I normally like to have my trips fully planned long in advance but caring for our
five now six month old has been the primary focus. It’s that same adorable infant that will likely make planning our trip to Houston more difficult. A five-day trip to visit Beth’s sister and her family will be our first opportunity to travel with James and we’re not really sure how it will work. The airplane is a concern but we also have to figure out what to bring and how much of it to bring. I believe we’ll be fine once we get to Texas, of course, but there are a lot of unknown factors to plan for. That’s where all of my travel experience comes in; over-planning the crap out of this trip.
This is my second post about planning our trip to Houston. You can check out the first one here.
Our trip is now just three days away! We have expanded our packing list but have not actually packed anything yet. I set a goal of getting our suitcase packed last Sunday but then mostly just sat around watching movies (whoops!). We are pretty sure we can get everything into Beth’s large suitcase, the diaper bag, and my backpack (the car-seat has it’s own carrying case too). I finally have a more complete list of things to see and do while we’re in Houston determined as well. I made a spreadsheet with all the important information and plotted the addresses on a custom Google Map (I know, you’re shocked I made a map). What would you like to see first? Of course, the map!
Each of the colorful icons represent an address of an important location for our trip. The blue house symbol is Beth’s sister’s house which will act as our home base for the duration of our stay. The brown football is NRG Stadium, host of Super Bowl LI last month. The Astrodome is next door and I want to see both while in town. The yellow giraffe is the Houston Zoo, our nephew’s favorite location for animal-based amusement. The Children’s Museum is in grey nearby. The beer symbol isn’t a bar (I don’t drink); it’s the kitsch-famous Beer Can House (tours only available Saturdays and Sundays). Several restaurants with exciting menus are on the map as well. I know Val and Dave will have recommendations for their own neighborhood but I did a bit of research just so we have options when we’re out and about sightseeing. The ice cream cone is a place called Sprinkles that has forty or so national locations including inside both Disney Parks in the United States. The fire icon is an establishment called Torchy’s Tacos that I am looking forward to trying if time permits.
Zooming out a bit (below) the airport comes into range as does NASA Southeast of the city and an Escape Room Challenge Northwest of it. I love the icons available in custom Google Maps. There are over 400 interesting options available and now that I know that, I’m going to make so many awesome custom maps! There are tools to connect points of interest with driving directions and draw lines and zones around neighborhoods. If you’re into maps, I highly recommend Google’s custom setup.
Below is the aforementioned spreadsheet. As you can see, there are columns for addresses, hours/availability, cost, phone, and website. Keeping all this important information organized and in one place is helpful for planning the trip in advance and for when we’re actually in Houston. If we’re hanging out at the zoo and want to pick a place for lunch from the list of my pre-researched restaurants; the menus, hours, phone numbers, and locations are all easily accessible. My spreadsheet also contains a travel itinerary, which for this trip is just our flights in and out of Houston (we opted for non-stop to make it easier on James). My spreadsheets for road trips are usually much longer and include hour-by-hour schedules. Destination trips like this one don’t need to be planned to the minute (because Beth would probably kill me if I did).
I can’t wait to get to Houston this weekend and share our adventures with you all when we get back. Now here is another picture of James because you’ve been good and deserve it!
If you need advice planning a trip of your own, please let me know in the comments or check out one of my Travel Tips posts.