Planning a vacation in Utah is something to really look forward to. It can be a bit stressful, but it doesn’t have to be, even if you don’t travel a lot. You can prepare for a trip to Utah in a way that leaves you confident all will be well!
Once you’ve chosen Utah as your destination (and there are many great reasons for doing so!), you might not know what to tackle next. You’ll be much more relaxed once you arrive if you prepare in advance and know what to expect.
Create & follow a budget
Start preparing for your trip to Utah by knowing your financial situation and setting up a realistic budget. You should know how much you have to spend before you make any travel commitments. That’s how you know what you can spend on transportation, meals, accommodations, and attractions. A budget will allow you to determine if you’re flying or taking a road trip, for example. Or if you’re camping or staying in a hotel. And fortunately for you, Utah is a rather economical place to visit, and there are lots of options for you at all ranges of a budget.
Choose & research your destination
Now that you know you’re heading to Utah, you can dig a bit deeper into what’s there and what to expect. Read reviews from other travelers about where to stay, what to do, and what to skip. Check with friends or search on Pinterest or Instagram — both places for great Utah inspiration. There are so many wonderful national parks in Utah, plus it is a premier ski destination. There are things to do in all seasons, too. Figure out how you’ll get around as it relates to your transportation options (rental car, your own vehicle, train, bus, light rail, etc.) Decide if you want one central location to act as a hub or if you’ll take a road trip with a different stop every night. Unless you’re really into “winging it”, the more research you do, the more prepared you will be.
Decide which activities you want to do
Another task to complete as you prepare for your trip to Utah is to decide which activities you want to include. For example, if you’ll be staying near the Wasatch mountains in winter you may choose to book an amazing backcountry ski tour. On the other hand, you might prefer to check out a national park or two, or the Dinosaur National Monument in Jensen. You may even want to consider buying a National Park Pass.
Activities can include hiking and fishing, exploring historic sites, or a Salt Lake City city tour. Museums, gardens, aquariums, art galleries and murals, university campuses — so many attractions to check out. It’ll be best to have a good idea of what you want to do before you arrive so you can book your reservations ahead of time. If you’ve been to Utah before, plan an activity you’ve never done, just for fun. (The next time I go, I really want to explore Antelope Island.)
Find the right accommodations
An additional step in the travel planning process is to find the right accommodations. Remember there are many options to choose from these days and you don’t have to stay at a standard hotel. However, it is a good lodging option if you’re with your family and want to have a swimming pool and other accommodations.
Other choices include renting a house or condo, camping, or crashing with friends or family who live in Utah. Consider who’s going along and what you believe will be the best for you as you try to narrow it down and reserve the right place to stay.
Make a packing list & prepare your home
It’s wise to be organized and pack well for Utah. Learn what the weather is going to be like in Utah at the time you’re going and pack the right attire. See what clothes and items you already have and make a list of what you’ll need to buy before you depart. For example, a winter trip will require good coats, gloves, and boots for much of Utah. And it’s common to need chapstick as the climate is dry there. Remember to bring along good hiking and walking shoes since there’s a lot of different terrain you’ll encounter in Utah.
Always make a packing list of what you’ll need — it’s pretty much the only way to avoid forgetting something. You can always buy items you forget once you arrive, but it might not be as convenient to be searching for something at the last minute. I once ended up in a snow storm near Capitol Reef National Park without snow chains and couldn’t buy them anywhere!
As for your home, be sure to take out the garbage, arrange to have someone watch your pets, hold your mail and lock all your doors before you leave. Put your hot water heater on vacation mode, and try to use up all the perishable food in your fridge before leaving!
Time your visits to tourist attractions
As you plan your next vacation to Utah, another way to minimize the chance for any stress is to avoid going during high tourist season. At places like Arches and Zion National Parks, they are likely to be much busier during the summer or early fall. But spring and late fall visits are much less crowded — and cooler, too! A visit to the North Rim of Grand Canyon is also very nice during fall season.
You might also consider the time of day so you have the most ideal light for taking photos. You’ll enjoy your visit more this way, and there will be fewer crowds and lines to deal with.
Summary of how to prepare for a trip to Utah
Much of these steps apply to travel anywhere, but Utah is a special place with so much to offer. I wouldn’t want you to miss out on the best Utah visit ever by not being prepared. If you’ve been, tell me where you’re headed next in the comments below!