Charles has long experience fishing, hiking, exploring, and camping in the Northeast.
Poconos here we come
Choosing the Resort
Planning a weekend trip to the Poconos can be a daunting task. I often plan weekend snow tubing trips and I think it is similar to a skiing or snowboarding trip. The first thing to take into consideration is what winter activity you will mainly be participating in. For this article, I will be concentrating on snow tubing. After settling on a snow tubing adventure, I searched the internet for the websites of each resort. I first went to http://maps.google.com/ and searched for "Poconos Tubing". I got a list of all the ski resorts and their websites in and around the Poconos along with their locations on the map that offered tubing. My choice of resort was based on location and distance, so I settled on two resorts in the Lehigh Valley to research. My thought was to use Allentown, PA as my base camp and make day trips to the ski resorts for tubing fun. The resorts I chose were: Bear Creek Mountain Resort & Conference Center in Macungie, PA, and Spring Mountain Adventure Corporation in Spring Mount, PA. My selling points for this weekend getaway were: the distance from my home in NJ. The distance from my base camp in Allentown, PA. The price of tubing tickets and the length of time. TIP: Most tickets ranged from $25-$29 on weekends and holidays and were generally for 3-hour sessions. Some of the other resorts were: Blue Mountain Ski Area, Camelback Mountain Resort, Big Boulder Ski Area, and Jack Frost Ski Area to name just a few of the ones not too far from Allentown, PA. Another great tool I used were the reviews posted by guests of the resorts. I found these reviews on Google Maps, Trip Advisor and http://www.yelp.com. Some of the reviews really painted a good picture of what to expect as far as service and amenities. I used youtube.com and searched for the resort names and watched user videos to get an idea of the types of tubing runs and the appearance of the resort. TIP: A very big factor that must be taken into consideration is the style of tubing offered at each respective resort. Some resorts offer FACE DOWN tubing while others offer SIT DOWN tubing. A big difference in the tubing world. I am not sure of the benefits but it seems that SIT DOWN tubing would be more comfortable. In my opinion of course.
I hope these tips and insights have been helpful. If you have any tips you would like to add, feel free to add them in the comments section below.
Finding a Hotel
Many people may think that the big travel sites like Expedia, Travelocity, Hotels.com, Orbitz, Hotwire and Kayak are only for researching airfare, hotels and rental cars. Well, these sites are excellent for researching and booking just hotel stays. I started looking for hotels in and around the Poconos. I had once used Expedia to book a vacation to Walt Disney World, so I decided to use them as my account information was already saved. I searched for hotels near where I planned to go tubing and Expedia allowed me to list all of the hotels in the area and sort them by distance from the resort town, price, hotel rating and user review rating. My criteria for selecting my hotel was price, distance and user review rating. I chose the cheapest, highest user rated hotel which ended up being $84 dollars per night with 20% off if booking for two nights. TIP: I went directly to the hotel website to book the same nights and they could not beat Expedia's price! Another tool I found to be invaluable was TripAdvisor. This website/app was instrumental in my research. The user reviews and ratings were the most current that I could find on the web. This app covers all the bases of vacation and trip planning, especially for the road tripper like myself. For dining out, I used the website/app Yelp for researching restaurants in the area of Allentown and I will bring the apps with me on my android phone. Yay for technology! Since this is a road trip, don't forget to download the GasBuddy app. GasBuddy lets you search for gas prices by city, state, and zip code, with listings for all the cities in the USA and Canada. Updated in real-time, with the national average price for gasoline, current trends, and mapping tools.