The Most Fool Proof Plan for Every Roadtrip
Hi there!! For anyone who is new to my blog, let me introduce the whole crew here. I’m Carson Presley, and I write the content behind Girls & Dogs, Oh My. I’m graduating college this May (err--sort-of, just not traditionally because of the Coronavirus).
The luckiest person in the world, I have two adorable Labradoodles! Scout, who is two-years-old, and Ryder, who is just 9-weeks-old.
My better half, Spencer, is the most amazing dog mom who helps me keep a handle on our two wild fur babies.
Together, we love traveling. We love packing up our Jeep and exploring new places. We’re also (until recently) first-time dog owners.
In other words, we’re young and make a lot of mistakes--which is where the inspiration for this blog came from!
I want to be able to share all of our journeys and dog mom lessons with you all--especially our mistakes--so that you all can have the best possible experiences.
Every Monday I post new content with our latest adventure, traveling advice, dog mom tips and tricks. Sometimes I post more than just Mondays, so make sure to subscribe for updates! You might also get a rockin' discount as well :)
The Coronavirus is one of the most widely talked about topics. People are stock-piling food, masks, and cleaning supplies. We are quarantining ourselves. Schools, universities, and sports teams are all canceling events.
We are all affected in our own ways, but we must hang on and remember to help those around us, even for simple things such as lending someone a roll of toilet paper.
I personally am one of those people who needs to get out of the house, breathe fresh air, and feel the sunlight. Scout is definitely the same way.
She’s only two-years-old and still has all the puppy energy, so she also helps force me out of the house in order to keep her active and sane as well.
I know not everyone and their pup is this way, and that’s awesome, but if you’re like us, or just looking for some sanity in the madness, keep on reading!
This week happened to be our Spring Break week, which actually worked out perfectly. We had originally planned to make a trip out to Acadia National Park, then drive down the East coast; however, Maine this time of year can have treacherous weather conditions and we really didn't want to have to be bundled up......
So we shifted our plans to do a couple random day trips and made a list of places we could possibly go for a one or two day trip.
Our list included a ski trip, Cuyahoga National Park, Indiana Dunes National Park, Washington D.C., Assateague Island, and Niagara Falls.
With the outbreaks of Covid-19, we were halfway forced to cross D.C. and Niagara Falls off of our list for now and move them to our summer trip list. We decided Assateague would be a better late spring/summer trip as well so that we can truly enjoy the ocean.
Both Cuyahoga and Indiana Dunes are within a day’s drive of us and only about 5 hours apart, so we decided to make a weekend trip out to see these National Parks.
I’ll give you a step-by-step of how we planned and prepared for this trip—hopefully this will save you some time and effort.
Related Post: The 4 Best Trails at Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Phase 1: Planning, of course
We decided where we wanted to go, now we needed to do the foundation of actually planning this trip. For organizational purposes, we break this down into a couple subsets: the trip itself, us humans, and our fur baby.
The Trip Itself:
We always make a spreadsheet of sorts in order to lay out our itinerary and make sure that we are taking all necessary considerations into mind when planning.
For longer trips that have more moving pieces or a tighter timeline, we will include business hours, whether or not we need a reservation, when we made it, confirmation numbers, etc.
Since this trip was only a weekend trip without a bunch of moving pieces, we made sure the National Parks would be open for the weekend, checked the weather, time and distance of each hike, and drive times.
Above: A little bit of our planning spreadsheet
For Us Humans:
Aside from packing our normal list (clothes, hygiene, etc.), we also plan for our workouts and nutrition.
We’re currently training for an Ironman 70.3, so we need to make sure that we are doing our best to consume the proper nutrition and get in workouts when possible.
We will make a couple rough meal plans and then make a grocery list and add that to our haul.
After planning out the trip, we are able to plan our packing list accordingly. We normally do some research on AllTrails to see what other people are wearing in the same season.
As crazy as that sounds, 40 degrees on the East Coast feels very different than 40 degrees out West and we don’t want to be surprised and find ourselves underprepared.
Related Post: The Best Campground Near Cuyahoga Valley National Park
For Our Furbaby:
Scout’s bag is more-or-less packed at all times. We have this diaper bag for her and it is a literal life saver!!! I 12/10 recommend. It’s the perfect size, has an insane amount of pockets and little storage areas.
We keep her travel blanket, a bone, frisbee, snacks, paw butter, pet wipes and some other miscellaneous stuff in here so that she’s always ready to go.
The only absolute adjustment in her packing list is to pack her fresh food. The side pouch on her bag isn’t air-tight, so we don’t leave food in there. We also have this food vault which we use for travel.
This size is perfect for a decently long trip but is also airtight so we just leave food in here between trips.
At this point, we have everything packed for ourselves and Scout.
Phase 2: Vehicle Maintenance
This is one of the most important yet probably one of the most overlooked steps during planning. Honestly I’d be surprised if you’re even still reading this instead of skipping to the next phase.
We took Greg to get a quick oil change before leaving for this trip. I’m not a mechanic and I know virtually nothing about cars; however, our general rule is that we get an oil change (at the least) if our trip is more than a day trip.
You might also want to check tire pressure, wind shield wipers, and wiper fluid level. The last thing you want is to need to clean off your windshield and have to wait until you get to a gas station to clean it off because you don’t have any fluid left.
If you’re going on a cross-country road trip, you might want to consider other possible maintenance such as a tire change, tire rotation, etc.
You just don't want to find you and your group stranded.
Phase 3: Shopping Haul
Greg, our Jeep Wrangler, is amazing. Spencer built a collapsable platform in the back of Greg so that we can camp out at any time. The video we used to build ours isn't available anymore, but there are countless videos on Jeep living if you're interested.
It also means we can take trips on colder weekends and have somewhere warmer than a tent to sleep. Although he’s great, he isn’t completely finished yet.
There are some small finishing touches we needed to put together before we could leave. We wanted to add some flashlights and walkie talkies to the interior. We also wanted to get a sheet for our air mattress and a couple other miscellaneous camping items such as fire starters.
Our shopping list looked a little like this:
-butane (for our camping stove)
Phase 4: Preparing & Packing Greg
With maintenance done and our shopping list completed, we were able to focus on finishing up Greg so that we could get him packed up.
This phase included using velcro to fasten the walkie talkies to the frontmost frame so that we could grab them easily if needed. We also used velcro to fasten the flashlights to the middle frame, just behind the front seats so that we could grab those easily if needed.
I packed up all cleaning and kitchen items into one under-bed storage container, minus the lighters (probably not a good idea to put the fire starters and lighters in the same container, just in case!!).
After we got all of the little adjustments done, we moved our bags into the trunk and went and topped off Greg’s gas tank. Then we were ready to go.
The next morning, we packed the cooler and headed out.
This is how most of our trips look in general, up until the moment we take off. Let me know how you prepare for your trips!
I wrote about our adventure here, go check it out!