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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Prepping for a roadtrip

I have spent nearly 4 weeks preparing for this trip. Now we leave in just 3 days!   Wow!   I'm not sure where the time went.

As soon as I knew we were going to Arizona for a banjo show, I immediately knew that this needed to be a fun family trip. I haven't been to the Grand Canyon since I was 15. I won't tell you how many years ago that was, but now my son is 15.

For years Hubby and I wanted to go places and have said "when the baby is older," "when the kids can appreciate it, " "when we have a little more money saved. "  Well, Big Boy starts college (dual credit) in the Fall, and Baby Girl is 10. Time is running out!  They may not fully appreciate this trip, or any trip, but they will get something out of it. We are still planting seeds of knowledge and information into their little heads.
Planning a road trip? Check these sites first

The first thing I did when I decided that we are definitely going, I went onto map quest and decided on a route.

Knowing we will be in Arizona, the Grand Canyon was at the top of the"places to see" list. Then I did some searching.

In our previous travels, we have had the privilege to travel down historic Route 66. There is is so much history and really neat stuff to see, I want to see what is at this end!  I know that going from Houston to Amarillo, just to catch Route 66 (aka hwy 40) will take a bit longer than some alternative routes, but just think of the wondrous sites we will see!

Side note:  If you are a Web developer, here is a great idea: I put in my location and destination,  like map quest,  you give me things to do along the way. I don't mind going 5-10 miles out of the way to see the aircraft bone yard,  white sands, the Alamo....    plus, there are historical markers and other places of interest.  But no way to map them!

Back to the plan

I did a search on fun, free, family friendly places to visit in the panhandleNew MexicoArizona and San Antonio. Then I planned the driving route.
Knowing the major sites we are to visit,  I started printing a travel journal for each of the kids. This took a lot of time and paper, but will keep my older kids busy (no electronics allowed on this trip- we will be camping. In the desert.)  Plus,  this is educational.

Since I knew we were going to a few National Parks I started on the national parks website. Did you know that there is even s complete curriculum for some of the parks?  I didn't print it, this time,  but I'm glad to know it is there.  There are also word finds, cross word puzzles and coloring pages. I also went to Enchanted Learning (I love that website!  So much great info and fanatic activities) and printed some worksheets on Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, desserts. ... ....

Something else I put in this ever growing binder is maps. I printed a map of our route TO our main destination. Then I zoomed in so that only 2 major cities at a time are shown.  This will make it easy for Baby Girl to follow the route and know "are we almost there? "  The plan is to use a colored pencil to draw the route as we travel. This way she can see where we are, where we have been, and how much further we have.   There is also plenty of margin room to doddle what she sees.  Just to keep things organized, we used colored paper and a post it as dividers for each activity.

Finally, I wanted an itinerary. I wanted this for several reasons.  1) so I would not forget one of the planned stops 2) so hubby would know our plan 3) so the kids know the plan and 4) so we can keep track of spontaneous stops.  We are planning on going through San Antonio. I don't know everything they're we are going to see. I know we will see the river walk and the Alamo.  There are so many other things to see there,  it will just depend on time. This is My 'planned spontaneity.'  We leave room for being spontaneous, but also have a definite plan.  I never found an itinerary that I liked, so I made more of a 'check list' with excel - leaving lots of space between planned stops.

I did a Google search of "free things to do in_________" and keep that lady in my travel binder as well.  This way if there is spare time I have a list of things to do.  You never know when you phone will die, you go over your data limit, you are out of internet range.....

In the back of the kids binders is blank notebook paper, and blank drawing paper.  They also have  a pencil pouch for colored pencils, writing pencils, pencil sharpener, erasers, and things they pick up along the way.

In the back of Mom's travel binder  - pencil pouches.  Mine are not for pencils.  I have one specifically for food, one for gas, one for lodging, one for souvenirs, and one for entrance fees.  I have a specific budget for each item.  The cash went into the pouch and the receipts will replace the cash when I spend money.  For example, I have $800 set aside just for gas.  I have $800 in fifties in that pouch.  The kids know that when gas is paid for I need a receipt.  The change and receipt will go into that pouch after each fill up.

In the souvenir pouch I have four smaller zip-lock
bags (the one cup portion sized bags).  Each bag has an initial.  We each have $30 in a bag.  This way they can spend their money on what they want, keep up with what they have spent and not worry that they are 'missing' any money.

The hardest part about all this - keeping the girls from doing all the activities in the binder before we leave!

Suitcases are packed.  We have four days worth of clothes and concert clothes.  On vacation you worry a little less about a smudge on your jeans and just wear them again.   Bikes are loaded.  Tent is packed.  Hubby even packed extra flashlights and tools - as if I know what to do with the tools.  Everyone has several blankets, a sleeping bag and a pillow.  Now we just need to put the cooler and instruments in and go!

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