TREK AMERICA | A GUIDE TO: COMBINING TREKS & TRAVELS

COMBINING TREKS & OTHER TRAVELS: TOP TEN TIPS


As I had decided on a Trek America trip to celebrate a big birthday I wanted to combine my main trek with other travels to make the most out of travelling all the way to the good ol' US of A!

This Guide will take you through how I planned my treks and other stays around them to have an epic american adventure. With my top ten tips for you if you want to do the same.

Combining treks and travels was the best thing I did to get a mix of experiences and show me many different sides to american life and landscapes.

As I was celebrating a milestone birthday, I combined trek with some more luxurious stays, which was a great mix and something I would do again. A bit of luxury after a few weeks of cabins and hostels felt incredible.
You don't have to do this though, you could stay in similar accommodation to trek to make it more cost effective. Do whatever suits you and your budget to make the most of traveling across the Atlantic!

Its not difficult to combine more than one trek or spending longer in some of the destinations but does take a bit of pre planning. 

Here are key points to remember if you want to travel the US for longer:



1 |     CHECK END & START DATES OF BOTH (OR ALL) TREKS 

What (I did): The Northen BLT I planned as my main trek finished in LA, and I knew if i was travelling all that way I wanted to take in Vegas and the Grand Canyon as well.
I found a mini trek that started a week later from Vegas. This gave me the perfect amount of time in the middle destination. 
We finished trek (Northern BLT) at the end of the day on Monday and I made my way to my pre booked accommodation. I then had 5 free days to explore LA before planning a travel day on my sixth day (the Sunday) to fly to Vegas and spend a night in the pre tour accommodation there, before starting my second trek on the 7th day.

Why (you should): Finding two treks with close together end and start dates means you can have a decent amount of time in your middle destination. 
Don't plan to end one trek and start the next one on the same day - there were a few I had to discount because of this, you simply won't arrive in time for the early morning start. It will mostly mean finding one that starts a week later. 
Check the end date of your trek first before you look for your additional trek, so you know the next available date you could start your trek - theres nothing more annoying than finding the perfect second trek that you can't go on as it starts the day you finish or that you can't afford to go on because it would mean too long in the middle destination.


2 |     COMBINE LONGER AND SHORTER TREKS 

What (I Did): When I planned to do the Northern BLT it took in so many amazing places I wanted to see but I knew it didn't take in some other incredible places that I would be much closer to than travelling from the UK. I didn't want to go too far from where I finished and Vegas was only about an hours plane ride away from LA. 
Adding the the Vegas to Grand Canyon (Hotels) mini trek meant I'd have 4 extra days taking in some incredible national parks and of course the Grand Canyon was the main draw. 
Sucking up the additional cost of another trek turned out to be cheaper than staying in Vegas and doing lots of day trips to these places solo, plus this way I knew I wouldn't have to worry about how to get to them and all the additional aspects of travelling alone.
Doing this mini trek finished my time in America on a high as our group was all a little jaded after three weeks on the road (on the Northern BLT). I look back and think if I had finished trek then I would have missed out on so much, particularly because the mini trek were my favourite places to visit overall. We also hiked together more as a group and I enjoyed this the most - a completely different experience from my first trek!

Why (you should): If you're not set on the Grand BLT or Trailblazer, combining longer and shorter or mini treks can give you the best of both worlds.
It allows you to take in many more sights than your original trek, without travelling for months. 
You'll meet two sets of trek buddies - whats not to love about two sets of new friends.
You get two different trek leaders - with gives you two different local perspectives (both amazing) on the places you travel too.


3 |     MAKE SURE YOUR COMBINED TREKS END AND START NEAR EACH OTHER

What (I Did): I did look at some treks that started in LA a week or so after my first one finished there. But because I would have already spent a week in LA I wanted to finish the second trek in a destination where I could also spend more time exploring, and I didn't want it to be the same place I finished the original trek.
The closest place that other treks started from became obvious, VEGAS! Once I had that narrowed down I checked out different travel options, to get from LA to Vegas on the dates I was looking at for my next trek. 
There were multiple bus and flight options, bus journeys at about 4-5 hours and flights that took an hour, and although I didn't make my decision then on how to travel I knew there were enough options, meaning I could book the treks first and decide a little later on about the best travelling option for me.
I chose to fly and picked a midday flight, by doing this I would get there in good time and had some back up options to still arrive the night before trek started if any flights were delayed or cancelled - you can't afford to miss the start of trek on a mini trek.

Why (you should): So it's easier to travel to solo - You don't want to have to trek miles on your own before you get to your second trek starting point, thats the whole reason you're going with trek.
If they aren't mega close, check out flights or travel options between locations before booking, so you know you can get to the other destination on the days you need to, to start your next trek on time. 
Pick a morning or midday travel time so you're not catching the last bus or flight, you don't want to leave yourself open to problems if there are delays.
The upside of flying is you get some incredible views of other parts of America you're not stopping in.
If they start in the same city, even better, you just have to travel across town - check out the options to get the most cost and comfort effective way to travel.
If you move from a trek post departure hotel after finishing the first trek, you could always spend the pre departure day for your next trek in treks hotel. By doing this you get to stay in different areas of the same city and get more experiences, this is particularly good for LA as its very spread out.


4 |    END YOUR FIRST TREK IN A LOCATION YOU WANT TO SPEND LONGER IN

What (I Did): I did this with LA, as i'd never been to LA or the west coast before and only spent a few days in NY at the beginning of trek as id been to New York a few times before.
Spending time alone in LA wasn't initially appealing to me but after I had decided to do that there were so many things to do and keep you occupied that it was nice to spend your own time exploring and taking in the sights you want to see that weren't on trek. 
I went to some theme parks and a TV show recording, as well as seeing lots of other sights, that there just isn't time for on trek

Why (you should): Seems obvious enough, but don't waste the extra time you have in a destination you are not as keen on. 
Or make sure your next trek starts in a destination you would like more time than trek provides. 
One of the only downsides to trek is that in some places you will feel like you don't get enough time, so ending your trek somewhere you happily spend another week can make your travels much more exciting. 
Getting to spend some time in your last destination with your trek buddies and trek leader gives you a great start but then getting to explore areas you want to as well will not leave you disappointed.


5 |     CHECK ACCOMMODATION OPTIONS FOR PRE, BETWEEN & POST TREKS

What (I Did): I checked out a range of options and dates to maximise my spending money. I checked all my destination accommodation options way before booking to keep an eye on prices and book when there were sales or discounts.
I also checked all my destinations before booking and booked the cheapest first (Vegas) which meant I knew my budget for LA and NY was slightly more as I got a hotel much cheaper for Vegas than i was expecting. This was crucial for my budget as New York was slightly more than i had expected as the beginning of May when I travelled was the start of their busy holiday season.

Why (you should): Before booking your treks check out different accommodation options in all your extra stay locations to fit your budget. You need to do this to make sure you can afford stays in these cities before booking up your treks. 
Theres normally something to fit every budget.
Don't get disheartened if you have less to spend. Save up for longer if you want a more luxurious stay or plan to stay in hostels, there are some epic cheap hostels and hotels in America. You're only gonna be sleeping and showering there right!?!
Checking out accommodation prices is essential as American summer holiday dates (schools and colleges) are different to the UK, so don't assume you'll get cheaper prices even if its not holiday season in the UK (or wherever you are).
Don't blow your budget on accommodation, its better to stay somewhere cheaper and have money to spend on activities!


