So by now you should have narrowed down your trip to more realistically fit your time and budget, if not let me know maybe I can help. For now though let’s assume you know where you want to go, what you want to see, and how much you have to spend. Now, its time to start those final steps towards getting on the road.
Step 10 – Finalize Reservations
Now that you know where you want to go and what you want to do its time to finalize your plans. Get your reservations at Hotels, Motels and restaurants in now, but make sure you carry a list of all the names and numbers with you, and put a list together of contingency destinations as well. You may find yourself needing all this data if you find yourself running behind or even way ahead on the road.
Step 11- Plan what to bring
This is an important step to do as soon as possible, since you want to give yourself time to get what need before packing begins. The first step is to go family member by family member and make sure they have what the need for themselves, you may want to start a checklist. Make sure everyone has the clothes they need, swim trunks, a light jacket, good walking shoes etc. Ideally you want to make sure that everyone has enough clothes for a week as well since you can at least go that long between washes. You also want to check on hygiene items as well, buying special travel tooth brushes, combs and brushes, deodorant and whatnot will make sure that everyone has the basics, and nothing will get forgotten at home the morning of.
After personal items plan for what you need to support your trip and vehicle. A family medicine cabinet, a car sick kit (see my blog on these items), laundry items like an mesh (dirty clothes) bag and detergent, a bag with maps and books, the GPS, laptop, and a car emergency kit with fix a flat and fold away shovel, are probably all items you want to have.
Lastly don’t forget items for the little ones, you want to bring as few toys as possible so they are more easy to track and put away.
By planning early you have enough time to get the family to the mall for new clothes, buy stuff online as you need it, and pick up whatever else you need. This also gives you time to plan how and where to pack stuff, and look for alternate items to pack stuff in or bring with if you don’t have space as it is.
Step 12 – Time for Car
Unless you’re traveling in a rental car or brand new car, you may want to bring your auto in for a checkup. You just want to see if there is anything wrong with it you may be unaware of that could leave you stranded. Just be careful not to get sold anything you don’t need.
After the checkup you may want to get your car clean. On a long road trip every bit of space may count, so cleaning out useless items in the glove compartment, and the blankets piled up in the trunk may yield space you need. Plus its nice traveling in a clean car.
Step 13 – Talking About Check Ups
About a week before leaving you may want to get yourselves to the doctor. It’s a good chance to find out if you’re coming down with anything, and get prescriptions you may need filled one more time before leaving. This is also a good time to get prescription motion sickness meds for any of your family members who may require them.
Step 14 – Don’t forget home
One worry to me when I leave on a long trip is my house. Plan far enough advance as to what precautions you want to take to protect your house. Now is the time to get timers, and other home security devices to make it seem like you’re at home. It’s also a good time to inform you’re local police department that you will be away. Also you may want to ask someone you really trust to drop in from time to time and make sure everything is ok. Lastly, don’t forget your mail and newspapers you may get, make sure you put holds on both so neither is piling up indication that you’re not home.
Step 15 – Pets
Cats can be pretty self-sufficient with multiday food and water feeder, and clean litter box left behind but will still need someone to stop in and check on them occasionally. As for Dogs, well they are different all together, in my post “Appy to See You” I cover and app called Travel with Pets that will help you find pet friendly motels along your way, but not all Route 66 staple Motels are going to be ok, with doggy. You want to get this situation figure out as soon as your can and decide quickly whether to take doggy with or board the dog for however long your gone. Boarding locations can fill up quickly in the summer as other folks board their dogs too, so getting arrangements made early will be a huge help. Also keep in mind that boarders want you to have all your dog’s shots up to date so the earlier you work on this the quicker you can get those done too.
As for other pets you are going to have to make arrangement for others to watch them, the earlier you can get to that the better.
With all these steps done know we get down to those final, of the final steps.
Step 16 – Pack and repack.
A day or two before you leave you want to prepack. This is going to give you a chance to make sure that everyone has everything they need, and that your bags can hold it all. This is that one last chance to get new luggage, clothing or toiletries so that you are completely prepared before hitting the road.
You also want to prepack the car as well, having suit cases and bags to fit everything is great but if they don’t fit you may have an issues, and you don’t want to be finding that out the morning of. Make sure everything fits and move things around like a puzzle before deciding to dump items. You want to make sure that items fit with some logic to their placement and where items like the car sick kit, snacks, and map bag are easy to grab in a hurry. This is a big step that really lets you know you are on your way.
As a suggestion try to do your prepacking, and actual packing out of sight if you can, perhaps in your garage, this way you aren’t advertising you won’t be home.
Step 17 – The Day Before
Between packing, washing the last laundry, putting timers in, taking care of pets and all those last minute store visits the last day before leaving can get really stressful. You may not be an advocate of it but my wife and I have always chosen to go out to eat, gotten carryout, or have food delivered for all meals the day before. This helps reduce the stress of making meals, keeps everyone fed, and keeps a pile of dishes from being made.
Also, keep stress levels as low as you can. I have found that all the running around can produce a long day and short tempers. Try to make sure that everyone has a job to do, this may not include younger children of course but the older kids can help out immensely. Not only can they get themselves packed but they can help the younger kids too, and then help you with additional jobs.
Overall, try to start on all your tasks as early in the day as possible, so you have some time in the evening to bring things down and get everyone rested and slept for the days to follow.
Step 18 – You’re on Your Way!!!
Have fun, good luck, and have a safe journey!!!!!!!