View Full Version : Why has planning non-Disney trips become so stressful?

06-12-2010, 08:52 PM
For the past decade we've been going to Walt Disney World every other year and picking other destinations in between. This has always worked out well for us because we feel that we get our Disney fix, and get the adventure of seeing new places. We also feel it helps keep the magic alive for us. But lately, this year included, planning a non-Disney trip has become so stressful!! Why is this? This year we have picked and abandoned two different vacation plans. We want to travel the 2nd and 3rd weeks of July, we're down to the wire here and we're not having an easy time planning our third pick for a destination. Can anybody give me any tips to help make this easier?!:confused:

06-12-2010, 08:57 PM
What are your destination options?

What are the obstacles? Money? Destination? Time of year?

It's hard to respond without knowing more.

06-12-2010, 09:45 PM
Sorry! Didn't think of that. First we were thinking of a DC trip, then we looked into a Black Hills trip. Both looked like great places, but we just couldn't get up much enthusiasm for either. One big concern was if the kids were old enough to enjoy either destination.

Our current plan is (from Michigan) a stop in St. Louis for a couple days, then down to Arkansas to go to Crater of Diamonds park, Hot Springs and hopefully a couple of other destinations.

We're looking at going in July. Money is not an issue, we have enough saved. We are both enthusiastic about this trip because we think it has some great things to offer.

Here's where we get stuck - the itinerary. We seem to be coming up blank on plans either because we're at odds, just can't get a good feel for what would be the best sights, or both. I think the challenge may be that it's more of a driving vacation than a destination vacation. Although, I would dearly love to find accomodations in a central location in Arkansas to see our sights.

I don't know if any of that made sense, but thanks for responding!

06-12-2010, 10:12 PM
Are you a AAA member? We have always gotten the guidebooks for our vacation area, highlighted the living daylights out of them, and then planned our itinerary. We've had a lot of fun at the mainstream places, but we've also had a lot of fun at oddball sights and destinations, and the AAA guidebooks are pretty comprehensive. Failing that, public libraries usually have travel books.

In St. Louis, kids would like the zoo in Forest Park (free when we lived there, and it has a train) the Arch, the Anheuser Busch brewery tour ( our kids always loved factory tours; "how do they do that" was always a big draw). Get a concrete at Ted Drew's - fabulous ice cream! If you're there over July 4th, the VP Fair is taking place around the Arch - displays and activities, and amazing fireworks! You're also an easy drive from Six Flags Middle America if you're in danger of theme park withdrawal. Don't miss Hannibal, MO - the beginning of the Oregon Trail, and Mark Twain country.

If you change your mind, and go to DC, you can PM me (we moved from St. Louis to DC, MIchigan before that) - but DC in July is pretty much like Florida in July.

06-12-2010, 10:16 PM
Oh - have you considered a stop in Chicago on the way? The museum (science and technology?) in the Loop has a German U-boat, a gorgeous and huge doll house, a walk-through heart, a replica of a coal mine - just a fabulous place for kids. As you're driving, that might be a possiblity -

06-13-2010, 10:05 AM
Or you can just go to Walt Disney World again:mickey:

06-13-2010, 10:59 AM
Thanks MagicalMom! We are AAA members and I completely forgot that we could get those guidebooks. We'll have to do that. And, Chicago is one of our favorite cities! We haven't been there in a few years and I would love to go back soon. The Field Museum is my favorite stop.

Slegrant, LOL! Don't think we haven't talked about it! I even priced out an Oct. trip a few days ago and was surprised to discover that they still had packages with the free dining plan available. I almost caved. I don't think it would take much to tip us in that direction. But if we do Disney, it would definitely have to wait until off-season. And, I really, really want to dig for diamonds at Crater of Diamonds state park in Arkansas.

06-13-2010, 12:16 PM
You are comfortable with Disney that's why it's so easy. I'm sure what ever you do you will have a good time. Great place to start is AAA- they have always been a great help. Good luck.

06-13-2010, 01:21 PM
The way we avoid all conflict is that I decide where we are going based on knowing what my son & husband like. I have it easy because my husband wants nothing to do with planning our vacations. I always tell people that he has no idea where we are going until the day before we leave. All he wants to know is how much luggage he has to pull, lol.

I have never been to the area that you are going, so I can't help you there. I know you scrapped the DC plans but if you are worrying about driving from place to place DC would have been perfect for you. We never leave the parking garage. Everything for the most part is very easy to get to by walking, trolley or the metro.

We only go to Orlando every other year. It allows us to see the rest of our country or world on the off years.

06-13-2010, 02:14 PM
You might be falling in to the trap of over-planning your other trips. Disney is easy. We know it. We can talk about it here. We know about the ADRs and importance of pre-planning (some people still just show up and totally wing it, knowing nothing). But I think it adds to the sense of panic when planning for other places. There's the whole "oh no, what about dining reservations?" fear, for one thing. And then the "what will we do on this day, or when will we see that attraction?"

But you really don't have to plan that out as meticulously in advance in a lot of cities. You might have an easier time if you give yourself permission to just know where you're going to stay and get a basic lay of the land, and then wing it from there. Not entirely wing it- buying tickets in advance to some things online helps. But wing it a little more, perhaps. Unless you're already doing that and you're still having trouble. Then it's just maybe interest is lacking, and I don't know what to say except that it's always more exciting once you get there. And the kids might not be too young for some things after all, depending. Best wishes!

06-14-2010, 12:38 PM
Some very good points guys!

I think that definitely there's a comfort factor involved in a Disney trip, even though technically it's more work to plan. It also doesn't help that our last two non-Disney trips were less than stellar. :(

I don't feel as if I need to plan this trip as much, but I just feel so completely lost as to what's there and what things will be like that I felt like I couldn't plan anything.

