Planning. Preparing. Trying not to wait until 12:37am the night of to pack.
I’m suiting up and heading out west with my headphones on. Grand Canyon to Yellowstone and a few other amazing places along the way. An overly specific itinerary almost done, hiking maps printed, and camera batteries charging.
Here’s a few tips and observations for trip planning that I've learned that might help with your own summer road trip.
Don’t skip the packing list:
On your phone, written in ink, carved into a rock, or scribbled on a piece of paper. Start writing a list of ALL the items you need to pack (and to purchase) a few weeks before you need to head out. Don’t wing the packing process.
Skipping the list and trying to remember everything you need the day or two before leads to forgotten items, unhappy people, and missed opportunities.
I have a thing for list making but even if it’s not your usual go to it will help when planning a trip and packing.
Planning in advance is the lock, being flexible is the key:
That’s a cute little play on words but it’s also a serious secret.
Map things out, research it all and then research again. Find the things and places you want to see and do and the back up options that also look cool.
A set plan means you don’t have to worry about figuring things out when you’re on the road, it just means you have to enjoy what you’ve already set up.
The key to this though is the flexibility. If you’ve got things planned out you also need to realize those plans may change. The good thing is you already did the research and set up to know the options when they do. So it leaves the stress at a minimum and lets you go with the flow but still have awesome options.
For mine, I use Microsoft Excel and bracket out everyday in a column and every row a 30 minute time increment from 5 or 6am till 10 or 11pm. It isn’t that every row has to be filled and scheduled and stuck to, but it helps me visualize the time I have and the breakdown of each day so it can be maximized down to every hour (or half hour).
It’s also important NOT to forget a plan doesn’t mean a prison. Once you’re on the road you can always alter the plan if you’re feeling something else or changing your mind. But the original set up provides the framework to throw cation to the wind.
Give yourself permission to actually enjoy the trip. Don’t sweat the small stuff, and don’t sweat the big stuff either. It’s a road trip and there WILL be hiccups and speed bumps but how you handle them always determines how well things recover.
You might run a little late at times and you might have to change some plans or miss something you really wanted to see or do, but it isn’t the end of the world and there’s no reason to make it the end of happiness on your trip.
My only other suggestion is to do some local things. Stop at the whole-in-the-wall restaurant, take the scenic highway, stay at the unique AirBnB. Those things make the difference and make the memories you never forget.
Happy road trippin’.