I have been in Texas for a few months now and while I have explored the city, this is going to be my first long road trip (6 hours to be precise).
But before I get too excited to explore New Orleans, here comes the big and tedious task of planning and packing. Now, I pack and plan differently for every trip and while I travel as light as possible without being a hoarder, BUT I do like to be prepared for any possibility.
This time, I am travelling in a big group and packing light (backpack and a small luggage) and task dividing is going to be the priority. As a force of habit I often write down my tasks and list before execution but you can skip the writing steps if that works for you:
2 Days before the trip:
- Set your expenses and finances straight.
Dividing the amount needed for renting a place (hotel/home stays or otherwise), travelling (car/rental/train/flight) and food will give you an average cap. Then all other amounts like commuting within the city, exploring the local market and tourist attraction tickets or passes will give you a closer look at your expenditure.
You can only start planning once you know your budget.
- List the clothes
I want to take everything and so doing this prior instead of last minute gets me more sorted. List the no of clothing pieces, including footwear, vanity pack, jewelry and other essential you wouldn’t need on the journey. Don’t forget the beachwear.
- List the food items.
Dry snacks, cooked items, baked items and ready-to-eat items; anything else is a no and wouldn’t probably survive the journey. Listing prior give you time to buy them.
- Booking a stay online.
I prefer home stays (so, I go by Airbnb) specially in a large group but you can look up hotels and hostels.
- Booking tickets/rentals
In my case, it is a rental car. So, check it for luggage space well in advance. Because if you are travel with a large group like mine, having 4 families with 3 bags each in a cramped space is that last thing you’s want to experience. Not fun!
1 Day before the trip:
- Pack your clothes.
Packing a day before allows you make changes to the choices while leaving room for shopping 😉 if any. So that you’d have the day for ironing, dry cleaning and other.
- Checking New Orleans weather over the weekend.
I would advice you to carry an umbrella even if the need not be for riverside and ocean side cities often see clouds at unexpected times.
- Checking activities and events over the weekend, in the city.
This year is the tricentennial celebration in the city so, I am going to try and cover as many happening places as possible but the truth be told, going to 2-4 places a day is the maximum that happens in a large group vacation.
- Backpack packing throughout the day.
I personally keep throwing in random items throughout the day, like speaker, a deck of cards for the long trip, sunglasses, a book, camera, wallet among other items.
- Plan your itinerary.
List of places you’d want to explore, their location in the city, the hours you’d spend there and breakfast-lunch-dinner arrangements. Since I am travelling with a large group this time, many of our breakfasts and dinners will be ready to eat/home cooked/light on the stomach items.
This part gets executed and planned in one room with everyone huddled together. It makes for a fun group activity before vacation.
- Pack food items late at night if you are travelling early morning.
You would want them to be as fresh as possible for long car journeys aren’t the best places to preserve food. I usually do this in a backpack or shopping handbag but a small luggage bag can also be use.
On the Day of the trip:
Personally, I only focus on packing food items and food shopping on the day of the trip in order to have fresh food with me. But I would only do this if I had ample time before leaving.
- Batteries Fully Charged
Make sure to recharge your phone and camera batteries
- Last minute essentials.
Toothbrush/ washroom kit, phone charger, camera battery(of course). You get the idea.
Well, I know that sounds like a whole lot of work but most of it takes an hour at max!
And, now that everything is in place, there are other ‘small’ details to look over.
- Clip in your clothes if you don’t want to have them ruined (I mean crumpled) over the journey.
- Carry a large water bottle.
- The food bag remains in the front.
- Ladies, carry a small wallet (even better if it comes with a thin strap) or a small cross body bag. When it comes to sightseeing, drop the purse and pick the small one one-the-go.
- No heels until you are planning to checkout the city’s nightclub. Personally, I don’t even pack ’em on small trips.
- Planning essential: Download an offline Google map of the state you are going to be in.
- Also, as a personal experience: pack candy or chocolate bars for there are times of low energy and there may not be the best/pocket friendly food joint near by. This will get you through for about an hour.
If you have any tips and suggestion for me, let me know. Sightseeing Recommendations are welcome (for some reason, I really enjoy calling it Orleans or NOLA better than New Orleans).
For now! Nola, here I come…
P.S – The bag of food is heavier than than the bag of clothes, mostly!