In our previous post we looked at how Sweden celebrates Christmas. Today we travel to France…

France Celebrates Christmas: Joyeux Noël

The French phrase les bonnes nouvelles means “the good news” and refers to the gospel. This is where the French get their name for Christmas, Noël. As with many of the European countries, Christmas is one of the most important holidays of the year. France has a unique geographic position working as the liaison between Northern Europe and the Mediterranean. Because of this, the people of France have adopted a variety of Christmas traditions.

French Christmas Music to Set the Mood

The French have been influenced by both American and German seasonal traditions. One of these is the Advent wreath which consists of fir and pine branches that hold 4 pillar candles. These candles are lit on each Sunday leading up to Christmas.

Stanislas Christmas Tree

Courtesy of Frenchmoments.eu

As we have seen from previous countries, the Christmas tree is a cornerstone of Christmas celebrations. French families are no different. France saw its first Christmas tree in Alsace in 1521, which was known as “sapin de noël” or “arbre de noël” The Christmas tree is one of the most popular traditions in France since the 16th century.

Traditionally Christmas trees were decorated with things like apples, ribbons, and paper flowers.

milk and cookiesOn Christmas Eve, in American traditions, children leave milk and cookies out for Santa. This has been part of the custom for generations. The old French custom was for children to fill their shoes with carrots and treats for Père Noël’s donkey by the fireplace. This tradition evolved into a more American tradition of Père Noël shimmying down the chimney of each home to bring presents for good boys and girls. His donkey has been substituted by 7 magical flying reindeer.

Le Réveillon feastLe Réveillon Feast

Often times, children in France open their Christmas gifts on the evening of December 24. They have to wait until Christmas Réveillon dinner or after midnight mass has concluded. Le Réveillon feast usually includes things like a starter of snails, oysters, seafood, or smoked salmon. The main course would most likely be roast goose or turkey. And what French celebration with amazing food could be complete without wine.

Tradition of Gift Giving on Christmas

The symbolic act of gift giving to children on Christmas is meant to symbolize the gifts brought to Jesus by the Three Wise Men on January 6. Traditionally, French children were given a small gift and an orange for Christmas. At the conclusion of the WWII, and the increased American influence on France, the simple tradition evolved into the ceremonial expensive gift giving.

Many French families give thanks to public servants during the Christmas season by giving them money.

Do you know why people hang mistletoe above the doorways at Christmas time? The French would tell you that it is to bring good fortune for the upcoming year… So it is not to steal a kiss from your sweetie… hmmmm.

Some French families still follow the old tradition of exchanging gifts on January 6th, the Feast of Kings or Feast of Epiphany. This celebration brings a very exciting twist. The pastry that they enjoy, the gallette des rois (cake of kings), can have something special inside. The person who finds the elusive charm inside is named King or Queen for the duration of the celebration. They even wear a paper crown to symbolize their new found royalty. This also comes with a string attached. The royal winner must then provide the cake for the next party.

One of the most recognizable decorations that often grace homes, community gatherings, churches, etc. at Christmas time is the nativity scene. We all know the main characters that are set up for the nativity: Joseph, Mary, Baby Jesus… But the French nativity may have some players that you don’t know about. What about the banker, fruit and vegetable sellers, local noblemen, a blind man, a woman selling fish, a scissor grinder, and a roast chestnut seller? Yes, that’s right… These additions may be found in the French nativity. You would be able to enjoy these nativity scenes all the way to February 2 as this is when they are taken down.

From all of us at Yellowstone Hot Springs, we wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Joyeux Noël!

Norman Wesley Brooks said: “Christmas is forever, not for just one day, for loving, sharing, giving, are not to put away like bells and lights and tinsel, in some box upon a shelf. The good you do for others is good you do yourself.”

village magicMerry Christmas ornamentEvery holiday has its special nuances and traditions. Christmas is no different, and is arguably one of the most celebrated and recognized holidays. From childhood, we are taught the significance of a holiday from family, friends, and the community. That limited perspective can sometimes drift over into adulthood, and we forget that there are glorious celebrations, which may look different from what we know, all across the globe. For example, here in the United States, Christmas is widely known to be celebrated on December 25th. But, is this the same everywhere? Where did this date come from? The Christmas holiday is meant to honor the birth of Jesus, but this date was never specified in the Bible. So where did it come from? The first official mention of December 25th as Jesus’ Birthday appeared on a Roman calendar from AD 336. However, is this when everyone celebrates the miracle birth?

With this in mind, I started to think about how others view this very special day. So, I set out on a journey, and I would love for you to take a moment to join me for a magic sleigh ride around the world. We will take a peek into the way that some other countries celebrate this very special holiday, and maybe add new practices to our own Christmas traditions.