We finally sat down with the travel brochures and the AAA website last night and I think that we have at least a basic outline for our trip now! It's a huge relief! I'm feeling a little more secure about it now. Still a bit nervous about how it will go, but I don't think I can really avoid that. Disney is such a guaranteed good time for us that it definitely provides a huge comfort factor that I don't feel with other trips.

Thanks for all the help and input! :mickey:

06-15-2010, 09:43 AM
I don't feel as if I need to plan this trip as much, but I just feel so completely lost as to what's there and what things will be like that I felt like I couldn't plan anything.

We tried to plan a trip to Mount Rushmore and the Badlands and I felt so lost that I scrapped it. IMO I made a huge mistake. I felt lost when I was making plans for the Grand Canyon but this time I told myself to carry it through and we had a great time. That was several years ago and in all honesty I see what my problem was then and won't let that hinder future plans to places we have never been before. In my experience a trip to Disney requires more planning than most other destinations which can be fun but also frustrating. It also taints you into thinking you must overplan all of your vacations, which I find now that is not true. Really, what other vacation do you know of that you have to make dinner reservations 6 months in advance for a 3 star restaurant.:confused: But since we all love Disney we do it. :mickey:

I'm sure you will have a great time. I find if I don't compare our other trips to Disney trips we enjoy ourselves much more.

06-15-2010, 06:52 PM
I know the typical non-Disney trip doesn't need anywhere near the same level of planning. It's just a little nervewracking (now) not knowing much of anything about a destination. At one time there's no way that would have bothered me and I need to work on letting it go and getting back to that sense of adventure.

It doesn't help that our last two non-Disney trips were not what we'd hoped. The first of these was simply a grossly overpriced, under-delivering disaster with, admittedly, a couple of great moments. The last one was kind of fun, but not what we expected and definitely a disappointment in some ways. I think I made it worse by comparing it to Disney, particularly after I'd added up what we spent there.

06-16-2010, 07:50 PM
My family and I went to Arkansas for our summer vacation last year and would highly recommend a few activities--canoeing/rafting/tubing the Buffalo River (which section will depend on how high/low the water is), visiting Blanchard Springs Caverns (beautiful!) and visiting the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge (south of Eureka Springs).

As you can see, we focused most of our travel in the northwest corner of the state, but if you have an extra day or two, or want to do a day trip from Hot Springs, you can check these out. :)

I really enjoy planning the non-Disney vacations each summer as it offers a chance for new experiences. I love Disney, but having been there so many times, the trip-planning aspect of it is a bit more routine (which is probably why it is less stressful!)

06-18-2010, 10:11 AM
Thank you for the tips! :mickey: We're already planning on going to the caverns, but hadn't heard of the other two spots. We'll add those to our list.

We're thinking of staying for a couple nights in a cabin at Devil's Den state park, then getting a place in Hot Springs and taking some day trips from there.

06-18-2010, 11:22 AM
Personally, I think planning non-WDW trips takes more effort as most of us have WDW down. That's just me.

I plan trips around activies and not necessarily destinations. In other words, say I want to go to NYC to see the Statue of Liberty and whatever, instead of just "I want to go to NYC". It focuses me more.

This year, our biggest stress is re-modeling our house. So, we're planning everything around that including any possible trips. We'll get through it.

07-08-2010, 04:00 PM
It sounds like you've already broken ground on your trip, but for future reference, might I suggest coming to New England? My past four summer vacations, and next years vacation are all centered here! There's a LOT to do with kids in the summer, though I don't know the ages of yours.

If you have kids on the young side, I'd suggest going to the White Mountains in NH. Storyland and Santa's Village are two great kid-centric theme parks, and good for adults too. Other things you could fit in are more "Natural" attractions like Lost River Gorge, The Flume, or Diana's Bath.
If you like hiking and camping, there's plenty of that too. Or, if you prefer (like me) the lazy man's way to the top of a mountain, take a tram to the top of Cannon or Wildcat, or the Cog to the top of resplendant Mt. Washington.
One of my new favorite things to do is going out on a Moose Tour, where they take you out to spy on those majestically awkward animals!
There's also Clark's Trading Post, where you can see black bears and get one of those cheesy vintage photos with the whole family. (I love those!)

Other New England ideas:
Bar Harbor, ME
York Beach, ME
Old Orchard Beach, ME
Burlington, VT
Mystic, CT
Boston, MA

Good luck! :mickey:

07-12-2010, 04:55 PM
Those sound like really fun destinations, thank you! I will investigate those for future trips. Our kids are still young.

We actually have gone to Maine for two of our trips. The first one was to Bar Harbor and Acadia, and it was an incredible trip! The second time we went to Sebasco Resort in Maine and it was an over-priced disaster.

07-19-2010, 11:55 PM
If you plan your trip in loose terms (we're going to go from home to Yellowstone, and we'd like to hit Mt. Rushmore along the way), and then look at the guidebooks or Internet to see what's handy near your route, you can be pretty spontaneous. That's how we've found places like Wall Drug, Crystal Grottoes Cavern, Natural Bridge, and so forth (different trips). You might want to make reservations at hotels or campgrounds, but restaurants and sights are mostly walk-up. We Disney-philes forget that, I think.

Or, you can choose a route or a destination, and then explore it thoroughly, either using the guidebooks or Internet, or by stopping when anything looks interesting. We just learned this summer to check city websites for seasonal events - who knew there would be a tall ship festival in Bay City, Michigan?

08-02-2010, 11:17 AM
Well, all that angst for nothing! :blush: The vacation turned out great. We booked hotel/cabin in advance, made note of the things we wanted to see in both areas (St. Louis & Arkansas), planned a rough schedule then changed it as needed. I'll be doing a trip report on both locations! Thanks for all the advice. :mickey: