Are you planning a trip to Washington, Idaho, Oregon or Montana this season? With countless opportunities to experience breathtaking mountain biking, whitewater rafting, kayaking and skiing, this northwestern portion of the United States is home to fun activities for the whole family. But there are a few things you should know about air travel, hotel accommodations, meal planning and staying healthy during your trip if you’re going to have a pleasantly memorable vacation. As a veteran traveler to the Pacific Northwest, I’d like to share some tips and ideas with you as you plan your holiday.
Do some ticket price comparisons online before making flight arrangements. Most small airports in the Pacific Northwest are not the type to offer direct flights to and from a location. Thus, the price for a ticket from anywhere in the U.S. to places like Spokane can be astronomical. Compare United prices to Delta, and try to be flexible in your departure times. By allowing some flexibility in layovers you will open yourself up to better pricing. If you live only a few states away from your northwestern destination, you might consider just driving instead of flying.
The Pacific Northwest is not exactly renowned for cheap lodging, even in less-than-desirable hotels. And the affordable ones, such as Super 8 hotels, might offer cheap prices, but you’ll be sacrificing comfort as well as cleanliness. And while this is certainly not unique to northwestern states, alternatives are few and far between.
That’s why you should check out individual hotels that do not belong to a chain. For instance, the Coeur d’Alene Resort in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, is a beautiful hotel. It’s not very family-friendly, though, and prices are fairly steep. However, if you want a hotel on Lake Coeur d’Alene with a golf resort, this is the hotel for you.
A good family-friendly alternative is the Triple Play Holiday Inn in Hayden, Idaho, which is just 15 to 20 minutes away. With far better rates; complimentary breakfast every morning; and a water park, bowling alley and laser tag area for the kids (and even adults), you’ll not only have something to do each night, you’ll save money and accommodate your entire family in one room at the same time.
If you’re visiting a highly populated area in the Pacific Northwest, you’ll be able to find enough restaurants to choose from. However, when you’re on a biking or boating excursion, you’ll be winding through mountainous terrain where restaurants are sparse.
While you’re packing for your trip, be sure to include a drawstring bag or small backpack for each member of your family. If you can’t stash water bottles and snacks in the suitcases due to TSA regulations, make sure you take a trip to a convenience store or grocery store to pick up water or energy drinks and a snack.
Another reason to get food at a gas station or grocery store is to avoid the hyper-inflated prices you’re sure to pay at the activity center. For instance, when we were about to embark on our Route of the Hiawatha bike tour in Montana and Idaho, there was a small snack and lunch shop attached to the bike rental shack. If you’ve ever been to a theme park and paid their food prices, you know what I’m talking about when I tell you it’s the same
Remember Health Needs
Don’t count on convenience stores, Walgreen’s or any other chain in the Pacific Northwest to carry the same things your local chain stores do. During our first trip to Idaho, three of us came down with a nasty cold and the only cold medicine we could find was some lousy Tylenol Cold. We’re used to using DayQuil, or the cheaper generic variation thereof, and weren’t able to find it anywhere. Thus, we were stuck with what the local stores carried.
Try to stuff as many cold, flu and headache/pain remedies your family is accustomed to in a checked luggage bag or your carry-on. I’ve never had a problem carrying on my medicine, even if they’re gel caps, so you shouldn’t have a problem, either. It is very easy to catch cold in the mountain air, and we seemed even more susceptible to it in the fall months than anything, so be prepared! Also, bring multivitamins or at least some vitamin C to take with breakfast every morning as a preventative measure.
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