6 |     MAKE MULTIPLE LISTS & KEEP ORGANISED

What (I Did): I made lists of what I wanted to do, what I needed to know before booking anything and then a checklist of what order to book things in.
This meant I didn't have to rush around once in the locations to make sure I had things to do. 
I did also make a list of what to book when I got to the location, like theme park visits depending on how I felt on the days when I was there so I wasn't stuck to a big plan every day. 
This really helped in LA, as after three weeks on trek I used much more time as downtime than I was expecting…I had to recover from the tiredness and all the hiking! Using the benefits of the hotel I booked - room service and cinema only films on your hotel room tv was a novel afternoon and evening well spent recuperating!

Why (you should): Whether its on your computer or a notepad making lists is key to getting everything planned in advance, making combining trek and travel less stressful, and even fairly enjoyable! 
The hard work you put in, in the planning will more than pay off when you're at the destinations.  You don't have to waste time trying to create an itinerary and miss out on amazing sights as you can plan to maximise your time.
do plan in some downtime between treks, you don't want to fill everyday with activities as you will be tired. You will want a more chilled day or two before embarking on your next trek too - maybe a pool day at your hotel or relaxing at the beach!


7 |     BOOK BOTH (OR ALL) TREKS AT THE SAME TIME

What (I Did): After looking at the two treks for a while that I had been set on combining, before I booked them, the mini trek got fully booked. 
This meant I would have to abandon my trek as there wasn't many feasible options for a different second trek taking in what I wanted to see, and the only option was to change my dates as luckily I hadn't booked one of the trips without the other. 
There were only one other set of trek date options that would allow a week in between the treks. So I checked out the travel and accommodation options for the new dates which seemed ok.
Having learned my lesson of waiting to book I booked them both up together, so I wouldn't miss out on combining them, after having planned out my travels. 

Why (you should): Trek America regularly offers discounts for booking multiple treks at the same time, so it can make it hugely worthwhile to stay on in America a bit longer.
They also usually give discounts for your 3rd or more trek, saving money while adding to your itinerary can't be bad!
You do not want to have to change your plans if your second trek gets fully booked before you book it, especially if you've already researched travel and accommodation options.


8 |     BOOK YOUR TREKS FIRST 

What (I Did): Following working out the treks I wanted to do and travel and accommodation I booked my treks first as they were the core to my travel plans and everything else was flexible. I booked about four months in advance so I time to pay the treks off before spending money on flights and other accommodation. 
I added pre tour hotels in after a couple of weeks of booking my treks - Trek America were very accommodating to do this, after I had realised my other hotel options would be too far from the departure points to travel on the morning of the treks - I didn't want a mega early start!
It also meant I could keep an eye on hotel and flight prices and book when they were the lowest I had seen, rather than needing to book everything up straight away.
It ended up being cheaper for me to spend four nights in New York City before the pre tour night, instead of three. Based on changing the date I flew to a day earlier, I used the left over money for another hotel night - an extra night in New York is never a bad thing!

Why (you should): You don't want to pre book flights or accommodation then find that in the meantime the treks to fit around those have been booked up. Treks can fill up quickly as its 13 maximum to a tour.
Booking trek first and well in advance gives you more time to wait for the trek to be guaranteed before paying for flights and accommodation - so less chance of loosing money, as very occasionally some treks don't have enough people to run them. Having more time before booking other aspects of your travels allows you to change all the extras to fit in with any new circumstance - no one wants to waste money!
Have travel and accommodation plans in mind but you can always be more flexible with those around the treks - there really is nothing you can do if treks have been booked up already.
Changing travel and accommodation around trek (rather than changing trek around travel and accommodation) will mean you could end up finding some good deals.


