How I’m Preparing for an Extended Road Trip (With Packing List)

August 8, 2016

How I'm Preparing for an Extended Road Trip (With Packing List)

Ahhhhh… that’s the sound of me sighing as I’m finally settling into my chair to write this post. The past week has been go go go, and then go some more. When I’m not busy writing blog posts for clients and trying to wrap-up season two of Budgets and Cents, I’m cleaning the house, making appointments and trying to see friends before I leave. And please excuse the horrendous comparison, but I honestly feel as though I’ve been running around like a chicken with its head chopped off. The worst part, for me personally, has been how forgetful I’ve become. On any other day, I can proudly say that I am incredibly organized (to a fault), punctual and thoughtful. But recently, if it hasn’t been in my calendar, I’ve forgotten about dates and plans altogether.

I hate feeling this busy. As you might remember, I spent the entire first half of this year slowing down and disrupting my old routines, so I could work less and live more – and I have been loving every minute of it. So I hate that I’m back at this place where I have to pencil people in, make our dates shorter or even say things like, “I’ll see you in October!” But I keep reminding myself that this is temporary and it’s all for a good cause. In just a few more days, I’ll be getting into my car and driving all over the U.S. for almost two months. And leaving home for that long takes some serious preparation! Putting my regular work/life tasks aside, my road trip prep list has been extremely long (and somewhat expensive). Here are some of the things I’ve done to prepare to live on the road for two months, along with a short packing list.

1. Purchase travel medical insurance.

Right off the bat, one big difference between my doing a road trip across Canada vs. doing it in the U.S. is that going into the states requires the purchase of travel medical insurance. Ok, if you feel like taking the risk, you could NOT make this purchase… but I would be a terrible personal finance blogger if I said that was ok, so I must live up to my own rules! Before shopping around for insurance, it’s a good idea to see if your credit card offers any coverage. One of mine comes with $1 million coverage for the first 15 days of any trip, so I called in to ask how much it would cost to extend it and the answer was just $3/day. I increased my coverage to last 50 days, which cost me $105. I’ve never needed to use this insurance before, but I will be oh-so-glad I have it, if anything comes up.

2. Renew car insurance (and increase third-party liability).

Before leaving for any road trip, it’s a good idea to make sure your car insurance isn’t going to expire when you’re gone… like mine was going to! I’ve known this expense was coming for a while, so I was prepared to shell out $950+ for another year of insurance. But in addition to renewing my insurance, I decided to increase my third-party liability coverage to the max. $5 million for the duration of my road trip. Again, call me an over-planner (or a pessimist), but what if something awful happened and I seriously hurt or killed someone on the road? That’s exactly why we have insurance: for the what-ifs. I was surprised to discover that increasing my coverage would only cost me ~$12 for the two months, so of course I added it to my new policy. One less thing to worry about.

3. Get car serviced.

Another important step (perhaps the most important step) to take, when preparing for a road trip, is to actually tune up the vehicle you plan on using for said trip! Again, I knew I was due for an oil change, so I had booked that already. But then I asked them to do a pre-trip inspection as well (check all fluids, tire pressure, possibly rotate tires, etc.). I’m taking my car in tomorrow, so I don’t know how much this is going to cost yet… but I imagine it’ll be under $200. Considering my car is going to be my home base for the next two months, I will gladly pay to make sure it’s ready for the job. (And I’ll need to budget for at least one more oil change, when I’m on the road.)

4. Purchase BCAA membership.

While this wasn’t exactly an essential purchase, I bought a one-year BCAA membership. For $115 (incl. tax), I have 24/7 roadside assistance, in case I need a boost, a tow, gas or even a new car key, anywhere in North America. Basically, you could call this “solo driver insurance”! And not only will it give me peace of mind, but a membership also gives you discounts at dozens of motel/hotel chains (which I plan on taking advantage of, from time-to-time), as well as discounts on other travel services, restaurants, entertainment and more. My membership is the last piece* of my car prep puzzle. After tomorrow, she will be ready to go!

*Note: I already have an emergency kit in my car, which consists of granola bars, water, a flashlight, jumper cables, a blanket, etc. If you don’t have something similar, I would add this to your own road trip prep list.

5. Take care of other business.

Since I’m going away for two months (and was long overdue for these, anyway), I made and went to a few other appointments in the weeks leading up to the trip, like the dentist (no cavities!) and a hairdresser (hadn’t cut it since before my surgery!).

