Neither of us are professional travel planners –in fact, we don’t even travel much compared to the other travel and adventure blogs out there. We are mostly weekend and holiday adventurers. Every month though, to my surprise (& delight), we receive messages from readers requesting tips on how to maximize and plan for a trip. I will attempt to post the type of research that goes into our planning –I warn you though, they aren’t enlightening or even unique! Just common place tips that we’ve found to work for us.
I hope these resources will provide some help to fellow travelers. If you have any further questions, just send us a message!
Watch TV, Read Books, Flip Through Photography Magazines
We have gotten some great ideas from the following resources. When we see something interesting, we will usually write down the place and research it later if it looks like we are going to be in that area.
- Smithsonian Channel’s Aerial America
- Ghost Town books
- Arizona Highways magazine
- 500px features thousands of beautiful travel photos. Do a search for a location. You’ll be amazed at the amazing photos other travelers have taken.
Utilize These Websites
Some of my favorite websites to grab ideas from are:
- TripAdvisor – TripAdvisor features hotels, restaurants, and reviews on things to do. What better way to research a place than to get the info from other travelers who have already been there?
- Roadside America – They generally feature quirky, quick, roadside attractions that aren’t normally featured on major travel sites. Some attractions are a miss, but quite a few are funny opportunities to stretch your legs for 10-15 minutes after being on the road for hours.
- RoadTrippers – This site is pretty awesome. Log in a starting destination and intended destination and this website will map out your route with highlights of attractions, hotels, restaurants, etc. It’ll even tell you how long it will take and how much the trip will cost in gas!
- Pinterest – This extremely addictive site is great for storing up pictures (pins) of places to visit. Search for a location and Pinterest will yield hundreds of amazing pictures and tips! You can view ours here.
- Gorp – Find a park by location with their interactive map. They also have beautiful photo galleries you can view by location.
Once you have your list of places to visit, read reviews about them. And take the reviews with a grain of salt. I always scour the reviews on TripAdvisor. Usually there are very insightful tips on things to do, what to order, where to stay. But keep in mind that often times you will come across silly reviews. When I booked rooms at the Cedar Grove Mansion, I was a little apprehensive but as I read more of the reviews, I realized that the not-so-flattering reviews were from those who did not appreciate its historical background. Other sites to check out:
- attraction’s website
- attraction’s Facebook page
- search for blog posts (most major search engines will let you filter results to the past year or month)
Make a Backup Plan
All your careful planning... just might not pan out to what you expected. So create a backup plan. When we went on our Arkansas-Mississippi roadtrip, we blasted right through Vicksburg National Military Park in 2 hours. We thought it would’ve taken us at least 4 hours. So with plan B, we were able to explore places we had in the back of our minds (Windsor Ruins, Longwood Mansion, Natchez). During our San Diego trip, we had thought to dine in the Gas Lamp district but most restaurants had a 1.5+ hour waiting list. My backup plan had a list of 3 restaurants, 2 of which weren’t in the Gas Lamp district. So we chose one and it turned out to be a great choice, no waiting included!
Make a List, Check it Twice
Check it a million times. Keep a running list of places you would like to see. I created several spreadsheets with numerous lists. We are the type of people, who when traveling, go at a pace of 80 miles per hour. There is so much to see in the world... some day we’ll see them all!