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Travel Blogger: Trip Planning

Updated: Mar 19


Planning means different things to different people. For one of my adult children, it means a rigid schedule for each day with planned meals, attractions, and bedtimes. Don’t forget to click your heels and salute.


My other child is, “We can go there cheap?!? I’ll grab my backpack.” I fall somewhere in between. I’m going to tell you about a recent trip we took, and maybe you’ll gain some accidental wisdom.


The three of us were traveling from the Kansas City metro area to Louisville via car. We weren’t crowded, but remember, it meant somebody was always in the back seat. Are you willing to sit in the back seat? (Decide ahead of time who’s driving. Decide what car you’re taking. Would a rental car be best? Can you drive it across state lines? Who’s paying for gas?) It was my car. I let a child drive; the other took control of the tunes, and I sat in back with the cooler and peanut M&Ms.


Early on, we had decided to drive to Louisville in two parts. Our overnight was going to be in St. Louis, so I volunteered to put together the St. Louis itinerary. As we were all on budgets, I decided to see what we could do for free.


I encourage you to check out free attractions before you go on any trip. You don’t have to go, but if something falls through, you have an option to do something. The other benefit is that you don’t have to spend a long time at “free.” If it’s boring, leave.


St. Louis, here we come. It’s 3-4 hours to get there. We’ll need lunch. How about a one-pound bacon sandwich followed by a five-scoop ice cream sundae? It’s a place my daughter discovered a few trips ago. Ask me about it if you’re interested. We always stop there when we’re near St. Louis. It’s not free, but it’s enjoyable.


Chesterfield is near St. Louis, and it was our first destination. There is a fabulous sculpture there called “The Awakening.” It’s outside. It’s humongous, and it makes for a lot of fun photos. Beware, it can get hot to the touch on a sunny day. The sculpture is large enough for one or more of you to sit in a hand. If you’re in Percy Jackson mode, imagine the sculpture is a Titan breaking free from the ground.


It was good to walk around and take silly photos. Less than a block away was a war memorial that is also well done. Score one for free!


From the sculpture, we headed to the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis. Wow, just wow! It is comparable to European cathedrals. It features incredible mosaic artwork. You can spend hours there. You can attend a service. Religious, Christian or not, it’s stunning. (The picture accompanying this article is inside the Cathedral.)


I was two for two on my planning; so, what’s next? We’d all been to the Arch before, so we didn’t need to go inside, but it’s near the Mississippi River and gave us more photo ops. Besides, thinking about Percy Jackson at the sculpture meant we had to see the arch.


We walked around. We took pictures and bought lemonade from a food truck. Our afternoon in St. Louis was well spent.


Day two began “the planner's” part of the trip. There was no time to waste. We had pre-purchased some multi-attraction passes, and she felt we should go to every attraction to make it worth our while.


Before you buy one of these passes, verify the price of the attractions. Is the pass really going to save you money? Do you want to see the attractions included with the pass? Verify hours and the dates the attractions are open. My daughter knew we had to do some attractions on specific days because not all of the attractions were open every day we were in Louisville. Give some points to the rigid planner.


Knowing times and attractions ahead of time meant we didn’t buy passes that were useless. However, my daughter’s desire to have us see each attraction did make us feel rushed. (The pass included eight separate venues.) My planner was willing to sacrifice one of the distilleries/whiskey tastings, but backpack child stepped in and said if we were doing everything else, she was drinking the free whiskey. LOL.


Overall, the trip went well. The passes saved us money and took us to sites we might not have gone to otherwise. We did do things that weren’t included on the passes, but we knew what they were in advance which kept our budgets in check. Don’t let the passes or a power planner completely control your trip. Sometimes you need to sit down and sip the whiskey.


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