6. Purchase a U.S. talk, text & data plan for cell phone.

When I talk about this road trip with friends, some of them say they imagine I’ll be spending a lot of money on gas in the next two months. It makes me laugh sometimes, because I think I’m going to pay a lot for data! I’m actually still trying to decide what I want to do about this. I could either pay $7.99/day for any day I need service, or purchase an $80 plan (which also gives me some free talk and text) and then pay for overages. With either of those options, I imagine I’ll pay $200-250/month for my phone. Or I’m seriously considering trying out Roam Mobility, where I could get a US SIM card and pay just $50/month. Have any of my Canadian friends tried this!? Good/bad experience?

*UPDATE: I called my cell phone provider (Fido) and switched to a new plan where it’ll cost me just $50/month to use all my regular plan/minutes/data features in the states! And the new plan will save me $20/m ($240/year)! Double-win!

7. Figure out a good cashflow/budgeting system.

Onto the fun stuff! Well, fun for us money-loving people. ;)

Do you remember when I opened a checking account in the U.S. (with RBC “South”) earlier this year? Well, it turns out that’s going to help me do more than get paid in USD – it’s now going to serve as my cashflow/budgeting system while I’m in the states! Before I leave, I’m going to deposit a few thousand dollars into my RBC “North” account, then transfer it down South; that means I’ll only have to deal with the exchange rate once, then will have access to my money in USD via my Visa debit card. I’m still going to bring some USD cash and my credit cards (notified them I’m travelling), but will use my RBC South account to pull out more USD cash anytime I need it.

8. Scan important documents and store them in the cloud.

I’ve heard so many horror stories about people losing travel documents, insurance papers, etc. that before big trips, I make sure I have scanned copies of certain things stored in the cloud. Think: my passport, NEXUS card, travel medical insurance and BCAA membership info. If you’re thinking about doing the same, make sure you protect these documents by encrypting the PDFs with passwords!

9. Give family tentative route/dates/friends’ contact info.

I don’t know if there’s a need to do this, if you’re only going to be on the road for a week or so. But because I’m going to be gone for two months, I decided to create a spreadsheet of all the cities where I plan to stay with friends, the tentative arrival dates and my friends’ names, addresses and contact info. (Yes, friends I’m staying with, that means my parents’ know where you live, lol.) I’ve also promised my parents’ I’ll text them every night to just let them know where I am (gotta love being a solo female traveller). But if they know I’m supposed to arrive somewhere by a certain date and haven’t heard from me, they can check-in with friends and try to figure out what’s up.

10. Make a plan for work/internet/email.

Last but certainly not least, I couldn’t do this trip if I didn’t work for myself and have the luxury to set my own schedule – but it will still take work (in the form of planning) to get work done on the road! First and foremost, I’ve decided not to pitch any of my writing clients for the next two months. I have a few clients who send me work regularly, so I’ve told them all I’m still available. But I won’t be pitching to do anything more than that, simply because I don’t think I’ll have capacity. Second, based on my existing workload, I was able to figure out which days I will always need at least a few hours of internet access (Sun, Mon, Thurs). This is important, because I now know to plan other activities (including book-writing days and long driving days) on the other days of the week.

And finally, I’m taking as many steps as I can to eliminate the amount of email I receive in the next two months. The first thing I did was unsubscribe from the newsletters I normally love (and can follow through Feedly instead). I actually wrote to most of the writers and said I was doing so in an attempt to decrease the number of emails I have to read whenever I check it. (Not surprisingly, the ones who travel a lot replied and said they understood!) And I’m also going to setup an auto-responder that tells people I’m on the road with limited internet access and will reply as soon as I can. I know it won’t stop people from emailing me, but hope it at least lets them know it may take a while for me to respond! Setting expectations results in fewer miscommunications. :)

What I’m Bringing on a Two-Month Road Trip

Now, after reading how ridiculously organized I’ve been while preparing for the safety, financial and work aspects of this trip, you might expect that my packing list is equally long and detailed… but you would be wrong. Oh, so wrong.

The truth is, I’ve barely started packing (and I’m leaving in just a few days). I could feel panicked about this. I could freak out about not being prepared for all the what ifs I could face in the next two months. But if my two-year shopping ban has taught me anything, it’s that I don’t want to buy things unless I absolutely need them. I’m still packing things like a small first aid kit (bandaids, polysporin, eyedrops, etc.), my headlamp and flashlight, etc. I’m also bringing basically my entire teeny tiny wardrobe, because I’ll be in multiple climates and have various events to go to. But besides that, and the emergency kit that’s already in my car, I’m just packing the essentials.

