Trip Planning

How To Plan A Vacation The Paws For Beer Way

bribed with a treat Boomer looks like he cares (a little more) about planning out our trip!
bribed with a treat Boomer looks like he cares (a little more) about planning out our trip!

My friends and I joke often that I should be a travel agent. Except I’m not joking. I think I would be excellent at it. I love to travel, I love to plan and I love to share my thoughts on where I have been. Sounds like the perfect fit to me!

I am often asked for advice on where to travel to. I seem to specialize in road trips, as many of friends have been moving away 🙁 and they want to know what there is to do along the way to their new destination. I oblige them, give them my recommendations and send them on their way with a small frown on my face. No one likes to see a friend leave, right?

I was recently asked by my friend, Nicole (who is thankfully NOT moving away) if I would outline how I plan a trip. We have talked about it a few times but like her, I am interested in seeing my process put down on paper (more like blogged out). So here it goes, this is how I plan a trip.

how i plan a vacation
Pick your destination

Step 1
Find a location you want to visit. Duh, right?

how i plan a vacation
pick your mode of travel

Step 2
Find your mode of transpiration. Are you flying, driving, taking a train, walking, maybe a combo of those. You will want to figure out how much it is going to cost you to get to your destination(s). If you are flying, that will most likely take a nice chunk out of your budget. I travel mostly by car, so the first thing I figure out is how much money I am going to spend in fuel. I take the miles I am going to drive, the middle range of gas mileage my car gets and the highest range of dollars per gallon for fuel. Since so many things impact the fuel, I like to buffer this as much as possible. It’s always better to plan to spend more then not plan enough and blow through your budget because you’re a “lead foot Sally”

Here is a fuel budget example: For my trip to Oregon this year I plan to drive 1791 miles. Take 1791 miles / 24 miles per gallon and multiply it by $3.80 = $284 USD. I typically round up – so $300 to be on the safe side. If you really want to nail down your fuel cost, you can take a map and figure out approximately how far you can drive on a tank of fuel and then locate the city where you will need to fill up in. Then use a site like, who will give you the fuel costs by gallon in the city you are looking for.

how to plan a vacation
How much do you have to spend?

Step 3
Determine your budget. Honestly this should be step 1, but I can usually finagle enough of the trip to make my budget work. I like to have a realistic idea of how much it is going to cost me to get to where I am going before I start determining how much money I can spend.

Step 4
Now that you have your budget and know roughly how much it is going to cost you to get to your destination(s), it is time to figure out how many days you can spend at your destination(s). This is where you will take into consideration your potentially second largest cost, accommodations. Are you going to stay in hotels, camp, a hostel, maybe you have friends or family along the way. As a roadtripper I base my accommodations on how far I am willing to drive in a day. I like to do about 6 hours per day, but no more than 10, if I am driving to a destination. Once I am at my destination I like to keep the driving under 2 hours per day. Once you know how far you will be traveling per day, locate your accommodations costs. I like to chart mine out so I know how much I am spending on accommodations and pet fees when applicable.

For my Oregon trip here is what my accommodation costs look like:

how to plan a vacation
accommodations cost chart

My total accommodation costs for this trip will be $289.

Step 5
Now that you have most of your major costs out of the way you can focus on the fun stuff, food costs and excursion costs. To figure out my food costs I list out each day I plan to be away, the meals I plan to eat during that day and approximately how much money I plan to spend on those meals. If you know where you are going to eat you can often look up the restaurant’s menu and see their prices. If they don’t have them listed, check for online review sites with price range recommendations. It won’t be exact but you will know what price range to expect.

