Planning Your Next Big Adventure!
If you are like me, the winter months represent prime time to be planning our escape(s) for the next camping season. But where to start? Below are a few ideas we typically use to discover a place where we will enjoy traveling and visiting the following year:
1. I start with an atlas…or a map of the country. Generally, we first need to pick a direction. Sometimes this is easy. Many of you know we generally head west from our Wisconsin home. After doing so for a number of years, in the mood for something different, one year we decided to head east. That started one of our all time favorite two week summer RV trips; one we still talk about today!
If you are like us and generally head for the same or a similar location, pick a new one, either exactly opposite of the usual or some variation of this. Sitting down with a map or an atlas can help you peruse attractions along the various routes and at least get headed out in a general direction.
2. Choose a time frame. Where you go and how far you can travel will, to a large extent, be determined by how long you can be away. Obviously you can go much farther in a month than in a week, so this factor becomes an important consideration before settling on the farthest point you will go.
3. Once you have your direction and time frame, it is time to choose the farthest point to which you will travel. Or if you enjoy a circular route, the general route you will take. This will help to define the remaining details of your trip.
4. Once your far point is established, I like to sit down with the current edition of the Woodalls Campground Directory and page through the section that covers the direction we will be taking. Often we will finalize our route based on wonderful campgrounds and RV parks that lie in proximity to our general direction. The right campground can really make the trip so that generally becomes our next decision. I start making a list of parks that interest me and highlighting the most attractive details and features of each.
5. I sit down at my computer with my list and start doing some research on the areas through which we will be traveling, looking for information to fill out our trip:
–Are there historic sites nearby that we would enjoy seeing or would like to share with the kids?
–Are there unique landmarks that we would like to explore?
–Is there a sport or a hobby we would want to pursue in a particular location, such as whitewater rafting, hiking, horseback riding, mountain climbing and the like?
–Are there any other unique aspects of the route that jump out at me?
I remember when we were traveling to the Grand Canyon, I noted that our route would take us right past Winslow, AZ on our way there. Being a huge fan of the Eagles, we routed our trip right through the town so that at 5 am that morning, the 5 of us had our pictures taken at “Standing on the Corner Park.” This is the kind of thing my kids still talk about!
6. Once I have a good idea of our stopping points along the way, I head back to the computer to Map Quest the routes to make sure we are not taking on too many miles in a day and note any other peculiarities that come up in my research. I generally Map Quest each day’s route separately, then put them in order, along with copies of information about attractions we want to see inserted in the appropriate locations.
7. With the Map Questing complete, I start making reservations. I learned the hard way that it is better to have one and need to cancel it, than not to have one at all. As we usually travel in the busy summer months, better safe than sorry.
Terry and I were married in our home, as it is the second marriage for both of us. We enjoyed an informal reception there with our friends and family. Not sure when things would wind down, we made reservations for days 2-7 of our week of traveling throughout the state of Wisconsin, but not for our wedding night. We were married on September 30, peak fall color season in Door County, Wisconsin, our first destination. We left the house about 6 pm and drove all the way up to the farthest peak of Door County, seeing only “No Vacancy” signs all along the way, much to our dismay. At midnight we had turned around and were headed back the way we had come and stopped for a pizza. We continued heading south until we ended up about 30 miles from home, in Green Bay, WI at 2:00 am! An interesting wedding night to say the least!
8. With reservations made, I print copies of all confirmations and intersperse them in my packet with the Map Quest directions and attraction information in the order we will visit them. I prepare a 1-2 page itinerary with time frames and highlight things such as miles to be traveled, hours on the road and costs of accommodations. Then I clip the entire packet together and keep it in a manila folder which works well to handle any receipts you want to save, brochures you collect and mementoes you pick up along the way.
This packet, then, is my bible. It guides us on our journey, but we are never too inflexible to make changes when necessary. Some of the best times have happened on detours from our planned route. But at least we have an idea of where we are going and what we will be doing. Afterwards, the packet becomes a nice memento of the trip itself. We can sit and look back at the places we’ve been, the things we’ve seen and the memories we’ve made.
Now it’s time for me to pull out my atlas and pick a direction!
For great places to stay browse RV and campground directories at Woodall’s online bookstore.