Think about it this way – there are only a handful of things we do on a daily basis:

  • Bathe and get ready for the day (toiletries, clothes and shoes)
  • Eat and drink (small cooler, food, coffee, water and cooking supplies)
  • Work (laptop, cell phone, notebooks, pens, etc.)
  • Exercise (running shoes, hiking boots and daypack)
  • Relax (books and bathing suits)
  • Sleep (tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag and pillow)

So that’s what I’m packing for, along with healthy snacks and water for the road.

During the past two years, I have learned time and time again how little I need to be happy. I’ve also come to know myself so well that I know I wouldn’t actually use any of the things people have been telling me to buy. What I’d rather do is pack up the basics, hit the road, figure out what’s missing and then buy it. It won’t kill me to not have something at the exact moment I need/want it. In fact, it’s better to sleep on any purchasing decision for a night or two, before handing over your hard-earned cash. So, I’m actually not going to share an extensive packing list before the trip. Instead, I thought it might be more interesting/beneficial if I take inventory before I leave, and keep track of what I use/don’t use and what I have to buy along the way, then share THAT list with you when I return.

Oh, and in case you’ve been curious, do you want to know what my first purchase was after the shopping ban was over!? I bought a car charger. I’ve never owned one before, but figured I would definitely want one for this trip. I got a serious thrill from testing it out and discovering how quickly it charged my phone, which shows how weird I am now, lol. I’m sorry if you were expecting the answer to be more interesting or frivolous.

For those of you who have done big road trips before, is there ONE thing you found you needed to buy after you hit the road?


  • Reply Kate @ Cashville Skyline August 8, 2016 at 4:28 am

    Wow, Cait. I’m seriously impressed with how prepared you are for your trip. I feel like I’m always stuffing a bunch of stuff in a backpack last minute whenever I’m going somewhere. Haha. I know I’ve said this before, but snacks are key for me. It’s not easy to find healthy stuff between cities, so I always got stuck eating gas station or fast food. Planning ahead with a large bag of raw almonds, walnuts, or fresh fruit would have been a game changer. Excited for you, friend!

    • Reply Cait Flanders August 9, 2016 at 11:40 am

      Yes to healthy snacks! I seriously refuse to eat junk on the road, because I know it makes me feel awful. Can’t wait to see you in Sept!

  • Reply Casey Elliott August 8, 2016 at 4:29 am

    I havent used a new SIM card in the states, but I did go that route in Iceland- we bought a $20 sim card at the airport and it worked great! Only issue was it changed the phone number on the phone. Which was fine for our purposes, but make sure you look into that.

    • Reply Cait Flanders August 9, 2016 at 11:42 am

      Yes, I knew it would change my #, which would’ve been annoying for two months. After publishing this post, I found another option where I can keep it! Hooray!

  • Reply Eva August 8, 2016 at 5:16 am

    I’m so glad to hear you took care of your medical insurance while abroad. I’ve worked at an alarm center for people who got ill abroad and it was seriously devastating when people did not have the right insurance. I’m the first to get rid of unnecessary insurances like for your cellphone, but this is really important.

    Have fun on your trip! I’m looking forward to read about it!

    • Reply Cait Flanders August 9, 2016 at 11:43 am

      Oh yea, I never buy things like extended warranties on electronics. But my life? My health? My car? Yes, yes, yes.

  • Reply Susan August 8, 2016 at 5:31 am

    It seems like you have everything in order for your trip! I’m looking forward to your updates about it! :)

    Have you seen Bullet Journaling? It sounds right up your ally, especially when travelling…

    • Reply Cait Flanders August 9, 2016 at 11:43 am

      I have! And I already do a scaled back version of it. :)

  • Reply Eric Bowlin August 8, 2016 at 6:21 am

    When I travel overseas I always get a policy that covers emergency evacuation. If you really get into something serious, you definitely want to be covered to get transported back home to get care there.

    • Reply Cait Flanders August 9, 2016 at 11:44 am

      Ahhh, interesting. I hadn’t thought of that! The travel medical stuff does include flights home, if needed.

  • Reply Maria August 8, 2016 at 6:53 am

    not specifically for a road-trip, but whenever i go away on a long-ish trip that includes a lot of walking/hiking, I always find I use way more foot cream than normally do at home. After years of forgetting, I finally made a list for myself at the end of one of my trips with essentials I needed and enjoyed, and now I just look at it before I pack. So curious to see yours! Enjoy the trip!

    • Reply Cait Flanders August 9, 2016 at 11:44 am

      Interesting! I do actually have an extreme moisturizer. Guess I’ll throw it in the bag :)

  • Reply Carol August 8, 2016 at 7:13 am

    While BCAAA membership may have other benefits, I have actually had better towing service through my car insurance company – cost $12 a year than the US AAA. Also many credit cards now offer roadside assistance also. So if you need a tow, check which option will cost you less for that particular instance, depending on distance towed, etc.

    • Reply Cait Flanders August 9, 2016 at 11:45 am

      Good to know! It’s too late for me now, but something to keep in mind once this membership runs out. Thanks, Carol!

  • Reply Melanie August 8, 2016 at 7:28 am

    On my last road trip I was glad I had a power inverter. A device you can plug into your car and it will allow you to charge things with an actual plug. However, I borrowed it from a friend instead of buying one and have borrowed it for a trip and then never used it.

    • Reply Vicki@Make Smarter Decisions August 8, 2016 at 2:49 pm

      I definitely second this one! We have one of these and use it all the time. I appreciate the detail you went into here about taking car of your car and yourself. I think a lot of people just hope everything will be fine. Some planning and some money will save you so much if anything does happen. Your so proactive – love it! Safe travels Cait!

    • Reply Cait Flanders August 9, 2016 at 11:46 am

      Hmm… I guess my concern is how much of my car battery’s charge is it going to use? I’m sure they design it so it wouldn’t use too much, but I’d rather have my car do the driving than charging my laptop!

    • Reply Chela @SmashOdyssey August 14, 2016 at 3:02 pm

      Yes! Since I bought one, I never travel without mine. Super convenient for long drives. Looking forward to hearing more about the trip, Cait!

  • Reply Julie@ChooseBetterLife August 8, 2016 at 7:31 am

    I’m so excited for you! Your trip will be great and you’ll have a great time. The only thing I’d add is to put your friends’ and family’s contact info in the cloud too so you can get to it if something happens to your phone. Do you remember the days when we actually memorized this stuff?

    Looking forward to seeing you in September! :)

    • Reply Cait Flanders August 9, 2016 at 11:46 am

      Haha, well I do know my family’s cell phone #s, so should be fine… but that’s a good point! I have no idea what my best friend’s cell # is.

  • Reply Melissa August 8, 2016 at 7:38 am

    My husband and I have used Roam Mobility in the US and it works great! I would definitely recommend. Very affordable and good choices of different packages, depending on your needs. Was useful for us.

    • Reply Cait Flanders August 9, 2016 at 11:46 am

      Thanks, Melissa!

  • Reply Irene August 8, 2016 at 8:18 am

    Your adventure sounds great, Cait! For my in-car drinks, I used a leak-proof thermal travel mug so that in a couple of hours the tea/coffe/mocha/??? would still be hot, and a not-so-effective travel mug for what I was going to drink right away. I also have a fork, knife, spoon, and chop sticks to eliminate plastic “to-go” utensils. Have a super trip! I (and everyone else!) look forward to your travel posts. Thanks so much for sharing.

    • Reply Cait Flanders August 9, 2016 at 11:47 am

      Good thinking, Irene! I have a decent travel mug, as well as utensils. So it looks like I’m set! :)

  • Reply Michelle August 8, 2016 at 8:46 am

    I’m so excited for your trip. Since we travel full-time in an RV, we thankfully never forget anything since we already have everything, haha!

    • Reply Cait Flanders August 9, 2016 at 11:48 am

      Haha, no kidding! See you out there I’m sure, friend!

  • Reply Our Next Life August 8, 2016 at 8:57 am

    I would totally do the same thing on insurance. I think it’s better to be over insured than underinsured. So thumbs up for that. :-) I hope y’all report back on how it goes trying to work from the road, as well as camping with your minimal set up. I think the things we end up wanting to buy after we camp are totally individual. Like I enjoy having an easy way to do dishes, and I love having a comfy camping chair. But I know others who care about having the best camping mattress or a shower bag.

    • Reply Cait Flanders August 9, 2016 at 1:21 pm

      Yes, that’s so true! I care about a comfortable sleeping pad for my back/hip and never want to run out of propane (for coffee, lol).

  • Reply Chelsea August 8, 2016 at 9:12 am

    Hi Cait,
    I’m surprised at the price of your insurance, I have purchase personal travel insurance in Canada from Blue Cross or even TD for approx 90$ for the full year of coverage. Also I would check how far your road side assistance will tow your car should anything happen. We had purchased CAA roadside assistance but learned that they only towed up to a 10km radius. Since we were driving in remote areas we got the plus membership which tows up to 200km radius. I’m sure you’ve looked into all this I just mentioning it in case you haven’t and it helps you! Your trip sounds awesome I would love to do one the same. Cant wait to read about it.

    • Reply Cait Flanders August 9, 2016 at 1:23 pm

      Yea, I could’ve gotten insurance for slightly cheaper from a couple places BUT it’s better to only have ONE insurance policy in an emergency. For example, if you had two policies, and one covered some stuff while another covered something else, the two companies could essentially battle each other over which one you’re allowed to use, who covers what, etc. and it can just get super messy. Didn’t want to deal with that. (And yes, I got the CAA with 160km!)

  • Reply Stefanie Szewczyk August 8, 2016 at 9:43 am

    Wow you’ve taken care of so much! Well done! I think having BCAA is a great idea. Just the peace of mind knowing that you’ll be okay if something happens is worth the money, in my opinion.

    Looking forward to our dinner date! xo

    – Twin

    • Reply Cait Flanders August 9, 2016 at 1:23 pm

      Mmm, I’m drooling just thinking about it!

  • Reply Tara August 8, 2016 at 9:43 am

    I would say the most important thing is a cooler and filling, somewhat healthy foods you enjoy.

    When you’re driving, oftentimes convenience food is unhealthy. If you have protein shakes/bars, plus peanut butter and bread/tortillas, cold cuts and cheese (if you eat), fruit, yogurt cups, drinkable yogurt, munching veggies, mixed nuts, dried meats or meat substitutes (again, if you eat and yes they have Tofurkey jerky!) all these can help you stay away from bad road food. They can require a good cooler though, so I’d either invest in a quality compact one that keeps things super cold (so you don’t need to buy ice often) or invest in a cooler that keeps things cool via being plugged into your car outlet.

    Also, you might look at getting a sim card temporarily through a US cell phone provider for data. You could get a better deal and can find a decent unlocked US phone on eBay beforehand (or invest in an unlocked world phone like the Google Nexus 6P which you could save for future world travel)

    Good luck! Also last thing, for backup, get a paper road Atlas, like the Rand McNally road Atlas. Always good to have non digital backup. :) And if you plan on car camping (meaning, you drive to site and put up tent), that Atlas lists them for you to make life easier.

    • Reply Cait Flanders August 9, 2016 at 7:59 pm

      I did buy a road atlas! After skimming through my friends’, I knew I wanted one for myself. So obsessed with it! Thanks for all the suggestions, Tara :)

  • Reply Beth August 8, 2016 at 9:57 am

    I’m thrilled for you. I’ve done road trips in the past from TO to B.C. and it was so much fun. We had a few glitches because we didn’t prepare well like you have. I’m really impressed that you’ve made sure to “dot your i’s” so to speak because it is important. I have heard too many sad stories from people getting into a bind because they didn’t look after the details. Have a great time Cait!! Beth

    • Reply Cait Flanders August 9, 2016 at 8:00 pm

      Hey, I just figured that it’s easier to take care of the BIG stuff while I’m still in Canada and buy anything I forget in the US. Thanks, Beth!

  • Reply Lynne August 8, 2016 at 10:15 am

    Hi Cait!

    I find 7.99$/day quite expensive for a phone bill…
    Have you considered using free Wi-Fi with your tablet (if you have one)?

    I always take my tablet to surf the net when abroad.
    I do not use my Canadian cellphone service. In fact, I leave my cell at home, in Canada.
    I either purchase a local SIM card or use skype or FaceTime to call loved ones back home.

    Wishing YOU Magic Moments on the Road!

    • Reply Cait Flanders August 9, 2016 at 8:00 pm

      Got the phone situation sorted out! Thanks, Lynne! :)

  • Reply Michelle August 8, 2016 at 10:55 am

    So excited to read all about your trip Cait! Sent you an email about the cell phone dilemma. I looked into it with ATT when I was in NY and found a different solution. I’m doing the same thing with trip itinerary for family, and BTW for #9, it doesn’t stop even when you turn 40. When I’m in Cali, I’ve been commanded to provide regular updates via email, text, phone. Same as you, joys of solo female travel.
    I wish I could take my car but I decided to fly. Last road trip I went on was from TO to Montreal, super fun! Found I needed lots of music and had to stop every 2-3 hours to stretch.

    • Reply Cait Flanders August 9, 2016 at 8:01 pm

      Yes, I’ll definitely need to stop and stretch – especially my hip! Can’t wait to see you in California :)

  • Reply Ava Meena August 8, 2016 at 11:37 am

    I usually forget things like bug spray and sunscreen (until I need them, of course).

    • Reply Cait Flanders August 9, 2016 at 8:01 pm

      Ha, yep! I have both ready to go :)

  • Reply Kara August 8, 2016 at 12:02 pm

    Great share! I’m preparing for my own road trip, and will be sharing my travel prep this week. I’m also going minimalist on the stuff I’m bringing. Less is more in a tiny Kia!

    • Reply Cait Flanders August 9, 2016 at 8:01 pm

      Yes! I can’t wait to see our cars next to each other, haha.

  • Reply Denny Wilkins August 8, 2016 at 12:13 pm


    I’m a veteran road tripper. I’ve driven across the country more than 70 times. I’d add two items to your list.

    1. Water. Always have at least three gallons of water in the car. More if you’re in dry country.

    2. A dozen washclothes. You’ll find out why.

    Enjoy the journey.

    • Reply Cait Flanders August 9, 2016 at 8:02 pm

      Ooo, a dozen!? I don’t even own that many, haha. But I have 3 packed + 2 towels + a hand towel. Will that work!?

  • Reply RM3 August 8, 2016 at 12:31 pm

    I agree with Maria — moisturing cream and I also make sure that I have a good lip balm since hotel air can be very drying. Also, not sure if I missed this, but what are your plans to clean your clothes? Detergent/all purpose soap in laundromats along the way, or in hotel sinks, or …other?

    PS – love the idea of “living” out of your car for 2 months. I would love to do this myself so reading this post is so inspiring!

    • Reply Cait Flanders August 9, 2016 at 8:09 pm

      Good question about laundry! I’m staying with some friends in August and September, so might borrow their machines ;) otherwise, yes, I’ve bought some eco-friendly soap and will just do it in hotels. The last stretch will be about 10 days of camping, and I don’t think I’ll do any laundry then until I get home!

  • Reply Heather August 8, 2016 at 1:14 pm

    Having just spent a couple of days in my car overnight, my tip would be to hang a couple of pressed guys shirts from the handles inside the car. It makes it look as though it’s a guy travelling and not a lone female. Other than that, most important kit would be the phone charger and the head torch, oh and the eco wipes! have fun Cait, take care.

    • Reply Cait Flanders August 9, 2016 at 8:10 pm

      Oh interesting. Do you say that because you were nervous when alone, Heather? Did something happen?

      • Reply Heather August 12, 2016 at 12:50 pm

        No don’t worry! nothing happened. Although I was only gone for two days! I was also car camping and made sure to stay in a recommended overnight UK parking stopover car park, which was supposed to be for motorhomes, but I figured it would be a safe place for a couple of nights for me as I knew there would be a few camper vans around too. I based my plan for sleeping in the car on Chris Sawey’s car ‘Hotel Prius’ have you seen it? so I was travelling with one side already made up into a bed. I liked the idea of the shirts for a bit more privacy, without the obvious curtains, although I did make some. Also for shade when snoozing! There comes a point in the evening when you need to start getting the car ready for night time without being glaringly obvious and the shirts just provided that bit of extra distraction from what I was doing. I used my own denim and one plaid shirt, which I guess would have looked unisex. Anyway loved the shirt idea! if you are tent camping at sites you probably won’t need this, but you never know. Have fun! x

  • Reply Marcygoes August 8, 2016 at 1:40 pm

    We just returned from an 8,000 mile road trip within part of the area you are going. Do not rely on
    having cell service. Find out where gas stations are with an app before you start off each day and refuel
    often. Also, a memory foam cushion can come in handy when the drive is further than
    you anticipated in one day. Nice healthy lunches can be bought at supermarkets for less than fast food.
    Keep lots of water with you and packets of pre-moistened face wipes. Be prepared for road work which
    will slow you down. The entire US seems to be expanding its roads and working on its bridges.

