When fall arrives, it saddens me somewhat because it indicates another travel season is over. Although, it hasn’t really made much difference in recent years because I’ve yet to get my butt out the door to all those fabulous destinations I want to visit.
I can blame only myself because I fail to prepare properly.
It’s like the huge trip I took with my sister and her family about 15 years ago. All my life I’ve wanted to go to California from my home in Ontario, Canada. I dreamed about it for years. Then one day, she announced that they planned a cross-country camping expedition and I was welcome to join them.
My dream was coming true. I was elated.
For the next four months, I focused all my energy on my job. When I wasn’t at work, I was watching television or doing some writing. Meanwhile, my sister was gathering information about the places we can visit while we’re there. Since we both are interested in nature, I left all the details up to her.
When it came time for the trip, however, I realized I hadn’t done any research whatsoever other than to glance through some of the books she brought home from the library. I hadn’t spent the necessary time working with her on the plans or even making any of my own.
If you’re planning to travel with your family, do your own research ahead of time. This might sound like common sense, but it was something I failed to do. As a result, I had some dissatisfaction with the tour. I hadn’t thought about the historic places and geological formations that would have been fascinating to visit, apart from the famous town of Tombstone, Arizona and the Grand Canyon. Fortunately, we did visit there, but I could have gotten more out of it if I’d done my own research rather than repeatedly asking for a side trip.
The biggest mistake I made was not working with my sister during the trip-planning stage. Being lazy, I Ieft too much up to her. Instead of seeing things like The Alamo in San Antonio, the famous Route 66, the UFO crash sites at Area 51, the Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, the San Andreas Fault, the desert in bloom in Arizona and Hollywood attractions, we spent much of our time hanging around marshlands, fields and streams as we followed the bird migration from the U.S. to Canada.
Obviously, we all had a different mandate.
Don’t get me wrong. I did enjoy the nature we saw along the way, but I would have liked to see some of the cities as well. Since our trip, I’ve discovered even more sites that I would have enjoyed seeing, but it’s too late now because it’s doubtful I’ll make that three-month trip again.
Next time you plan a vacation, start early so you have time to investigate what’s available, share ideas and interests, and if necessary, book lodgings and other services to avoid disappointment.
Be sure to talk it through and expect to compromise, which is something we didn’t do until we were already on the road. Review the research together, rather than allowing one person to do it all. Discuss where you’re going and what you’ll do there. It might require making adjustments to the route so each of you can enjoy your interests along the way.
A great place to start your research is on the internet and at your local library. Read everything you can find on the areas you’re interested in.
The internet is an excellent way to fill in the finer details. Search the online tourism branches of the towns near the areas you’ll be visiting. They will have a lot of information on what attractions are worth seeing nearby. Ask them to send you their travel flyers. Some States have excellent tourism books that list every popular site in their jurisdiction. For one, the thick Texas book with its great colorful images, makes an excellent coffee table book worth keeping for years to come.
Go one step further and see if those individual destinations have a web site where you can get more information. Don’t make the mistake of assuming it’s worth a visit until you do this, because you might be disappointed. Destinations might sound fabulous, but there might not be much there other than perhaps an historical marker and the remains of a grist mill.
Look up sites that list places to see. One that I highly recommend is http://www.roadsideamerica.com, the perfect resource for people taking road trips across the country. Another is http://www.haunted-places.com that lists many haunted sites across the U.S., providing you with background and information to learn more. If you’re interested in Arizona, the official tourist site is http://www.carizona.com. It gives detailed information about many attractions across the State.
If you’re interested in historical reenactments, enter this term into your favorite search engine to find sites and organizations that feature such events for public viewing. Be sure to follow links to reenactment groups, too, because they can tell you where the next events will be held. These are great places to take your entire family, both for their entertainment and their educational value.
Of course, your final step is to get your plan firmly established and any accommodations booked well ahead of time. Don’t forget that checklist of all the things you’ll need during the trip – from passports to pillows.