For my Oregon trip here is how I planned it out for food:

how to plan a vacation
Food costs chart

As you can see from the chart above my food costs for 9 days will be around $415. With wost of that is brewery costs! All meals that are listed as “home” will be sandwiches and other assorted snacks that I bring from home. Technically I should include those home food costs in with my meal budget but since I typically buy foods as I see them on sale and freeze them until I use them on the road I do not include them in the overall cost. It’s cheating… I know.

how to plan a vacation
All my travel pamphlets organized by region… and yes I realize that’s embarrassing…

The next step is the excursion planning. This is the most time consuming part of the trip building process… although I think it’s the most fun. I spend weeks to months researching the areas I plan on visiting. I use resources like travel guide books, travel blogs, internet sites such as the city’s chamber of commerce, maps, Trip Advisor or the excursion’s website. I also have a bad habit of picking up travel guide pamphlets everywhere I travel. Above is a photo of what my office bookcase looks like. I have all of my pamphlets, guide books and other assorted information organized by region. It may look like a travel agent’s office but for me it really is the best way for me to keep this information organized.

From all of those sources I pull together the things that interest me and dig deeper. I use google images to look at photos of the place if it is somewhere that I am interested in taking photos of. I also check the activity’s site to see if the spot is dog friendly. If they are not and I still want to go I look for nearby pet care.

As for the excursions and other miscellaneous costs I make another chart:

How I plan a vacation
Excursions chart

I include dog boarding fees in my excursions cost as it is most likely caused by a non-dog friendly activity I have chosen to do. For this trip I plan on spending $134 on excursions and dog boarding.

Step 6
My next step is to build my itinerary. Below is my actual itinerary for my trip to Oregon. At the top of every itinerary I place my budget so that I know what my expectation is for the trip. I then plan out departure times, drive times and arrival times. I like to also include address, phone numbers, fees, hours of operations and any other miscellaneous notes I need for that specific area. I then print out a copy of this itinerary and carry it with my during the duration of the trip.

Oregon 2014
Trip Budget
Lodging $289
Fuel $300
Food / Breweries $415
Fees $134

Total $1138
Cost per day $126

Day 1 Friday

6:00 pm Depart for Richland Washington
drive time 3.5 hours / 219 miles
9:30 pm Arrive Richland Washington
arrive at hotel

Day 2 Saturday

6:00 am Depart for The Cove Palisades State Park
drive time 4 hours / 230 miles
10:00 am Arrive The Cove Palisades State park
pet friendly; Upper/Lower Deschutes Day Use areas (Caution Rattlesnakes) $5 day use

12:30 pm Depart for Redmond
drive time 36 minutes / 28 miles
1:40 pm Arrive Redmond Oregon
Cascade Lakes Brewing 855 SW 7th Street 11:30 am – 12:00 am Dog Friendly

2:30 pm Depart for Tumalo State Park
drive time 15 miles / 20 minutes
2:45 pm Arrive Tumalo State Park
Tent Camping; fee to park is free if camping

Day 3 Sunday

8:30 am Depart for Lava River Beds
drive time 24 minutes / 17 miles
9:00 am Arrive Lava River Bed
•9am – 5pm $5 fee 1.5 hours to tour cave

10:30 am Depart for Bend Oregon
drive time 24 minutes / 17 miles
11:00 am Arrive Bend Oregon
Bend Brewery Tours $55 6-7 hours 541-977-1780 make reservation 12pm – 6pm

spend the morning in Bend

Dog Friendly Breweries
Crux Fermentation Project 50 SW Division St T-S 11:30 am – 10pm (attached dog park)
Goodlife Brewing 70 SW Century Drive M-Sun 11 – 10pm
Boneyard (dog beer) 37 NW Lack Pl M-S 11-6
10 Barrel Brewing 1135 NW Galveston Ave, Bend 11 -12 pm
McMenamins Old St Francis 700 NW Bond Street

Not Dog Friendly Breweries
Deschutes Bend Public House 1044 NW Bond St M-R 11-11 F-S 11 – 12 Sun 11 – 10

Day 4 Monday

spend morning in Bend

11:15 am Depart Crater Lake National Park
Drive time 1.75 hours /92 miles
1:00 pm Arrive Crater Lake National Park
Rim Drive (check to see if it’s open) 3 hours

4:00 pm Depart for Klamath Falls Oregon
Drive time 1 hours /46 miles
5:00 pm Arrive Klamath Falls Oregon
arrive at the hotel