    • Reply Cait Flanders August 9, 2016 at 8:12 pm

      THANK YOU! This is amazing information, Marcy. I so so so appreciate it. I actually also purchased a road atlas book, so I can use that to help guide me when I don’t have service. I did buy small packs of both face + baby wipes. And definitely plan on stopping at grocery stores for meals! I’ll be sure to stock up on food, so I can eat when stuck in traffic ;)

  • Reply Mia August 8, 2016 at 5:03 pm

    Good luck on your trip!
    Here are some things I’ve needed on my travels (long and short!);

    *needle and thread/mini sewing kit
    *medicines (for allergies/migraines etc)
    *anti-bacterial wipes and female hygiene products (annoying trying to figure out alternative at 11PM on a Sunday in a small town…been there lived that!)
    *laundry detergent + roll-up washing line (floss will work of you’re in a pinch!)
    *good old-fashioned roadmap…in case cell service is down ot you enter some weird radio silence area

    Everything else will as you say work itself out, and with a longer trip there’s usually a couple of unforseen moments that will have you rely on being flexible and using your imagination.

    Stay safe and have fun!!!

    • Reply Cait Flanders August 9, 2016 at 8:13 pm

      Based on this list, I’d say I’m covered, Mia! Thank you! :D <3

  • Reply Cathleen August 8, 2016 at 5:30 pm

    This sounds like so much fun!
    The one thing I’d remember to do is drink lots of water and eat lots of fibre…for me, anyways, the sitting and driving would…slow me down digestive-wise. And it’s hard to make a good salad while on the road/keep cooler fresh. But there should be amazing produce stands along the way. Have a ton of fun–can’t wait to hear all about it!

    • Reply Cait Flanders August 9, 2016 at 8:13 pm

      Good point re: produce stands! I’ll be sure to stop at a few to get what’s in season :)

  • Reply TJ August 8, 2016 at 8:11 pm

    Good stuff. I’m not sure how long you’ll be around Southern California, but would be great to catch up and talk to you about this road trip as it’s happening. I’d like to embark on something similar in the semi-near future and really have no idea what to expect as I’ve mostly traveled in groups or with family. My logic is I have about another year and another 20k miles left on my car’s warranty, and I would never drive that much in a normal year, so I might as well see places I’ve always wanted to see while any major repairs would be covered…. :D

    • Reply Cait Flanders August 9, 2016 at 8:13 pm

      Amazing! Send me an email, TJ, and we can try to connect. :)

  • Reply giulia August 9, 2016 at 2:13 am

    Well seems that you are a great planner, I tend to travel with a tiny hand baggage but I never done a solo traveller so long so I’m really curious about your adventure…ENjoy the experience:D

    • Reply Cait Flanders August 9, 2016 at 8:14 pm

      Thanks, Giulia!

  • Reply Darren August 9, 2016 at 3:08 am

    I took a road trip to Florida with my sister once. We packed sparingly as you are doing now and didn’t need to buy anything extra, but I did make one kind of half planned, half frivolous purchase while on the road….a few days into our trip, I bought a brand new Jeep Wrangler! :0 Yep, I know. I was in the market and wad planning on shipping for one when I got back, but that didn’t happen.
    One thing that I did buy purposely for the trip however, was a road alas. In 1997 phones were uncommon and didn’t have map functionality of course. Call me old school, but even though I have a smart phone today, I so use printed maps.
    Enjoy your trip!

    • Reply Cait Flanders August 9, 2016 at 8:15 pm

      Haha, whoa, big purchase! But if you were in the market for it, I’m sure it only helped make your drive better. And the road atlas is packed and ready to go! Thanks, Darren :)

  • Reply Mrs. CTC August 9, 2016 at 8:03 am

    Wow, that’s what I call an impressive preparation! You really thought of everything, looks like you could stay away for years and still got everything covered.

    We’ve done our share of roadtripping through Europe and what we always take is lots of water, sanitizing cloths and healthy snacks. We also never leave without duct tape and rope! Not necessarily for kidnapping purposes :) But if something breaks you’ll be sure to fix it with one or the other.

    Have a great time!

    • Reply Cait Flanders August 9, 2016 at 8:15 pm

      Duct tape and rope, eh!? I could add that to the emergency kit, haha. Thanks!

  • Reply Pauline August 9, 2016 at 8:44 am

    How fun! I’ve always want to do a road trip like that across the US. One day. I’ve forgotten that although road trips are “simpler” in a sense, there is still so much to take care of. I’ve used Roam Mobility sim card on short trips to the US before and I must say I was very pleased with the quality of service I got. It was also very affordable. I’m glad you found out Fido would switch you out though – I didn’t know they’re THAT flexible!

