How I Plan Trips – The Method to the Madness

Hey y’all! I hope you’re enjoying the summer so far. I’ve been busy planning away, mostly re-booking trips that were canceled this past spring. And that had me thinking, I should write a blog on how I plan our trips! I’m constantly asked how I find places or plan our travels, so keep reading to learn my tips and tricks!

So, I promise I am not a travel expert by any means, but if you follow along on our adventures, you’ll see that we really have gone to some cool places over the years. The internet has become my best friend and I’m not sure how anyone traveled anywhere without it haha!

So, to begin I must mention that I follow a lot of travel sites on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. I also order free brochures and magazines for popular destinations like, Alaska, Colorado, US National Parks, Florida, etc.

There’s never a shortage of travel magazines in our house!

I think about 99% of our trips are planned around a single photo that I come across either from an online image or something in a magazine. It might sound crazy, but I am a very visual learner. I see a cool photo, I begin researching right away, and then I build my trip around that single image. Does that sound crazy?!

I need my picture taken right here, so can you guess what I’m planning next?

Once I see a photo and decide that we must go there and take the same picture, I begin researching this destination. I use google and Pinterest mostly for this. I type in that specific location and spend hours reading and planning.

The map app I use (the standard iPhone app) is also my new best friend. I have to see how far away the destination is and decide if we can do the road trip or if we will need to fly. Have I ever mentioned that I hate flying? I totally prefer to drive while the rest of my family would rather fly. Usually I start with the main destination in mind and begin mapping out our route and planning the drive there and back. Once I have that figured out I start building an itinerary.

Looks like another long drive is in our future!

When I figure out our next destination and have a plan on how long it will take to get there and back, I do more research to see what else is in the area that we need to check out! Typically, I’ll go to Pinterest and lots of options pop up when I type in the location – from places to eat, to historical sites to see, to unique roadside attractions. I use this information to see how many days we’ll need to plan for.

If my computer is out, chances are I’m up to something fun!

Once I know how many days we’ll need, I then go to Google and search the weather for that destination/best time to travel there. I try not to plan trips during the rainy seasons or when there’s a risk for winter weather (especially if we’re driving). At the same time, I’m limited on my travel days being a teacher and having kids that need to be in school learning! But I try to use our school holidays when I can and I’ve found that I really enjoy traveling over Thanksgiving break and spring break. The weather is pleasant and some places aren’t as crowded.

It’s going to be toasty in July…

I also reach out to some of the groups I follow on social media to ask for tips or recommendations! It’s always helpful to discuss travels with people that have already been there, especially if they’ve gone to your future destination recently!

So many people are willing to share ideas and it’s very helpful!

Now, here’s the hardest part… once I have the destination chosen, I know how long the drive will be, and I have an idea on how many days we should visit, I have to convince the hubby it’s a good idea! The best tip for this – finding something adventurous at that location that I know he’ll love to do to seal the deal! Once he’s convinced I start looking for hotel options. I have had good luck booking on Expedia and choosing the book now/pay later option. This has allowed us to book a few different options at the same time and then cancel without a fee the day before check in. There’s been a few times we’ve canceled a trip due to weather or our kids getting sick.

My hubby could NOT say no to a rafting trip!

After the hotel is booked, I make a list of those must see and do places. I take my list and we have a general idea of when we want to do those things, but unless I have to book an activity in advance, I don’t set specific dates for specific places. I like to keep the days open in case the weather changes last minute or we get a good recommendation from a local!

I also check out billboards when we’re driving. We’ve found lots of fun stops along the way just from billboards or roadside advertisements, like Smith Falls State Park in Nebraska or Uranus Fudge Factory in Missouri!

Planning around Covid 19 – I feel like I had to address this because my planning has really changed over the past several months and we have new considerations to think about. With this in mind, I can’t fail to mention that you really need to plan ahead and make sure that the places you want to visit are open. You also need to see if these places require advance reservations and if there are any restrictions in place. Be sure that you’re satisfied with the lodging’s sanitizing procedures.

I hope that all of this made sense! If you need any help planning a family trip, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me or send me that favorite photograph and I will help build you an epic itinerary!


4 thoughts on “How I Plan Trips – The Method to the Madness

  1. I love the map in the background of your last photo! Our family also has a goal of visiting all 50 states by the time our little ones graduate and that map would be perfect! Where did you get it?


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