Live Blogging: Planning 4 Trips in 5 Months

ipad travel planning

Goal: 4 trips in 5 months
Time Left: 4.5 months
Completed: .5 of 1 trip, ideas for the other 3

As I write this post, I'm listening to the Moana soundtrack on youtube. What better inspiration?

… "Who knows how far I'll go?" …

For those new to my blog, I recently got a new job. My time for planning, researching, and blogging has been cut in half. Furthermore, my vacation time will be cut even more following January 1st, 2018. So, I'm trying to take advantage of the time I have available for travel. Unfortunately that leaves little time to focus on the blogging of past trips. I will get to them eventually (like in 2018 when I don't have time to travel), but in the mean time I've decided to live blog the trips I'm currently working on.

A little background:

I've known about my limited travel time since the first week in August, but in August I was planning travel for the (1) eclipse, (2) Labor Day, and (3) my nephew's birthday. Yes, three trips in just under a month. Overwhelming to say the least, especially when you are working and commuting 13 hours a day.

Now, all of that is past, and I can focus on the next four trips. My work day has decreased some, to nine hours, so I have a little bit more time to research and devote to blogging. (Especially now that I've mostly caught back up on sleep.)

fall foliage

Trip #1: Road Trip from Boston –> NYC –> DC –> Asheville (Leaf Looking) in early October

The plans for this trip have been all over the place. I knew I had time off and that I wanted to go leaf-looking, but I didn't know where. Or, rather, I did know where, but I didn't know if the leaves would cooperate. As it turns out, according to the Smokey Mountains website, apparently, my preference (Vermont) was out of the question. So, then, I settled on Oregon. But prices for flights out west remained high, so the new top choice was NYC. Not the city, exactly, but more a cheap-ish place to begin a road trip. Of course, as it does, the prices jumped overnight before I was able to book. The next cheapest place for me to fly to, Boston, was only four hours away, so my husband and I opted for that. Who knows when and where we will find peak fall leaves, but at least we are giving ourselves plenty of time (five days) and space (approximately ten states) to find the color that we seek.

After booking the flight to Boston, I researched rental cars. Turns out a rental car from Boston to Atlanta would cost upwards of one grand. Umm… no thanks. Back to the drawing board I went. Could we use Amtrak? Or take a bus? But those options wouldn't provide us with any flexibility in leaf-looking. Turns out the price of the rental car was greatly reduced if we agreed to return our Boston rental to NYC and pick up a new rental car in NYC to drive down to Atlanta. That worked out for me. I mean who wants to pay the high tolls and parking fees inside the city of New York? Just … no.

Now, I'm focusing on hotels. I broke our travel up by city, because it was the easiest way I could think of to balance the 17 hour drive time. According to Google, NYC is approximately four hours away from Boston. It will probably take us more as we meander slowly and make our way south. DC is four and a half hours away from Boston… So on and so forth. (I think you get the idea.)

Right now, I have booked a hotel in Boston, one in D.C., and one just north of Asheville, NC in Little Switzerland. Of course, most of the rooms I've booked, save the Boston hotel, are cancelable, so you can be sure I will be continuing to seek out the best deals as I firm up my travel plans. It's just really complicated when you are trying to put together a predictable itinerary around something as unpredictable as leaves. Along with that, I will work out other details – like whether or not my husband will be going to see the Chihully exhibit at the New York Botanical Gardens.

Trip #2: NYC in November

This trip is the easiest to describe. I want to see NYC. That's it. I've booked two hotels so far, I'm watching plane ticket prices with the Hopper app, and I know that Billy Joel will be hosting a concert at Madison Square Gardens. End of story.

New Orleans

Trip #3: New Orleans in November

Right after Thanksgiving my husband and I will be making the five hour drive to Louisiana to see the land of creole and jazz. I know that I want to stay at The Roosevelt New Orleans for one of the nights to see the Christmas decorations, see Christmas lights, eat beignets at Café du Monde, and maybe go to a jazz concert. Aside from that, I'm open to suggestions. Have any of my readers been to New Orlean before?

London travel?

Trip #4: ???!? in December

In December, my husband and I are looking at making our way to Europe … perhaps to London. We've also talked about Vienna, Salzburg, Paris, and Berlin. Of course, I've also been watching flight prices to Hawai'i, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, and French Polynesia. Basically, we want to get out. Preferably to somewhere with a good fireworks display, though I'm open to beaching it up instead. Or dancing New Years night away in Vienna (not that I dance). SO hmm. If the airlines would lower their prices on any of my chosen destinations, I could actually make a decision. :)

Grand Canyon

Finally, Trip #5: Road Trip to Grand Canyon –> Las Vegas –> Los Angeles –> San Francisco (in April 2018?)

Trip #5? I know, I know. I said four trips in five months. This one is a bit of an outcast, though, since I am only thinking about it in preparation for next year. I think the plan right now is to explore these areas in April. And I only recently added the Grand Canyon to the trip details a few hours ago. I have no flights, no rental cars, no hotels, no dates for this trip. I'm not even sure if we will visit all of these places within the same "trip". Maybe we will go to the Grand Canyon another day. Anyway, this is just a rough outline. Has anyone I know made the drive down the Pacific Coast? What about a trip to the Grand Canyon? Does this all sound feasible within a 7 day period?

SO, yes. This is what my next few months will amount to. Then, I have no idea… I don't know what 2018 will look like as far as travel goes. It will be a totally new experience for me to not be able to request vacation time off at my whim.

