Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Overview of Our 2015 US Roadtrip

Overview of Our 2015 US Roadtrip

First, the stats...

Dates:  March 20 to November 12  
Days Total: 198 ...reflects "pause" for return to Mexico to become Permanent Residents
Miles Total: 17,000+
# of States/Provinces: 4 Mexican States, 36 US States and 2 Canadian Provinces

Home Exchanges:  5
Rental Units:   6
Hotels (Rooms, Suites, B&B's): 30
Stays with Friends & Family: 11

Google Maps was our friend!

First we used "My Maps" to flag potential stops on one layer and what to do at the stops on another layer.  Bill used this to layout the trip taking into account the mileage involved and typical weather patterns. He realized that by going clockwise around the country we would likely have the best shot at good weather (not too hot, not too cold and not too rainy).  This worked out extremely well until we October when we had to delay out visit to Charleston SC due to flooding resulting from heavy rains and extremely high tides.

This is a snapshot of the map with all of our overnight stops.

We were also very pleased with how well Google does in and around major cities. Pat, as the mapper on the team, was especially pleased as there was no need to deal with tons of physical maps, plot the various routes with no real idea of traffic patterns, or having to struggle with figuring out how to adapt after missing a turn.  (Yes, we know GPS systems have been around for some years now, but we were impressed at how essential they have become and how easy they can be to use.)

Our only real challenge is that between cities we lost cell service more than we would like.  Pat dealt with this by setting up both of our iPhones with the full route in advance of the day's drive. Then if we managed to lose the routing on one while we were without service, she would switch to the other.


How did we plan the trip?
We knew that we wanted to be in Maine for our 50th reunion on August 1.  We had also roughed out the time to spend at each stop along the way. To do this we used a spreadsheet and each of us estimating the amount of time needed. Bill then adjusted this until the timing worked.  With this in hand we started researching overnight options using HomeExchange.com, HomeAway.com, VRBO.com and TripAdvisor.com.  For our travel in May through mid-September, we made sure to have all overnight stops booked in advance. We made a couple minor adjustments along the way, but basically all worked remarkably well.

What did we take?  
We left San Miguel with two 25 inch suitcases, one for each of us. We also carried a couple empty duffle bags knowing that after spending 6+ months touring (and shopping along the way) that we would need the duffles for our return flight to Mexico. We also had a couple boxes with gifts for our hosts and supplies (food, backup toiletries, insulated picnic bag, wine paraphernalia, an aeropress coffee maker etc).

We each picked out several sets of clothes for three types of weather: the cold of March, the warmer shoulder seasons (real spring and fall) and the hot, humid summer of the East Coast. We knew we would be buying pieces along the way so we didn't worry about getting tired of our limited wardrobe or not having something we might really want.  And for those wondering how we managed the laundry, we carried underwear for 10 days. Typically that got us to a home or rental with laundry facilities, although we had to seek out laundries twice along the way.

What did we buy?
We started by buying a small ice chest that fit perfectly behind the front seats of the car. WE also bought a couple plastic bins to hold things in the car and some plastic plates. Well we bought snacks for evenings (veggies & dip, chips, crackers & cheese, deli food), breakfast foods and the occasional materials for a full meal made "at home". And of course we bought wine, maintaining a traveling wine cellar in our car...because one never knows if there will be good wine available at every stop.

We also bought clothes (these are our souvenirs of travel), interesting items that happened to appeal to us and gifts for others.

What did we use for Cell Service?
We use a T-Mobile PrePaid service. We have been on this for years because we can easily put the service on hold while we are outside the US, it provides unlimited data, and generally works where we need it.  But as mentioned above, in some places, such as between cities in the West, coverage was sparse.

We also discovered that they have a US, Canada & Mexico plan. We shifted one phone to that for our visit to Canada.

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