One common question I am asked when it comes to our trip planning is…. how do I decided where to go and what we need?
My answer to this common question is…..I go where there is something we will all enjoy and I do research sometimes for months before making our packing list.
And that is when everyone rolls their eyes and says…..and that’s vacation to you???
I simply answer….YES!
Planning an active vacation is very rewarding to me. Accomplishing what I have planned is even more rewarding. Coming home after seeing things we have never seen before and having memories that will last a lifetime is honestly, something I can’t even put into words.
After answering numerous emails on how to plan a vacation like this I decided to write this post to inspire everyone to just go for it. If you have a dream vacation and it involves a lot of planning just take it one step at a time and before you know it you will be there living your dream.
This is how I plan an active vacation in order of importance:
#1Destination and # of people: The first thing I do when I plan one of our adventure trips is figure out where we are headed and who is all coming. This is vital because climate plays a big part in what we need as does the number of people coming which makes the food list bigger or smaller. This is what I actually took inventory of this weekend. I dug out our supply of dried meals and wrote down everything we have at home so I can start making our meal plans for our upcoming Superior Hiking Trip. After taking inventory, I then sat down with my husband and son and we decided who wants what meal and if we need to purchase any more before the trip.
#2 Means of travel: The next big thing is how are we getting there. Plane, boat, car, etc.. I research nearest airports if we are flying, check out rental car rates, shuttles or transfers. If we are driving, this is simply getting the directions and deciding how far to travel each day to reach our destination. Another very important thing if driving is to make sure you have the proper vehicle type if you plan to do any back roads.
#3 What we plan to do while there: This is by far the part that takes the most time. Typically, we hike when we go on vacation. So I need to find trail maps, check if permits are needed, check for shuttles to trail heads if needed, watch the weather forecast if hiking in/near canyons, and read what others have said about the trails we plan to hike.
#4 Hotel, resort, campsite: This is another part of planning that can be either easy or hard depending on where we are headed. For instance, when we hiked Michigan’s Pictured Rocks Lakeshore finding a hotel was easy. We had no problem finding a nearby hotel for a reasonable price. When we hike in Zion National Park, this needed some planning ahead. Hotels near national parks book up fast so planning ahead makes all the difference especially in price. Early is cheaper and you have more selection. Campsites in national parks book even faster and honestly, after hiking the mountains of Zion, I need the comfort of a real bed and would pay almost anything for it. (We have a favorite if your searching for one near the park)
#5 Packing list: This is probably the biggest and will ultimately make or break the entire trip. Being prepared for what you have planned is vital to having fun. In many remote places supplies are very limited and if you do find them they are extremely expensive. My motto is, bring what you can from home even if it cost you another checked bag on the airlines. If you don’t, your likely to spend more than that trying to find what you forgot and paying for it when you do find it. If your driving, this is not an issue because there is always more room somewhere.
6# Relax: This is the one thing I learned on our first trip to Utah. We went from sun up to sun down without one single day to relax and rest. It was torture on our bodies. So now I plan every day we are gone except one. One day is simply set aside to rest which clearly is needed by all.
#7 Have a backup plan: Things can and almost always will go wrong during any vacation. It’s best to make a backup plan for these instances. From flight delays, flat tires, to torrential rain/snow…..all this can make a vacation plan impossible. In our experience we have been snowed out completely from one vacation and never left Green Bay. This was devastating and we could do nothing about it. On another vacation our road to camp was washed out by flooding and we had no where to stay until almost half way to our destination. However, this was not our problem. Thankfully, this was our first and only guided vacation we ever took so the company worked on this dilemma from cell phone the entire three hour drive to our destination and we all ended up in resorts for the week. On our last vacation we luckily hiked one trail the day we did because the next day it was closed off for the entire day for a rescue of a fallen hiker into the canyon. So believe me, things happen whether in your control or not, they happen.
#8 Be realistic: Don’t forget you are on vacation. Don’t book yourself and your family so tight that you forget to smell the roses. Take it in, enjoy the ride and make the memories last.
These are probably the most important pointers I can give while planning an adventure vacation. Of course most would say that money should be one of these pointers also but as you can see I did not touch on this one. Why you might ask? Well, in my opinion, if you don’t have the money to spend on a vacation you would not be inquiring on how to plan a vacation. I cannot tell you how to save money for such an adventure, only you know what you can stash away and how long it will take you to get the amount you need. And since that amount differs greatly from place to place, I did not add finances to the list. I believe if you want/need a vacation bad enough everyone can stash away a bit from their daily lives to eventually make this dream come true.
If you have any you would like to add please feel free to leave a comment. I am sure I missed something and you may be able to offer another suggestion.