Friday, August 10, 2012

Deciding Where To Go

As we prepare to start traveling, people have asked us how we decide where to go. This is how we formulate our plans. We first consider people and places that we have fond memories of, and make a decision as to whether we would like to return to where they are for awhile. Budget weighs heavily into trips around the country for visiting. With an unlimited budget, we'd probably enjoy a sweep across the country and back!

The time of year and temperatures have to be considered. In planning for a Winter destination, I found it helpful to write down the names of several communities and then look-up the monthly temperature averages on I made a chart for comparisons. Like myself, I think many people who grew-up in a northern state think that all southern states are warm in the Winter. Did you know there are actually areas of Texas and Arizona where the temperatures drop below freezing and have substantial amounts of snow?! Studying the weather maps for Texas and Arizona, I also found there are pockets of increased temperatures created, I suppose, by weather currents.

As part of our travel planning, we consider things we would like to see. Roy and I enjoy formal estate gardens, and I generally will check my guidebooks to see, if there are any near our course of travel, that are worthy of working into the route plan, or worthy of a trip planned just for it.

Once tentative plans are made, we talk with other people to see what they know about an area. It's comforting to hear someone say they spent time in a place you are considering, and that they liked it. I have learned a little trick for gaining some familiarity with an area, during the planning phase. Go to the Internet for a search and enter the community name and state. Above your entry you should see the words, web and image, as the type of search you want to do. Click on image. A page of thumbnail images will be displayed. I have found it much faster to get an overview, by opening the first image, and then clicking the arrow for the next picture quickly, rather than visually scanning the thumbnails and individually opening and closing photos. While clicking through the photos, I'll often find local attractions. You can do an image search for the attractions, too! I find the image search heightens our comfort by knowing a little about it, and also gets us excited for our upcoming trip!

The expense of getting to a destination and the amount of time we'd like to stay there, also plays into the planning. One thing we have learned with the RVing, is that the RV park rates are less expensive the longer you stay. For example the nightly rate at our current RV park is $35, the weekly rate is $175, and the monthly rate is $325! Longer stays also translate to less expenditure for gasoline in a month's budget!

With our southwestern Texas to Arizona plans, I've added an additional planning technique. As we'll be staying in a number of different communities, and going to state parks, state natural areas, national parks, and tourist attractions; I've done some advance research into entrance fees, and camping facilities. I recorded my findings onto index cards. It's an excellent addition! I found some of the natural areas are available by tour only, others don't provide roads for touring, but only offer back country trails and tent camping! Some tourist attractions are only available Tuesdays-Saturdays during very specific hours. I've bookmarked the websites for future reference. The prior research will save us time and money going to places, only to find them to be inaccessible. I think that about does it! Happy Trails!