To plan for any trip, we used a process we call connecting the dots for both transportation and lodging.
Using a calendar, we walk through the entire trip step by step to insure there is a constant flow of transportation and lodging from the initial departure to the end of the trip and that all of the dots are connected with no gaps. We also do our best to ensure we can accomplish the activities between dots without heroics, such as driving 500 miles to the hotel after a day of sightseeing. Starting with transportation, at each transition point from one form of travel to another, we ensure arrangements or reservations are made and documented.
The “Transportation Dots” must account for every stop, start, or change in mode of travel. For the Yellowstone trip:
1) Origin: Bozeman Airport
2) Departing Bozeman Airport to start the trip.
3) Acquire a rental vehicle
Note: in arranging for a rental car, Mary had a special request: She dislikes getting in and out of small /low cars (She drives an SUV). Therefore, we rented an SUV.
4) Travel from Bozeman airport to Bozeman Hotel meeting point – rental vehicle
5) Travel from Bozeman Hotel to Lodging in Yellowstone – rental vehicle
6) Travel from Yellowstone Lake Hotel to each daily visit location and return – rental vehicle/walk
7) Option: If using a park guided tour – all transportation should be included with the tour
8) Return from Yellowstone to Bozeman Hotel – rental vehicle
9) Travel from Bozeman Hotel to Bozeman Airport – Continue with rental vehicle
10) Arrive Bozeman airport – Turn in rental vehicle
This trip was easy to prepare the transportation and connect the dots. Walk to the rental car, drive, return the rental, walk to the airline check-in desk. That’s as easy as it gets.
Lodging planning must account for each night of travel. Again, Using a calendar:
- Night one, arrival in Bozeman. Stay at a commercial chain hotel (After decades of travel, we have acquired brand loyalty to a few major chains and use their frequent stay program benefits).
- Nights two through five in Yellowstone, stay in Yellowstone – The Yellowstone Lake Hotel as Mary recommended.
- Night six, return to Bozeman, stay at our preferred chain hotel
- Complete the trip
As I do my ‘connect the dots exercise’, I place my travel and lodging plan into a planning travel journal. An example based on the first page of our Yellowstone travel and lodging plan is on the following page of this book. I have also included a few blank pages which can be copied or downloaded using this link.