Thursday, July 3, 2014

Preparing for an Extended Road Trip #Checklist #Travel

Road Trip ChecklistIn case you’re not aware, we spend close to six months of the year somewhere other than the place we call home. In the Winter, you can find us in Southern Mexico and each Summer, we find ourselves on the Canadian backroads for three weeks a year. This year, we’re adding an additional three weeks and the fun begins on Saturday…

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

  1. Pack
    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.
  2. Food
    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.
  3. 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!
  4. 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.
  5. Mail
    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.
  6. Bills
    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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

39 thoughts on “Preparing for an Extended Road Trip #Checklist #Travel

  1. Soozle

    Oh wow! I am very envious of the travel you and the fam are able to do! I can imagine planning ahead is a HUGE part, especially with young kids in tow.. Great tips, for sure; especially the turning off appliances to both save on electrical costs but to protect things like computers from electrical surges if there were a storm…

  2. kathy downey

    Thanks,I really enjoyed reading Preparing for an Extended Road Trip #Checklist #Travel” and i thank you for posting it.I hope its ok,I have printed to off for future use.

      1. kathy downey

        Well not much of a vacation but we will be travelling across the province for Medical reasons.

  3. Kirsten

    Great tips. We’ve gone on one extended trip and i really didn’t do anything other than empty the fridge. We live the basement apartment of my in law’s house so when we go away we have built-in house sitters. I am going to keep these in mind for the times my father in law is away at the same time as us.

  4. Elva Roberts

    Some years ago, My husband and i and our two youngest children traveled by trailer to Sebago Lake in Maine for a short vacation. My husband’s cousin and his wife and family also traveled in their large trailer with us to the same spot . The children knew one another and so it pleasant for them to have someone to do activities together.
    As you have noted, this takes lots of planning and preparation. It was worth it to have a very relaxed vacation with my husband and young children, with the company of relatives .

  5. Anne Taylor

    The longest road trip we did as a family was one from home (Victoria) to Niagara Falls. We borrowed my sisters van and took our 4 girls, in August on the road trip without air conditioning. Did we know the van didn’t have AC? No, not until we stopped to have it checked because it wasn’t working lol

    You have a fun filled summer ahead of you!

  6. Ali P

    Make sure everything is put away, get a friend to pick up the mail, leave the hallway light on, just in case!

  7. Lynda Cook

    I don’t think I could ever be that well prepared, you make it all seem so very easy, you must be well organized!

  8. Pinx JL

    My family has not ever gone to a road trip before (note we are newcomers here in Canada and we still don’t have a car) but we would really love to go on one in the near future! But we did leave our apartment for a couple of days and had to pack stuff for camping (just camping) but I had to make a list almost like yours so that I won’t forget! Great tips! Thanks for sharing!
    Pinx JL recently posted…Off to Summer CampMy Profile

  9. Peady

    Road trips are the best! We love travelling with Thing 1 & Thing 2 and thankfully they have always been really great little travellers!

    We do many of the things you listed. Since most of our travel time happens in a car we always make sure that each kiddo has a bag packed with the things they will enjoy most. Books, journals, crayons, small toys, etc. AND we always keep a few new/surprises a secret to whip out if the going gets tough. 😉 (Traffic, weather delays, what have you…)

    I think the most important thing you mentioned is the “relax.. and remember you are on vacation.” part.

    Great post!
    Peady recently posted…No Need to Shake it Like a Polaroid Picture – Peady’s Photo A Day ChallengeMy Profile

  10. Christy Martin

    I don’t think it could be done without good neighbours! We can cancel the paper, have them pick up the mail from our community mailbox (small). If we have a good day of junk and regular mail, it will be full. We also receive 3 community papers Wed. – Fri. which cannot be cancelled. But yes, you need good neighbours that can do the odd walk through of your house. For example, this past spring our water heater blew up for no reason and we woke up to a big puddle (thank god we were home).

  11. Suzanne Rudge

    What a thorough list, I love it! It has been a very long time since I have been on a road trip and even then the max was two weeks ( off to Cape Breton every summer) but I can recall my parents doing some of the things you mention. I can’t wait to see photos of this six week road trip. Sounds like a blast!
    Suzanne Rudge recently posted…Wordless Wednesday: July 9th, 2014My Profile

  12. Amy Lovell

    All great tips! We have yet to go on a extended trip, but when we do, we’ll def use this post as a reference

    1. Sarah Post author

      Dear Matthew,

      We haven’t confirmed our plans yet but if we still go (it’s a big IF right now), we’ll head towards St. John’s and make day trips to the coast on the North side. We’ve been told that we can’t see the whole island (and we knew that) so whatever we miss, we’ll see next time.

      Besos, Sarah
      Sarah recently posted…It Takes a Village to Raise a ChildMy Profile

  13. kristen visser

    oh i love this check list! thank you so much for posting. I always make a list of absolutely everything or else my head feels like it is going to explode and I start getting stressed. this is definitely bookmarked because this will help us while traveling 🙂

  14. Amy Lovell

    we used to go on soo many road trips when we were kids! And this list is exactly what our parents packed for us, but the funny thing is that our fave thing to do isnt even on the list. It was to wave to other ppl in cars going by!

      1. Ryan Spencer

        I honestly think that every part of our country has something amazing to see! However, if I had to pick particular places that were the most beautiful I would have to say:

        1. Atlantic Provinces (In particular Nova Scotia/Newfoundland) – Simply stunning. Newfoundland has a wide range of landscapes its unbelievable.

        2. Jasper/Banff – The highway that runs between the two towns is one of most amazing experiences of my life!

        3. Lower BC/Vancouver – The active lifestyle and temperate weather made this place feel amazing. There is just a healthy vibe about being in that place.

        4. Northern Ontario – Very impressive landscape that felt very “Canadian”. When tourists talk about the Canadian landscape this is what they mean: Deciduous Trees, Beautiful Lakes, and endless rolling hills.

        1. Sarah Post author

          Dear Ryan,

          Great list and I totally agree that Canada has so much to see.

          We were scheduled to visit Newfoundland this summer but have postponed it to next year. I’d love to visit Northern Ontario too. I often have a dream that I’m barefoot and pregnant in the Yukon. Not sure that that means exactly but I’d like to visit there too.

          Besos, Sarah
          Sarah recently posted…Chapman’s Ice Cream Smoothie Bars – Great Taste Without the Calories, CAN, 9/9My Profile


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