Sweden Celebrates Christmas, Wishing us “God Jul!”

Christmas Lights SwedenChristmas is sometimes referred to as the “second most important celebration in the Swedish calendar after Midsummer.”— Royal Djurgården

Can you believe that the Christmas celebration lasts almost 2 months in Sweden? Christmas in Sweden begins on the first Sunday in December and continues until January 13. During this time, there are several celebrations that may seem different than what most people imagine when they think of Christmas.

Forsta Advent Day

The Swedish celebration of Christmas kicks off with the lighting of a special candle on the “Forsta Advent,” or first Sunday, in December. This ceremonial lighting continues for every Sunday in December.

Courtesy of Flickr

St. Lucia Day – Little Yule

St. Lucia Day is an honoring of a young girl named Lucia who lost her life for her religious beliefs in 304 A.D. This amazing young lady daringly took food to Christians who were hiding from persecution in the catacombs under Rome. For this courage and dedication to God, she is celebrated by Scandinavian countries. During this time, the morning of “little Yule” the eldest daughter in the home wakes early and awakens each family member bearing gifts of coffee and buns. She dresses in a long white dress with a red sash and a crown made of twigs that holds 9 lighted candles. There are also community celebrations where a young girl is selected to be St. Lucia participating in an Advent procession, visits hospitals and schools, and acts as the recognized symbol in parades.

Decorating for God Jul in Sweden

Families in Sweden are much like that of other families around the world who celebrate Christmas. They love to decorate! Whether it is their home, yard, community, or their Christmas tree, decorations are important. They choose to try to utilize the theme of “natural is better.” A favorite activity is to make ornaments out of straw as a reminder of Jesus in His manger. Their Christmas decorations will bring joy to all until January 13th. This is when they take down their Christmas tree and decorations.

Santa Claus Tradition in Sweden

Santa Claus is a jolly tradition in many Christmas stories, and it is no different for the Swedish children. There has been an evolution of this Christmas icon from an angry man who guards local agriculture to the rosy cheeked warm fellow known today. He is believed to look similar to a gnome and goes by Jultomten. Families leave delicious snacks out for Jultomten like rice pudding with cherries and almonds.

Christmas Eve in Sweden

Sunset on December 24th is when Swedish families open presents, but that is not all. At 3:00 in the afternoon, almost everyone in Sweden stops what they are doing to watch the American TV show, “From All of Us to All of You,” or a marathon of Disney movies/shows. That night, families gather for a jalbord feast of things like cold fish, pickled herring, cheese, pickled pigs feet, ham joint and meatballs. There is a very special tradition during this time that includes “risgryngrot” which is a rice pudding dish. There is one bowl that has an almond hidden inside. If you are the lucky winner of this bowl, it means that you will get married in the upcoming year!

Attending Church on December 25th

If December 24th is for family celebrations, you might be wondering what they do on December 25th. Well, Swedish families recognize this as a day for families to attend church.

Next Stop on Our Christmas Traditions Sleigh Ride

Join us again next week for several more Christmas traditions from around the world. We will take a look at a few more countries and how they celebrate. Can you guess what country opens their presents right after midnight on December 24th?

Thanksgiving is a time for friends and family to come together to give thanks for the many blessings in their lives. This is something that is widely known and celebrated. However, what if there was more to know about Thanksgiving.? This got me thinking of some little-known facts about one of the most celebrated holidays…

Sarah Josepha Hale

courtesy of: https://newport.lib.nh.us

Fun Facts About Thanksgiving

1. Do you know who Sarah Josepha Hale is? She wrote “Mary Had A Little Lamb.” But this was not all she wrote. She is responsible for Abraham Lincoln finally making Thanksgiving a national holiday! How you ask? Well, she wrote numerous letters, over the span of 17 years, to Congress explaining the many reasons why he needed to recognize Thanksgiving as a national holiday. She was finally able to persuade Mr. Lincoln. On October 3, 1863, Abraham Lincoln finally recognized Thanksgiving as a national holiday…

2. The first Thanksgiving lasted 3 whole days! The harvest gathering in 1621 included 50 Pilgrims and 90 Wampanoag Indians.

Ceremonial Thanksgiving Turkey Pardoning

3. Often times people say that the ceremonial turkey pardoning was started by Harry Truman. However, this would be inaccurate since he actually had the turkey that the National Turkey Federation sent him as his main course. The first president to bestow a reprieve on the gifted Thanksgiving turkey was John F. Kennedy. The tradition seemed to catch on, and Richard Nixon sent his wily bird to a petting zoo to live out his days. Finally, in 1989, George H. W. Bush shifted this turkey release into a ceremonial pardoning tradition.

