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4 Days Visiting Yellowstone & Jackson – What to Know!

My first visit to Yellowstone was circa 2012 and it was incredible. Having the opportunity to return to Yellowstone is a quick…..ABSOLUTELY! I had some airline miles on Alaska Airlines to use and the flight was completely free!

Left Thursday after work and flew from Columbus, Ohio to Seattle, Washington onward to Bozeman, Montana.

The arrival was scheduled for midnight in Montana, but based on plane troubles arrived around 3 AM. It made for a short night of sleep, but getting to the park is the highest priority. Yellowstone is a large park.

Friday morning around 9 AM left Bozeman, Montana for Yellowstone National Park. There are a couple of ways to enter the park, but drove into West Yellowstone taking the route north to circle the park ending at the Yellowstone Lodge.

As you enter Yellowstone from West Yellowstone, you have a few choices…..the option of going toward Mammoth Springs (North) was the path taken. There are a ton of pull offs to see waterfalls, paint pots, geysirs, and Mammoth Springs is an excellent spot to take a lunch break. During the stop, watched the Elk walk around the city area; these animals are beautiful but you really need to stay back as they are known to be quite aggressive.

The drive continued with stops at the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and lookouts.

Several locations have animals that are close to the vehicles. It is important to know that these are wild animals and you need to keep your distance.

The bison walk next to the cars, but will become aggressive if you get too close. The same with bears, elk, deer, etc.

During this trip, I was amazed at the number of people trying to get the right picture of the animal; willing to risk their lives for a picture.

Since I have been home, there are have been two people attacked by bison and one guy ran across the Grand Prasmatic Pool – use your head and do not ruin these opportunities for everyone. If things like this continue, they will put up fencing and limit access.

Finished driving for the day and ended at the Yellowstone Lodge located on Yellowstone Lake. It is absolutely beautiful. Yellowstone is at a high altitude and even when it is summer….it can still be quite chilly. There is a lake and many people end up the hospital because of hypothermia from the lake…keep this in mind. Visiting the park in June, it can be 70 degrees one day…..and can change the next….

Woke up Saturday to snow on the ground! Based on the elevation and driving conditions several roads were closed so we drove from the Yellowstone Lodge north to the bypass and then visited the southern part of the park. Drove to Old Faithful and had lunch right after the eruption. The park service posts the time and the app (when you have cell service) will also let you know the approximate next time.


On Sunday, we drove down to Jackson, Wyoming meeting some friends and exploring the areas. This is where we saw the first bear on the trip! We drove to our hotel and checked in at the Jackson Lake Lodge. This is between Yellowstone National Park and Jackson, Wyoming.

The Jackson Lake Lodge was located pretty close to Jenny Lake (a hidden gem) and Colter Bay (another hidden gem) that are in the Tetons. The hotel was expensive but was at the base of the Tetons and had fantastic views. On Monday mid-day left the Tetons and drove back through Yellowstone on the way back to Bozeman….a few shots on the way back.

If given the opportunity to visit Yellowstone and/or Jackson, Wyoming – definitely take the opportunity. If the weather is decent, I would highly recommend white water rafting in Jackson Hole. This trip did not have time and the weather was a bit cold, but the last time…it was one of the major highlights!

–Heidi

Costs for Yellowstone:

Rental Car: Alamo: $560

Quality Inn Bozeman: $185 per night

Lake Yellowstone Lodge: $390 per night

Alaskan Airlines Flight: $450 (my flight was paid with points)

Jackson Lake Lodge: $400 per night

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72 Hours to Visit Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Bryce, and Zion National Parks–Can it be done?


72 Hours to see Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon, Antelope, Bryce, and Zion National Parks

Grand Canyon Visiting Las Vegas for a whirlwind out west in 3 days! I had limited time and companion airfare on Southwest that allowed me go on a quick adventure and I can never say no!

Las Vegas is such a fun place to visit. Back when I was doing my dissertation, I spent 3 weeks out in Las Vegas writing my paper and booked 3 weeks in Kauai to finish….yes, you read that correctly. I have always enjoyed Las Vegas and while living in Ohio, the phone constantly rang and friends wanted to go to lunch or do this and getting away was perfect for writing that paper. There was motivation to accomplish goals.

For the Las Vegas Trip, it was meant to be a quick trip….Leaving Ohio after work and flying to Las Vegas staying at the New York New York for the first night. After a long day of work and travels- arrived around 10 PM Vegas time or 1 AM Ohio Time. The first stop was In N Out Burger followed by a stop down in Old Vegas.

