at your suggestion that you reverse your steps and go back up the mountain, or do Fushimi Inari the same day. Don’t know that we’ll be back (Iceland and Paris are next on the to-do’s) but I’ll still follow your pages and dream. And though I may have said it on the Disney Tourist Blog, congratulations on Megatron!

  11. Janine
    Janine says:

    Our (2nd) baby’s first flight was London to SFO so nope, not crazy at all! Was totally wondering where you were as I used this blog SO much planning our (much postponed) trip to Japan last Feb and then when I planned another trip for Feb of 2024 saw nothing had been updated. Seeing the reason, well! You are wholeheartedly forgiven. And I can’t wait to read the new articles!

    We did LOADS of travelling when our boys were small, never let it discourage you. Kids get used to what you expose them to and I believe that travelling has made our kids awesome, compassionate, curious, fun adults! Welcome little baby Bricker!!

  12. Kevin
    Kevin says:

    I look forward to more posts on this blog! Whether consciously or not, several of our trips have been to locations you have visited (Japan, Norway, France) and I have found your posts quite useful. I enjoy the personal touch and opinions. I’ve read enough over the years to have a good idea of your tastes so I know when my opinion might align or differ from yours.

  13. Ravina Chandra
    Ravina Chandra says:

    Fantastic news! Congratulations to you both. I was wondering where you were all year but now I know. I want to thank you for all the Japan updates over the years. We finally made it to Japan for our epic 6 week trip March-April 2022 which was supposed to take place March 2019! We loved it so much, guess where we’re going again fall of 2024? And we are spending more time in Kyoto this trip, thanks to all your wonderful tips. Looking forward to more posts. Ravina

  14. JohnB
    JohnB says:

    Congratulations! The Japanese love babies! The Japanese love people who overcome obstacles. Travelling with a baby/children has a huge audience that is not really been penetrated in the Japanese travel blogging world. Have a nice holiday!

  15. Andrea Martins
    Andrea Martins says:

    Hi Sarah, Tom and baby!
    Our daughter’s second flight was a 12 hour flight from Sao Paulo to Frankfurt and she was 7 months old. We received a lot of angry expressions as we entered the plane but she behaved very well. Our trip to western Europe was amazing and we have great memories of our little girl seeing the world. That trip was one out of many, she’s now 16. I can’t wait to read about your adventures!

    • Andrea Martins
      Andrea Martins says:

      Sorry, Eastern Europe! By the way, I also love the Disney Tourist Blog and I’m curious to see if Megatron will love Disney as much as you!

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