    • Reply Cait Flanders August 9, 2016 at 8:19 pm

      Well, I ended up having to change my plan to get access to Fido Roam, BUT the new plan is going to save me $20/m! So happy I made the call to them and figured that out. :)

  • Reply Kimberly August 9, 2016 at 10:38 am

    I think I saw it in one of the comments above, but we ALWAYS bring a small cooler with us on the road. That way there’s always cool water, and a safer place to stash half-eaten sandwiches, etc. Total lifesaver.
    In related news, ice packs (or frozen bottles of water) are key.

    • Reply Cait Flanders August 9, 2016 at 8:20 pm

      Good call! I have a bunch, so I’ll be sure to throw a couple in there.

  • Reply Lexy August 9, 2016 at 11:31 am

    Buy some pepper spray too! Something you can keep on you… all the best to you! I think it is so great you are doing this.

    • Reply Cait Flanders August 9, 2016 at 8:20 pm

      Yes, I’m going to grab that when I cross the border and get into the U.S.! Thanks, Lexy :)

  • Reply Betsy August 9, 2016 at 12:42 pm

    My 1 thing I had to buy on the last road trip was a toothbrush!! Of all the stuff I was SURE I would never forget, it was the 1 thing I forgot 😂

    • Reply Cait Flanders August 9, 2016 at 8:21 pm

      Haha, oh no! Well at least that’s something you can pick up at all kinds of places. Too funny, Betsy.

  • Reply Amanda August 9, 2016 at 4:06 pm

    Don’t forget the music! Make sure all of your favorite albums are ready to go!

    • Reply Cait Flanders August 9, 2016 at 8:21 pm

      All set! And lots of podcasts!

  • Reply Linda Sand August 9, 2016 at 4:55 pm

    I bought a couple long-sleeved lightweight shirts to wear when driving to protect my left arm from sunburn as I am allergic to many sunscreens. In relation to that my first aid kit includes white vinegar which will stop the burning process and Noxema which will cool and moisturize the burned skin.

    I also turned on Find My Phone on my iPhone so my husband could track my locations. I also have a contact listed as ICE which, in the US at least, stands for In Case of Emergency–in case I can’t tell emergency responders who to call.

    I have alcohol wipes for cleaning my eating utensils.

    You will have a great trip, I am sure, and I so look forward to reading about it as you go.

    • Reply Cait Flanders August 9, 2016 at 8:26 pm

      Wow, that’s a good thought, Linda! I’m fairly pale and my arms do tan a little bit, but I would love to avoid a left arm burn, haha. And I’ve set it up so my sister + best friend can find me through that app!

    • Reply HK August 10, 2016 at 5:07 am

      Great idea with ICE – but I found with most people locking their phones, you can’t access contacts. What I did was put the emergency number on my lockscreen, so when the phone boots up, even if they can’t get into my phone, they can see the number!

  • Reply Samantha August 10, 2016 at 12:27 pm

    Totally unrelated to this trip, but it sounds like you weren’t planning to buy travel medical insurance for your road trip across Canada. Just be aware that provincial health plans only provide limited coverage outside of the province – there is no universal coverage between provinces. Something worth looking into for any of your future Canadian trips! Government health plans advise that you purchase additional travel coverage anytime you leave the province – even if you only leave for a day.

  • Reply Janessa August 11, 2016 at 9:51 pm

    Plug in cooler! Healthy snacks and meals and less money too! The adapter can convert to a household plug if you are staying in hotels or with friends so you have a fridge in between car rides. And second the water comment. Gallons!

  • Reply Finance Solver August 13, 2016 at 2:44 pm

    Not everyone thinks of insurance when they are out on a trip, especially one that is international, thanks for the tip! I think the BCAA membership is like the AAA membership but I’m going to cancel my AAA membership soon because apparently my insurance gives me the exact same coverage that AAA is covering so I don’t want to be double insured. I should have done my research before but hey, live and you learn right?

  • Reply JH August 15, 2016 at 8:20 am

    Sharing a tip we got from the study abroad department at my daughter’s university….besides storing documents in the cloud, leave a paper or email copy of your driver’s license and passport as well as a power of attorney document with a friend or family member. In case you were, God forbid, in an accident and couldn’t personally access the documents in the cloud, someone else would readily be able to get to them (or, alternatively, make sure somebody else has the password to get to those docs). Sounds like such a downer, but, as you said, best to be prepared and not worry about it. Have a great trip!!! Can’t wait to read all about it!

  • Reply ZJ Thorne August 23, 2016 at 6:42 am

    An atlas! So important for small, local roads. Especially in places with bad internet connection.

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