Travel Planning

Planning is an important part of going on a vacation, escpcially if the vacation is a road trip. Where to go, when to go, what to see, where to stay, how to get there and so on, are important questions to find answers to. When Tim and I returned from our trip to USA in 2010, we decided to do it once more, a father and son trip, and we would go as soon as possible. In the meantime Dorte and I have split up, on good terms, as we are still good friends, and so Tim and I decided, that 2012 would be the year, as Dorte and I wouldn't go anywhere together. USA was once again going to be our goal. So that settled the overall where and when - if we could afford the trip of course, and already in the summer of 2011, we started talking about our vaccation, and so the planning began for real. I already told about a few of our US road trips, but this time I will let you in on this one from the very beginning.

The first goal was to agree on which part of USA to visit. The first trip together was spend in the western part of the country, as you can read in the stories on he Father and Son trip pages. Of course there were a lot of places in this part of the country, that we still hadn't seen, but we agreed that we would go somewhere else anyway. Tim was in USA in 2000 on our very first trip there, together with his sister, and on this occasion he visited eastern USA, see Our First visit pages. I had of course been in the eastern states as well in 2002 and 2004 and visited the west coast in 2006, and finally been to New England in 2008. On Tim's second visit, before our trip in 2010, he drove from New Orleans to Washington DC, with his grand parents in 2005, including a short detour to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Therefore there was a lot of things, that we had seen together on our own, that we liked to revisit, and also a lot of things that we had never seen, but that interested both of us.

Seattle seen from Space NeedleAfter some discussion, we simply decided on going cross country, from west to east. Now we were a little closer on "where to go", but still not nealy close enough. We started looking in travel guides, and I have quite a few of those. Most of them had suggestions on how to get from the west coast to the east. Titles like "The Northern Route", "The Central Route", "The Southern Route", "Route 66" appeared in almost all of them together with less obvious routes. None of these were to our satisfaction though, so we had to come up with something ourselves. As no airline routes from Denmark goes directly to any US  west coast airports, we have to stopover somewhere anyway, so any airport would do, and finally we decided to fly to Seattle, Washington like Dorte and I had done in 2006, and then go east from there. As many cheap airlines fly from Denmark to Atlanta, Georgia and back, our preliminary goal was to end our trip there. Based on these two fixed points, Seattle and Atlanta, we made a very rough skecth on how to get from one to the other. We knew of course that as we planned along, this first route were about to be changed, but we made it anyhow, based on a few more fixed points. From Seattle we would go east through Idaho and Montana. Then we would turn south through Wyoming, Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas. Then turn east again and go through Louisiana, Missippi and Alabama to Georgia.

This preliminary plan only lasted until we started planning further ahead, and at the same time began searching the internet for airplane tickets, and places to see. But first of all we had to decide how long time, we would spend on the trip, so we both could get the time of from out jobs, and of course also exactly when to go. That meant. that we had to be a little more specific on where to go, what to see, and how many days we would spend on the road. Once again we came up with an intermediate plan, knowing that details would probably change further on. So this is how the first specific plan looked:

From Seattle we would go west, to see the Olympic National Park, or at least the Hoh Rainforest. Then we would turn east, and spend two days driving to Glacier National Park in Montana. After short visit here, we would turn south through South Dakota, maybe including a visit to Mount Rushmore. From there further south to Colorado Springs in Colorado, and on to Santa Fe in New Mexico. After a short stay here, we would go to El paso in Texas, and then west to San Antonio before continuing to New Orleans, Louisiana. From there we would drive to San Augustine, Florida and then the curly part of the trip began as from Florida we would go north to Cherokee in North Carolina, west into Tennessee and then south to Atlanta. We figured that four weeks would be appropriate for this tour, and the next step would be to get time of from work.

We both did and that of course fixed the lenght of our vacation and also the When-question. We will be leaving Denmark on June 23rd, and returning on July 20th, so we would be back in Denmark on the 22nd of July, giving Tim one day to recover before he must be back to work on the 23rd. Getting thr dates right, of course meant that we could start looking at airline tickest in earnest, and we quickly discovered, that flying home from Atlanta with a cheap airline was only cheap, if you used them on the away trip as well, and none of them flew to Seattle. We therefore dropped Atlanta, and finally discovered that the cheapest place from which to return to Denmark, would be New York City. This meant that we had to change our preliminary route plan, and so we did, by avoiding the curly part, and instead going straight or almost straight from Cherokee to New York City. At this time we bought our tickets, and we chose Icelandair, who would take us from Copenhagen via Reykjavik on Iceland to Seattle, and from Newark, New Jersey once again via Reykjavik back to Copenhagen for a mere 1,500 dollars each - tourist class.

