I haven’t been writing that much because, well, I’m on vacation. 

Since Doris is doing such an awesome job documenting our days with amazing photos and commentary, I am left with focusing on our old beaten transport and its cargo – this would probably not interest anyone so documenting it mainly for posterity.   

Our plan was to stay at a hotel every night (we did) but still carry everything we need to drink, cook and in case of emergency sleep in the car. Thank god we did not have a case of emergency as we could only fit one person semi-comfortably and I would either need to sleep in a tent or use a very pink cushion as I lay across the front seats of the Toyota.

For cooking, we have brought the full comfort of home. A Vitamix for making shakes, a pressure cooker for making all kind of amazing dishes and a reasonably sized fridge and a separate freezer. All being powered comfortably by a 1000W battery. The battery stays charged as long as we drive but will drain at night so we have two batteries so that we can charge one at night in our hotel room and replace it in the morning with the empty battery that powered the fridge and freezer during the night. Overall this works great.

So, what did we take with us for the long trip on the road?

·        One small suite case each for day-to-day clothes. Surprisingly, with laundry every 5 days, this works well

·        Computer bags – of course – no need to explain

·        Standard travel go-bags that has everything from utensils to vitamins that we just take with us when we travel

·        Box filled with water in glass bottles + filter – we filter all the water we drink

·        Cooler to move food in and out of the hotel

·        Kennel and stuff for Nina

·        Cooking: pots + Vitamix + pressure cooker

·        Dry food: Lots of organic dry food – Quinoa, beans, lentils...

·        Vegetable box

·        Sleeping bags and a tent

·        Large suitcases with extra clothes, shoes… (most are in a cargo box on top of the car)

·        And last but not least, our blankets and pillows which we have been using a lot as hotels only provide one reasonable blanket – even for kind size beds

How does it all fit into the car you ask? And what do we take with us into the hotel room you ask? (or you don’t)

First rule is not to carry anything very heavy out of the car so everything in boxes or a suitcase that we take out needs to be light enough for me to lift up comfortably without straining my back – otherwise the trip will be very short.

First layer in the car is the heavy stuff that never gets lifted out.

On the left side, a small space to fit my suitcase standing up to make sure nothing moves or falls during the drive. Then first row there’s the water box with water bottles that we keep using and re-filling with our filter. Then there are two rows of boxes with the dry foods that we take out and re-stock as needed. The fridge is next right by the side door so that it is easy to reach and behind it is the freezer still easy to reach with some room between them for air circulation.

On the right side, there is a space for Doris’ suitcase standing up and then a full bed (well an outside lounging chair) that stretches up to the passenger seat. Below the bed we have Doris’ extra suitcase, Nina’s stuff, vegetable box, the batteries and some more room for quick access things such as snacks, shake ingredients and others that we want to have access to without moving things or quick access to just shove stuff into the car.

Second level on the left are the boxes with cooking hardware. Two boxes to make sure that they are not too heavy and can be carried in.

Second level on the right are all our computer bags, go-bags sleeping bag and a big pink pillow that you can lean on (or as Nina does – stand on).

On top of all of these we have our blankets and pillows in bags that allow us to move them so that we can make sure I can see through the rear window when driving.

Finally, we have Nina’s control center which is her kennel strapped to a U shape table that stands above the freezer and is located just behind between the driver’s seat and passenger seat. Provides full visibility of the road and immediate jump access into the driver and passenger laps. (After she flew over a couple of times in a sudden stop, we added a net to prevent further flying incidents).

When reaching our hotel at night, our vision was that we just take two/three bags and leave everything else in the car. But we soon discovered that we prefer to do a lot of the things we planned to do outdoor such as cooking and making shakes in our hotel room so our two to three bags turned into a full cart load that includes the battery to be charged, cooler and blanket (so that we can have two) and as needed trips to the car to get things from the dry food, freezer or refrigerator. Although the amount of stuff looks intimidating, it takes no more than 10 minutes to get everything loaded pushed to the room and unloaded as all the things are easy to carry and stackable.

We always requested to be on the first floor where hotels usually have easy access to the parking lot so that I can run out to get things that we need.

We stayed at a bunch of hotels during this trip and one chain stood out big time – Residence Inn by Marriott is our #1 favorite as they have a great layout with a full kitchen, very friendly staff and easy access to the rooms. Price is competitive even with the crummier chains and the predictability of what you get is way better than any Airbnb or VRBO.