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I’ve decided to go to Big Bend National Park. While that’s the main destination, a lot of the fun takes place in the journey. Follow along as I update throughout the planning.

  • 10 weeks out

I woke up this morning thinking about Big Bend National Park. This park, located in southern Texas, is one that I haven’t been able to visit. First, it’s really far south, and not close to anything.  But the bigger challenge is that there is a very small window of peak season where the weather isn’t too hot. For three years I’ve been trying to get a spot.  I’m not sure what made me think of it today, but I grabbed my phone and visited to investigate what inventory was available. My expectation – zero. It was way too late to make plans for this park.

Much to my surprise, they had one site open for 4 days.  I booked it immediately.

This isn’t my normal way of planning a trip, but it works.  Now it’s time to start planning.

  • 6 weeks out

I am 5 weeks out from leaving for the trip. I haven’t done anything other than book my site and ask for time off of work.  So what’s next?

        • Begin to research a route from Virginia to Texas – see what detours I may want to take. I use Google Maps to save places that I want to visit. Then when it’s time to set a route, I see what is on my wish list that I could pass by. My saved list has parks, restaurants, experiences, etc. It’s been a great way to store suggestions that have been given to me over the years.
        • Think about how I can work on the road. I’ll be working during my road trip out and back.  I will set a schedule that allows for full days of work and evenings and weekends of play.  This will definitely impact where I stay. I’ll research campgrounds to see who might have wifi, but I may need to opt for hotels or Airbnbs on this trip.
        • Research Big Bend National Park. I will definitely do some reading and see what people recommend at the park. However, most of the time I stop at the Ranger Station on my way in and get their recommendations. They have never been disappointed.  And will often recommend things that aren’t promoted.
        • Mental packing. It’s been a while since I’ve been on the road.  As my mind starts to get into traveling mode, I start to pack…mentally. What will I need? Where is it now? Where will I pack it – roof box or in the car? Would I change the way I’m packing since it’s just a few weeks on the road?

My goal at this point is to start to get into the mindset of this trip. I typically have loose plans, but anything too structured feels like work and I don’t enjoy it.

  • 5 weeks out

It’s hot in Virginia. It’s the first time that I’ve brought out summer clothes and shoes. Today I decided to walk the dog in my Chaco sandles.  I lived in these on the road.  But the calluses I had built up are long gone. Before you go on a trip, it’s a good ideas to start conditioning. If you plan on hiking, go on longer walks or hit a local hiking trail. You’ll want to build a little stamina. Spend a little extra time in the shoes you’ll wear to hike or explore. Think about what other activities you need to prepare for.

I’ve mapped a few routes with points of interest along the way. Weather shouldn’t be an issue, but the recent tornados are reminders that I need options. If the weather is bad in one area, I can pivot north or south. On my road trips I’m always chasing pretty weather.