OC&E Woods Line State Trail (rail to trails) dog friendly – fee free

Day 5 Tuesday

Board Boomer in Klamath Falls
9:00 am Depart Lava Beds National Monument
Drive time 1 hours /46 miles
10:00 am Arrive Lava Beds 1 Indian Well, Tulelake, CA 96134 8 am – 5 pm

1:00 pm Depart Klamath Falls
Drive Time 1 hour/ 46 minutes
2:00 pm Arrive Klamath Falls
Pick up Boomer

2:30 pm Depart Grants Pass Oregon
Drive Time 3 hours /144 miles
5:30 pm Arrive Grants Pass Oregon

Day 6 Wednesday

Grants Pass
Cave Junction $8.50
Wild River Pizza 249 North Redwood Hwy Cave Junction, OR 97523

Caldera Brewery 590 Clover Lane Ashland 97520 11-11pm
Standing Stone Brewery 101 Oak St Ashland 97520 11 am

Bricktowne Brewing 44 S Central
Southern Oregon Brewing 1922 United Way, Medford, OR, (541) 776-9898‎ 4pm – 6pm

Day 7 Thursday

Depart for Eugene Oregon
Drive Time 2 hours 20 minutes / 139 miles
Arrive Eugene Oregon
Elijah Bristow State Park (Eugene) Off Leash Dog Park Day Fee Free

Steelhead Brewing11:30 – 11:30 199 E 5th Ave Dog Friendly
Oakshire Public House 11 a – 10 pm 207 Madison
Ninkasi Brewing

Depart for Newport Oregon
Drive Time 2 hours /100 miles
Arrive Newport Oregon
Port Orford Heads State Park (free)
Rouge Brewery Brewer’s on the Bay 2320 OSU Drive Newport, OR 97365 11 – 9pm Dog Friendly patio

Depart for Lincoln City Oregon
drive time 34 minutes / 23 miles
Arrive Lincoln City
arrive at the hotel

Day 8 Friday

7:00 am Depart for Tillamook
drive time 1 hour / 46 miles
8:00 am Arrive Tillamook
Factory tour 4175 U.S. 101, Tillamook, OR 97141 Fall/Winter/Spring Hours (Labor Day to mid-June): 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

9:30 am Depart for Astoria
Drive Time 1.5 hours / 65 miles
11:00 am Arrive Astoria
Wet Dog Cafe 144 11th St Dog Friendly 503-325-6975
Fort Stevens $5
Goonies Filming locations,
Fort Clatsop National Historic Park (Lewis & Clark) 9-6 Daily 92343 Fort Clatsop Road Astoria, Oregon  Exit 214 Fee included with NPS annual pass
arrive at the hotel

Day 9 Saturday

8:00 am Depart for Snoqualmie
Drive Time 1.25 hours / 56 miles
9:30 am Arrive Snoqualmie
Salish Lodge & Spa 6501 Railroad Ave SE

10:40 am Depart for North Bend
Drive Time 5 minutes / 3 miles
10:45 am Arrive North Bend
Twede’s Cafe 137 W North Bend Way 6:30 am – 8:00 pm

11:55 am Depart for Snoqualmie
Drive Time 5 minutes / 3 miles
12:00 pm Arrive Snoqualmie
Snoqualmie Brewery 8032 Falls Ave

1:00 pm Depart for Home
Drive Time 5.25 hours / 325 miles
6:30 pm Arrive Home

Step 7

Lastly if Boomer is traveling with me I like to investigate the veterinarians in the towns we are visiting if in the event of an accident.  I write down phone numbers and addresses of the clinics.  In the event of an emergency I do not want to be trying to locate this information in a panic.  I also carry all of Boomer’s vaccine records.  This can come in handy for either an unexpected visit to the vet or needing to board him for some reason.  Lastly (and slightly overkill) I carry a “lost dog” poster for Boomer.  Although I find it hard to believe that he and I will ever become separated while traveling I again do not want to be in a panic trying to put together a poster.  I only make one copy of the lost dog poster and carry a few recent photos of him.  My theory is to be prepared for the worst and be grateful for when it does not happen.

How do you plan a trip? Share your ideas in the comments.

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