Today when I got up and took the dogs outside, it was cold! As I sat outside shivering I realized that fall is officially rolling in. Here in the Pacific Northwest we were enjoying a nice, albeit very dry, summer that suddenly turned in to a smokey mess. We missed the last weeks of summer cooped up inside, sweating, because the air quality was so bad that outdoor activities had to be limited. I feel like we got cheated, as our summers are already short. We don’t usually see the nice weather until after July 4th, and we live for every minute of sun and fun we can squeeze in. This year with all the smoke we didn’t see the sun for days on end, and being cooped up reminded me of the wet gloomy days ahead (with the exception of the heat). Stepping outside this morning I was reminded that the cold and rain will again be our normal for the next several months.
Living in the Pacific Northwest my entire life has created a love-hate relationship with this area. The beauty around us during the summer is amazing. The San Juan Islands offer so much to explore, and I cannot imagine my life not living this close to the water. Our winters are drippy, we don’t get a lot of snow, just gray, wet gloom. However, that gray, wet gloom brings enormous amounts of snow to the mountains creating a snow sport enthusiast’s dream. We can be up to the mountain in less than 90 minutes, and to Whistler, BC in less than 3 hours. That being said, by about January or February we are ready to escape to a tropical climate. Our go-to has always been Hawaii, with the island of Maui being our favorite. But, this year I would really like to mix it up and venture outside of my comfort zone, to new adventures.
Hence the title of this post! Planning your winter escape. I thought I would share some of the resources I use to plan with, and some ideas for coming up with new places to explore.
- Word of mouth: Talk to your friends and family, ask them for references on their favorites travel destinations.
- Google: Is there someplace that intrigues you? Google it and gather all the information you can find. Most destinations will have a visitor bureau, or official travel site. These are great resources. Another thing you will find when you google are various blogs that detail their travels. These resources are extremely valuable.
- TripAdvisor: I am a tried and true TripAdvisor gal. I read reviews on the places that interest me. This also reminds me, check out my last post on why it’s important to write reviews too. TripAdvisor not only reviews hotels, it is a great place to read about activities in the area you are researching.
- Travel Agent: While I am a huge researcher and planner when it comes to travel, some people simply don’t want to be bothered or don’t have time. This is when you want to utilize a travel agent, and yes, they still exist!
Using a combination of these is the best idea. For instance, if I know a friend has been to Costa Rica, I am going to ask them what they liked and didn’t like, would they recommend it, and then ask for details. I want to know what their favorite restaurants were, did they do any activities that are “can’t miss”. I then take that information and visit the official travel site like this one for Costa Rica Lastly I take the information I have gathered and search the places on TripAdvisor to read reviews. This is my main strategy for coming up with “where to next”.
Once my husband and I decided it’s time to travel again, and pick a destination, I then start all my bargain hunting. In our case, we have to travel when my husband can get vacation time. For people with more flexibility, it’s worth checking to see when the busiest travel times are and try to book around those. Spring break has been notoriously the busiest and most expensive, so if you can avoid it, I would highly recommend it.
Once you determine your next destination, and pick your travel dates, it’s time to get down to business! Where to stay, whether you need a car and how to get the best deals, and what sights to see. My next few blog posts will focus on how to decide where to stay, such as at a hotel, resort, VRBO or AirBnB, then how to get the best deals on these, and on cars and airfare.
Stay tuned! And don’t hesitate to email me or message me on Facebook if you have any questions or travel ideas for me to explore!