Friday, November 22, 2013

11/22 Planning My Travels

Someone recently asked me how I plan my travels.  That’s a very good question.  Here is my answer:
  1. I start out with a very general idea of where I want to be at a particular time of the year.  For example, right now I know I want to be in Las Vegas by mid-December at the latest.  I am planning to fly to Ohio after Christmas, so I planned around that.  In addition, I want to spend most of January and February in Arizona, and be in New Mexico for March.  April will probably be Texas as I work my way back to Michigan and Ohio.
  2. Next, I do a lot of online research to decide what places I really want to visit.  I had heard that this state park I am in right now was very beautiful.  Another place that was a must was Death Valley since it has been 50 years since I have been there. I also had gotten a recommendation not to miss Valley of Fire State Park north of Las Vegas. 
  3. I don’t like to drive more than 225 miles each day, and I don’t like to drive every day, so I start plotting a route using Google Maps that will get me to the places I want to go. I may adjust it several times.
  4. I like to stay in state or national parks, but I also like to have an electric hookup so I can watch satellite TV.  I also need cell service for my mobile hotspot so I can have internet access.  So, I start looking for state or national parks along my route to see what is interesting and what campgrounds are available. I also like a view, if possible.  I tend to be really picky about where I stay, so I spend a lot of time on this.  I also consult and use Google maps to actually look at the campground and what is nearby.  The maps help me pick out the best site, also.
  5. Also, since gas is a major expense when you are only getting 8-10 MPG, I try to plot out routes that don’t require a lot of backtracking and will get me where I want to go in a logical order. 
  6. Using an Excel spreadsheet, I start to fill in the blanks.  I have columns for dates, arrival location, departure location, number of miles, name of campground, costs, notes, etc. for each date. If I drive one day, I try to stay in the next place for at least two nights.     
  7. When I get all the blanks filled in and am comfortable with that leg of my trip, I go online and make reservations.  A lot of people just drive and take their chances, but I am fussy and feel much more comfortable if I have things planned out. 
A lot of times, I find real gems along the road, so some of it is just pure luck.  I am always keeping my eye out as I drive for places I want to come back to. 

I have some very long-term plans to spend next summer in Colorado, and then Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon.  After that I might head to Florida for the 2014-15 winter.  Someday I want to visit New England, but don't see where I can fit it in right now. 

1 comment:

  1. I am so enjoying perusing your blog. I too have a blog, CampgroundCrazy. You may find it helpful in planning some of your trips. I review all of the campgrounds we stay in, let you know which sites are most desirable and which to avoid, as well as amenities, etc. All of my reviews are first hand, much like yours. Thanks for posting real information that is useful!