Saturday morning; got up super early to be at the Hoover Dam before the major traffic. It has been a couple of years since I was out there, but thankfully the new highway makes the visit much more enjoyable. If you have not been to the Hoover Dam; I highly recommend visiting.

From there, trudged on to the Grand Canyon…there are a lot of options, but purchased the Park Pass for a year (National Park Service for more details) there is a Desert View Drive that has a lot of pull offs and is perfect for a short stay at the Grand Canyon….

Mind you, we are still trucking because we have booked a 4:30 Antelope Canyon tour in Page, Arizona.

The goal was when finished to see Horseshoe Bend but this trip, parking was full and fines were high for parking along the highway.

The next morning we got up early and drove to Bryce Canyon to see the Hoodoos and then to Zion National Park. With it being the height of summer..definitely busy. In order to hike the Narrows. Get there early and plan on a 45-1 hour bus ride. After driving through the park, headed back to Vegas.

We arrived back in Vegas around 2 pm stopping at In N Out when coming back to the edge of Vegas. The rest of the evening was spent walking the strip and stopping at cafes. Our last night was spent at the Venetian. Definitely worth the splurge!   

This was a quick 72 hour trip and you definitely need more time to see each of these spots, but if time is limited; I would go for it. YOLO!

– Heidi

Costs:

Rental Car: $230

New York New York Hotel: $250

Best Western: $230

The Venetian: $350

Antelope Canyon Tour: $65 per person (morning is better than evening)

National Park Pass (year) $80 for the car – already purchased

Flight: $250 (free as I was using Southwest Companion Fare)

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15 Easy Instagram Spots in NYC (in less than 12 hours)


1. Washington and Water Street (DUMBO)

2. York Street Subway on the Way to Washington & Water Street (Murals)

3. Washington Square Park & 5th

4. Nomo Soho (9 Crosby Street)

5. Graffiti on a Wall (Outside Nomo Soho)

6. Staten Island Ferry Ride with The Statute of Liberty

7. NYC Food or Amazing View

Below from the Mandarin Oriental (Central Park-35th Floor) The View, the Dessert, and Chihuly Glass. (80 Columbus Circle)

8. Audrey Hepburn Mural (176 Mulberry)

9. Mickey Mouse Mural (E. Houston and Mott)

10. A Pic in the Subway

11. Rockefeller Center

12. Skyline of NYC (taken on Staten Island Ferry)

13. Central Park (Bow Bridge)

14. Times Square/ Theater District

15. Any random spot that matches a part of your outfit (World Trade Center Area)

Follow me on Insta @trendyheidi or trendywithapassport.com for more on travel or outfits.

Xoxo,

Heidi

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How to Spend 12 Hours in NYC


First, figuring out how to get to NYC. Living in Ohio, we can fly for around $250 to NYC or take the FUN BUS for $105 RT.

What is the Fun Bus? Living in Columbus, Ohio; We have the opportunity to catch a bus in Reynoldsburg, Ohio at 7 PM (usually on a Friday night) arriving in Rockefeller Center at 7 AM (Saturday morning) and picked up at Rockefeller Center (8 PM) and returned to Reynoldsburg, Ohio around 7 AM (Sunday AM). Funbus.com for more details. Longer trips available.

Before Arriving: download the city mapper app

How to Spend 12 Hours in NYC:

Drop Off: Rockefeller Center: take pics around here…then head to:

Stops 1-4 7 AM- 11 AM

Stop 1: Staten Island Ferry (ferry is free and takes about 1 hour roundtrip- allows you to see Statute of Liberty)

Stop 2: Wall Street

Stop 3: World Trade Center

(Century 21- think TJ Maxx high end)

Stop 4: Brooklyn Bridge

On the walk there from York Subway

(Instagram spot: Washington at Water Street)

11 AM – 2:30 PM

Little Italy (Bowery Subway)

Instagram spots:

L’Appartment Sezane

Pietro Nolita

Lombardi’s

298 mulberry (E Houston and Mott) — mickey mouse!

Audrey Hepburn Mural – 176 Mulberry

Milk and Cereal – 159 Mott     

389 Broome Steet – Gigi Hadid

Nomo Soho

Canal Street – Chinatown

If you are looking for purses or scarves or souvenirs- Chinatown is the place for you.

All of the food is good….so any choice will be the right choice.

