Future Trips

I have been planning three trips for the future, but I always have a list of places we would love to explore in my Midori Travelers Notebook/Journal. I try to research way ahead for our National  Park trips because lodging can sell out very quickly. When I plan, I map out routes, hikes, look up hotels, read guide books and get on the Trip Advisor forums and ask questions.  I also make an itinerary in my free TripIt account. Then it shows up on my phone calendar and App.

In summer of 2016 we are going to visit Glacier National Park for the first time. Then we will drive down to Yellowstone, Grand Teton National Park and finish up our two and a half weeks in Jackson, WY. It is our 20th anniversary this year and the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. We decided to spend the 100th anniversary in America’s first National Park. We are so happy Craig got all of his vacation time approved. I started planning this summer’s trip last May. Even that far ahead, a Roosevelt Lodge cabin with a bathroom was sold out! I found out there are only about 14 of them and the summer season at Roosevelt is short.

We have also been planning a Florida road Trip for 2016. Craig and I lived in Florida for six years, but we have not explored the Everglades in depth. We also want to go to Biscayne National Park, Dry Tortugas National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve. At first we thought we may want to go in January, but then we were worried it might be too cold to snorkel. Now we are hoping for October. I am glad we waited because Biscayne National Park just got back their boat tours. They had been looking for concessioners for a while now. I have been using the newer Lonely Planet Road Trip guide books for planning ideas. I love the routes they suggest in these books. The hotel and restaurant info is not in depth, but I like the maps a lot. 

The third trip we are planning is Alaska in 2017. We are super excited and this trip is long overdue. We are going to be doing a Princess Cruise and land tour for 15 nights with friends. We will visit four national parks on the trip and hope to get a lot of new stamps for the National Park Passport! I will post more updates on future trip planning and things we are going to see and do. I have also found some great hotels and restaurants you may want to check out. I have been using Pinterest as a helpful visual trip planning tool. Check out my Yellowstone, Glacier, Florida and Alaska boards for more hotel, food and drink, hiking and things to see and do suggestions. 

 


Road Trip Planning

When we started talking about our California National Park road trip and our Grand Circle road trip (UT, CO and AZ), I turned to two web pages and apps I use a lot for travel planning. One is Roadtrippers. I love their site and app. The website can be a little buggy with older browsers and computers, but it has helped me map out a few trips now.  We used the app in Florida to get from Central Florida to Saint Augustine and back without a hitch. You can view where you are driving on the app and see restaurants and interesting sites nearby that you may want to stop at. It also shows hotels and gas stations if you want. I find the estimated times that it will take you to get to the next stop pretty long, but you can get a rough idea by the distance. If you are looking for ideas, there are also fun stories and trip suggestions on their website and Facebook page. 

My favorite trip planning tool (other than TripAdvisor and guide books) is TripIt. I can make an itinerary and plan out our whole trip. TripIt lets you forward air, hotel, cruise, Open Table, and car rental confirmations to them by email and they automatically load them into your trip itinerary. I have 4 trips on there right now and 90% of the time it knows what itinerary to send the confirmation to. When it is not sure, it keeps them in a file for you to load. It shows you weather and maps for your locations. You can plan your trip on your home computer and all of your info will be there in the app. You can also link it to your cell phone calendar. I love having all of my confirmation numbers and times in one place. Best of all they are both free! 

Yosemite is 125!

yosemite

On October 1st, 2015 Yosemite National Park turns 125. In 1890 Yosemite became the country’s third National Park. Over 1,500 square miles were put aside for people to love and enjoy. Some areas like Hetch Hetchy were changed by development, but it is amazing what people fought to preserve.

Craig and I had been talking about visiting Yosemite for a long time, but other trips kept happening. We have been to California many times and I felt bad being so close to Yosemite, but not having enough time to visit. After seeing Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks in 2014, we realized what we had been missing and putting off for so long. I am sorry we waited so long to see our parks. I do not regret any of the wonderful vacations we have had, but now that Craig has more vacation time we are able to spend more time at the parks. I work from home so I can adjust my schedule. This year we are so excited to visit several of California’s National Parks. There are events, shows and displays going on for Yosemite’s 125th. There is also a new passport stamp!

I started my planning at the library and on TripAdvisor. I love that I can look up books on our online library database and have them shipped to our local library. I really like the Moon Handbooks and Lonely Planet guide books. If we like the books, we buy them and pass them on to help others planning a trip.

TripAdvisor has forums for most popular vacation areas and the people on there are a great help! They answer questions about driving directions, lodging, activities, restaurants, hikes, etc. I have always lucked out with hotels that are top rated on TripAdvisor too. Even though I started looking at hotels about 9 months in advance, most of the rooms in the Yosemite Valley were booked. The reservations for park lodges often open up over a year in advance. For Yellowstone they open May 1st for the whole summer. You can check on the official websites and call for the exact dates to book. They will charge a nights deposit to hold a room. If you have your heart set on in park lodging, but everything is sold out, keep checking the web site and calling. Rooms do open up when people’s plans change. Wawona, Camp Curry and Housekeeping Camp have more options as well. I have all of our rooms held for our Grand Circle Tour in October except one night at the Bright Angel Lodge at the Grand Canyon. I keep checking for a room every few days. More on that trip in a future post!

Since the Yosemite Lodge at the Falls was booked and the Ahwahnee only had rooms here and there, we decided to book at the Evergreen Lodge near the Big Oak Flat entrance. Evergreen Lodge is a little far from the Valley, but it had very good reviews and we will be spending time all over Yosemite. We did decide to splurge and spend one night at the Ahwahnee so we could see a lot of the Valley and have their amazing Sunday Brunch!

Evergreen Lodge Cabin

Evergreen Lodge

awh

After reading several guide books and TripAdvisor forums, we decided on five nights in Yosemite, one night in Kings Canyon, one night in Sequoia and two nights in Joshua Tree. Sequoia and Kings Canyon are also celebrating anniversaries of 125 and 75 years! We are flying into San Francisco to spend three nights at the beginning of our trip, stopping at Disneyland for their 60th anniversary and ending the trip with three nights in San Diego to visit friends! One day in Yosemite will be spent at Hetch Hetchy and the Evergreen Lodge, one at Glacier Point, one on Tioga Pass Road/Tuolumne Meadows, two in the Valley and one morning in Wawona/Mariposa Grove.

If you have any questions about our planning just ask in the comments!

 

Trip Planning

One good place to help with your trip planning is AAA. If you have a membership, you can go in and get maps, guide books and Trip Ticks.  Even though we use a lot of online resources and Apps like Roadtrippers to plan our trips, we like having paper maps in the car/truck. Sometimes a GPS will be wrong in more remote areas or you will have no signal. Today, we went into our local AAA and got some maps and guide books for our California road trip in June. They even had some Yosemite and Sequoia/Kings Canyon Ranger booklets. These have some good info on visitors centers, hours, etc. I also grabbed some Alaska cruise brochures for future planning!

I will do a post soon on trip planning for a National Park trip like Yellowstone or Yosemite. Planning can be overwhelming because a park like Yellowstone is so large. There are several lodges to choose from and you need to book a year in advance to get your summer dates!