4. Did you know that there is actually a turkey hotline? Well, there is… Travel with me for a second back to 1981, when a group of 6 home economists fielded phone calls through the holiday season to answer various cooking questions. Butterball actually answers more than 100,000 turkey questions from November through December. You don’t believe me? Next time you have a turkey crisis, or you just need a little gobble time, call the Butterball Turkey Hotline, 1-800-288-8372 (1-800-BUTTERBALL). They answer every poulterific (yes, we made that up) question you can think of, and probably some you haven’t thought of yet…

Tradition of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

5. Most people recognize the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, even if they have not seen it in person. Today, it is the largest parade, but do you know how it was started? In 1924, the organizers for the parade did not have access to the various sky-scraper-size balloons that we associate with big city parades. So, these organizers got together with the Central Park Zoo officials, and they had a parade with the animals from the zoo. The simple parade line up remained this way for the first 3 years, until the balloon introduction of Felix the Cat came roaring onto the scene. Parades have never been the same since.

6. Have you ever had a frozen dinner? Or gone to your grandparent’s home and found a frozen dinner in the freezer? Who would have thought that those frozen delicacies started because of Thanksgiving? Every year, upwards of 18 million turkeys are not selected to grace a family’s table for Thanksgiving dinner. The brain trust of Swanson got together and decided that they wanted to profit off of the left-over turkeys that were not sold. Therefore, they came up with these packaged meals that could be frozen, saved for later, and heated up when you need something quick to eat. Voila…. TV dinner is created.

Wait, is Big Bird Really a Turkey?

thanksgiving turkey7. How many of us love Sesame Street characters? There is more than meets the eye when one is looking at Big Bird… And that is hard to believe. But, Big Bird’s feathers are TURKEY FEATHERS! What??? They are turkey feathers that have been dyed yellow. I am not sure I will be able to look at Big Bird the same again. 😊

8. Not all things can be done by both males and females. Male turkeys, or toms, make the tell tale “gobble gobble” sound we all know and love when we think about turkeys. Females cannot “gobble” at all. They can only make a clucking noise. Males use their ability to gobble and their sassy strut to attract female turkeys.

9. Where might we be today if Benjamin Franklin had his way? Although the Bald Eagle was selected as the national bird for the US. Benjamin Franklin had stated that he considered the turkey to be a “more respectable bird” and a “bird of courage.” I wonder if this had come to pass, then what would be for Thanksgiving dinner?

10. The US Virgin Islands have expanded on the Thanksgiving celebration. They actually have two separate Thanksgiving holidays. Although they celebrate Thanksgiving Day with the rest of the US, they have already had a previous Thanksgiving celebration on October 19. This is their “Hurricane Thanksgiving Day” to give special thanks for the islands being spared from hurricanes that year. This does mean that if they have had to endure a hurricane, then they would not be celebrating their “Hurricane Thanksgiving Day.”

This wraps up our list of fun facts about Thanksgiving. Hopefully there were one or two new ones you hadn’t heard before. We hope all of you enjoy this time with family and friends. From all of us at Yellowstone Hot Springs, we wish you all a warm and heartfelt Happy Thanksgiving!

We are open Thanksgiving Day for normal hours. Come join us for a relaxing soak before dinner, or an evening soak to watch the stars come out after.

Yellowstone Hot Springs is honoring first responders this weekend (October 15-17) and next weekend (October 22-24). First Responders soak for FREE at YHS and their family members soak for only $1. We appreciate all the hard work, dedication and risks that first responders take to keep us safe. A big THANK YOU from all of us at YHS!

first responder definitionOfficially, the National First Responders Day is October 28th. However, this has only been “officially” recognized since 2017 (first by Colorado, then nationally in 2019), even though many have been honoring our First Responders for much longer.

Who is a First Responder?

So who is a “First Responder?” There is some disagreement on the technicalities of who qualifies.

Merriam Webster defines it as: a person (such as a police officer or an EMT) who is among those responsible for going immediately to the scene of an accident or emergency to provide assistance.”

In general terms, a First Responder is a member of an emergency service who are first on the scene in an emergency. Typically: Police, EMS, Firefighters.

Brief History of the term “First Responder”

first respondersPresident Lyndon Johnson received a white paper report in 1966 showing that a large cause of death in young people was due to injuries caused by accidents. One of the suggested solutions was to have standardized training for response teams who would help in situations of crises. These “EMS” teams consisting of fireman, police and medics would be called in for emergencies.

