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 Recreation.gov 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.