Prepping for the Holidays

red and brown fruits wreath
Photo by Luna Lovegood on

Since 2010 we head down to Florida every December to spend the holidays with family, and to have a vacation away from home. Since 2012, we’ve driven so that we avoid the stress of airports, canceled flights, luggage limits. It saves money because we don’t have to buy airline tickets for the five of us, and we don’t have to rent a car, since we bring our car with us. We spent most of the time away staying with family. We are generally away for 2-3 weeks, and beginning in early December each year, I begin to really look forward to the day we head out. Last year, COVID prevented us from taking our usual trip for the first time in a decade. This year, however, since the we are all fully vaccinated and boosted, we are now prepping for the holidays, getting ready to resume our trip. We leave on Saturday.

There is a lot of prep work involved. In addition to completing all of the usual holiday shopping (which is now done, I am happy to say), we have had to arrange for people to take care of the house while we are gone–something we do when we will be gone for more than a week or so. Thanks to friends and neighbors, we finally have that piece out of the way. Then there is the usual checklist of things we go through for any trip. Planning what to bring, how we will load up the car, how we will keep the kids entertained for the 16 hours of actual driving time spread over two days.

To top it all off, I want to be able to relax and not stress about anything on this trip. While I love writing here on the blog, there are days when I just won’t have time to write because I’ll be doing things with the family. I don’t want to neglect the blog and I don’t want to stress about writing. To that end, I have been pre-writing posts for the blog to ensure I have at least one post per day scheduled for every day we are gone. That way, if I don’t get to write, I don’t have to stress: I know there will be a post each day.

This isn’t easy. First, I had to come up with ideas for three weeks worth of posts. Normally, I try to stay two to three days ahead of things here. I avoid scheduling much further than that because I know new ideas will pop up in the meantime. But I had to come up with a couple dozen post ideas that seemed both interesting, and also that would be fun to write about. I planned this all out on a 2-page spread in my Field Notes notebook. With that done, I had to actually write those posts. To manage this, I’ve been writing about 3 posts per day and scheduling them out based on a schedule that I came up with. It covers our entire time away, and a few days after we are back in case things are hectic when I return to work after being away for so long.

At this point, I’ve got post ideas for all but 6 days that we’ll be on vacation and I’ve got about a third of those written. The rest of this week will see me trying to get the rest of those posts written. And I’m not worried about those 6 unscheduled days at this point. The first “empty” day happens to be New Year’s Day so if I don’t get something scheduled before I leave, I’ve got plenty of time on vacation to get these posts written.

Planning posts in my Field Notes notebook. Blurred to maintain the surprise of the posts when they go live.

This is not to say I won’t write more posts while on vacation. It’s just that I want to make sure I’ve got things covered so I can rest and relax and enjoy my time with the family. More than likely, you’ll end up seeing several days with multiple posts simply because I enjoy writing and won’t be able to resist.

Meanwhile, there is still a lot to do:

  • I have to clear out the car. I do this before every major road trip. I vacuum out the car, clean the interior and windows, and begin setting things up for the trip: making sure all of the device cables are plugged in; making sure I’ve got the things I need while driving within reach. That usually takes a while, and I do it the day before we leave so that the car isn’t a mess when we leave.
  • Packing. Fortunately, since it is cold here and warm in Florida, I can pack most of my stuff now–shorts and t-shirts. Kelly handles the other packing.
  • Wrapping up things that are going on at work. I keep a web page with links to common questions I get and the answers and this goes in my email signature and in my out of office message. This probably prevents quite a few calls to me while I am away.
  • Looking at all of the stuff we plan on bringing with us and figuring out the best way to get it loaded into the car. For the holidays, Kelly and I gave ourselves an early present: new luggage. We are testing it out on this trip to see how well it works. It is modern luggage and an order of magnitude better than the battered ancient suitcases we have so it should make loading the car easier.
  • Making sure that the folks taking care of the house have everything they need, stocking the pantry and fridge, cleaning sheets, and generally trying to make the house look less cluttered than it is.
  • Figuring out what books I’ll listen to on the drive. I think I’ve already got this covered.
  • Posting my semi-annual “I’m on vacation!” photo, which you can expect to see sometime Friday evening.

We are all really looking forward to this trip. It will be nice to have a solid chunk of time off work, but also, it will be nice to get away for a while, and feel no pressure during the days. It will be especially nice resuming our traditions after COVID prevented us from doing it last year.

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