If you look at your calendar, I bet there is a day or two, maybe even a week, coming up that you have planned for a while. It’s there, always in the back of your mind, waiting. It’s a free day or vacation!
We are all so busy. Our lives are nonstop with work, school, activities, errands, cleaning, returning emails, etc, etc. It is sad that we need to actually schedule a day when we are free to do what we want, but it’s a reality in today’s world. So, when we have that elusive vacation day, we don’t want to waste it. It takes a lot of planning, even to do nothing! Maybe you want a day at home on the couch with a cup of coffee catching up on your reading. But to do even that, you must first make sure that all household chores are done so you won’t feel guilty about not doing laundry and all phone calls have been returned so no one will disturb you. And that’s nothing compared to when you are actually attempting to plan a vacation away somewhere!
I have a few tips that you can use when planning your next adventure, whatever it may be. These are just tools that I use when deciding what we are going to do on a day off or on vacation. They have worked well for us. It does require a bit of research and time in front of the computer, but it will be worth it in the end when you are out there spending that day exactly how you hoped to spend it with no other thought than what you are doing right then!
How To Plan your Adventure:
1. Know the general area or activity that you want to do, but don’t be locked into a specific location. Don’t just look at activities in a specific city, but also check out what is around it. The ideal hotel for you to stay in may be one town over or you may find a really good hike only a half hour away. Last summer we wanted to go to Cape May, NJ but, as I researched I discovered that it would make more sense for our family to stay one town up in Wildwood Crest. We still went to Cape May daily but, by staying in a different town, we were able to afford a hotel room with a huge balcony overlooking the ocean and we discovered a new favorite beach.
2. Use travel websites like tripadvisor. I love tripadvisor! I use it all the time, usually as a way to make sure the hotel we are going to stay at is decent. But I also use it as a way to find places and activities that people recommend in the area we are heading. We have found some great spots using this site. I even found what led to one of our favorite vacations based on reviews on tripadvisor. We ended up going to Grand Manan Island because I was searching for places to go in Canada and stumbled across a few extremely positive reviews of the island. So, when you are on a travel website, do more than just book a hotel room. Check out the things to do lists and forums of the area where you plan to go.
3. Utilize the geocaching website for both popular and hidden spots. Geocaching is a fun game, especially to do with kids. If you are not familiar with it you can read a previous blog I did on the subject or check out their website at geocaching.com. But I have discovered another great way to use the site. I also use it to find places to visit while on vacation. Anytime we plan to go anywhere, whether it’s for a day or a week, I now check the map on the geocaching website for caches in the area to which we are headed. Not so much so we can find the cache, but more to see what is there. The way geocaching works is that anyone, following certain rules, can hide a cache. So, people hide these caches either very creatively or in a unique location. These locations are often a favorite spot for the person who hid them and often someplace that not everyone knows about. I cannot tell you how many amazing places we’ve been to thanks to geocaching! People also, through a point system, get to rate a cache as one of their favorites. This has been another great way of finding places to go. An example of this is the thousand steps that I wrote about in last week’s post. Once I had decided where we were going on vacation, I looked for geocaches in the area and found that that cache had 160 “favorites”. Considering most caches have zero favorites, that told me something, and we were not disappointed!
I hope that some of these ideas help you in your planning of future trips and adventures. Taking the time to really research and plan will make the trip less stressful, make the most out of what little time you have, and, hopefully, take you to those off the beaten path places that you will never forget! You will move from being a mere tourist to really knowing and experiencing the area.
More to come next post…