In 1969 the first national training for EMS was published. Initially, an EMT and paramedic were considered the same thing. In the early 1970s a group of doctors decided that further training could be provided to help save more lives and the first EMT-P (paramedic) training was born.

Now there were EMT-B and EMT-P training (Basic and Paramedic). An EMT-B program generally provides 120+ hours of training in basic life-saving protocols. An EMT-P often requires as many as 1800 hours of training and is trained in advanced care. They can administer IVs and medication, provide breathing support, EKGs, resuscitate, and many other medical procedures.

Over time, “EMT” has become the common term for anyone with Emergency Medical Technician Basic training. EMT-P are generally referred to as paramedics.

Did you know that all firefighters have at least EMT training, and many are also paramedics? Some police forces also have EMT training, but this varies by state and department.

Modern EMS

first responders firefightersWithin hours of the attacks on September 11th, 2001, thousands of rescue team members made up of firefighters, rescue dogs, police, and volunteers rushed to Ground Zero to hunt through the collapsed buildings for survivors. EMS teams from all over the country combined their efforts in one of our nation’s greatest rescue missions.

Firefighters were first on the scene, arriving just 6 minutes after the World Trade Center’s north tower collapsed. They were already climbing the building trying to rescue trapped people on the tower’s higher floors, when another plane struck. This was the deadliest day in history for U.S. firefighters. 343 firefighters lost their lives that day while trying to rescue Americans trapped in the rubble and collapsing buildings.

Of the over 17,000 people estimated to be in the towers, 87% of them were helped to safety by First Responders.

YHS Thank you to First Responders

Since then, the term First Responder has become a widely accepted designation for police, firefighters and EMS teams who are the first personnel at the scene. To all of you, Yellowstone Hot Springs says THANK YOU! You work hard, put yourself at risk and under stress. You deserve time to relax and unwind. Bring your families and relax in the pools at YHS. Come join us for a soak at YHS the weekends of October 15-17 and 22-24.

Labor Day has oftentimes been a “party” weekend that ultimately marks the end of Summer while bringing in the expectations of Fall/Winter. This is a time for get-togethers, BBQ, and fun. People celebrate Labor Day in many different ways, from spending a family/friend weekend at home, to going out on the water, to just enjoying having an extra day added to their weekend. Who doesn’t love a long weekend, right? But there is more to the meaning of Labor Day than just an end-to-summer party. What is the meaning of Labor Day, and why do we celebrate on the first Monday in September across America and Canada? Just like with some other holidays, the meaning is in the name itself.

industry laborThe basic definition of Labor Day is simply stated as a day held to honor working people. Well, if the vast majority of people have to work to survive, then why is this a celebration? Quick history lesson… In the mid 19th century, labor activists wanted to have some form of recognition for the many contributions everyday workers have made for the country. Without these important employees, where would America be today? Their dedication only enhanced and improved the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our great nation. In 1885, New York had passed an ordinance to mark the celebration for Labor Day. It took the federal government a little longer to catch on to the idea. However, on June 28, 1894, President Grover Cleveland made it official when he signed into law an act designating the first Monday in September to be the officially acknowledged national holiday to recognize our labor force.

delivering letterWhat did the first celebration of Labor Day look like? Well, in Manhattan in 1882, laborers took to the streets near city hall. Police were so concerned about a riot breaking out that they came out in full force. They were on high alert status, and their tension was said to be palpable. There was not a specific time for the parade march for the police to count on, and marchers did not show up until a bit later. With very little happening, those initial observers almost gave up on watching the parade. Then, before they knew it, 200 people from the Jeweler’s Union came down the street. That was the beginning of the party… In total, it is estimated that approximately 20,000 people came out to march that day!

grilling labor dayThis is all to say thank you to the working individual. The pioneers who paved the way for Labor Day are the whole reason many people can enjoy a 40-hour work week, benefits, sick/paid time off, etc. Without those fighters in the beginning, where would we all be today? So, after your hard-earned celebratory day, and when you are preparing to head back to work on Tuesday, remember to take a moment to say thank you to all who came before you who demanded that all working class individuals have the respect and recognition they deserve for their continued contributions and daily dedication to the forward progress of a great nation.

For this, and all you do, we at Yellowstone Hot Springs would like to thank you. If you didn’t get to share Labor Day with us, we are sorry we missed you. We hope you get to come out soon to enjoy a relaxing soak. If you decided to spend time with us during Labor Day weekend, we thank you and hope you had a great time. We look forward to seeing you here again soon!

RV Park at YHS PhotoDid you know that YHS now has camping spots and an RV park? That’s right, Yellowstone Hot Springs, through its partner/sister company Yellowstone Destinations, now has camping sites available close to the pools at YHS, and an RV park just a short stroll away. Both locations make access to the pools, showers, and wifi as simple as walking a couple hundred feet from your campsite, to YHS.

