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There are many challenges we have faced with living in a smaller space and traveling each week. So far the hardest aspect would have to be moving day. Oh moving day… how we have such a love hate relationship. It’s the day we pack everything up and make sure it’s secure before heading to our next destination. And while the idea of moving to a new location is exciting, it’s the breakdown, driving, and setting up that can get a bit stressful. We decided to challenge ourselves with three destinations in ten days. Seriously. Nothing like learning the ropes after only being on the road for two weeks, right? For newbies we aren’t doing too badly, and the following lessons are what we feel are the most important.
Lesson #1: Prep
The night before we head out, we try to pack up as much outside as possible: the grill, the outdoor kitchen, bikes, anything that won’t be needed the next morning. It never fails that somehow we stay up too late the night before, which is why we try to have something done before we head to bed. After numerous stops along the way, the girls are now in charge of making sandwiches and packing snacks for the ride, because everyone is hangry after being in the car for twenty minutes. We never touch the inside of the camper until the morning, because between the kids getting ready, dirt being tracked in and out, and needing stuff, it’s better to only have to do things once. Before our first official moving day, we made sure to have everything packed up and ready… that is except for gassing up the truck.
Lesson #2: Get gas!
With almost every past camping trip, the one struggle that will get Joseph and I bickering more than anything else, is having to find a gas station. It never fails that we forget to gas up before hitting the road. Fun memories include getting stuck in more than one gas station, pulling off on an exit to a dinky station, or not being able to find diesel. Yet after a year, we have still not learned our lesson. As we headed to Charlotte from High Point, it was no different. We didn’t even make it onto the highway when we realized we had messed up yet again. I am happy to announce that we have remembered to get gas before moving day since the High Point to Charlotte drive. Winning!
Lesson #3: Chill after setup.
As we were headed to Charlotte, we discussed dinner options for the week, made a grocery list, and did an online Harris Teeter order to pick up later that day. Unfortunately, we did a lot more running that day than we had expected to. We didn’t arrive back home until close to 8pm, hungry, tired, and all a bit frustrated, but as a family we rallied together and made dinner. We all slept amazingly well that night, and in the morning with clear minds, we decided that on moving day, we will not be doing anything else on moving day. We will plan something easy for dinner, whether we have to pick up groceries after setting up, having leftovers, or ordering in, but no other errands!
Lesson #4: Get advice from the “Pros.”
We are members of a Facebook group, Full-Time Families, where we can get advice, attend meetups, and get inspired. I recently asked them for their tips and tricks on how to make moving day easier. They suggested using paper products on moving day- less dishes, less work. Genius! They also suggested packing a lunch, snacks, and waters so that we wouldn’t have to stop a million times. Again, so freaking smart, which is why the girls are in charge of this! Another idea, which if anyone knows me, they know how much I believe in everyone having a job. Kids need to pull their own weight, and as someone on the thread said, “even two years olds can clean.” Joseph typically handles everything outside on the morning of, and the girls and I clean up and put away everything on the inside. Their last tip was that it takes time to get your own groves which is the most important thing to keep in mind. No one started moving day with perfection, it took time and trial and error.
As we prepared to leave Charlotte for White Lake, the anxiety kicked in strong before we were even done with our second cup of coffee. We did a lot of things right, like packing lunches, have certain tasks done, and getting gas, but we felt panicked towards the end when the check out deadline was rapidly approaching. Since we hadn’t been doing this for very long, we didn’t have a set plan. Mostly I would ask Joseph what I could do to help, and on this particular occasion, he asked me to put the stairs up. Well when I did, I may or may not have let a very long, squirmy lizard in. Seriously.
Lesson #5: Make a list.
White Lake was a quick 3 day trip, mostly a layover before heading to Shallotte, near Ocean Isle. This may have been the hardest moving day, thus far. We moved on a Tuesday, after Joseph was finished with his morning meetings. As we scrambled to get out as quick as possible, I became angry for having to redo things, and he was stressed that I wasn’t being a team player. It was bad. Everyone survived, thankfully, and we learned a valuable lesson. Within the first few minutes of being in the truck, my laptop was out, and we made a list of what has to be done, indoors and outdoors, and what order things have to be done in. A friend once told me, “Eat the elephant one bite at a time.” True story, which is why I am a habitual list maker. Our checklist has been used twice since making it, and it has served us well.
From Shallotte, we dropped off our rig in storage and drove to Topsail for a week long vacation with family. You know how when you are packing for a vacation? Well, imagine having to empty your refrigerator and pantry and pack all of your other crap. It was an eye opener at just how much “stuff” we were still lugging around and didn’t need. Even though that week and a half was busy, it was one of the best. We finally had one on one family time, spent time in Joseph’s childhood vacation spot, I got some much needed time away with friends, and then spent a week with our family. Now we head north!
I’m sure there will be many more lessons to be learned throughout our journey, and it will take time to enforce them and get a system. The most important lesson I leave you with, is to take your time. It’s usually when we feel rushed, that everything falls apart, things are forgotten, and then you have a bigger mess on your hands. Plus, practice makes perfect.