Thursday, April 2, 2015

Preparing to Hit The Road-a Checklist. Also, a small grumbling, and a huge relief

I apologize folks, I normally am back to at least two entries on this blog per week, but in this case preparing to hit the road and helping my son had me sidetracked there. When I return, the other blog SHOULD be ready to go, who knows!!

I am now in the last planning stages for hitting the proverbial road.  Even though this particular trip only will last two and a half weeks, there are still steps that need to be taken. Admittedly these steps are much fewer than those my RVing friends must take-what car driving loses in certain areas it gains in spontaneity. In theory I can be ready to go in a day.  In this case, between leaving the day after the Easter holiday and being behind on my car maintenance, a few more steps have had to be followed. For those who are wondering what I consider the absolute requirements for road trip prepping, here you go!
  • I don't have to prepare my house as I have a college student who lives here and can care for the dogs. If that were not true, I would hire someone to do a daily or every other day house check and gather the mail. The dogs would go to a family member. Other people, I am sure, have different requirements.
  • Because I travel a great deal in my car, I use what the dealers call the heavy maintenance schedule.  I also service my car at the dealer rather than at grease monkey. My dealer, at least, does a fourteen point check of the entire car (beyond fluids and tires), from brakes to batteries to gears. In this case I was overdue for this and had this done last week. Normally, this is not a separate act as such, just part of my regular life schedule.
  • I double, triple check to make sure that my roadside service is current and the information I have is available. In doing so I learned that GEICO has a smart phone app that allows me to both show my insurance info to a police officer and access emergency services by the app.
  • Even though I rely primarily on my smart phone, I do plan a rough route on Mapquest, and purchase folding maps (the plastic laminated ones). I am never sure exactly how far I will travel on a strange route. While I don't make reservations, I do make notes of which towns have real hotels and motels as opposed to the "sleep here motel".  On this particular trip, the first day especially is questionable as we will leave at one in the afternoon. Note that I have never had any real problems finding sleeping arrangements on the road at times that were not holiday travel times. I may have had to make more than one rest stop call, but I have never had to choose sleeping in my car as an option.
  • I prepare the cooler. In addition to purchasing food, this means putting the ice packs in the freezer, making sure the plastic dishes and silverware are packed and cleaned, and everything is ready so in the morning I just need to pack the thing. 
  • I make a simple packing list. One of the huge advantages of car road tripping is that space is generally not an issue. I can take as many clothes as I want, as well as pillows. My packing list is a simple reminder and generally includes specific personal items, medicine, technology and cords, sunglasses, camera and the like. My list allows me to have my car loaded in less than a half an hour.
  • I pack my bag and my overnight bag. When I am destination traveling (as in this case), I have a small bag for the items I will use in the road hotels along the way, and everything else is in the big suitcase that I pull out at relatives or at the main hotel. When I do traditional road tripping (part of my trip home, and my gulf coast road trip for example), this one gets thrown aside.  I also have a special "travel purse". My purses are normally just my wallet with wrist strap or a small purse. For the road I have a large bag for the front seat that holds my tablet, money and maps, and things I may need to reach while I am driving or at a stop.
There you have it, my minimal road trip preparation. I do realize that others may not have the same ease leaving their house as I do, with family members close, and for them step one may be more difficult.  People who are less seat of the pants travelers may make specific destinations for each day. I drive when I feel like it and stop when the spirit moves.

And just to show you that frugality has it's own rewards, I have upgraded my hotel in Seattle-to a price well beyond frugal or $125 a night. One of the advantages of being frugal most of the time is so that you do not have do so all the time. I am now sleeping at the W Seattle for five nights.  This hotel describes itself as hip and contemporary, and rooms are listed as wonderful, spectacular, cool corner, and wow.  Sometimes you just have to do this!!

In other news:

It seems I've downsized another holiday-with ease and happiness. My nephew's birthday is the day before Easter. With a large  family dinner that night, Easter itself will be a calm at home day. At this point we are looking at church, possibly brunch and the rest of the day to relax and pack.  Not only does this work for me, I've done no more decorating than an Easter egg tree and a few stuffed animals!

My small grumbling has to do with the fact that I am finding getting paid twice irritating rather than helpful. I know many people like this and prefer it to the once a month paycheck-not me. I prefer to sit down, do everything at once and have it behind me. I'll work it out eventually, but meanwhile allow me to grumble just a tad for a few days.

As to my huge relief, well, let me tell you about Bob.  You see, my son has gotten a nice inheritance.  While one never looks such a thing in the face, especially an unemployed college student, the original wisdom was that this would arrive a few days after Christmas.  Since said son's Ford Explorer shook above 30 mph, he sold it, thinking we might share a car for a couple weeks. That couple weeks has now been 4 months. The cash is finally here, and with me playing taxi driver and riding passenger during more than a few test drives, we now have Bob. Bob is a white Chevy Silverado truck with four doors. Bob will allow my son to do landscaping and other jobs as well as hauling and house clean outs. More importantly, Bob allow me to do what I want when I want.  I'm freeee!!!!!!!

And so it goes this Thursday in retirement!


  1. Your trip sounds invigorating! I like how you plan and pack..easy and uncomplicated! Will wait for pics and stories from the road!!

  2. Enjoy your trip, and enjoy having your wheels back! Juggling vehicles is finally history in our family, too. my Enjoy my boomerang daughter, but life has become much easier now that she has dependable transportation of her own. Happy Easter!

  3. Have a great trip. Weather here in the PNW has been wonderful and I hope it continues for you.

  4. I don't know Seattle, but $125 a nite in a major city seems pretty good to me. Anyways ... I like your new truck!

  5. Have a good trip! Bob seems nice :)


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