We have both full-hookup RV spaces and also offer electric-only sites for RVers (yes, we might have made up that word) who want a more “nature oriented” experience.

Full-Hookup and Electric Only RV Parking Options

RV Park at YHS Photo 2Our Electric Only RV sites are located on the south side of the campground. You will take a left just before the bridge. Each site is located to the LEFT of the numbered post. Generators are allowed. Quiet hours are 11pm-7am

YHS Wifi PavilionOur Full-Hookup RV Spaces are located on the north side of the campground, directly next to our campground shower house. Please make a one way loop past the tent sites, the Yellowstone Hot Springs parking lot, and continue into the full-hookup area. Please bring extension hoses as our hookups are on opposite ends of each pad. Picnic tables and fire rings are provided. Outdoor cooking is allowed.

YHS Wifi Pavilion

Do you need wifi access to check your email, upload some wildlife photos, or map out your route through Yellowstone National Park? We provide wifi access for anyone camping or staying at our RV park, but we also have a wifi pavilion where you can plug into electrical outlets while you sit and enjoy the view, get some work done, or reconnect with any digital services you need to manage.


Yellowstone National Park

YHS tent campgroundsCamping Sites at YHS

Camping sites are located directly adjacent to Yellowstone Hot Springs and are really popular with people traveling through Yellowstone National Park, or planning to visit YHS for a few days at a time. One of the benefits is that our camping sites are close to YHS, so you can walk from your camp to enjoy a relaxing soak in the pools just a few steps away.

So the next time you are in the area or planning a mini vacation, don’t just come soak at YHS; bring the whole family and stay for a few days. With so many amazing things nearby:

  • Visit Yellowstone National Park
  • Go river rafting along the Yellowstone River
  • Soaking in hot and cold pools at YHS
  • Nearby mountain trails (ask some of YHS staff about hiking in the area)
  • Beautiful mountain views and wildlife
  • Camping at YHS camp sites & roasting marshmallows by the river
  • Staying at our RV park
  • Restaurants and gift shops just a few minutes away in Gardiner
  • Fishing
  • Horseback riding
  • Ziplining

…a weekend trip to YHS is bound to be a fun adventure for the whole family.

Tim and Diane (Travel with Tim and Diane) stopped by Yellowstone Hot Springs for a visit recently. They sent us some of the photos they took while they were here. We put together a short little blog post about it since it gives us a good excuse to post the photos and share them with all of you. 🙂

Hot Springs Pools and Summer Days

Yellowstone Hot Springs Grounds

This photo shows some of the grounds and landscaping at Yellowstone Hot Springs

 You can see it was a beautiful, sunny day when Tim and Diane visited. A handful of clouds scudded across the blue sky and a number of happy soakers enjoyed their time here at the hot springs.

Kneipp Walking

Kneipp Walking” is a form of therapy that has ancient origins from 19th century Bavaria. The treatment’s inventor was named Sebastian Kneipp. He was a priest that came from the town of Bad Wörishofen, near Munich. Below is the Kneipp Walk at Yellowstone Hot Springs. It has hot and cold sides, and small round stones line the bottom of the walks. The Kneippers (yes, we made that up), walk each side from cold to hot and repeat.

Kneipp Walk

The Kneipp walk has a hot and cold side with small round stones that massage the feet as you walk.

Tim enjoying a soak at YHS

Tim seems to be enjoying his relaxing soak

Tim and Diane:
“We do love us some natural hot springs! Right outside the north entrance of Yellowstone National Park, we had no choice. We had to stop and soak in these amazing waters. Mineral rich waters that just soothe you to the bone.

The setting is beautiful AND, they have a cold dip pool! We had to try it! It was —-> hard to do! Dipping you entire body into the ciold waters. The goal was 10 seconds. We made it, but quickly realized we could endure longer. Then it kinda felt….good! (What in the world, right?!) So, back and forth we went a few times…hot—>cold. (Suppose to be good for circulation.)
It was a cool (ok, cold!) experience and we’d do it again!”

Beautiful blue skies and pools at YHS

Beautiful blue skies and warm pools at YHS made for a great day to come for a soak

Fire pit to relax and warm yourself next to

The fire pit is a great place to relax and warm yourself, or just chat with friends and family

 

All in all, a lovely day for a soak. We appreciate all of you and look forward to seeing you with us at YHS again soon.

