Departing for months means a long list of things on the “don’t want to do” calendar. For me this falls into the following categories.
- Vehicle Preventative Maintenance and Readiness
- Home Prep for Long-Term Closure
- Financial and Emergency Preparedness
- Picking and Packing
Vehicle Preventative Maintenance and Readiness
There’s nothing worse than having a breakdown that could have been prevented. Besides having my vehicle serviced, here are a few other things I verify are in good condition:
- Tires and brakes
- Windshield wipers
I carry these items to help with self rescue and independence:
- Tire chains
- Battery jump starter (Amazon link)
- Extra wiper blades and inside light bulbs
- Folding shovel (Amazon link)
- Tire sealant (Amazon link) (would like a small compressor)
I also have an emergency roadside membership. When I started traveling I added benefits for longer distance towing etc.
Home Prep for Long-Term Closure
As a solo home owner, I have the added responsibility of ensuring basic readiness. Thankfully I have great neighbors and friends who are my traveling enablers. But a few things on my list:
- Irrigation (I have my drip system on battery operated timers) – I documented a timer schedule based on temperatures so my helpers can easily adjust. I use lithium AA or AAA which seem to last longer but I also have extra batteries available. When I notice weather changes I alert my helpers.
- Mail – I switched my curbside box to a lockable more secure option which gives me a bit of peace of mind and gives the neighbors more flexibility in retrieval timing. Having the USPS hold mail is problematic as it’s not always consistent and they can’t open or forward an unexpected delivery. I also signed up for the free USPS Informed Delivery daily email which shows expected mail.
- Inside Lighting – I use light-sensor nightlights to keep my house a bit more secure. (Amazon link)
- Outside Lighting – My external yards and patios are lit with solar light-sensor lights.
- Energy Savings – I unplug most everything from outlets and turn my hot water heater to pilot light.
- Inside Plumbing – I turn off the water to my sinks and toilets to hopefully prevent leaks.
- Pest Control – I put out ant bait stations in the house and leave extras.
- Perishables – It’s time to share with friends and neighbors anything that might spoil should you lose power.
- Evacuation Boxes – Since I live in a fire prone area, I have plastic tubs filled with irreplaceable memorabilia and labeled so my helpers can quickly remove should the situation arise.
Financial and Emergency Preparedness
The digital revolution has made traveling so much easier when it comes to bills. Everything that can be sent and paid by electronic means is my preference. I have notifications set on phone apps to monitor charges and payments, as well as use my calendar for deadlines. Keeping this process as simple as possible is key to stress-free traveling.
Since I live in a somewhat high-risk wildfire area and worry about theft as well, I have a safe deposit box at my bank where I keep everything others might need should an emergency occur. It also frees my mind of worrying if I lost everything. For example I keep all my digital photos and files on an external drive that lives in the safe deposit box, as well as all legal paperwork and emergency information.
Preparing for an emergency is always the one I’d prefer to ignore, but it’s essential for people like me who choose accountability and responsibility. Here are a few things I have prioritized:
- Creating a video of my home and car contents.
- Taking care of legal documents such as Power of Attorney, Will/Trust and Healthcare Directive.
- Making information available to family/friends instructing them what to do should I go missing or worse case die. Dear Friends & Family, If I become a Missing Person . . .
Picking and Packing
When you live out of your Honda CR-V, space is at a premium. Thankfully I’ve learned best practices since I’ve been doing this since 2015. I also keep resupplies, replacements and just-in-case stuff organized at home for helpers to mail to me along the way.
Food – What I choose to bring has changed a lot over the years. Most things I can buy along the way but some things are easier to prepare in advance. I’ve created a hardy breakfast cereal I like so I make large batches to bring. Previously I dehydrated most of my backpacking meals but over the years I’ve chosen to simplify but I still love my homemade pasta sauce so that always makes the cut as does any meals left in the freezer like homemade turkey soup. This year I’m working on reducing my LDL cholesterol so I cooked and dehydrated legumes, barley and quinoa as those are really hard to cook along the way.
Gear – I try to replace and repair my hiking and backpacking gear when I return home from a trip but it always seems to take time as it’s easy to procrastinate and move toward bottom of list. As I pack I take photos and add to my ICE (In Case of Emergency) files. Since I’m limited on space I always have to decide whether to bring snowshoes, a bear canister, boots, etc.
- Maps/Books – I try to have a loose itinerary so I know what maps to bring. I primarily rely on digital maps for traveling which makes planning on the fly much easier.
- Clothing – I use the keep-it-simple philosophy. I tend to primarily bring merino wool as it can be worn multiple times between washings and dries quickly. I plan to do laundry every 7-14 days. I limit myself to one duffel bag for travel clothes and one for hiking clothes.
- Practicalities – While I could purchase locally, I find it makes more sense to travel with what I already own or prefer.
- Laundry soap and change
- First aid, basic illness aids and medication replacements
- Repair and replacement items
- Backpacking resupply items
- Charge cords
- Back-up items like old glasses
- Cash (while most places accept credit, a few places like remote campgrounds require cash).
Before I leave I make sure all my electronics are charged, synced and updated. I’m on a limited cell plan so I rely on Wi-Fi along the way. Syncing my older model inReach is the most problematic while traveling as it relies on a computer (not Chromebook which I carry). The newer models can be synced via your phone. Deciding when to replace my phone is also challenging as it’s much easier to take care of all the information transfer etc from home. It’s on my list but we’ll see if it gets done before this jaunt.
Soon the dreaded I don’t want to do’s will be done . . . or not. Eventually you just have to say good enough especially without a hard deadline.
But first . . . where oh where shall I go? With gas prices on the rise, I’ll be more focused than ever on my hike more, drive less philosophy. I always feel a bit like Goldilocks as I try to find that sweet spot between too wet/snowy, too dry, too hot, too cold. It’s nice to have a lot of tools to help guide those decisions, especially as I try to avoid fires, smoke and poor air quality.
More posts about traveling and living out of my car (link).
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Wow, that’s quite a daunting pre-trip list! I thought our list was long and we only go away for a week at a time. I am very humbled by your ability to organize and prepare for your long trips! Looking forward to your trip posts.
It can be debilitating. It’s by far the least enjoyable part of my jaunting lifestyle and why I often consider giving up my home base. I’d still have to deal with some of the things on the I Don’t Want to Do list but it would be less. It’s also easy to delay departure by needing breaks between these chores.