We’re off today for an epic road trip and eventually Yellowstone National Park! We’ll start out of Portland, head to Eastern Washington and the Palouse, which we’ve been wanting to get to forever. Then we’ll head North into Montana with a few days at Glacier National Park, then go South to Yellowstone to see the sites. Then we’ll circle back through Sun Valley, Idaho and finally back through Eastern Oregon and the Wallowa Mountains and make it back to Portland. I’m so excited for this trip and to see so much scenery in my own area of the US! Be sure to follow along on Instagram while we explore the USA in our own backyard!
We are headed off tomorrow for an epic road trip eventually leading us to Yellowstone National Park! Though we’re also making a number of stops before getting there, like finally seeing the Palouse in Eastern Washington and spending a couple days in Glacier National Park and Kalispell, Montana. This is a much different type of trip for us and I found it difficult to begin packing for it. There are a number of things for this trip that are required that I’m not used to packing or bringing with us and when I started searching online for a packing list for this type of trip, I found it hard to find. So, here is my own list for packing for a road trip to Yellowstone and what you might need!
Outdoor Clothes + Layers
When packing for this trip, the weather was sort of all over the place from place to place. Some were going to be hot in the upper 80’s, some were going to be rainy and in the lower 60’s, so figuring out what clothes to take was tricky. The key? Layers. Even the places that would be warm during the day are cold at night and in the early morning, so layers are the answer. Vests and light coats with hoods were essential in my packing to be sure to meet the requirements for each location.
Be sure to pack clothes that can get dirty as well as hiking boots or shoes that you’re comfortable walking in outdoors. I also made sure to pack a couple hats to keep the sun out of my face when out and about.
Since we’re driving, it’s easier to take a ton of camera gear with us for this trip. Nick is packing specific lenses for what type of trip this is, but he is also renting lenses that he doesn’t have from lensrentals.com. We do this frequently and it’s great to be able to rent anything that might be specific to a trip. Be sure though to handle your equipment carefully and pack it well to travel with.
One thing that kept popping in my research for Yellowstone specifically were to bring binoculars. Apparently to see wildlife, it’s a great thing to have!
Food storage / Cooler
A lot of the stops on this trip might not necessarily have a ton of restaurants or we might be out exploring all day and not near towns or cities, so a cooler or some sort of food storage was necessary for us to bring. We figured out in our itinerary the places where we would stop and buy food for specific things like breakfast or snacks while out and about through the day. While we didn’t have a cooler, we found a great collapsible one on Amazon for only $30 which will be easy to pack up and carry around with us.
Again, since we’ll be out and about most days, it’s good to take a reusable water bottle to fill up and have with you throughout your time on the road.
Hat + Sunscreen
As I mentioned above in the clothes section, a good hat (or two) is important to block sun out of your face while out and about exploring. Sunscreen is also vital since we might be out hiking for hours on end and you want to protect your skin from the elements.
Blanket to Sit On
I spend a lot of time when traveling waiting for Nick to take photos. And since this trip will be no different and we might not always be near the car or have somewhere to sit, I bought a $15 outdoor blanket that rolls up into a pack with a handle so that I have something to sit on while I wait.
As a travel blogger, it feels like everywhere I look people are quitting their jobs to travel the world, leaving behind their homes, their material stuff and selling everything for a grand adventure to travel and see the world. And if you want to do that, that’s totally fine. The problem is, that only really works for a very small percentage of people. The problem is, that often in the travel and blogging industries, that’s offered as a “one size fits all” option and it’s just not. I would also argue, it’s not the answer to your longing to travel the world either or a great long term solution and here’s why.
If you’re already in a professional career, you can’t always take a year or however long off.
I often see people giving everything up and moving overseas or traveling the world for a year and that’s wonderful, if you’re in a position to do it. Most of us in professional careers can’t just do that without major set backs in our careers. For me personally, I would lose a lot of clients if I did that which would hurt me down the road. It’s not always feasible if you’ve already started building your career to take a year or however long off.
