Sunday, March 27, 2016

On Planning Trips to the NE

Somehow I forgot how much time and searching it takes to "plan" out an upcoming trip!

Yesterday I lucked upon a 50 Best Hikes in New England book and as I was boycotting working on the weekend, I decided it was finally time to start organizing my trip to the NE. And truthfully it was a good thing, because trying to just wing the east coast doesn't exactly appear to be an option :)

My original intention for the later half of the trip was to explore the region, do some hiking/kayaking, hopefully check out and maybe work part of one day on a sustainable farm, walk through history in Boston, soak in the coast line of Maine, and meet a fellow blogger. Ambitious for 5-6 days of travel, but this tends to be how I do most my trips.

What I've come to realize however is that things go fast on the east coast...and travel costs (lodging, rental cars, etc) are definitely higher than I expected. ALL of the farm stay options (and I must have searched in 3 different ways and investigated about 20-30 options) were well above my price point, especially when I was hoping to truly get a deal for putting in some actual labor. (Plus I had no idea that farm stays were such a niche tourist market in VT and NH! Who knew?!) By the time I had pulled up Boston as a location on Airbnb, there were exactly 17 options left within my price range. Within the greater Portland, ME area there were about 10 options left. Thankfully I also stumbled upon some other really great finds for lodging (like a room-themed historical BnB for $59/night!) but altogether I was pretty surprised to find that a basic room rental in the NE on AirBnb runs about the same price as a cheap hotel.

When I travel solo I generally like to go with the flow with a general plan in mind but lots of flexibility on when/where I have to stop for the night, but this time it didn't appear that would be a very safe case with trying to secure lodging etc. There is still some general flexibility with how far I drive on the second day and which trails I actually hike (weather dependent too of course), but overall this trip is appearing much more set than most the ones I've done in the last five years.

The tentative plan is as follows:
Day 1: Train from Yale, arriving in Boston around noon. Store luggage at train station and spend the afternoon treking around downtown seeing the bay, Boston Commons, Paul Revere's house, and other historic sites. Pick up rental car & luggage, Drive down to Plymouth to a beach house rental owned by a local educator/farmer. This spot is a bit out of my way but the location, the extra history, and the farming component made me decide that it was a great option. I'm really hoping this day works out well.
Day 2: Leave Plymouth for VT. It's about a 5hr drive to Burlington, but I'm hoping to do at least 1-2 short-ish hikes this day too so I'm not sure I'll make it all the way to Burlington to investigate the city. We'll see, as there are several small towns I'd also like to stop in along the way. I'm staying in an AirBnB at Camel's Hump, which is one of the hiking options.
Day 3: Leave Camel's Hump and stop in Montpelier for breakfast & to see the city. Head to do a 8-10 mile day hike in the White Mtns, drive to Mt Washington, stay the night in North Conway.
Day 4: After breakfast, head out of NH to Stonington on the coast of ME (4ish total hour drive), stopping en route to officially meet one of my longest held blog contacts (Heather at Townsend Home)! :) The lodging in Stonington is an old bunk house, lobster dinners, with kayak rentals on site. I'm really looking forward to this location and can imagine I'm going to wish for more time here...
Day 5: Drive from Stonington to Portland, ME, soaking up the coastal views, small towns, and stopping to do some hiking in Camden. I'm hoping to explore some of downtown Portland and grab dinner there. I'm staying on the other side of the bridge in South Portland.
Day 6: Breakfast in South Portland, explore Cape Elizabeth (how could I not?!), and arrive to airport around noon.

I'm really glad I made it a point to get back on a Saturday evening to allow Sunday for oodles of make-up grading I'll have to do and rest, before teaching and a full day of work on Monday.

I have to say that the more I've looked at the region, the more excited I'm getting. So much sustainable agriculture, so much history, so many amazing hiking/water outdoor options, so small of populations! After the long term and the first week of working in April, I'm going to be pretty excited to be hitting the road and doing a bit of exploring!


  1. I'm so excited for your trip! I think you will love New England, I certainly do. I am definitely interested to hear your opinion of it all :-) And very excited to finally connect after all these years of reading your blog - I think perhaps 9 years at this point?! Is that possible?

  2. Fun! This sounds like such a great trip. You will see and do so much while you are there. We were in Boston for 4 days in October but we were there to visit friends so besides a day trip to Salem, we weren't out of the Boston area. I would love to go back to that region and spend more time in the outer parts because as much as I enjoyed seeing Boston, I really enjoyed the time we spent up the coast.