9 |    SPEND TIME SOLO IN YOUR DESTINATIONS AROUND TREKS

What (I Did): Because I spent time in locations on my own people ended up talking to me a lot because of it that i wouldn't have spoken to otherwise, I met lots of people because of this and these are some of the most memorable and special parts of my trip.
When I was at Disney land in California waiting for the night parade I got speaking to a local family and learn loads more about life in California and got tips on things to do in Vegas.
At Universal in LA I got one front of the line pass I could use on a ride to skip the queues. This was because I was approached to fill in a 5 minute Universal electronic survey about my visit that day, they weren't approaching big groups but solo and couple visitors!
I've also had a free visit to Museum Of Modern Art and discounted visit to The Metropolitan Museum in New York due to being solo. A MOMA member had a spare ticket that had been paid for and wanted to give it someone instead of wasting it. He was looking for a solo visitor and I was the only one, he had been waiting a while because everyone else was with people.
It was the same with a visit to the World Trade Center memorial in New York. A lady on her lunch break got talking to me, she was on her lunch break and explained how she visited the memorial everyday as she worked in the Twin Towers and was not at work the day 9/11 happened, which had saved her life. People speak to you when you're solo and you can share in some incredible stories - thats what travelling is all about right!

Why (you should): While its nice to travel with others it can be to your advantage to travel solo in some of your destinations around treks.
Sometimes you can get offered free or discounted tickets.
You can visit places you really want to see but other trekkers or friends may not be into - museums, galleries, sports, whatever your thing there will be something fun to do. 
Don't miss out because you're embarrassed of being there alone, there will be other people enjoying events solo, and you can meet and get talking to new people. 
If you're staying in hostels you may find like minded travellers who want to see some of the same sights as you and you can visit together.


10 |     PRE BOOK ACTIVITIES IN YOUR PRE, BETWEEN & POST TREK DESTINATIONS

What (I Did): I pre booked to see the Late Late Show with James Cordon in LA before I left the UK. A few of the tapings got cancelled but because I booked in advance I re booked for a different day. As we were nearing LA on the trek my booking got confirmed and got upgraded to a priority booking because I got in early enough. This meant being closer to the front for the taping and much more likely to see the show - they always oversubscribe tv show audiences to make sure they have enough people, so if you're near the end of the queue you may get turned away.
Another treat of travelling solo in LA got me an amazing visit. I got the last tour of the Dolby Theatre where the Oscars are held before it closed for 3 days due to Steve Martin's lifetime achievement ceremony. I went early in the day and no one else was booked on the tour, I got to go in the box in the auditorium and watch them setting the stage up because it wasn't a big group. I had ended up with a private tour of the Oscars theatre and auditorium for the price of a regular group tour - pretty amazing, and a very special memory!

Why (you should): You might be able to watch one of your favourite Hollywood tv shows at a taping. There can be long waiting lists for booking tv show tapings, and you need to book well in advance to give you the greatest chance of getting to watch something. For tv shows book a few different dates and different shows to maximise your chances. They are great to book up for time in LA or NY, they are FREE, having a free thing to do while spending time in expensive cities is amazing, it will save you money and you will feel incredible afterwards as you get entertained at no expense!
Pre booking a few activities for when your alone will make visiting the places less daunting and you will enjoy your trip way more. 
You are not left wondering how to fill all your free time between treks. 
Make sure you don't book up all your time as you will want to make use of the best weather days for outdoor sightseeing and you can get some great deals or better visits when you're out there at the last minute. Not booking up all your time in your middle destination will mean you can spend time with your other trekkers after trek, most people have the day after trek in the destination so you can meet up with your other trekkers on these days to do fun activities not included in trek, and it means you won't be alone the whole time.




There are so many incredible benefits of planning other travels and combining them with treks.
There are a few downsides to travelling in this way too. Mostly staying for shorter times in amazing destinations will make you want to spend longer there. 
On mini treks while you see lots of incredible places theres not quite long enough to really explore them. I want to go back to most of them within days of arriving home, and still feel that way a year later. 
Hey, at least I've got my next holiday ideas already right?!?




Let me know in the comments if this is a useful guide, especially if you've not booked multiple destination travels before!


Are you going on multiple treks or treks with time in multiple destinations? or have you combined treks and travels before, what did you do?


© CAROLAND

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