Planning a Cross-Country Road Trip? You’ll need these 8 People to Help.

Whether your trip is for a month or a year (or longer!), it’s likely flooded with emotion, excitement, and a million questions.

My trip is all-in. Sold my house, quit my job, found a home for my dog who would have found traveling miserable, and away I go for a year-ish. The trip was conceived at a Monday morning awakening (both kinds, I suppose) in February and by June 5 the American road  = home.

Learning is Lifelong

Now, I’m 39. And no, this isn’t a mid-life crisis. Simply the desire not to wait until retirement to live this dream. I share my age for context – the people who helped me prepare for this trip included my parents. You may be grandparents. Don’t focus on the specific people, rather the role they play.

8 People Essential to Planning your Trip

1. Dad (or a surrogate)—someone who supports the trip and also is incredibly cognizant of your safety. This person will voluntarily spend countless hours researching the perfect vehicle; visit RV dealers without you to educate him/herself so they feel more comfortable. They’ll think of insurance and banking and cookware. You may have thought of all of these yourself, but this person, in my case my Dad, will have insight you didn’t know was pertinent. And it is. 

2. Mechanic (actually, several)—specialists who know everything there is to protect your vehicle(s), investment, adventure, and you. The car dealer and RV dealer have talented people, I have no doubt. I also know that when I break my arm I go to a specialist, not the family doctor. So I write this while waiting for a transmission mechanic to install a cooler—he also does work for the police department. Does that make me feel good? Damn right it does. The dealer doesn’t have that contract. And I also went to a shop dedicated solely to installing hitches. They gave me lessons and I had to fight the urge to give them a hug.

3. Friendscasual to close, ask questions and you’ll learn things you didn’t know about their hobbies and expertise. We’ll start with the friend who took on researching all things technology. In exchange for lunches out, he answered four pages of questions with the same simple answer of “click this link to buy what you need.” Relief. And then, what would I have done without Facebook? Post a question and friends I never expected to have answers pop up with guidance. What camera bag do you use? How do you handle eBooks and the library? What should I collect on the trip? (I’m still working on that one, so please share ideas!) And then there are the really close friends you can email where the only topic is how much underwear to bring.

4. Driving Teachersomeone who has driven the highways, and if you’re taking an RV knows that, too. There’s a whole other driving language on the open road: flash to pass, navigating 18-wheelers, mirror positions. You’re likely connected by only a few degrees to someone who can teach you these things. My teacher happened to be a professional driver. Shazzam. After a few hours driving with him and a session on backing up the trailer, my confidence was exponentially stronger. What a gift. To me, and to my worrying mother.

 5. Pet Whisperers—friends who know animals, know your animal, and know you. Thomson, the Yorkie-Schnauzer mix, and I celebrated four animal-versaries. I loved him, despite his being incredibly petulant. And truth is, if he were a boyfriend I would have broken up with him a long time ago. He likes quiet and calm and things exactly his way; and he doesn’t like kids or other dogs. A road trip would have been miserable, disorienting, and stressful for him…and therefore me. So I went to my dog-whisperer friends and sought guidance. I fretted and cried more about this than any other factor of the trip. Ultimately, he found a new home with a family who was aware of his needs and peculiarities. The love was shared with others and he stayed in a stable place.  Sigh.

6. Marketing Prosthis is optional, and depends on your goals. Within your network of friends and their children, spouses, cousins-twice-removed there are people who can teach you about blogging and Twitter; best practices for best results; brainstorm sponsorships and help you make connections. I’m innately thankful for my friends; and the support, savvy, and negotiations they offered in this area specifically were incredible. Any consumer brand would be thrilled to have this “team” working on their account and I’m honored that they shared their expertise with me and for me.

 7. People who’ve done this beforethey can be friends or folks you find via Twitter. (Most) people like to help. You’ll have tons of questions from the practical to the embarrassing and these folks don’t care. Ask away. I tweeted complete strangers to ask about Britta filters. A friend who traveled the US with his wife and four children (including a newborn!) didn’t bat an eye when I asked how scary it is to drive an RV; how the fridge stays cold; where to wash dishes.

8. Mom (or surrogate)someone to worry so much that it affirms how much you’re loved. My Mom asserts that if she doesn’t worry, things won’t work out. Umm, OK… Her fretting was certainly a source of frustration, but it also was a safe place for me to displace my own fretting. Can you say Psych 101? Because of Mom I now have more safety gadgets and gizmos than I really could ever use. And hopefully I won’t have to. It gives her peace of mind, and on some night when I watch an episode of Criminal Minds or Law & Order SVU and get spooked, I’ll be grateful to have this arsenal.

Dare I say that it takes a village? Why not. Because it does. No matter what you’re looking to do, it’ll be more fun, better implemented, and easier when you have people on your side.

For a woman of words, I can’t sufficiently express how grateful I am for these people: strangers, colleagues, friends, and family.  Sure, my trip would have happened if they hadn’t been involved, but it certainly wouldn’t be as positive and collected as it is had they not offered help or I didn’t ask for it.

Who have you found to be helpful in planning trips and/or life changes?

6 Responses

06.06.12

Great post. I have different people I go to depending on the life event that I need information or support for.
Medical questions- Bobbi or my Mom (doctors after that)
Car questions- my trusted mechanic
Books and movies- Danielle
Anything hip and new music- Molly or Scott (Lane and Danielle too)
Technology/electronic/home questions- my dearest Oded
Gardening- my Mom or Master Gardener friend, Debbi
Family stories and wisdom- my 91 year old friend Rita and cousin Toby
Life struggles and lessons- my therapist and inner circle friends
All of the above and everything else- my Pop. He always knew the answer, no matter how random the question. Yet another thing I miss terribly about him.

I know there are other areas and people, but time to go to sleep. this was a fun exercise. Happy trails my friend and see you back here on the blog!

your relationship with your Pop was – and is – true, daily, loving, and living. how lucky are you to have had that in your life. And while it aches now, you’ll continue to turn to him even now, and the lessons he taught you will come forth as if they were your own. he’s that embedded in you and you absorbed him so deeply.

06.06.12

This will go down as one of the best bon voyage posts ever. I’m living vicariously through you. You are utterly amazing. More posts please.

thanks, sweet mandi. did you see yourself in there? 🙂

Sounds like an amazing journey. All the best. Look forward to reading your blog regularly.

[…] Won, you’re my only hope.”Trailer Sweet TrailerI love it! I’m thrilled with the choice, with Dad’s uber research to find this option, and with my stance at the last minute not to cave and buy something bigger yet […]

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