2:30-3:30 PM

Washington Square Park & 5th – Empire State Building in background

3:30 PM

Manadarin Oriental Hotel: go to the 35th floor and the Chihuly Statute is right off the elevator. The desserts and food is unbelievable- a bit pricey but the view is incredible and restrooms are fabulous. This serves as a mid-day break.

3:30-5:00 PM

From here, head directly into Central Park. If the weather is nice, a stroll is great, however, if it is dark or the weather is cold…a rickshaw or carriage ride might be the best answer. The rickshaw price for 3 stops is $110 but you can negotiate. We did 2 rickshaws for $70 each including stops. It worked out well considering it was raining and was cold.

Bow Bridge

Bethesda Terrace

Add Hans Christian Andersen Monument (on way to boathouse)

Alice in Wonderland statue (on way to boathouse)

Bethesda Fountain

Central Park

Boathouse

Arches (5th and 79th)

5:00- 7:00PM

Times Square

Grand Central Station

St. Pat’s Cathedral

Empire State Building

*Dinner- Hell’s Kitchen or Times Square *

If Time Allows:

Flat Iron Building

High Line

Stuyvesant Street

Pickup was at 8 PM near Rockefeller. Most of the time it is the same location – since the lighting of the Christmas Tree happened in Rockefeller, they moved the pickup so the bus can get in and out more easily.

Questions?? Just ask!

2 In Bucket List/ Budget/ Couples/ Family/ Female Travels/ Itinerary/ Magic Kingdom/ North America/ Travel/ Travel Advice/ Travel Tips/ United States

12 Disney Tips: How to Figure It Out: Without Breaking the Bank


Disney is a well-oiled machine and Disney is a wonderful place to visit, but knowing what your cost is or will be helps decide what you want to do. Disney is a quality experience and you will pay for it, but it is well worth it.

Considerations:

-is this your first Disney trip?

-Adults only?

-Trip with kids?

-Age of kids?

Recommendations:

-If this is a first time experience for any adults in the group and it is an adult only Disney trip; I would go 3 days to the park but not beyond that.

-If it were a first time visit with little kids, I would do two days at the parks if they are young children.

1. Things You Should Know As You Make Decisions

Price per Night at Disney Hotels

-Disney Campground: $55.00 USD per Night and up

-Disney Value Resorts: $110 USD per Night and up

-Disney Moderate Resorts: $204 USD per Night and up

-Disney Deluxe Resorts: $345 USD per Night and up

-Disney Deluxe Villas: $385 USD per Night and up

*Disney Dolphin and Swan: $219 USD per Night and up

Price One Day at One Park

– Magic Kingdom Peak 1 Day ticket: $129 USD

-Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom Peak 1 Day ticket: $122 USD

Price Two Days (one park per day)

$104 USD per day per person

Price Three Days (one park per day)

$101.67 USD per day per person

Price Four Days (one park per day)

$95 USD per day per person

2. Should you Fly or Drive?

It really depends on where you live and your financial situation. I would recommend pricing your trip at $.55 / mile and thinking about the cost of hotels on the drive down to Disney and returning and your cost to driving with stress.

Coming from Ohio, I recommend flying; in 2 hours; you can be in sunny Florida.

Southwest Airlines Card starting at $35.00 USD each way. This link is a referral for the Southwest Credit Card and if you sign up; you will receive 40,000 miles which is enough for 2 roundtrip tickets to Florida if you spend $1000 USD on the credit card in 3 months. Then you will just use the points to travel. Please keep in mind that the tickets do have a $7.50 USD tax each way.

Frontier Airlines for $39.00 each way  (prices start here and go up)

Allegiant Air for $35.00 each way (prices start here and go up)

 

3. Should You Stay On Disney Property?

Price per Night at Disney Hotels

-Disney Campground: $55.00 USD per Night and up

-Disney Value Resorts: $110 USD per Night and up

-Disney Moderate Resorts: $204 USD per Night and up

-Disney Deluxe Resorts: $345 USD per Night and up

-Disney Deluxe Villas: $385 USD per Night and up

*Disney Dolphin and Swan: $219 USD per Night and up

Depending on your price range, staying on property makes the Disney experience much better.

