On Saturday, July 7, we will head to Toronto for a one week visit with Family and some must see places. On our itinerary are; African Lion Safari, Ripleys Aquarium, Art Gallery of Ontario, LEGOLand and Canada’s Wonderland. From July 12 to 26, we will be heading to The Farm and in August, we have scheduled a two-week visit to Newfoundland and we can’t forget September Camp in Algonquin Park.
Whenever we leave for an extended period of time (three weeks plus), we have a checklist of things that we have to do. In the Summer, I start the preparations four weeks in advance and for Mexico, three months.
Here’s our checklist for how we prepare for an extended road trip
You can’t start packing too early. In the case of items that are Summer related and/or, you don’t use all the time, start packing them in bags or boxes as soon as you think of it. If you’ll be living out of your vehicle for some of your trip, try to compartmentalize. I have a box for each unique location because each location has different requirements and I don’t want to unpack the whole van for just a one week visit. Plan beforehand how much stuff you’ll be bringing. Some years, we bring the overhead carrier and/or a trailer.
A few weeks before we leave I start counting how many meals are left and stop buying things that aren’t staples or that we won’t eat before we leave. Since we turn off the fridge, it’s an opportunity to empty out the freezer and get to the back of the pantry shelves for that twice yearly cleaning. It’s a great time to use up items that might be about to expire or that you can’t remember why you bought it in the first place. In this case, I donate them to our local foodbank. Condiments that I don’t take with me (I do take some), either get given away to friends or put in Uncle Eric’s fridge. Don’t forget to pack snacks for the trip otherwise, allow time to stop for breaks.
- Garbage and Recycling
Remember to put out your recycling the week before you leave. If you’re pick-up is staggered like ours (between cans and paper), then take it with you, drop it off at a Recycling Depo or ask to put it in your neighbours. Note that we have amazing neighbours!
- Animal Boarding
If you have animals that you’re not taking, be sure to call the boarders early. I’d recommend at least two months in advance if you can. Spots fill up fast in the Summer and the last thing you need is to be running around trying to find a safe, reliable and affordable place for them to stay. A few years ago, I learned the hard way. In turn, I have already booked the dogs in for their 5-night stay at the end of August.
If you get a lot of mail, pay to have Canada Post put delivery on hold, have your neighbours pick it up and/or have your bills delivered electronically (See #6 for additional information). The easiest way for strangers to tell that you’re not home is when there’s tons of mail in your mailbox.
Have your bills set to automatic payment through your bank and/or if you’re in Canada, have your bills delivered via epost. Then all you have to do is check your email (around the time they’re due) and pay them online. Assuming you have online banking.
- Car Checkup
One of our most important travel items that can’t be easily replaced is our vehicle. Therefore, a few weeks before we leave, we make sure to get the oil changed and a general maintenance checkup. We do this twice a year and this summer it cost less than $85. A small price to pay for peace of mind. Note that if you’re bringing a trailer, it should also be checked (we do it ourselves) to make sure that all the lights and other safety features are functioning as intended.
- Turn Off Unnecessary Appliances
If we’re going to be gone for more than three weeks, we turn off our fridge and hot water heater. In the winter, we also blow out the pipes. With the fridge, I usually clean it the night before and put everything on one shelf. Less to clean in the morning.
- Have Someone Watch Your House
For insurance purposes, we have someone come in the house to check it every few days. Check your policy to see what you are legally obliged to do to ensure insurance coverage.
- Hide any Valuables
Make sure that nothing is visible through the windows. We have a foyer so we remove all our beer bottles and items that might be used to break into the house. We move our big screen tv from the living room and hide it in our bedroom.
In general, it takes us 1.5 hours in the Summer to close up the house and pack the car (we do that the morning of). We don’t give a definitive time for when we will arrive at our first destination. If people want to prepare a meal for us, we ask that they cook a lasagna and heat it up when we get there or eat fast food on the way.
If you do forget something, don’t panic. Almost all items can be replaced with a trip to the store, phone call (even medications) or mailed to you along the way.
Sit back and relax and remember… you’re on vacation.
How Do You Prepare for an Extended Road Trip?
Thanks to g3zar for the use of the photograph.