Travel Time: Black Hills, Yellowstone, Idaho, Colorado and More

It’s travel season, the time of the year where we just need to get out and explore something. We’re heading west. We’ll spend time in the Black Hills, the Tetons, Yellowstone, Idaho, the Rocky Mountains, and more. I’ve been to the Black Hills and spent quite a bit of time in Colorado, but my wife and kids have never seen this part of the country. I haven’t seen a lot of it either. We’re planning for a 17 day road trip with our 3 girls under the age of 5.

My wife and I have always loved to travel. In fact, it is part of what brought us together as we met in Costa Rica. Most of our road trips have taken place between Iowa and Alabama to visit family aka the Bamily as I like to call them. These trips have made the girls pretty good car riders. Finally, we’ve saved enough PTO for an extra trip, so we’re heading west. This is the longest road trip we’ve taken; hopefully they get longer as we become more financially independent and less tied to our jobs.

Travel Van

Travel Philosophy

Some people may think being on the road with 3 little kids sounds like a dream vacation, and others will think it sounds like a nightmare. We’re looking at it as a dream. I love spending extra time with our girls. Our philosophy is that we want our kids to experience the world, and we aren’t going to wait until our youngest is 12 to do it. If you start while they are young, they will enjoy it and think it is normal. If you wait until they are older, you risk losing a popularity contest to their computer screen.

Traveling is a high priority for us. When we set up our budget and talked about our priorities in life, travel was pretty high after necessities, giving, and retiring. In fact, we made the point that we would rather spend money traveling while we’re young than retire a few years earlier (where we might invest the money if we didn’t travel). Hopefully we can still retire when we want, but we aren’t willing to give up the next 20 years of living to do it super early. You don’t need to travel across the world or even across the country for it to be valuable. There are beautiful waterways or parks within a couple hours of pretty much everyone.

There are so many benefits to travel:
-Enjoying God’s creation
-Extended time with family
-Time away from work
-Opportunities to dream
-Gaining a broader perspective
-Meeting fun people and more

We haven’t planned for a lot other than lodging and some food, which had to be done in advance. I think this works well when traveling with kids. We have things we want to see at every destination, but if we take a couple hours to relax by the lake or play at a park, that’s just part of the plan.

Here are the highlights we’re looking to hit:

-Drive through the Badlands on the way to the Black Hills.
-Stay at Custer State Park, hopefully see some animals and maybe explore.
-Go to Mount Rushmore and possibly Reptile Gardens.
-Stay at Keyhole State Park in a TREEHOUSE and maybe see Devil’s Tower
-Drive through the Tetons
-Enjoy Old Faithful Lodge and see some cool animals and geysers
-Stay in a Yurt at Harriman State Park in Idaho.
-Enjoy a hotel with a pool in Butte, Montana.
-Visit friends near Moscow, Idaho.
-Enjoy the sand dunes, stars, maybe see a scorpion at Bruneau Dunes State Park in Idaho
-Stay at East Canyon State Park, Utah
-Hang out in Denver, maybe go to the zoo and Casa Bonita
-Hang out with friends in Central Nebraska
-Back Home to Iowa.
-Hopefully our minivan is up for the challenge.

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