What Does It Include:

  • Disney’s Magical Express (free transportation from the airport to the hotel -roundtrip)
  • Eligibility to purchase the Meal Plan
  • Luggage Tags (free Mickey Mouse Tags)
  • Coupons for Disney Springs and Arcade
  • Disney Luggage Tag (yellow) that allows you drop your bags at the airport and Disney will pull the luggage off the carousel and drop in your Disney resort (it will take 3-4 hours after you arrive for the luggage to make it to your room so pack a set of clothes if you are traveling at night)
  • Buses to each park every 15 minutes (sometimes less) and bus to Disney Springs every 20 minutes
  • Magic Bands (room key, wallet, meal plans, fast pass- all on the wrist)

4. Should You Get a Meal Plan?

This is really a personal preference and it depends on how much food you will eat. There are different meal plans, but if you plan ahead and book reservations for food in advance you will be able to maximize your experience. Let me explain.

The Disney Dining Plan for a 3 night stay in the Value Resorts cost $452.94 for two adults (no kids). The Disney Dining Plans you receive based on the number of nights you stay. I stayed Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and checked out on Monday. This means I have 3 days of the meal plan.

The Disney Dining Plan includes 1 table service, 1 quick Service, and 2 Snacks. I think this is the best one and have gotten it for years and years. Since we stayed 3 nights for 2 people: 6 table service, 6 quick service, and 12 snacks total or 3 table service for me, 3 quick service for me, and 6 snacks for me.

More Information on the Dining Plans

A table service is an entree, dessert, and drink

A quick service is an entree and drink

A snack can be a drink, cookie, chips, ice cream, pretzel, etc.

Disney Dining Plan Breakdown (all USD)

Table Service: Chef Mickey’s: 107.00 (character meal)

Table Service: Coral Reef Restaurant: 107.00

Table Service: Crystal Palace: 107.00 (character meal)

Quick Service: Be Our Guest: 60.00

Quick Service: Pop Music Dinner: 45.00

Quick Service: Casey’s Corner: 45.00

Snack: Water: 3.00

Snack: Water: 3:00

Snack: Churro: 4.25

Snack: Churro: 4.25

Snack: Pretzel and Cheese: 5.75

Snack: Coke: 3.25

Snack: Coke: 3.25

Snack: Croissant: 4.25

Snack: Croissant: 4.25

Snack: Nilla Wafers: 3.99

Snack: Bagel: 3.99

Snack: Water: 3.00

Total: $517.23 was the cost. In this case, I only paid $452.92. – Definitely worth it.

Again, you really need to know what you will do to decide if it is worth it.

5. Should I book my meals and experiences before I go?

This depends on if you want to have sit down meals and character experiences or if you would like to grab hot dogs on the go!

If you are looking at doing a character experience, you should definitely book before going! As soon as you decide that you are going to Disney and the dates are confirmed; call and make the reservation. Typically meals and experiences disappear as you get closer to the day you are leaving. You will give a credit card number to reserve and as long as you cancel 24 hours before; you are not charged.

6. What Do I Do if My Character Experiences, My Restaurant Choice, and the Castle are not Available?

There are three ways to deal with this….. 1. choose different days at different parks to see if that makes a difference. 2. Call in early in the morning and late in the evening to see if something has opened. 3. Use the MyDisney App and check Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner times on the app and Book if it opens.

7. Should I use the MyDisney App?

The MyDisney App is easy to download from iTunes or Google Play. The App provides you with park wait times by ride, allows you to book breakfast, lunch, and dinner; and allows you to select FastPass.

How to Use the MyDisney App

 

8. Should I do a park hopper with my ticket price?

What is a park hopper? It is an extra charge for you to be able to go to one or more parks in a day. Usually it is an addition $20 USD added to the price per day of a park.

If you are on a short trip, I would recommend staying with one park per day but if you have a lot of extra energy and are okay with the time moving to a different park; then by all means — go for it! In my teen years and twenties, I did the park hopper; now that I am in my 30s; I do not see the need for me to do that. Again, personal preference.

Price One Day at One Park

– Magic Kingdom Peak 1 Day ticket: $129 USD

-Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom Peak 1 Day ticket: $122 USD

Price Two Days (one park per day)

$104 USD per day per person

Price Three Days (one park per day)

$101.67 USD per day per person

Price Four Days (one park per day)

$95 USD per day per person

 

9. I can afford to stay at a Deluxe Resort, but am I over paying?

There are so many options and places to stay, but what are the most important options for you?