I hope you will follow along as I work my way through planning these trips, and I hope it will help you learn something new along the way: whether it's about the locations, a way to save money, or something I can't even think of right now! Because, that's what blogging is about, in my humble opinion: learning from one another and becoming better versed in the ways of the world.

Wordless Wednesday #22

Honolulu in O'ahu, Hawai'i (February 2017)

I haven't had the chance (or taken the chance?) to talk a lot about my trip to Hawai'i this past winter. I think it was because I was busy sharing about past adventures, preparing for the April A-Z challenge, planning future trips, looking for a job, and (as of recently) working at said job. There may have also been some time in there spent feeling sad about my old job ending. (It happens when you work with kids and make connections.) I think the last time I really had any free time was July. Even weekends that I think are free end up getting filled somehow.

But I do want to tell you all about Hawai'i … and Miami … and Key West … and all of the other places I end up going in the next few months. (Travel will be greatly reduced in 2018, so I'm trying to take advantage of my free time while I can.)

I think Hawai'i is everyone's dream vacation. It's that place you want to go but never think you can afford. That is until Delta runs a promotion and you are able to book with points. (My experience.)

I follow a bunch of travel blogs, so when a post about the promotion popped up, I mostly ignored it. Use all of my Delta points for one flight to Hawai'i or use some of my points to travel to NYC or San Francisco or anywhere else? Make those points last?

Well, technically, those points were my husband's. He signed up for the credit card, he got accepted. His points. His choice.

I offhandedly mentioned the opportunity. "Want to go to Hawai'i?"

His answer?


So, that's what we did. I spent a good six months planning the trip. I used Google Maps, Visit A City, books… Every activity, every meal was carefully planned and worked into an itinerary to get us the most out of our very precious time. And, honestly, it was one of the most amazing trips of my life. (Of course, I say that about every trip.)

The picture above was taken during a transfer from Molokai (island) to O'ahu (another island). I scheduled the flight right around the time sun was supposed to be setting. Up until this point in the trip, I hadn't really gotten to see Hawai'i from above. (Our arrival to Maui occurred at night.) Going from the tiny island of Molokai (7,404) to O'ahu (953,207) was a stark contrast and had me looking at (and photographing) the city of Honolulu in ah. If I loved Molokai so much, would I like Honolulu? Was Honolulu and the island of O'ahu too big for my tastes?

I won't go into details in this post, but I will say that there is something for everyone to love in Hawai'i. And one of the things I loved most was the stark contrast of people, experiences, beaches, and history you could find on each of the different islands. (I still have two more to visit!)

What do you seek when you travel? Does the contrast of different islands appeal to you? Or would it send you into culture shock?

I'm hoping to start blogging more frequently again soon, but, in the mean time, I appreciate the support of my followers who are continuing to comment and engage. You all are awesome and truly make blogging worthwhile. :)


It feels like this outside, and I'm ready for it!

At the beginning of every month, as part of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, I take a look at my successes (not just in writing), share the ways I hope to improve in the next month, answer the IWSG question of the month, and provide inspiration (if I have any).

August Goals
Return dress to Von Maur.
Pay for program so that I can recover Hawai'i pictures.
Finish planning for Labor Day trip.
RELAX. (Don't stress.)

Additional Successes –
✓ Twitter and Facebook follower counts went up!

✓ Got caught up on comments! (That was a struggle.)
✓ Didn't go over cell phone data limits! (Also a major struggle!)
✓ Made it through my first month at my new job.
✓ Sold washer and dryer for additional money. (We've been meaning to for a while.)

September Goals –
• Plan travel for October, November, and December.

• Talk to dent guy about getting my car fixed.
• Get back into blogging.
• Contact Chase about a double charge.

IWSG Question: Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing? For example, by trying a new genre you didn't think you'd be comfortable in??

I have definitely surprised myself with my writing but not because I was trying a different genre. Rather, the big surprise was being able to conform my interests to the topic of my paper for a class in college. It was kind of a lightbulb moment for me. I was struggling and struggling and struggling until I realized how to work with my topic. Honestly, I don't remember what the topic was, but from that point forward writing for school (or writing in general) simply became that much easier. I was not longer restricted by my topics; I felt more free when writing.

Your Turn

I'm a little late responding to the IWSG post of the week, but I look forward to seeing how other IWSG'ers have responded to this question. Have you ever surprised yourself in accomplishing anything? … whether that's writing, art, a really hard or complicated math problem, a new solution to a problem, etc? How did you discover your new way of doing whatever it is? Were you inspire by someone or did you find the solution on your own? Do you have any recommendations for others who are struggling with something in their life? (i.e. Think outside the box … but how?)

Click here to learn more and
link up with IWSG!

August Break – I Believe (You Have to Be Really Drunk For This)

Turtle Racing in Key West, Florida

Turtle racing seems like both the most ridiculous thing you could do and the most hilarious. I'm honestly not sure what to think of the fact that there is a bar in Key West where this is a thing.

Would you go and watch if you had the opportunity? Would you bet? Or maybe this sign is an indication that Key West is not the place for you… What do you think?

* I'm participating in Susannah Conway's August Break. Only one more day left to join in the fun!

August Break – Yes! (I will ride in your yacht!)

Another shot of the rich and the famous. What kind of places do you think they go to in their magnificent yacht(s)? (And how much do you think it costs for upkeep of said yacht? 😬)

P.S. If you are reading this post and own a yacht, feel free to invite me on vacation. I won't bite. Or steal your yacht. 😉

* I'm participating in August Break. Join in?