Mental health and medical professionals would all agree that taking a vacation is essential to an individual’s health in many ways. However, just the process of planning your next vacation can be overwhelming for some people. The stress that can sometimes happen as a result of the planning process can significantly impact a person’s view or feeling about their trip. Let’s look at some tips for planning your next vacation that could relieve some of those stressors and make the process a lot easier for you this year.

1. Make a Checklist

person planning their vacationWith all of the planning that has to go into setting up a fun and exciting vacation, that often we either miss something, give up because there is just too much to do, or procrastinate due to struggling to figure out where to begin. Understanding where to start could take a significant amount of pressure off of you while planning your next vacation.  This checklist can be as detailed as you would like, or you could just be using it as a guide. Try things like listing what you would like to do on your trip, places you would like to visit, weather that would be most relaxing for you. By answering these questions, you can pick the right destination for you. For example, if you like beautiful scenery, relaxing soak in a natural hot spring, nature galore, and everything in between, you might decide that visiting Yellowstone Hot Springs is the right choice for you. Once your destination is chosen, then your checklist can move on to the steps you will need to take for travel, lodging, food, activities, etc. You might even request a travel guide from the location that you are considering visiting. Most states/welcome centers have guides for visitors that tell you all of the fun things to do while you are visiting. It all begins with the destination.

2. Taking Time Away

Planning your next vacation will also require you to designate time away from work. Too often we hesitate when it comes to taking time for ourselves and focus too much on the things that we still need to get done for work. Maybe your ability to take time away from work is impacted by how much leave time you have or maybe other people taking their vacation time. Determining how much time you have for your vacation and when you would be traveling will help lead you right into the next step.

saving money for vacation3. Preparing Your Budget

The only person who can do this part is you. This is a very personalized piece of planning your trip, and only you know how much you can afford to spend for your vacation. Maybe you can only take a weekend trip, or you might be able to take 10 days. This is entirely unique to your situation, and should be carefully considered when planning your next vacation. Research the area you are planning to visit (i.e. cost of lodging, food, transportation, etc.). Whatever expenses you might encounter on your vacation should be added in here for an approximate total cost.

It is worth noting that while planning your next vacation, you should always over budget for your trip as there could be expenses you did not account for in the planning process. This will help prevent you from finding yourself in a financial hardship because of possible surprise costs.

4. Stay Focused & Motivated

Sometimes when planning a vacation, the timeline is so distant that we lose focus. It is also possible that we do not feel supported by friends and family about our vacation destination choice. This can lead to diminished excitement about your trip or possible overspending instead of saving for your trip. Don’t let this derail your exciting vacation. Try doing things like making a “Vacation Tip Jar” where you designate a specific amount of money to put in the container weekly or you could put any loose change/paper money that you have at the end of the day into the “bank.” This way you can watch the money growing daily for your trip. You might be surprised how much adds up after just a few months of putting money into your “Vacation Tip Jar.”

man that overpacked for a trip5. Plan Ahead

Packing can be a struggle for any traveler, so plan ahead. “Overpacking is one of the biggest mistakes travelers make,” according to Greg Rodgers from tripsavvy.com. He notes that people tend to go into a “survival mode” state of mind when they are planning a vacation. This filters over to their packing trends. Avoid going down the “what if” rabbit hole, and focus on what you will actually use while traveling. One recommendation is to only pack your bag half full. This will allow you space for anything you might purchase while traveling, dirty laundry, or possibly having to add your toiletries bag the morning you will be traveling. Remember the old saying, “Less is more?” This is true with travel as well. You can plan to do laundry while you are traveling, which would save even more space in your suitcase for your local retail therapy sessions…

friends laughing6. Most Important Tip When Planning Your Next Vacation!!!

Remember to have fun on your trip. Once you have planned everything to where you feel comfortable and confident about your trip, you have your bag packed, your travel in place, and your lodging set, don’t forget the whole reason you are going on vacation. Make sure you have not over booked yourself by turning your vacation into a stress ball of time constraints. Enjoy the location you have chosen. Combine relaxed sight seeing or nature days with some planned events sprinkled in. By making your trip less rigid, you will take the stress off of yourself of having to be specific places by exact times in a packed day. Go enjoy yourself.

Although planning your next vacation can be stressful, you can take several steps to decrease those worries. We have shared a few tips that we hope will help you in your planning process. We would love to see you here at Yellowstone Hot Springs for your next vacation. You even have your choice of lodging whether you want to try out one of our cozy cabins or rough it camping, we’ve got you covered. After a long day of sight-seeing, shopping, or nature walks, you can come relax in our geothermal natural hot springs before turning in for the night.