Not all businesses, even small businesses that you own yourself, can move anywhere.
I own a small business myself and I work on my own time from home, but I’m not in a position to move or go anywhere at the present time. I still need to be based somewhere to be able to get my work done and need to be traveling to clients’ locations to do my work. So while yes, some small businesses can be packed up and the work done anywhere, others are more stationary and that’s ok. Owning your own business is wonderful but there are drawbacks too, something that I don’t often see shown on some of these people that preach your own business can go anywhere mantras.
Having a home and routine life are worthwhile too.
For me, I really enjoy having the balance of traveling and coming home to my townhouse and my daily routine. And while sometimes the daily grind can become wearing, it’s still really important in life to have a life set up somewhere, wherever that might be. All the things that come with a life, a house, a job, errands, those things are important too… just as important as seeing the world and often just as worthwhile to know you’ve built a home and a life somewhere fairly stationary.
Not everyone is meant for long term travel or living overseas.
As much as bloggers can say you must live overseas or you must sell everything and go travel… in truth that’s just not meant for everyone. I’m a huge proponent of living overseas and did as a child and it changed my life. I would love to live overseas again. But right now in my life isn’t the time and I can truthfully acknowledge it’s not for everyone. Nor is long term travel. I wouldn’t give up everything to travel long term, it’s just not for me. So if those are for you, great. If not, you don’t have to feel bad if that isn’t the path for you. You can still travel and see the world without having to do it long term or living overseas.
Travel is wonderful, but so are other things.
I’m a huge proponent for travel, but if you want other things out of your life, that doesn’t make you any less of a person. Travel is amazing and I could go on and on about what it’s meant to me in my life to be able to travel, but other things are great too whatever that means for you. For some people it means starting a family, for some it means focusing on your career. Whatever that means for you, do what works for you and don’t worry about trying to keep up with everyone else!
With so much lately coming out in the news about horrific situations on airlines, like people being bloodied and forcibly removed from planes, brawls starting over seats reclining… sometimes I wonder what the heck happens to people when we get in the air. But the way most airlines treat their customers, it’s not hard to see how all of this starts. One airline though, in my experience, totally sets itself apart from the pack and raise the bar for everyone else. I’ve long been a fan of Alaska Airlines for a number of reasons, but a couple weeks ago when we headed to Reno, the airline topped even their own standards and I felt like it was high time here on Land of Marvels that my favorite airline got their own post. I’ve been flying Alaska Airlines as my main airline loyalty for years now and earn their MVP Gold status each year due to how much I fly with them and their partners around the world. I’ve flown a lot of airlines over the years and I find, consistently, Alaska blows them all out of the water and so while there are a ton of ways they are fantastic, here’s my top 5 reasons why Alaska Airlines is the best out there and why you should start flying them…. now!
1. Their customer service blows every other airline out of the water.
When I need to call Alaska Airlines, I’ve never waited longer than 30 seconds to speak to a person. Literally, never. Someone always answers, is kind and helpful and always thanks me for a being an MVP gold elite with the airline. And at airports, we’ve had major travel fiascos in the past (like when our Alaska airlines flight was going to be late to LA, which was going to make us miss our flight to Europe) and the gate agents are almost always amazing to work with and help us get where we need to be, waiving fees immediately if changes are needed. Over all my experiences with Alaska Airlines customer service agents, on the phone or at the airport, 98% of the time they are amazing.
2. They are almost always on time.
I’ve had very few delays on my Alaska flights and with the amount I fly them, that’s pretty amazing. Like I think I can count on one hand the times I’ve been majorly delayed flying Alaska…. and considering I’m on at least 2 flights per months usually, that’s pretty amazing. Alaska wins awards every year for being so on time compared to other airlines and it really is true that they do an amazing job and minimizing delays and making sure everything gets out on time.
