Recycle. Remake. Reuse — doesn’t only apply to physical objects.
I create travel plans for my own use. I spend many hours researching, reading reviews, and comparing prices in order to make the best decisions about where and how I spend my travel dollars. I am publishing some of these plans so that others might get some further use from them.
Keep in mind…
These plans were designed for me and my travel needs. It is a plan created before I traveled, and it is not my reflection on a completed trip. Those are printed elsewhere.
The first day of many plans is a travel day. You will have to make your own travel day plan from wherever you begin.
My plan will show attractions that interest me and not necessarily those considered a “must see” by someone else.
Plans typically end at dinner time and rarely include information about bars or other evening activities. I tour during the day and prefer quiet evenings and a good night’s sleep.
These plans are created before I travel. They are not reflections on a completed trip. Those will be found elsewhere. They are based on my research, not my experience.
Hours of operation, admission fees and listed prices were only good for the travel dates I chose. Prices can fluctuate widely based on your own travel dates. Operation hours are often seasonal and may change from one season to the next. Double check before you go. Some of the best times to travel are right before or after peak season. You can still get the benefit of seeing peak season sites at a lower price, with less traffic, shorter lines and fewer tourists.
Many are turned off when they see that I sometimes include a timeline. They tell me that they don’t want to be bound by a “schedule.” Neither do I. My timeline is not a goal to be met. It is only an indication of where I expect to be at that point in time. A timeline is a tool. It allows me to see at a glance if I’m on track to accomplish all that I want. Extra time is built into each timeline allowing me to browse a gift shop or stop for a coffee without a second thought. If I see something interesting to do that is not on the written plan, extra built-in time often lets me add the activity with only minor adjustments to the base plan. Having a timeline makes it easier to make travel decisions.
I do not seek out gourmet meals and I will rarely list a “fine dining” restaurant unless it is a historic tavern or it has a spectacular view or some other feature that justifies paying a higher price for a meal. I look for the highest rated restaurants that are both “cheap eats” and moderately priced. I want the best pizza, the best burger, the best steak and I want it in a relaxed and unpretentious, but interesting atmosphere. I create a list of highly rated restaurants along my travel route that feature different cuisines that will allow me to choose what I am in the mood to eat when mealtime arrives. They include the best restaurants that appeal to me.
One of my favorite things to do is to pack a picnic lunch or buy one at a restaurant along the road. National Park picnic grounds are rarely busy, even during peak season, and are often a great place to sit alone in nature, with or without a lunch.
I avoid fast food restaurants and “budget” chain hotels unless I have a particular need for speed or reason to save money. Travel for me, is about making memories and I don’t find chains to be memorable. I often choose independently owned establishments for the uniqueness of the experience. With today’s internet reviews, choosing the unknown is no longer the risky proposition that it used to be.
My travel plans won’t provide you with a “luxury” vacation nor a “budget” travel experience, but are moderately priced and balanced. I look at cost, but I don’t base decisions on price alone. I consider the food I eat and the places I sleep to be as important as the attractions I visit. That often means that a more expensive room is a better value. When budgeting, it isn’t the total cost of the meal or room that matters. By choosing to travel I’m already committed to paying a minimum price. The real cost of a pricier choice is the difference between the two rates. In the future, once the money is gone, we don’t remember how much we spent on the beautiful hotel with the grand view. What we do remember is the fabulous time we had there. The key to travel budgeting is balance. If I splurge one day, I might even out the cost by choosing less expensive options on another. Budget hotels are good options on those nights when all you need is a place to shower and sleep. Fast food is handy when you are pressed for time. My travel choices are made to give me the best travel experience at the best price.
I like a wide range of specialty lodging types, everything from classic, historic and/or boutique hotels (pricey but very nice!) to retro 50s motels and primitive cabins (not so pricey and sometimes not so nice). I like the adventure of taking a chance on unique, independently owned lodging options. But I also like earning those chain hotel points! I expect a hotel to be clean, but I am not overly fussy. Bedding must be fresh, windows should be washed, and heat and A/C had better work. But I’m not going to complain if there are a few chips in the painted baseboard or a crack in the bathroom mirror.
“Notes” are my own added thoughts. “Traveler’s reviews” have been collected from various tourism websites and edited to provide me with the best information.
A plan is a tool to make travel easier. Lots of things cause plans to change — bad weather, unexpected closings, delayed arrivals, or just changing your mind about what you want to do! Stay flexible. Make changes. Have fun!