Often times when we say we are going to go on vacation, we end up doing something work related while we are “relaxing” away from work. Raise your hand if this is you…

When do we get to take time for ourselves and our family when the mantra that we all usually live by is “there just aren’t enough hours in the day?” We talk about putting family first and how nice it would be to actually have a minute to ourselves. There is scientific evidence supporting the health benefits of taking a vacation, and even more research that shows why choosing nature as your vacation is even better for you. Here are just some of the reasons why vacationing in nature could be a more relaxing choice for you.

Potential Health Benefits of Vacationing in Nature

vacationing in natureThere have been countless medical and mental health professional publications that include studies surrounding the health benefits of taking a vacation or even a short break from work life to decompress from the daily stressors that come with adulting. Those who have taken this time have shown a significant decrease in stress, anxiety, and heart disease. These individuals also showed increased productivity, improved quality of life, and higher instances of accomplishing set goals. This all sounds good right? What if I told you that this could get even better with just one small step… adding nature as part of your vacation planning.

Although there are many benefits of incorporating nature as a core component of your next vacation, there are some top reasons researchers have found that could be impacted with this one small step.

1. Improvement in Cognitive Functioning

taking a hike in natureDr. Gretchen Cara Daily, Director for the Center for Conservation Biology and a professor at Stanford University has done research on the effects nature can have on humans. In one of these tests, she measured the memory, stress, and creativity of participants both before and after walking through secluded wooded areas where nature was the only sounds surrounding the participants. Then, she followed the same individual before and after walking through urban environments. Dr. Daily’s data indicated a marked improvement in all areas for the participants after walking through a shaded tree-lined area.

2. More Restful Sleep

Some researchers have found that just walking or sitting outdoors and interacting with nature in evening hours boosts the brain’s natural production the sleep hormone, melatonin. This effect is amplified when you remove the constant distractions of electronics, city lights, and other hindrances to relaxation.

3. Can Walking in Nature Help Combat Depression?

natural geothermal poolsWould you believe that simply walking in nature daily can help combat depression up to 80% better than taking medication? Dr. Michael Craig Miller, assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School stated, “For some people it works as well as antidepressants…”

4. Improved Blood Oxygenation.

Patrick J. Drew, Huck Distinguished Associate Professor of Neural Engineering and Neurosurgery and associate director of the Penn State Neuroscience Institute explained, “Standard thought was that mammalian blood is always completely saturated with oxygen.” This is not actually true. Drew goes on to explain, “We know that people change breathing patterns when doing cognitive tasks… In the brain, increases in neural activity usually are accompanied by increase in blood flow.” Researchers found that instead of a drop in oxygenation when there was a decrease of blood flow, the driving factor for functioning was respiration to oxygenate blood. Being in nature and taking those deep breaths of fresh air not only helps detox your lungs, but can also increase the oxygenation of your blood!

Soaking in Mineral Hot Springs for Relaxation

At Yellowstone Hot Springs, you will find yourself just far enough outside of town to be in nature while being close enough to town that groceries or dinner at a local restaurant are only a few minutes away. You could choose to stake your tent in one of the campgrounds at Yellowstone Hot Springs so you can enjoy rustic relaxation under the beautiful Montana stars. If you prefer your dose of nature with more comfort, feel free to pull up in your RV to glamp in style at our RV sites right next to YHS. Your outdoor experience might include a day trip through Yellowstone National Park, and then a nice relaxing soak in geothermal mineral pools at Yellowstone Hot Springs. With so much nature and relaxation in one place, it is a great area to spend a weekend or take a vacation.

 

Disclaimer: At YHS we are not health professionals. While use of geothermal waters for traditional and typical advantages of refreshment, recreation and relaxation may support a healthy lifestyle, we make no claims of specific health benefits for anyone. These geothermal waters are not intended as a substitute for appropriate care by a licensed medical or health practitioner in the treatment or cure of any disease or condition.

When someone asks you if you want to get back to nature and enjoy camping and the great outdoors, most people would agree that one of the best places to explore is Montana. This is one of the reasons Yellowstone National Park has become one of the top attractions for individuals from all over the world. The beauty, serenity, and tranquility found in the Montana mountains is second to none. Whether you are an experienced camper, or you are just getting your feet wet with nature, there are some things that you will want to know as you plan your journey and set off on your expedition through the hills.

Hiking, Camping, or Traveling in Montana…Mind the Weather

tent camping with sun rays through cloudsAny local will tell you that you can never count on the weather here in Montana. I can’t count the number of times I have heard people say, “Oh it’s nice right now, but give it 5 minutes.” I use to think it was a joke until I experienced all four seasons in one day! That is a true story. This is why you will see most Montanans walking around with a jacket or sweatshirt tied around their waist. That being said, you should ensure that you always pack accordingly. Even if you come in the middle of August, you will want to make sure you have at least one warm outfit in case the sunny weather hides out for a few hours.

