Kaitlyn Huff on Traveling Consciously (+ beautiful travel photos)
We're delighted to have our friend, the lovely and talented photographer Kaitlyn Huff, share some of her tips for traveling simply on the blog this week. Enjoy!
My little family recently took a vacation to the Pacific Northwest. We currently live in Indianapolis, and I work full time as a momma and wedding/portrait photographer. So from April to November, my schedule is to say the least full. Weekends are crazy town around here, and with my husband working full time during the week, we really needed to get away and regroup as a family before it all began!
The idea of traveling with our six-month-old was a little scary; and since winter funds are smaller without weddings, I was determined to make a plan for our travels and do it all on a small budget. So, without further ado, here are some simple steps to making a lifetime of memories without breaking the bank!
1. Let traveling cost be part of your destination choice.
For example, we wanted to visit some friends in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho; but flights to Portland, Oregon were at least $150 cheaper apiece. So we began and ended our trip there!
2. Shop around for airport options.
We found great flights out of Chicago that flew straight into Portland with NO STOPS PEOPLE! The tickets cost $175 for my husband and I, and our baby was able to fly for free! Taking the red-eye out of Chicago saved us about $200. Maybe packing the baby up for that early a flight was a little crazy, but having extra cash to use on the trip itself was totally worth it!
1. I cannot express how great Hotwire Bidding is!
I mean it. Research the area you’re staying in. Look up all of the 4-star hotels (or whatever works for you; I’m kinda high maintenance, okay?) and figure out what area of town they are in, then when you bid on that area at a 4-star rate at least you have a little idea of what you are getting into!
Maybe they aren’t the nicest of the nicest hotel rooms, but we’ve never had a bad experience doing this. When I saw a 4-star deal in the downtown district of Portland for $104 a night, I hopped on it. We ended up at this cute little hotel right in walking distance of everything. I even called the week before to remind them we would be coming in very late that night and we would love to have a king-size bed!
2. Renting a car is a good idea when you go out west.
Seriously, just driving around and looking at the scenery is a vacation on its own! When renting a car, do a little shopping! I found that it was cheapest if we waited on getting the car until the second day of our trip, because that meant we only had to rent for a week as opposed to a week plus some days. That probably saved us about $75. We brought our own car seat because you can check all baby things for free on most airlines, so that saved us an additional cost.
3. Eating out is probably the hardest part about traveling.
Well, its probably the best part, but it’s the fastest way to spend all your cashola. My husband and I attempted to share meals and not get fancy drinks, but lets be honest we didn’t share most of our meals and got lots of fancy drinks. This one I’ll let you leave to your own discretion ;)
Consciously, Just have LOTS of fun:
Seriously, vacationing is such a gift that we absolutely take for granted. Whether it be a long car ride or a crowded mall, try to enjoy every aspect of that break you get with your family or loved ones. In a place as busy and beautiful as Portland, there’s tons of free fun to be had; picking as many of those as possible made it more fun to indulge when we did J (Below I will give a little map of all the adventures we went on, so maybe you can do the same!!)
As far as our trip went, we were able to stay with friends in a couple places that we traveled to so it definitely saved some costs along the way. Yet to be honest, the memories we made just traveling with our baby girl are ones I will cherish for a lifetime.
**** Map incredibly not accurate; but, you get the idea. Here is a guide of our trip and all the places we explored along the way!
1. Portland – when here, make sure to check out VooDoo donuts, Pioneer Square, and all the good shopping! We stayed in a hotel on the waterfront and were able to walk everywhere.
2. Salem Tulip Festival – seriously, a slice of heaven on earth! It is only open for a brief time in the spring and is about an hour drive south of Portland. The drive through the Oregon countryside is breathtaking, and the tulips … the tulip fields will change your world!!
3. Timberline Ski Lodge – when we were at the tulip fields, we could see the top of Mount Hood, so we made it our goal to find it and drive to the top! At the tip top of the mountain (where the snow caps) is Timberline Ski Lodge. The drive is steep but simple, and the lodge is free to explore! You have to do this!
4. Waterfalls on Columbia River – you could definitely spend a whole day exploring these waterfalls. There are about seven falls to explore, but the most Instagrammed is Multnomah. It’s insane! If you are looking for an adventurous hike, check out Oneonta. If you want to feel like Lewis and Clark but aren’t as adventurous, we LOVED Elowah! A small little hike to this hidden treasure!
5. Coeur D’Alene – we visited some friends here (one of the main goals of our trip) and this little town is so picturesque. Lake Coeur D’Alene is the icing on top of the cake, you must visit it sometime!
6. Wildhorse Scenic Viewpoint – just a simple stop on I-90 but SOOOOO worth it! We randomly decided to check out this viewpoint on the side of the road, and it might have been one of my favorite views of the whole trip!
7. Snoqualmie Falls – a beautiful waterfall, walk to the bottom for the best view! We saw three bears across the river too; I don’t know why this experience wasn’t more terrifying, but it wasn’t! LOL
8. Seattle – you know, another great city with lots of great things to do! The ferry ride to Bainbridge is one of my favorite things to do there. We didn’t spend much time here on our trip because we had been there the year before!
9. Cannon Beach – A MUST DO! Especially if you’re a fan of Instagram ;) But seriously, you can’t go to the PNW with checking out the Pacific Ocean at least once!