Grandma’s Bag and other Travel Tips

Did you ever play this game, “Grandma’s Bag” when you were a kid? It goes something like this, “My Grandma’s going on a trip and I helped her pack her bag. I put a _________ in her bag.” The next person says the same thing but adds another object. It goes around the circle with each person repeating all the objects that were put in the bag and adding another one. When someone forgets an object they’re out of the game.

That’s kind of what it feels like to pack a bag for a cross country trip, and repacking every morning to start down the road again. Let’s see, did I forget anything? One time we left our hosts home and headed down the road but needed to stop for gas first. We were just about to get on the highway again when I realized that I had left some food in their refrigerator. This was food that they would not have eaten because of dietary restrictions, and it was part of our hunger back-up supplies. Fortunately we were not too far away to go back and get it but our friends were certainly surprised to see us again.

My bag was full of food!

fruit & nutsI usually travel economy style and this road trip was no different. We planned to “eat light”, and since my daughter and I have similar food preferences it worked out very well. Taking along a food bag saved us lots of money, time and allowed us to have healthy snack choices. Between our food bag and our hosts generosity with dinners and breakfasts we ended up only buying meals out a few times. Here’s a list of what we set off with:

  • 5 lb bag of Clementines
  • 3 lb bag of apples
  • 10 oz bag of walnuts
  • 10 oz bag of almonds
  • 1 large bag of veggie chips
  • 1 box of dried okara
  • 2 bags of dried snack beans
  • 1 bag of dried apricots
  • 1 large jar of all natural peanut butter
  • 2 bags of brown rice cakes
  • 1 box of gluten free crackers
  • A few protein bars
  • My special blend of coffee/filters & drip cup
  • 1 box of tea
  • 4 bottles of spring water
  • Ginseng, vitamins & meds.

We refilled our bottles of water every day and made our own coffee and tea. Many times this bag of goodies provided breakfast, lunch and snacks so we rarely had to stop for long or buy expensive convenience food. Since all of our friends are health conscious people when we ate in their homes or shared a meal out it was always nutritious and delicious.

Always Be Prepared

I was raised by Scout leaders, yes, my father was a Boy Scout troop leader and my mother was a Girl Scout troop leader. As a family we were also avid campers and summer road trippers. Although that was many, many years ago, some ideas become a permanent fixture in the brain. In my family the idea was, “you can never be too prepared”. Here’s how my daughter and I prepared for our Canada to Mexico escape:

  • Oil change and alignment done, tires checkedIMAG0162
  • AAA Triptik’s, maps & sightseeing books
  • Time schedule and stops arranged with friends
  • Advanced weather forecasts
  • Appropriate clothes, shoes and travel purses
  • Phones, GPS, camera, computer
  • Backup passwords, accounts & phone #’s
  • Let the banks/cc know we are traveling
  • House/pet sitter
  • Let my neighbors know about house/pet sitter

That being said, I think I over prepared in the clothing/ shoes department. Also, the AAA sightseeing books were left at home because they contained way more information than we needed. The Triptick’s would have been more helpful if I had given exact addresses, but when I ordered them I only knew the names of the cities where we would be staying overnight. I ordered 2 because we had 2 possible routes planned.

Having the maps and the Triptik did help us when Siri (GPS) led us astray- yes she did. Sometimes Siri gets confused and goes round in circles like a cat chasing it’s tail. Once she was absolutely taking us to a different city for no apparent reason, but because I had checked the map ahead of time I realized we were heading in the wrong direction. We only lost an hour of time. Fortunately we were heading west and crossing the time zones helped us stay on schedule by giving us a bonus hour each time.

How to not get bored on a long road trip

Go with someone you like and can have good conversation with. We talked about the scenery, the landscape and how things change from state to state. We talked about life in general, our personal lives and whatever else popped into our heads. My daughter and I have no trouble conversing or driving quietly if we feel like it. But long monotonous roads can get the best Siri & audio booksof anyone causing droopy eyelids and yawning even when you’re not tired. We brought along some music and audio books for a change of pace now and then.

Trying to take photos and videos in a moving car is also entertaining. My daughter had studying to do while she was not driving and I can entertain myself with solitaire on my phone for long periods of time. Then there is always the silent conversation with God, I find driving to be the perfect opportunity for that.

In between all that entertainment there’s paying attention to what other driver’s are doing, reading road signs and looking for the next rest stop. With a specific destination every day and and a definite arrival date set for the end of our trip we managed to push through and have a great time in the process.

Next I’ll be posting some state by state highlights and photos of cool stuff we saw and places we visited.

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