The best travels with my dad

san francisco
My parents and I in San Francisco, mid-90s.

Father’s Day is tomorrow, and it’s a weird holiday for me to celebrate now. It’s been 7 years since my dad passed away. Since then, I have gained a stepdad and a father-in-law, both of whom I love. But that void of losing a parent will never go away.

It’s pretty hard for me to post this. But I only want to remember the good times with my dad, not his last couple of years filled with Tarceva, chemo, and bed rest.

I want to highlight the best travels I had with him, my mom, sister, and the rest of our family. We didn’t travel much internationally, if at all, because at the time we all just had our green card which made it really hard. So most of our travels were local. We were able to go to Canada a few times though. My dad really wanted to get his US Citizenship. He loved being on American soil and was so proud to be living here. Moving back to the Philippines was never a consideration for him.

I remember when he passed in February 2013. It still stings 7 years later. In July 2013, I was on the plane with my mom and sister from San Francisco to Paris (this was before my mom and I got our US Citizenship, so we got a Schengen visa sponsored by her friend in Zurich at the time). It was my first time in Europe, and I remember sobbing on the plane because of how he wasn’t there to come to Europe with us. It was still fresh: 5 months after he passed.

He only wanted me to remember the good times, and by that, I will in this post by sharing all of these wonderful memories with him. Since this blog is in the travel+beauty niches, I want to share the best travels with my dad.

Lake Tahoe and Reno

My family and I lived in the Bay Area for about 9 years. We would take the occasional trip to Tahoe and Reno which is 4 and a half hours away from Daly City. Some of my most fond memories were playing in the snow or swimming in the indoor pool at the Nugget Hotel in Reno. When we moved to the Sacramento area, our trips were much more frequent because it was only less than 2 hours away. Sometimes my dad decided to make a spur-of-the-moment trip for the family for a short weekend getaway. For him, he loved getting away and watching a show or playing at a casino with my mom (although they never overdid it). But driving down east of I-80 was just as much of a thrill for him. Driving down the majestic Sierra mountains reminded him of Isabela, his hometown located in Northeast Philippines. Isabela’s alpine terrain is not what pops in your head when you think of the Philippines’ tropical climate. But he loved it.

grand canyon
Grand Canyon, 2009
rainforest cafe las vegas
At the Rainforest Cafe in Las Vegas, 2009.

Grand Canyon and Las Vegas

My parents, sister, and I took a long road trip in 2009 to Los Angeles (Disneyland included), Grand Canyon, and Las Vegas! The Grand Canyon was magnificent. We stayed overnight in a small hotel nearby. We were so entertained driving through the park and passing by a bunch of elks! It was definitely one of his favorite destinations.

And how can we forget Las Vegas? This is actually the third time we went to Vegas. Check out the photo of us above waiting to get seated at Rainforest Cafe. He sure had a sense of humor!


I remember my first two trips to Hawaii when my dad was still alive. The first one was in 2005 in Big Island. We had a great time, despite some family drama that resolved itself quickly. My second time was in 2007, in Oahu (Honolulu). I remember that day: when my whole family and I climbed up the steep ass Diamond Head hill. It was rough but so worth reaching to the top and seeing the view of Honolulu. I just wish we took a photo of the view (this was in 2007 when we lugged around separate digital cameras…but we still could’ve taken a photo!). That photo looks really pixelated, btw, because I had to crop out my ex who went with us *I can be petty*



If my dad loved Tahoe as much as I said he did, he really loved Yosemite. We didn’t go to Yosemite as often because it is kinda far away from us, but it is absolutely gorgeous. The photo above was taken in 2009 when my cousins from Canada visited and we took them there.

vancouver, ara's wedding
At my cousin’s wedding in 2007


I have been to Vancouver three times: 2007, 2008, and 2012. My dad’s family lives there and I was a bridesmaid for both of my cousins’ weddings in 2007 and 2012. Unfortunately, my dad couldn’t go in 2012 because he was deep in his chemo treatment. I feel so terrible that I lost a lot of the photos from 2007 and 2008, especially when we went to Grouse Mountain and Whistler (which is basically like a Canadian version of Tahoe). I learned my lesson and I need to send digital photos to print in case I lose them so I can always have them on file. But I was at least able to retrieve these photos of us in Capilano Suspension Bridge.

If you lost a parent, know that you’re not alone and feel free to reach out to me. Time does heal, but it still hurts. There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t think about him. And I can’t help but think about the “would-have-beens”…like, if only he saw me graduate from university. Or walked me down the aisle to Cecilio. I can only hope he would be proud of who I am today.

Hannah is a travel writer, graphic designer, and the founder/editor of Hannah on Horizon. She is based in Sacramento, California, living with her husband and two adorable dogs. She shares tips on how to experience luxury travel on any budget, and how to maximize time at each trip or destination, no matter what your budget or amount of vacation time at work. She enjoys making you feel like you have visited each destination with her through her storytelling and informative writing style.

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