Last Minute Details
Traveling away from home for 8 weeks is no easy task. While it may sound utterly appealing on the surface, it requires a lot of work to prepare for such an ultimately exciting adventure in order to guarantee that all will go well at your destination as well as on the homefront.
Destination – France: After many, many hours of research last summer, all lodging was booked by September. There were several advantages to doing this so early. We have very specific requirements for the appropriate accommodations and a budget of no more than $100 a night. Since we always pay weekly rates for gîtes, apartments, and vacation homes, staying within that budget is fairly easy to achieve. Fortunately, these days most places are non-smoking, but we also prefer “no pets” plus we need wifi, an ample kitchen, and parking. Unless you are out in the country, parking is not easy to come by. All those factors eliminate a lot of choices. The prime accommodations usually fill up way in advance because they get a lot of repeat customers who book a year ahead. Booking so early afforded us more options to consider and saved us money as we were allowed to pay last summer’s prices in most cases. By February, we had arranged for our car and purchased our plane tickets. In April, we booked a shuttle to SFO and paid the balances on our lodging. So on Friday, we are taking off free and clear with the peace of mind that everything is taken care of and paid for which, in our opinion, is the only way to travel.
On the Homefront… With a year to make and refine lists including everything that goes in our suitcases and carry-ons, there is little chance we will forget something important. I oversee that portion of our travel preparations. Now is when Norman steps in and does his magic. As wonderful as any adventure may be, we love to come home to a house that is ready to live in once again. That involves a lot of cleaning, securing, and finding coverage for everyday tasks that can’t be put on hold. I am happy to say that I get to trade all that planning and packing for the cleaning and securing which is great because by this time of the school year I am quite exhausted. At work, I found a student willing to be a plant sitter for the pothos plants in my classroom and a gracious colleague willing to pick up the mail once a week. The rest is up to Norman. His duties include “torturing” the Japanese Maple so it will grow into the right shape during the summer, planting a tomato plant that will bear fruit in August, and fertilizing all the plants on our patio. Someone has to check in on all those plants from time to time and make sure the watering system is working and Norman has made sure that is covered too. There are some odd jobs you might not think about — changing out all the old sink and toilet water lines so there’s no chance they will break while we are gone resulting in flooding, anchoring large ceramic vases and the TV in case we have one of those California shakers, and pulling out the stove to clean behind it and reset the gas line so that instead of sticking out two inches, the stove will set back in closer to the wall. What?! Why that last task — just something Norman has had on his to-do list for years. The usual things that need attending before any trip will happen just before we go — storing valuables, setting up lights on a timer, and locking down all doors and windows. You may think all these preparations are crazy, but we so appreciate the absence of chaos while we are gone and when we return.
On the countdown… 5 days and counting – What could be left to do? Get haircuts, color my hair, do my nails, renew my license at the DMV (in person required this year), postpone jury duty (scheduled during our vacation), visit dentist for cleaning, change the sheets, clean out the fridge, and call bank and credit card companies to inform them of our travel plans (otherwise, your first charge at that magnificent three-star Michelin restaurant might be denied). Oh, and teach a couple more days. Whew!! I think we are ready.
P.S. Best list app ever — Dropkick which syncs on all devices. Love those checkboxes!!