As the tickets were now in place, we started looking for more things to see and experience, like a whale tour while in Washington, the caverns in Carlsbad, New Mexico, The Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, the Tabasco Factory on Avery Island in Louisiana, the Louisiana swamps, Fountain of Youth in Saint Augustine, Fort Frederica on St. Simons Island in Georgia, a revisit to Charleston, South Carolina, the area around Wilkesboro, North Carolina to explore one of my interests, Tom Dooley and finally Cherokee and the eastern Tennessee to explore another one, namely my interest in the Cherokee Tribe and some of the places, where the tribe used to live.

This of course meant another change of plans as we still had only 28 days to do with, so to get time for all of it, we had to cut down on some things. We reduced our stay in Santa Fe to just one night and skipped our visit to New Orleans completely, I accepted to stay only one day in Wilkes County and so on, så our tour ended up like this:

  • We will fly to Seattle and when we land we'll head north to Anacortes. Her we will stay and go for a whale watching trip.
  • We will head south again, taking the Port Tonwsend ferry and continuing to Forks, where we will spend another day before returning to Seattle for one more day of city sightseeing.
  • From Seattle we will take the interstate to Wallace, Idaho
  • The next stop will be West Glacier and if weather permits, we will take the Going-to-the-Sun road through Glacier National Park and find somewhere to stay on the east side of the park.
  • Next stop will be in Billings, Montana, but we will probably make a detour to Great Falls to see Giant Spring and Roe River, the shortest river in the world
  • From there we will head on to Wall in South Dakota, to visit the famous Drug Store and if time permits, a short visit to Badlands National Park before we head south
  • through Nebraska to Colorado Springs where we will spend the night. With a distance of more than 525 miles, this will be the longest stint of the whole tour.
  • Next stop is Santa Fe
  • and then south to Carlsbad, where we will stay for a day and visit the caverns before
  • we take another long trip, 450 miles or so San Antonio, Texas.
  • We don't stay in Texas more than one night, but continue to Lake Charles in Louisiana
  • And from Lake Charles we continue east to Westwego, south of New Orleans for a swamp tour, which Tim has never tried. Maybe we can go to New Orleans for dinner or something, before we continue to
  • Bayou la Batre in Alabama, where Forest Gump kept his shrimping boat in the movie.
  • Then again a long trip to Saint Augustine Florida, where I haven't been since 2002. We plan to stay here one more day, before we continue north to
  • Charleston, South Carolina, where I was in 2000 and 2002, and Tim in 2005 as well, but we both want to see this charming city once more; so another day spent here.
  • Wilkesboro will be our next stop, with one additional day to explore the sites of the Tom Dooley case before we continue
  • to Cherokee. A trip of only 150 miles, so there will be time to see some of the places, where the cherokees lived before Trail of Tears in 1838.
  • This completes the trip and all we now have left is to get to Newark before our plane leaves, so we will go north to around Lexington, Virgina and make our final stop somewhere in the neighborhood of Wilmington, Delaware
  • And on the last day we go directly to Newark Airport, return the car, and fly back to Denmark.

That was the plan so far, and it still holdning on, somewhat.

Blue Ridge Mointains near Roanoke, VirginiaNext phase in the plannig was booking hotels in places, where we needed them, or didn't want to drive around looking for hotels. This of course ties us down, but there are still some places, where we have not booked hotels, and maybe we don't even end up in those towns after all, but we don't know until we get there. We have booked alle the hotels, we want to book, so actually we are almost done planning the vacation.

The first four nights (2 in Anacortes and 2 in Forks, both in Washington) is ordered. We stay in rather small towns, and it's high season so the hotels may very well be occupied, when we get there. Actually in one of the hotels we tried to book in Forks, everytihng was already occupied in September 2011.

We completed our hotel booking just before Christmas, and now has hotels in Seattle, West Glacier, Wall, Colorado Springs, Santa Fe, Carlsbad, Wilkesboro and Cherokee. We not very picky when we pick our hotels. Anything clean with two nice beds will do, as we are only going to sleep in the rooms, not spend very much time there. Only in Seattle we wanted to stay near Seatlle Center and Space Needle, and in Santa Fe we wanted to stay in the center of town as well even if the rooms were more expensive there, and the La Fonda simply looked to nice to miss. This is a list of the hotels, we booked

  • The Marina Inn in Anacortes, Washington
  • Pacific Inn Motel in Forks, Washington
  • Quality Inn and Suites Seattle Center, Washington
  • Vista Motel, West Glacier, Montana
  • Super 8, Wall,South Dakota
  • Quality Inn and Suites Downtown, Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • La Fonda on the Plaza, Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • Best Western Stevens Inn, Carlsbad, New Mexico
  • Holiday Inn Express, Wilkesboro, North Carolina
  • Comfort Suites, Cherokee, North Carolina

Besides the hotels, we have also booked a whale watch cruise out into the Juan de Fuca Strait from Anacortes and all we need to do before leaving is to rent a car, which we plan to do sometime in February or March.

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