Welcome to those of you visiting me from Tuesday Tag-Along today! I’m so glad you came! Please follow me and leave a comment–I would love to meet you! Today, I’m writing about the second part of my trip planning. A little disclaimer first: There are many kinds of people, styles, and also many unique tastes in travel, so these Trip Planning ideas are not to be taken as the only way to plan, or the best! I hope they will be interesting or help you get to know me better, and maybe they’ll give you resources for the next vacation or trip you want to take!
Read Trip Planning (Part 1), if you haven’t already done so!
- If a member of AAA, get TourBooks and choose sites to see in the locations where you’re headed.
- I wrote out a “tentative schedule” in my notebook (lined paper), with each day and the date on the left, then: how far we would drive and to where, hotel/B&B/rental house where we would stay, (and room for the address, phone number, confirmation number and details), the approximate cost of expenses for hotel, gas, sightseeing, etc. that day. I left a few spaces for information about multiple hotels that I see as possibilities.
- Decide what kind of accommodations you want/need, and what your price range is. I knew that I would have to pay more in the DC area, so I wanted to spend less on the way out and back for hotels. We’d only be needing, basically, a place to sleep for one or 2 of the nights. Those, I was willing to scrimp on. I decided that I wanted a little nicer hotel than Super 8, but at Super 8 prices:) and that included breakfast, since with a good breakfast, we don’t need lunch. We planned to pack a cooler and buy groceries and snacks for eating along the way and back, when needed, to save time and money. Our family has enjoyed staying at Bed and Breakfasts on past trips, and I LOVE an historic house filled with antiques, and I really wanted to stay where I could see the mountains and the Peak Color of the Fall Leaves, so just one night I hoped to find an inexpensive-ish Bed and Breakfast out east somewhere. Because we’d be staying in one place for 10 nights at our final destination, I was pickier on those accommodations. For example, because we are 4 people and our children are adults, a boy and a girl, I wanted them to each have a bed, if possible, for that major mid-section of our trip. Sleeping on the floor could dampen the excitement and affect the enjoyment of whoever had that thrust upon them. When they were younger, we would always just put one of them on the floor in a sleeping bag, and that will still work for one night each on the way and back, but not for the whole time. I googled “deals” on suites in all locations we’d be staying, and looked a little further away from expensive areas where most people would want to be, but still on our route, referring to a map.
- We decided we wanted to stop and see something on the way out there. We had heard good reviews on the Creation Museum near Cincinnati, OH, from friends who’d been there, so we decided to go there, if possible.
- I looked online for information on the Museum hours, cost, location, etc.
- Checking with my husband and family, they wanted to drive a long ways the first day. We lose an hour, crossing a time zone, and I know my husband doesn’t like to be up really late, and that we wouldn’t be leaving until about 1:00 p.m., so I looked for a hotel in a major city that we could get to by about 10:00 p.m. Then I looked for deals!
- A very important part of your search for accommodations is to READ REVIEWS! I went to TripAdvisor, but also googled “reviews” and the name of the hotel and its location, because TripAdvisor reviews can sometimes be more negative than others, before I got too excited about a hotel! On more than one occasion, the reviews turned me away from what I thought was “THE” hotel and deal for us! (“Found 3 dead bugs in the bedding” is a quote from a review that I won’t soon forget!!) Do your research and you won’t be sorry!
- Other considerations for the accommodations once at our destination: we would want to leave our vehicle and take the metro rail, and needed safe and free parking. A way to cook at least some of the time–microwave and fridge–was important. Near to the metro rail was also important. Our kids are tall, and we are 4 adults. We have figured that we can save money and time if we have breakfast provided where we stay. We like our morning coffee; we like to use the internet at night, and often catch up on news on the TV or watch a movie together in our room, so a little more space (such as a suite), a hot breakfast provided free, and WiFi, are specific amenities that I looked for.
- I talked to people and did a lot of research online. In DC, things weren’t looking good. Really expensive, not enough beds for all 4 of us, etc. A breakthrough came when a friend asked how things were coming in my plans, and I told her my “tale of woe.” My friend told me about their good experiences using VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner), especially when they traveled with her parents, and sister and brother-in-law, sharing the costs. They’d had a wonderful house with 6 bedrooms and a pool in Florida (I think she said overlooking the ocean), which after dividing up expenses, had only cost them about $55 a night, and they have a large family. Plus, they could cook and do laundry. I was greatly encouraged! She also told me that I could dicker on the price with VRBO. (I LOVE to get a bargain, and am not afraid to haggle:) The VRBO site was very fun, looking at all the pictures, and dreaming of staying in much nicer accommodations than I’d thought possible–and in a house! I found what we wanted, and sent off an offer for, basically, the price I was willing to pay, hundreds of dollars less than they were asking. I knew that I would be reserving the entire time that he had open, thus helping him out a lot, and if he didn’t like my offer, he could turn me down or make a counter offer. (My husband had given me license and told me to find a place and make an offer! After making the offer, I was a little afraid to tell my husband for fear he would be upset with me for possibly insulting the man by making too low of an offer! I needn’t have worried–he definitely was not!) The offer was accepted, but he asked us to pay the tax, which is 14%. It still was a very good price for the area, and a whole house! I was very excited. A bedroom for each of my children, a separate master BR and bathroom for us, and also a bathroom just for my daughter–that has to help in the morning rush to get everyone ready and out the door!–plus a full kitchen if we want to cook sometimes, and a living room to spread out in–these were wonderful perks!
Throughout the whole process, prayer is the most important thing! Prayer that God would guide the process, lead us to the right place, where He wants us, prayer for safety and a good trip, prayer for wisdom, prayer to be a good testimony to everyone we meet. And thankfulness for the opportunity to go!
Stay tuned for Part 3 of Trip Planning 101!
View Verse of the Day