Tips & Tricks

Most people dream of travel in some form or another. Maybe it’s just sharing travel-related quotes on Facebook. Or hanging calendars with National Park pictures next to your desk to stare at while the office phone rings off the hook. If nothing else, we all have a dream vacation in mind!

But when it comes to the actual “getting out there” part, it can be difficult to take that next step. Coming from someone who has suffered from anxiety most of my life, I completely get it.

Sometimes, the money just isn’t there and despite all the inspirational optimists that say “you don’t need money to travel!” that just isn’t true. No, you don’t need to spend thousands on a trip, but you still want a little pocket money for food and gas at the very least and for those of us on the lower end of the economy, even that can be a struggle.

For some, there are personal reasons for not feeling ready to leave home. Maybe the idea of traveling alone is very frightening (it certainly was for me.) You might have family that depends on you, and you’re afraid to leave them. For a lot of people, time to travel just simply does not fit into your work schedule.

More often than not, people are simply intimidated by the idea of HOW to go about it. There are so many ins and outs of the traveling world, so many things that could go drastically wrong…and so much you might have no idea how to prepare for!

I know this described myself at one point in time. For a while, I just piggybacked on the vacations of friends and family, not having to be concerned with any of the stressful part. Then, when I was an adult that wanted to travel, suddenly it was all on me! I had no idea how to even go about planning and booking a vacation. I didn’t know how to pack for airplane travel or how to best save space when camping. I didn’t even know what dangers to look for on the average hiking trail!

But I learned. And I am still learning! Sometimes I actually devoted some study to it, but most of the time it was trial and error. So, it’s only fair that I enlighten my readers with my tidbits of wisdom because it’s always best to know before you go!

This section will be dedicated to tips and tricks of how to navigate travel of varying sorts. We’ll cover how to plan a comfortable trip that won’t break the bank as well as how to make the most out of a day trip. There will also be some articles on general rules and regulations you might want to keep in mind. Some of this information will be Ozark-based, but there will be a fair amount of knowledge that can be applied to any kind of travel situation!

So stay tuned as we add to this section. Sometimes, we will update as we go! As we learn things we didn’t know before, I will share them with you as well to help limit any unwelcome surprises and disappointing inconveniences that could potentially hinder your perfect vacation!

Personal “Rules”

Before when get into the hectic stressful part of all the things you have to remember (it’s not actually as bad as it sounds, I promise!) I want to start off with my first personal rule: have fun with your trip! Regardless of what you might encounter along the way, stay flexible! Don’t let one bad experience or one disappointment overshadow your whole trip or, even worse, your outlook on traveling. It’s okay for things to go wrong. Because, they will sometimes. If nothing else, you’ll either come out of it with a well-learned lesson or a great story!

When David and I first started to travel, we didn’t know what to expect. We tried to plan things out the best we could, but the rest of the time we just had to go with the flow. In fact, we only had one set of “rules” we held ourselves accountable to while we were out on the road, and those we created just for fun! These rules dictated what we had to accomplish before we could check off a state as “have visited”. I have added them below, as an example:

1) We travel together. Friends and family may join, but it is not the full experience if either David or myself is missing.

2) We must spend a total of 24 cumulative hours within the state borders.

3) We have traveled a distance of at least 50 miles within the state borders by any means of transportation.

4) We stop for coffee at a local coffee shop, at least once.

The first rule came about because we wanted our new experiences together to feel like a fresh start from vacations past. If we agreed that a state visit didn’t technically count until we had done so together, then it gave the trip a more personalized and meaningful touch, as well as making everything feel completely new! This rule also became one we upheld while doing small things around the area we lived in! Even if it was a regular haunt for one of us, it couldn’t be checked off the list unless we had experienced it together.

The second and third rules exist to make sure we really have time to soak in what that state is all about. If we have spent 24 hours within it and have traveled at least 50 miles, then we have probably gotten to see at least a small chunk of things! This ensures that a single night in a big city, never leaving the hotel room, does NOT count. We have to actually get out and go see some stuff! Whether it be by car, bike, train, boat, horseback, or hiking…we’ve got some miles to cover! We allowed for cumulative hours to count for states close to us. That way, when we are out and about on our day trips to Arkansas and such, it still counts after enough of those trips. While we have never stayed the night together anywhere within the state (yet), we have seen A LOT of it, definitely more than 24 hours worth.

The fourth rule is a fun one just to add a touch of personalization. Some travelers vow to have a beer in every state or eat at every BBQ joint in a single city…that sort of thing. Something that really makes the trip yours. For us, we love coffee shops! Chain businesses don’t count. It’s got to be something unique to that area.

As an added bonus, one day when we get out on the road and are able to spend months at a time exploring, we will only cross states off as a “been there, done that” when we have completed the checklist of everything we want to do in that state. And every state has a LONG checklist!

I encourage you and your family/friends to do the same! Maybe set some personal goals or achievements you’d like to make on an upcoming trip. Try to get a picture of every state sign or license plate. Maybe you could make up a scavenger hunt for the kids to complete as you go. Challenge all of your travel companions to try one activity they’ve never done or have been too nervous to try before.

No matter how you go about planning and preparing for your trip, just make sure you go into it with a mind and heart open for adventure and fun! It can be hard to find the silver lining in some situations if you’re not a natural-born optimist (and believe me, I am not) but you’d be surprised how much more relaxed and carefree you’ll feel if you try. So go ahead and check out the tips and tricks we have so far, and keep checking in with us as we learn new ones. And remember…

We only have one life to live. So get out there and live it!

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