Planning a vacation takes lots of time and energy, but when you want to travel the country for a whole month you have to think about where you want to go for 31 days or so and that does take a bit of work. Alan put hours into this 6,000 mile driving vacation that took us in 31 days from Palm Bay, Florida to Colorado Springs, Colorado to Northern Arizona, back to the Beaches of South Walton in the Florida Panhandle and finally back home to Brevard County.

In getting organized for the trip we had a number of supplies to purchase, but he biggest purchase for the cross country excursion was the Garmin Nuvi 1450 GPS and a Nikon D3100 digital camera.  Next, we developed a vacation packing list and began thinking and planning our trip around the idea of “what kind of traveler are you?” Food on a 30 day trip is a big issue for us because we want to avoid fast food and maintain our regimen of healthy eating so we planned lots of raw food snacks for a long road trip. We also found Google docs and maps indispensable in our vacation planning for the long trip out west.

Additional trip considerations included safety issues. We did discuss safety before we started the trip, but it was not until we got on the road that we became cognizant of several more important and simple safety travel tips. Since we were traveling in the cooler months of Autumn where the temperatures would vary significantly along the way, proper head warmers travel gear was another priority.

Because there are so many details to planning a long trip, to help out our visitors we are posting our personal Southwest vacation itinerary. This trip itinerary which starts in Florida with a destination of Colorado Springs then on to  Northern Arizona and back to Florida is listed from start to finish below. Feel free to use it, change it and make it your own. Also, here’s a travel tip – you may want to brush up on some geological terms before you head out West.

Day 1
Drive from Palm Bay, Florida drive to Chattanooga, TN
Stay: Super 8
Eat: Cracker Barrel Macon, GA; N’awlins S. Broad Street, Chattanooga
Travel Tip: Look for Cracker Barrels they have consistently good food and service were ever you go. Here’s a special shout out to  the Macon Georgia Cracker Barrel for their exceptional customer service.

Day 2
Drive from Chattanooga, TN to Columbia, MO
Stay: Howard Johnson’s I-70 and Hwy 63
Eat: The Main Squeeze downtown
Travel tip: the morning traffic between Chattanooga and Nashville is very congested – start out early.

Day 3
Drive from Columbia, Missouri to Hays, Kansas.
Stay: Super 8 3730 Vine Street
Eat: The Golden Corral Buffet & Grill Hays, KS
Visit: Ellis County Historical Society Museum, Prairie Museum of Art and History
Travel tip: Don’t be in such a hurry to get to your next destination that you miss some great points of interest along the way – be flexible that’s how we got to enjoy the Prairie Museum in Colbert, KS. The travel through Kansas was more impressive than we expected.

Days 4-7
Drive from Hays, Kansas to Colorado Springs, CO (arrive early afternoon on Day 4)
Stay: We stayed with friends
Visit: Garden of the Gods, Drive up to Cripple Creek to view Aspens, Glen Erie Conference Center to view big horn sheep, Garden of the Gods is worth seeing twice – at least early morning and  at sunset.
Travel tip: Take preventative measures as you move into high elevations and avoid elevation sickness.

Day 8
Drive from Colorado Springs to Durango, CO
Stay: Knights Inn 3515 Main Ave.
Eat: Linda’s Local Food cafe
Visit: Mesa Verde National Park, Hot Springs in Pagosa, CO

Days 9-12
Drive from Durango, CO to Marble Canyon, AZ (travel the scenic Wolf Creek Pass at 10, 857 ft elevation)
Stay: Cliff Dwellers Lodge
Eat: Cliff Dwellers Lodge
Visit:  Grand Canyon North Rim, Colorado River Rafting in Glen Canyon, Lee’s Ferry, The Navajo Bridge, Kaibab Plateau

Days 13-18
Drive from Marble Canyon, AZ to Flagstaff, AZ
Stay: Howard Johnson’s 198 E. Lucky Lane
Eat: Wildflower Bread Company, Morning Glory Cafe, Taco Locos, Sizzler, Diablo Burger
Visit: Museum of Northern Arizona, Grand Canyon South Rim, Sunset Crater, Oak Creek Canyon, Sedona, Cathedral Rock, Chapel of the Holy Cross, Slide Rock  State Park

Days 19-23
Drive from Flagstaff, AZ to Winslow, AZ
Stay: La Posada 303 E. 2nd Street Route 66, Winslow
Eat: The Turqoiuse Room (Excellent and lunch is very reasonable), The Falcon (mediocre)
Visit: Grand Canyon Railway, Petrified Forest National Park and the Painted Desert, star gazing at Clear Creek, Meteor Crater,  historic downtown Winslow

Day 24
Drive from Winslow, Arizona to Clinton, Oklahoma
Stay: Super 8 at exit 65A off I-40.
Travel tip
: This hotel was a little pricey without a coupon. Make sure you get to the tourist info center before 5:00 PM. If you want a non-smoking room, ask for a non-smoking room that does not have any smoking rooms adjacent to it.

Day 25
Drive from Clinton, OK to Jackson, Mississippi
Stay:  We had a coupon, but our experience at the Executive Inn and Suites on Highway 49 South in Richland was not that great but the staff was kind and did their best to make things right.
Travel tip: Get the hotel coupon booklet at a tourist information center.stay in hotels that have other hotels close-by, that way you at least know they have competition to keep up appearances.

Days 26-31
Drive from Jackson, Mississippi to Santa Rosa Beach, FL
Stay: Contact Beach Properties of Florida and ask for a walk-in special.
Eat: The Taco Bar in Seaside and from our own kitchen.
Visit: The beach, Hike or bike ride in Topsail State Park, canoe at Grayton Beach State Park, stroll the shops in Seaside, Rosemary and other small venues on 30A east and west.
Travel tip: Unless you have limitless vacation funds plan to eat in a lot, that’s why you have a kitchen where you’re staying. Plan some simple meals and go to Publix before you check into to your house or condo. South Walton beach has no fast food restaurants.

Day 31
Drive from Santa Rosa Beach, FL to Palm Bay, FL
Stay: In our own bed

Total distance traveled in 31 days – 6,126 miles.


One Response to “Southwest Vacation Itinerary”

  1. Luis says:

    I’m taking this viactaon alone (maybe a couple of the fella’s if they clear it with the wife). I’ve excluded NY and Las Vegas becuase I’ll be going to those places in the upcomming months. This is my first seperate viactaon (without the wifey) and I’d like to go someplace with some seriously good nightlife or Great rollercosters.Things I like to do on Vacation DrinkClub (Hip Hop or Mixed)Stay out lateGamble (but somewhere that has other attractions or I may exceed my budget)orRide Roller coaster (If there are any theme parks open in April I’d go visist if they have an exceptional roller coaster.I know some of you have had exceptional Vacations and if you could recommend a place I’d apareciate it, thank you.dcgirl GREAT answer, but I forgot to include, I’m from Houston so I go to New Orleans about once every 3 month, I’ve been so much It wouldn’t be worth my first solo vaction. Thanks for the answer though if I had never been you’d definatly have got Best Answer To every one else .I’ve excluded New Orleans too I go there too much already.

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