Do you want an experience where you ride a boat into Epcot or Hollywood Studios? or Would you prefer to take a Monorail into Epcot or the Magic Kingdom? Are you okay with taking a bus everywhere? Do you want a club level concierge or can you survive with a basic room? Is an overwater bungalow part of your necessary experience or a giraffe outside your window? Any and all of these experiences are available depending on where you stay.

I have stayed at all levels of Disney Hotels and have always had a pleasant experience. Just know that the more you pay; the more options available at your resort.

10. Someone in my party has food allergies; should we avoid the Disney Dining Plan?

I have several food allergies and I have found that Disney accommodates and does their best to provide a wonderful food experience regardless of the allergies. In fact, I vacation at Disney more often because of their carefulness and mindfulness with food.

 

11. I saw that you can save some money by not having your room cleaned each day; should I take advantage of the savings?

It is a personal preference, but if you need towels or extra soap; you can still call the front desk and they will bring your items to you. You will need to be in the room when you order additional items. For the 3 night stay, we received $20 USD in a gift card for not having our room cleaned daily.

12. This is our first visit to Disney, Do you have to see the Magic Kingdom?

The Magic Kingdom is a must!

The history of Walt Disney, Mickey Mouse, and how things came to be are so interesting!

A few things that will provide perspective!

Walt Disney believed in 4 core concepts for Disney World:

  1. Safety

  2. Courtesy

  3. Show

  4. Efficiency

Walt had an immense sense of patriotism, seen by Hall of Presidents and the representation of American flags, but there is only one real flag and there is a ceremony in the morning and at 5:15 daily.

All American flags around the park have an additional stripe or star, so they are not “real” and do not have to be raised or lowered. The flags also serve as lightening rods as Orlando has a lot of lightening strikes.

The time period for Disney World is Victorian; you will notice outfits, cars, and fire trucks are from this period of time.

Think about Disney World as a movie set!

When you walk down Main Street; there is a park bench with Roy Disney and Mickey and there is one of Walt and Mickey closer to the castle. On the windows walking down Main Street; you will see names of people and companies. The names of people pay homage to those who contributed in design, architecture, or business transaction. These names and businesses are essentially the credits that would be in a movie.

Several companies were created in order to buy the land mass in Central Florida; if people knew Walt Disney was buying it the price would have gone up. Walt paid 180 USD per acre and later went for $80,000 USD per acre in the 1960s.

You will come to Central Avenue off Main Street; this is a decompression zone; quiet spot to chill to avoid the hustle and bustle of Disney. On this street, you will see 2nd story windows open and the sound of tap dancing; this keeps the story going. Only a few people will take the time to stroll down this street and only 1% will see the details.

Disney is about the 1%.

If you look at the Castle from when you first walk in, it appears that the castle is so far away. As you get closer, it becomes larger. There is a carousel right in front of the Castle and it is there to provide excitement and to draw people in.

You will notice the Magic Kingdom has several areas: Adventureland, Liberty Square, Frontierland, Fantasyland, and Tomorrowland.

If you want to experience something pretty cool: November 1 in the Magic Kingdom is Halloween and November 2 is Christmas- overnight parades, lights, and decorations change in 12 hours.

Adventureland

As you leave Main Street and go to Adventureland; you will notice that you cross bridges (transitions) from Main Street to Adventureland and as you change locations; so does the sounds, music, and ground. You will notice the illusion of the ground looking like “off road”

There are over 600 horticulturists who take care of the plants and landscape.

The Jungle Cruise is a fun filled experience; lots of hidden messages and items.

The totem pole in the Jungle Cruise has several faces and one of those faces is also seen in the Haunted Mansion- check it out.

As you pass by the spear throwing natives on the Jungle Cruise; listen closely; the voice says “I love disco”

The Tiki Room had the first animatronic bird; the bird told a story. Above this Tiki Room, is the illusion of a thatch roof; which is really recycled aluminum.

The Worlds Fair is New York; Disney was to create 4 attractions: 1. It’s a Small World 2. Abraham Lincoln (who spoke and read the Gettysburg Address), 3. Carousel of Progress 4. Fords Magic Skyway- 1964 Mustang told the story through a radio in the car- became the people mover (Haunted Mansion and the People Mover)

Utilidoor

Is under a large portion of the Magic Kingdom that allows cast members to travel without being seen.

The utilidoor has costumes, food, storage, pipes, etc. all under ground. This is the only park that has this; goes directly under Cinderella’s Castle, Down Main Street and into Fantasyland.

More posts about Disney will come!

Questions?

Just Ask!