Without our trip checklist, we’d be lost before we left home!
Two weeks from today, we’ll be on the road and gone from our sticks and bricks home for the better part of six months. There’s still so much to be done before departure. We’ve done extended trips like this for 18 years now so you’d think we’d have it down to a science! Do we really still need a checklist? Remember that science requires structure, regular adjustments, and constant tweaking; everything changes with time and experience.
I wrote this checklist for a similar trip a few years ago. Some of it still holds true; other parts don’t – eg: neither Randy or I work anymore. (Well, we do but just for ourselves).
We’ve moved past the planning stages on that list already. We’re heading to California but first destination is Tucson, AZ. A distance of approximately 2,200 miles, although we’ll be getting off the Interstate highways for a change of scene as much as possible.
We’re drilling down into the details section of the trip checklist now. Here’s what’s left on the to-do list:
- File our 2016 income tax returns. Almost done – still waiting on a few T- slips.
- Research and choose an extended health insurance plan. Our credit card coverage is good for the first week for Randy (he’s over 65) and first 3 weeks for me.
- Vehicle emissions test to be done on the RV and renew license plate stickers – it expires in July while we’re away.
- Photocopy all credit cards, passport, and other ID to leave with our daughter.
- Check bank safety deposit box for current insurance papers, wills, jewelry; update/add as needed.
- Transfer funds to our US-based bank. It’s so much easier to reconcile bank transactions when the amount matches that shown on purchase receipts. We have a bank account at a US bank for this reason. This is not the same as a $US dollar account at a Canadian bank – that debit card does not automatically work everywhere south of the border.
- Place Internet and home phone services on “vacation-mode” to save those monthly charges.
- Determine best cell/phone data plan so we’ll have an idea of where to stop and what to buy when we cross the border. The best deals and options for Canadians change so frequently that we seldom do the same thing twice. Our Mobile Internet Aficionados membership should help us sort through the maze of options and find the current best one to fit our needs.
- Here’s a new one for this trip: Before crossing the border, decide what programs, links, apps etc. we might want to remove from our mobile devices. We know they’re not likely to pose a problem and we’re merely reacting to recent news stories but our “kidults” who travel frequently themselves have advised it. Whatever! I guess a lot can change over the six months while we’re in the US and we’ll be traveling in an area with frequent in-country border checks (AZ and southern CA) so better safe than sorry.
- Randy has been gradually getting the RV in order mechanically by checking:
- Fluids filled or replaced
- Battery levels
- Oil change
- Tires and tire pressure
- Lights and electrical system
- Wiring, hoses and spark plugs
Then he checks the RV living quarters side of things:
- Battery, furnace, propane tanks
- Fridge, plumbing, holding tanks, hoses, electrical, inverter
- Sorts the RV toolbox, adding needed tools
Randy’s also installing a new feature: for the first time, we’ll be traveling with a solar panel! We’ve never needed one really but, since we launched Boondockers Welcome, I seem to need more time on the computer on every trip. We’re also hoping to stop a few days longer than usual at our favorite, remote, scenic boondocking areas.
I’ll give the RV a good “going over”, cleaning the interior before stocking clothes and all non-perishable supplies. Most of the items listed on the old trip checklist are still relevant here.
- Nothing much has changed over time with closing the house down.
- We have someone to do a regular house check (as required by insurance). They’ll pick up our mail, too.
- We arranged for snow removal and lawn cutting while we’re away
- Go through kitchen cupboards – not leaving any thing that could attract mice or insects.
- To save on cupboard space in the RV, we repackage food items to take along, get rid of bulky boxes for all foods such as cereal, pasta etc. and put these into marked sturdy zipper bags.
- Empty and clean fridge and freezer.
- Seal and lock windows.
- Leave spare keys to the house with neighbors in case of emergency.
This part has gotten more difficult over time. My mother is 95 and I’ve been making her promise to keep well for the duration of all our trips but I’m always afraid that this may be the trip that she forgets or breaks her promise. We also have three beautiful grandchildren. They plan to come visit us in California at the end of June. That, and the promise of lots of Skype calls, make departure a little easier.
Departure Day: March 10 (depending on weather forecast)
- Enjoy a last long shower with ample hot water.
- Drain the home water heater and water lines.
- Turn the gas off to home stove and water heater.
- Turn the home furnace down to minimum.
- Move any containers with liquids to the sink or tub, in case they freeze if anything goes wrong with the furnace.
- Unplug the home fridge and freezer – leaving doors ajar.
- Unplug all electric appliances.
- Draw the blinds.
- A final walk through the house.
- Is every trip checklist item complete?
- Set the security alarm.
- Lock the door.
- Drive off