Having officially gone on a long trip, I feel experienced enough to compose a list of 10 things you all should know perchance you decide to go on a two-month vacation out west. Here we go!
1. Bring a Hoodie
When I was told to pack for a two-month trip out west, the last thing I thought I would need was my hoodie. “We’re going out west. Deserts, cacti, sandstorms, scorpions. I’m not going to need my hoodie.” Thankfully I had the good sense to pack it anyway because we ended up wearing our hoodies at about every other stop. So pack it. You never know when you might run into several large patches of snow in the middle of June. 😂
2. Only Drive 4 to 6 Hours at Once
We began our trip advising this tip, however, about halfway through, we ended up driving 12 hours a couple of days. We were glad to be covering more ground but 12 hours in a car, all day, with your family, and not much to do can get pretty boring. Not to mention how worn out you feel when you finally reach your destination.
3. Bring Entertainment
Whether you are the driver or a passenger, bringing something to do is essential if you wish to survive a long day in the car without going crazy. My siblings brought coloring books, games, and a couple of small toys while I brought along my journal (which has greatly helped me keep dates straight when blogging) and some cross-stitching. My mom brought supplies she needed to crochet birds (which she gave to each of our hosts) and my dad, who did most of the driving, listened to podcasts and occasionally (when on a long stretch of road in the middle of nowhere) would watch something on Netflix from his phone which was hanging on Jobie who was attached to the rear-view mirror.
4. Take Snacks
Bringing your own food is great when you are either in the middle of nowhere or you simply do not want to waste time picking something up. Having snacks nearby also prevents you from continuously stopping at fast-food restaurants. Before our trip, my mom purchased a lot of protein cookies, brownies, and bars. These kept us full in the previously mentioned situations along with many others including hiking and or a long day in a park. Also, make sure you always have a full bottle of water. Protein whatever makes you much thirstier than you would imagine!
5. Adjust to the Elevation
During our trip, we were constantly changing elevations. We learned pretty quick not to be way below sea level one day and way above the next. Spend about two days in one spot before moving on. This will help your body adjust.
6. Get a Travel App
My mom, who will do about anything to save money, used Priceline to book our hotels. This way we were able to find good hotels at low prices and occasionally get a really good deal. In the end, this saved us a lot of money.
7. Rest Between Tourist Attractions
Don’t plan your schedule so that you are doing something every day. You definitely want to heed this advice. We did not, once or twice, which caused us to be really worn out the next day. Although, for most of our trip, we did pretty good. For example: in San Diego, we had so many things we wanted to see and do but we made ourselves an A day-B day schedule. Let’s say we went to Lego-Land Monday but we would spend Tuesday chilling at our hotel watching TV, playing Minecraft, swimming in the pool, etc. Wednesday we would go to the San Diego Zoo and then Thursday we would, again, hang out in our hotel.
8. Protect Your Phone
We did a pretty good job at not dropping our phones but once or twice someone would “come out of nowhere” and accidentally bump the device out of our hands. With that said, I highly suggest buying some sort of protective case for your phone. We bought an Otter Box for Mom’s phone. It is big, black, and bulky but it does the job. You do not have to but, I suggest you get a case that is waterproof. Many times I found myself holding the phone over water and/or wishing our case was waterproof so I could take some cool underwater pics.
9. Pack Light
Pack as light as you can. I know this can be a struggle because it is one of mine. My goal was to pack only two bags: one for clothes and one for stuff to do. Somewhere along the line, two bags turned into six (clothes, stuff to do, purse, make-up bag, laptop bag, etc.). Haydn was very proud that he ended up being the only one who brought just one bag. I really wish I had packed lighter because, about a month into our trip, unpacking and repacking became very annoying. I did not even end up wearing half the clothes I packed. Speaking of clothes, I suggest this: 3 T-Shirts, 2 nice tops, 3 pairs of shorts, 2 pairs of pants or leggings, and an outfit for Sunday. There is really no need for multiple outfits for church because, at least for us, we were in a different location every Sunday.
10. Take Your Time
This tip pretty much explains itself. Do not rush through things. You can always come back next summer. We had to rush through one or two things during our trip but that was not fun because we couldn’t pause to admire whatever we had come to see or we could not read the signs that contained so many interesting details. So, yeah: take your time, make memories, and have fun.