If you are one of those people who enjoy sleeping under the stars, or find comfort in a tent, then you will want to make sure that you include the following in your packing list:

  • Tent (you might choose a 3 or 4 season tent)
  • Sleeping Bag (comfort level of 20 degrees Fahrenheit or less)
  • Camping Pillow
  • All Weather Backpack (if you plan on hiking)
  • Tarp
  • Lantern
  • Headlamp

Those of you who prefer a more “glamping” (hey, we’re not judging, we like comfort too) style of camping are welcome as well. There are lots of places you can inexpensively park your RV, camper, or trailer that will also give you access to some of the most beautiful scenery Montana has to offer. Although those of you who own one of these houses on wheels probably have the weatherization covered to stay warm and cozy at night, you will still want to be aware of the type of clothing that you bring in order to enjoy the nature around you. This brings us to our next point.

Planning Your Hiking and Camping Near Yellowstone National Park

camping in the woodsIf you are planning to thoroughly enjoy the Mountains, hills, trails, and hidden waterfalls you will undoubtedly find while scavenging through nature, what you bring and wear will be of the utmost of importance. I know I already mentioned that you will want to bring at least one warm outfit to Montana, no matter what time of year you are visiting. However, this is not the only thing you need to remember.

  • Pack for a range of temperatures.
  • Don’t forget your swimsuit… There are hidden lakes, beautiful waterfalls, inviting rivers, and even the unforgettable hot springs! You would not want to miss the once-in-a-lifetime experience of soaking in geothermal hot springs. There is nothing that compares…
  • Wicking layers for hikes will help keep you comfortable during the day while long underwear will keep you warm after dark.
  • “Plan for the conditions” is going to be a major theme here. If you are planning to go hiking, make sure to bring hiking appropriate footwear. I can tell you from an embarrassing bad experience that wearing sandals may not be the best choice if you are going to be scaling rocks up trails…
  • Bring extra socks… “Yes Mom, I know.” However, you will thank me. Your feet might become wet from walking through creeks, puddles, or just plain sweat. It will be much better for you if you can change your socks whether you are on the trail or just returning to camp. You will want your feet to stay dry and happy. 😊
  • Bring a hat to keep the sun from invading your exciting day. Nothing ruins a relaxing trip like getting a nice toasty sunburn on the first day of your vacation.

Backpacking and Packing for a Wilderness Hike

packing for a backpacking tripA backpack can be like a woman’s purse: full of many “necessary” treasures when you need them. So, what should your backpack hold in store for you on your adventure. You should make sure that you at least have the basic necessities listed here in order to ensure you are prepared for your wilderness encounters.

  • Sunscreen will allow you to enjoy your time hiking, soaking, or just hanging out without worrying about those pesky, possibly harmful, sun rays.
  • Insect repellent is a must if you do not want to become the next meal on the menu for mosquitoes…
  • It is always a good plan to carry a basic first aid kit with you where ever you go. Traveling for an outdoor paradise vacation is no exception. You can pick up a small first aid kit at most stores, or you could be creative and put your own together.
  • Hiking/walking poles are optional, but may provide you with more stability while you’re traveling those winding nature trails.
  • If you are one that likes to memorialize your special moments with photographs, this would be the perfect time to bring your camera. You never know what little critters you may meet, breath taking views that await around the next bend, or the amazing wild life that might greet you. You will want to share those incredible memories with friends and family.
  • Bring a journal with a mapped route of your plans, a compass, a Swiss Army Knife, and a flashlight. You never want to lose your way in the woods right?
  • What is the number one thing that your backpack treasure should contain??? WATER. People will get so into what they are doing, the sights they are taking in, and the friends that they are sharing this special time with, and they will forget to drink water. Dehydration is no fun for anyone. Remember to take plenty of water so you can stay hydrated.

winter pools photo at YHSPlanning your next exciting journey takes a lot of time and energy. But when your full plan comes to fruition and you have the unique opportunity to take in the beauty Montana has to offer, all of your troubles while planning would have been completely worth it.

There is one place that has everything you need and more to enjoy nature, be close enough to town to get anything you may need, and is the most amazing set up for all of you outdoorsy people. To be a part of this perfection and have the experience of a lifetime, come out to Yellowstone Hot Springs. It has an idyllic set up. Did you know that Yellowstone Hot Springs has a campground? We now offer RV/Camper hook-ups for the glamping family, and then there are also tent spaces for those star gazers. And if the location was not stunning enough as it is, you also have the chance to relax in the geothermal hot springs right next to where you will lay your head down at night. What could be more perfect?