To-Do List for a Big Ol’ Trip

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One of the best books I read on the subject of long-term travel was Six Months Off, by Hope Dlugozima (  With her to-do list as a guide, I came up with a schedule of sorts for our adventure prep.  And here it is:


  • Pay off credit cards 
  • Read up on destinations/ take notes
  • Research light, quality supplies, and buy them
  • Save into travel fund
  • Check online resources
  • Practice languages
  • Treat any health issues
  • Research overseas ancestry
  • Research income streams
  • Get any travel vaccinations (don’t wait, sometimes you need two doses six months apart)

10 months before:

  • Make appointments for dentist and doctor check-ups
  • Sign up for Skype
  • Sell/ donate redundant possessions
  • Sign up for Caretaker’s Gazette
  • Get free yearly credit report, make sure everything’s correct
  • Get extra copies of legal paperwork

Nine months before:

  • Renew passports if necessary
  • Research textbooks and school materials (soft-cover for weight)

Eight months before:

  • Note must-sees & bucket list
  • Get moleskin journals & start filling them with info & goodies
  • Get certified birth certificate copies for the road

Seven months before:

  • Do auto improvements if will sell, otherwise research storage options
  • Scan important papers & email to self & put on password-protected flash drive to take
  • Close any extra credit cards

Six months before:

  • Make retrofit money-belt for boot
  • Do drivers license early renewal
  • Get International Drivers Permit (easy through AAA)
  • Notify clients about departure & plan to find replacement

Five months before:

  • Sign up with WWOOF and Workaway
  • Order Spanish pilgrimage refugio guide
  • Sign up with Couchsurfing and Hostelling International

Four months before:

  • Bank: make sure ATM card won’t need renewal soon, notify with departure date so don’t block international charges/ ATM use
  • Get clean record letter from local police (in case want residency)

Three months before:

  • Research travel insurance
  • Put important papers in safe deposit box (keep necessary copies for road)
  • Buy rest of supplies

Two months before:

  • Sell car (or plan to store)
  • File private school affidavit 
  • Load up MP3 players with movies, audiobooks, and music
  • Order camping carnet through CAA if plan to camp lots

One month before:

  • Do taxes asap
  • loan/ store/ sell belongings 
  • remind bank about overseas ATM use date
  • Give clients referrals/ do walk-through with replacement
  • Order tickets
  • Order travel insurance

Pretend your departure date is three days before the actual date, so you’re sure to have everything done, and a little time to relax and savor the time with loved ones before you head out.  Have a little get-together?  

So that’s the list that worked beautifully for us- we’d love to hear any additions or changes you’d make, and what’s worked for you.  Who knows when we’ll head out again!











Trip Prep


In 2008 and 2009, we frolicked down to Mexico for two shorter trips, to find out what we didn’t know we didn’t know, and make sure we loved traveling together.

Before we set off, we all got passports (the first for me and my son, Jake) and Hep A (food borne hepatitis) shots.  We researched and bought travel medical insurance.  The best site I found was, and we went with Atlas International.  It was the cheapest and best for our needs.  Then we read everything we could get our hands on about the parts of Mexico we’d visit.

I get wildly motion sick.  You know the ONE girl on the bus getting ill?  That’s me.  So I was ecstatic to learn about meclizine.  It’s the same ingredient in non-drowsy Dramamine, but when you buy it in generic form, you get 100 for the price of 25 name brand pills.  It’s notapproved for kids under 12, so we also brought chewable Dramamine.


Jake was five when we headed out, so when kindergarten started, I notified his teacher that we’d be gone for a month.  She  was supportive, as travel can be a great learning tool, and the school had a system for travel absences, where they coordinated with the teacher and gave us a packet to keep him up to speed with the class, and a travel journaling assignment.  When we got back, he and I did a little presentation for his class about our trip.

His first grade experience was as terrible as his kindergarten had been wonderful.  The combination of a teacher who should have retired, plus a classroom bully allowed to run rampant, led us to home-schooling.

Thankfully, our school district had an amazing home-school program.  Once a week, we’d meet with the home-school teacher, who supplied us with books and study materials, and checked Jake’s progress.  He excelled, and this system worked beautifully with our travels.  We were able to photograph Jake’s schoolwork and email it to his adviser once a week while we were out of the country.  Easy-peasy.



How it all began…

In the summer of 2005, all hell broke loose.  My healthy, happy 58-year-old stepmom had a stroke.  Two weeks later she was gone.  To say we were caught off-guard would be the understatement of the century.  Then my marriage imploded.

My family’s reaction was to circle the wagons.  We rented two apartments in a lovely complex in our gorgeous college town- my mom, my son, and I in one; and my father, my sister, and my niece in another.  Then we breathed.  And worked on healing.

Dad and I started working out in the complex gym, watching travel shows while we pumped iron, and walking miles in the city park.  Slowly, a plan bubbled to the surface.

We would get our ducks in a row, save as much money as we could,  and start traveling.  The plan changed over time, as they do, but the original idea was:  a short Mexico tour in year one (about a month), a longer Mexico stay in year two (two cities, a month in each), then if we love traveling together, head to Europe on an open-ended tour.

This blog will be the story of how my father- a retired public health nurse, myself- a single mom & artist with a gardening business, and my son- five years old when we started, would tackle the ups and downs of this adventure.

The obvious place to start would be the beginning, so Mexico in our case, but we have friends heading off to Morocco in a few months, who want the particulars of our journey, and the lessons learned.  And another pal wants to travel with her young son, homeschooling, as I did.  So we’ll start our story in Morocco, the first stop on our jump over the pond.


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