A thousand days of planning and somehow I am left scrambling the day before. We were making good progress but then our youngest got sick the other day and that threw a wrench into things. We are just happy she had wrapped up the last of her play dates and birthday parties this past weekend. So for the last couple of days, she’s been staying at home watching me attempt to fit a ridiculous amount of gear into a finite space. That and watching TV. I think she knows TV will be hard to come by and is getting all the viewing she can right now.
Anyways, we’ve crossed off a bunch of loose ends this last week.
Storage – We rented a small locker to store the items our renters probably don’t need or want to see. It is pretty much full now. One final run to today and then I will padlock it and see it again in a year. I am embarrassed to say it, but I would not be upset if 75% of the stuff were to disappear.
Since the itinerary has been discussed recently I thought of giving an update on some of the other progress we have made. The other day Paige and I were remarking that we still have some things to take care of but it feels like a lot of the “heavy-lifting” is done.
Getting the Jeep Ready – We got roof rails installed (my dad actually did it) and we bought a second-hand Thule cargo carrier for the roof. We also have car seat organizers for the kid’s stuff. We just need to put new tires on the vehicle, get it serviced and she is ready to go. We are actually outfitting the Jeep for a trial camping run this weekend with all the gear.
Bikes for the Road Trip – We replaced the stolen adult bikes with second-hand bikes and got them serviced. We purchased bike locks and have confirmed that the children’s helmets fit. Now we just have to get Julie off training wheels.
I wanted to share with everyone a current snapshot of what the route is looking like right now. Some legs of the trips are further along than others so expect changes. I have gone ahead and shared a somewhat detailed route for the North American component of the trip. Here is that route. Not going to lie, the 11,000km plus of driving seems daunting. There will be some big travel days required.
For a glimpse of the current status of the whole trip including the Europe and Asian components of the trip, please click here. Might be too ambitious, might not be ambitious enough. But it is fun plotting the destinations on a map even if they are just placeholders. 50,000km sure feels like an ambitious undertaking.
As an aside, some of my friends had been teasing me about the gaps between my posts. I agree wholeheartedly with that critique. The good news is next week we cross the “2 years to go mark”. I am going to have to start buckling down!
While working at Walmart I adopted the practice of committing to only three things at any time. I found that spreading myself across many initiatives resulted in little progress against any of them. That practice from my work life has transferred well to our family vacations. For the most part, we try to keep our vacations focused on a couple key objectives. Our recent trips have been centred around escaping the grind, spending time with the kids and reliving our youth.
This brings me to an important part of goal setting for a family trip. It is important to establish the goals of your trip before you depart. It is equally important to share them with your family members AHEAD of time.
Today I learned something. The Schengen Visa that we would have taken advantage of due to our Canadian nationality, is a short stay Visa. It allows a person to travel to any members of the Schengen area for stays up to 90 days in a 180 day period. I do not know why I did not pick up on this sooner but I always had this idea that people backpacked around Europe for months at a time when I was younger.
What does this mean for our plans? At a high level we had planned on staying from September to the beginning of January in the countries along the Mediterranean. That would have been something closer to 120 days which does not fit into the parameters of the Visa. We have a few options but two seem most likely.
Yes I have been slacking with posting which is not a good thing. It has been about a month since I shared how we were going to start assembling the necessary money for the trip. After a couple weeks I have a quick update as to how we are going to start saving the money. Yes we have already made some mistakes.
Just wanted to share a couple more tips that we incorporate into our family travels.
Sleeping on the floor is a possibility Sometimes you just miscalculate and think you have enough room for the family. We have found ourselves in this situation when camping and instead of everyone having an uncomfortable sleep on a twin air mattress, I have just slept on the floor. Same thing in a couple european hotels. To give everyone (myself included) a better sleep, just throw a blanket down and sleep on the floor.
Return from your trip a day early We used to maximize every day of our vacation. We would come back late Sunday night and be at work first thing Monday morning. Now we always give ourselves a day at home before we begin our normal lives. It gets the kids settled into things and ensures you won’t spend an entire week playing catch up with laundry, school work or adult work
We wanted to go ahead and share some travel learnings we have acquired the last couple years with our kids. We had scribbled these as reminders to ourselves for future travels. We still have some more to pull together but this is a good starting point.
Plan ahead Last minute can be done but your margin of error is smaller. Planning does make it go smoother .
Schedule a bathroom visit before boarding the plane It can be a long time from the boarding queue to when the pilot turns off the seat belt sign.
Keep an extra pair of clothes close by for EVERYONE who is traveling Whether it be a plane, bus or ferry, children can get sick or have accidents. In such tight confines your clothes are bound to get something on them.