I don’t think anyone should be surprised we have rules when we travel.
I have rules for everything, and I’m just here to ruin everyone’s fun so hold your applause, please.
When we travel, here are some of the things we try to stick to:
Clean sheets before we leave
NOTHING is better than coming home from a long trip to clean bed sheets. If you disagree, I will rudely argue with you. I love to travel. I love to explore new places. But when it’s time to come home, I’m also ready. While it’s sort of a pain to add one more thing to the to-do list when we’re scrambling to get everything ready for a vacation, I don’t regret the added stress when I climb into that freshly laundered bed after a vacation. Coming home to your own bed (even when you travel with a smaller version of your own bed…) is just magical. I also vacuum the moment before we leave too–this is probably more than necessary, but leaving dirty carpets while we travel bugs me. (Also, I always have these morbid thoughts about if we died and someone had to go into our house, I don’t want it to be messy or dirty so they don’t remember us as living in filth. I KNOW IT’S WEIRD. SOMEONE GET ME SOME MEDICINE.)
Eat where the locals eat
Our rule is that we don’t eat at chain restaurants while traveling. If it’s somewhere we can eat in Indianapolis, we aren’t going to eat there when we travel. This makes places like Shake Shack and Whataburger okay because we don’t have those in the Midwest. We rely heavily on the Yelp app when we’re visiting a new place. Sure, I’ve pinned some places and articles on Pinterest to tell me where to go and what to see, but when it comes to food, we take our recommendations from the people that live and breathe in that city. We have never once been steered wrong by Yelp and all the very honest people that post reviews there. Plus, I love to check-in on Yelp when we travel because it’s the easiest way to remember where we ate and tell people about it later.
Have a plan. Sort of.
I love a plan. I sometimes make plans to plan. It’s a sickness, and I don’t want the cure. So when we take off on a trip, I have detailed plans ready to go. I know where we’ll stay, how long it will take to get there, and how much money we can spend that day. But other things I leave open. I often don’t know what we’ll do once we get there. I often don’t know where we’ll stop or what we’ll see. For our current trip, I’ve got reservations at campgrounds, a few major attractions we’d like to visit, and a daily amount of money we can spend, but other than that, I have no idea what we’re doing. We might find a chuckwagon dinner on the way to Mt. Rushmore that needs our attention. Or we might find an exit that leads to the world’s largest fork that we just can’t pass up. I love a plan and that we have a place to park our camper each (okay, most…) nights, but other than that, we’ll be back on July 24th and I don’t know where we’ll go and what we’ll see in the mean time.
Don’t be too cool to do touristy things
In my twenties, I wouldn’t have been caught dead visiting someplace that was overtly touristy or cliche. I was just soooo much cooler than those places. But now at 34? BRING ME ALL THE CHEESY, EMBARRASSING TOURIST THINGS. I mean, seriously, you only live once and I want to die happy with memories of overcrowded beaches and millions of Asian people with cameras worth more than my house.
Pay for everything before you leave
I think we ate out twice in May and June. Chris Graham really needs new work pants but I said it wasn’t necessary because the ones he currently has still cover all the important areas. I know these things probably don’t seem related, but they are. They’re the reason we are able to go on vacation for seventeen days. We prepared financially before we even hooked the camper up and rolled out of the driveway. We know how much money we can spend while we’re gone and that will keep us in check while we travel and will keep the guilt from creeping in. Nothing ruins a vacation more than spending money you don’t have or regretting something as you’re doing it because you know you really shouldn’t be spending that money (or charging that money). What’s nice about our trip is that if things end up being more expensive than we planned, we can always head home early. I know that sounds like a buzz kill, but traveling with a camper means you can haul your butt home if you run out of money. We use a credit card while traveling but have all the cash ready to pay off the balance the minute we get home. This helps keep our bank account safe (because vacation with a hacked bank account sucks–ask my dad) and we earn points (which equal money) when we use the credit card. But you better believe we will have all our vacation money saved before our trip and not enjoy ourselves on borrowed money that will weigh us down when we get back.
Yes more than no
One of the best parts about being away from home is all the excuses for why you can’t do something. There are no piles of laundry calling your name, no grass to mow, no bathrooms to clean. We don’t have errands to run, birthday parties to attend, or meetings to…um, meet. So we get to say yes to playing games, swimming for hours, or taking a family nap. We lose track of time and it doesn’t even matter because we’ve got no place to go and all day to get there.
See, I told you I love some rules. But rules make everyone have more fun! says the control-freak English teacher. It’s okay, I know who I am. NO SHAME. What about you? What rules do you have when you travel? Don’t tell me I’m not the only one to force family fun.