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Charles Allen / HEX Writer

When you start your spring break planning, begin the process with this important question: When did you last feel really happy? Look back over the past six months and identify the moments when you felt the most joy and satisfaction. Where were you? What were you doing? Who shared that experience with you? That is how you begin to plan for your spring break (and the rest of your life). You define what makes you feel happy and try to repeat those experiences over and over again.

Next, dream big. If you could go anywhere where in the world, where would it be? What would you do? Currently, you probably can’t afford to go to those place or do those things. However, you now have the basis upon which to discover what you can do with the resources you have. Remember, you aren’t trying to reach a certain destination or do a certain thing, rather, your objective is to feel something substantial and meaningful. Find someplace you can reach on your budget that will foster what you want to feel.

Once you know what you want to feel and the range your money will take you, the re- search begins. Start by typing the phrase “top rated” or “best”. The Internet is filled with sites dedicated to creating rated lists of this kind. Don’t limit your search geographically just yet. Continue to dream big. You may be surprised to learn that one of the top rated hamburger stops in the US is in Salt Lake or that the best place to see ancient pictographs is about 30 minutes outside Monticello.

Start with Tripadvisor. Individual travelers post ideas and provide ratings on every- thing from restaurants and hotel to attractions and things to do in the area. On this site, Orem is rated as the 8th most popular destination in Utah and has over 280 photos and videos from the area. Even remote areas have useful informations from travelers. Beaver, Utah for example, has 240 photos and over 20 different things to do.

Other sites such as New York Times Travel and Frommer’s provide more in depth insights into your chosen destination. New York Times has a huge database of travel articles on thousands of destinations. For example, the Times site includes travel articles written on Moab, Utah that date back to 1967. A more recent article, by a writer who spent 36 hours in Moab, highlights places to stay and eat and interesting things to do.

Frommer’s site has a lot of the same information you will find in their travel books. Some of the unique features of this site are the detailed destination maps and suggested itineraries. Maps for Salt Lake City include “What to See and Do in Downtown Salt Lake City” and “Greater Salt Lake City Valley Dining”. There is also a page for Side Trips around Salt Lake City that provides a wide variety of ideas. For more popular destinations such as Los Angeles the site provides suggested itineraries for one, two and seven-day stays.

Other sites also provide in depth destination ideas. Fodor’s Choice gives its recommended sights, restaurants and hotels for a given location. Lonely Planet’s site offer’s its top picks of things to do and see. You’ll find helpful information on travel magazine websites including National Geographic Traveler, Travel and Leisure, Sunset and Afar. And don’t forget to visit the visitor’s bureau site to check out special events that are scheduled during your stay.

Good luck with your pursuit of a meaningful emotional experience during spring break. You never know where or when you’ll experience something meaningful during your travels.