3. And when they’re not… they make up for it.
And the times when they haven’t been on time….they have more than made up for it. Take for example, a couple weekends ago heading to Reno which is the story that made me want to write this post in the first place. Our flight to Reno was delayed when we arrived at the gate by about an hour. We thought, ok, not ideal but fine. Then it got delayed again, but another hour and then again and so on. It ended up taking off about 2.5 hours late due to an aircraft issue. The gate staff was apologetic as was the staff on the plane and we finally got on the plane and headed off toward Reno. This kind of delay is super rare for Alaska so while it was annoying, I wrote it off as “these things happen.” Now, by the time we had landed I think everyone had kind of moved on so when we all turned on our phones upon landing, everyone’s text message beeps were going off. I looked at mine and saw that Alaska had texted me and apologized for the delay and said that we’d be getting an email shortly with a discount code for our next flight. As I looked around, everyone got that text and were talking about how nice that was. I was expecting like $25 off of something…. but when the email came later that night, they gave everyone on that flight $75 of their next flight! I mean, what other airline does that without anyone complaining or throwing a temper tantrum! Yet one of the many reasons I’ll continue flying Alaska!
4. They really value their elites.
I make Alaska’s MVP Gold status each year as I fly so much and one thing I love about Alaska is how they value their elite members. I’m always called by name in the gate area when boarding and on the plane. On almost every flight, a flight attendant comes by at some point in the flight and tells me thank you for being an elite member with Alaska and offers me a free chocolate. I also get upgraded a ton to first class on flights, which makes me feel like they really value me for flying with them. Being elite with Alaska, is always a pleasure and they do a great job really valuing those of use that fly with them a lot.
5. Their planes are comfortable and the food is good.
While Alaska is in the midst of a big fleet update for their planes, they already have some of the most modern and comfortable airplanes out there in my opinion. Their seats are comfortable and the cabins are clean and modern. I never see frayed seats or tray tables falling off the hinges like I have on other US airlines. And the food is surprisingly good on Alaska! In economy cabins, we love their fruit and cheese plate and their hot item is usually good to. In truth, I actually find the food in economy better than the first class food most of the time, but both are really good for most airplane food.
So if that hasn’t convinced you to fly Alaska on your next adventure, I don’t know what will!
Charleston and Savannah have been on my travel list for years! And over the years, we’ve always looked at it but for whatever reason, it’s never worked out. It’s also usually pretty expensive for us to fly directly there, so we usually brush over it and say we’ll come back to it. So when I was looking at our travel schedule for early in 2018, I penciled it in for January or February, thinking maybe that time of year wouldn’t be as hot and maybe prices would be lower. Then one day a couple weeks ago I was just randomly searching flights to see what prices were in mid-February and I saw the cheapest flights I’d seen in a long time from Seattle, directly to Charleston. On top of that, I had a $99 companion fare ticket from our Alaska Air credit cards that was expiring soon so I jumped at the change of using that along with a cheap fare!
It’s not super easy to get to Charleston from the Pacific North West, but with the direct flight from Seattle to Charleston on Alaska Airlines, we’re headed there in February for a long weekend for less than $500 for 2 people, which is often what it costs for 1 person to fly that route most of the year! On a side note, I’ve written about it before, but the Alaska Airlines visa is really an amazing travel credit card. If you’re in the market for a new travel credit card, one of the amazing perks of this card is the $99 companion fare every year you have the card. You can fly anywhere where Alaska flies with it and your companion costs just $99 + taxes and fees, which usually comes to around $120 total! We use the companion ticket a lot when Nick and I go to Hawaii together and it saves us a ton of money. The other amazing thing about it is that the companion still gets full mileage for the flights. So it’s a win, win!
For our trip to the South in February, we’ll be staying in Charleston for a couple days and then driving to Savannah, Georgia for a couple days. Both cities have been ones I’ve wanted to experience for a long time coming and I’m super excited we were able to make this work. If you have any recommendations for either city, let me know!