Bringing paradise to your door

Between us, my much-needed vacation couldn’t have come at a worse time. At home, we were in the middle of a never-ending renovation. In the newsroom, there were more work-related projects than I could possibly keep up with.

Yet, a funny thing happened.

The more Dad and I discussed our road trip from New Jersey to Detroit – from the precise moment we would leave the Garden State to some of the sights we’d see when we arrived in Michigan – the more the stress seemed to melt away.

Therein lies the beauty of getting away: Studies show simply planning a vacation makes us happy. Even better? The “high” from that anticipation lasts quite a while – as long as eight weeks. For some, the exhilaration around organizing a vacation can be more of a thrill than the trip itself.

Keeping all of that in mind, it’s never too early to dream of your next big adventure. Because so much joy comes from just anticipating a journey, here’s a date to remember: On May 8, we’ll treat our Sunday home-delivery subscribers to a special bonus – a 102-page glossy travel magazine that promises to shine a spotlight on trips near and far, from Cumberland Island to California, from Nashville to New York, from the Nordic Island of Iceland to the plains of Africa.

So what can you expect?

Join us on a journey along the 444 miles of the Natchez Trace Parkway. Marvel at the amazing vistas of Utah and Colorado. Or travel with us to Hawaii, the land of surf, sun and, yes, snow.

Enjoy the ivy-covered houses and candlelit restaurants of Greenwich Village. Eat your way through Dubai. Or drink up the good life in Napa Valley – a special place where wine is king.

See what it’s like to spend two nights at Frank Lloyd Wright’s cabin in the Wisconsin woods. Feel the magic of Kenya’s Loisaba Conservancy. Or dip into Iceland – and experience just how warm it can be.

While you’re exploring the magazine, take our quiz to test your knowledge of the world around us. Think you know which country has the tallest people? Or where the most remote (yet inhabited) island is located? Or which wine region contains the largest living tree?

As an added bonus, be sure to see how you can enter our contest to win a dream vacation to Hawaii.

In addition to the magazine’s stunning photography, you’ll also find our insider tips to help you plan that next vacation.

Where to eat in Iceland?

Try Baejarins Beztu Pylsur. (Hint, the name for this world-famous stand translates to “the best hot dog in town.”)

Planning a Persian Paradise?

Follow your instincts and buy presents for your favorite foodies at Wafi Gourmet.

Heading to Utah?

We’ll share our list of must-see places.

Indeed, the magazine will inspire the traveler in all of us.

But it’s not just a place to showcase exotic locales or far-flung destinations.

Travel studies conclude that planning several smaller trips a year – rather than, say, one big vacation – may make us even happier.

Because some of the best journeys take place close to home, the May 8 travel magazine will also guide you to some perfect weekend getaways.

For example, we’ll reveal Cumberland Island’s rough camping spots and posh lodgings. Join us as we explore the North Georgia mountains – from the usual to the unusual, from the unknown to the very special. See why Fairhope, Alabama, a colorful waterside town, makes for such an ideal (and long) weekend getaway. Experience the real, modern-day Nashville – from its hip and artsy side to its gourmet delights.

Clearly, all of our journeys, no matter where they may take us, leave an indelible mark on each of our lives.

When I look back on my travels, there are trips that still make me smile.

I remember that perfect weekend boating along the evergreen-cloaked coastline of the Pacific Northwest to catch a rare glimpse of orca whales on the San Juan Islands.

That Thanksgiving in St. Petersburg to relax with dear friends.

That scuba diving trip to Mexico.

Well, let’s just say that’s a story for another day.

One of the most memorable, though, was that 12-hour road trip I took with Dad from New Jersey to Detroit.

There was the inside joke Dad told that had me laughing all the way from Harrisburg, Pa., to a rest stop in Ohio.

The boat ride to Mackinac Island provided its own drama – so did the hunt to try to find a pair of socks for dad. Who knew temperatures in August would fall into the 40s? Months later, we still laugh when we tell the story of Gene – our cranky tour guide on a carriage ride through Mackinac’s lush maples, birches, elms and cedars.

Back in Detroit, Dad insisted we swing by a pawn shop in a seedy neighborhood that had clearly seen better days. There we were, rummaging through the used fur coats, jewelry and big-screen television sets. The highlight? Dad had his picture taken with the owner, who’s a celebrity of sorts from the television show, Hardcore Pawn.

On an unusually chilly night, we stood on our feet at Comerica Park in Detroit as Justin Verlander took a no-hitter into the ninth inning.

As the trip came to a close, we enjoyed the special moments of re-connecting with aunts, uncles and cousins during a family barbecue.

Given all that we experience, it’s no wonder Facebook reports that travel is one of our most updated life events, right up there with relationship updates.

So start planning your next journey – whether it’s a road trip with a family member, or a voyage across the globe or a weekend getaway closer to home.

But first, as a Sunday home-delivery subscriber, be sure to explore our travel magazine on May 8.

After all, it will make you happier.