Before You Leave

Maybe I’m just an OCD list lover, but does anyone else make lists of things to do before they leave on a trip?  I’m not talking about a packing list… I’m talking about the list of papers to print, things to arrange, etc… I keep an open list on my phone for about a month before I leave so I can check off and add things to the to do list when they pop in my head.  Here are a some of things I write on my list to check off before I go anywhere.

  • Create a to pack list: We all have that moment during the day where we think, “oh, I need to remember to pack xyz.” Just have a list (yes a second list).
  • Create a travel folder: Print color copies of your passports, travel itinerary, any confirmations you receive, travel insurance, etc… I also make a copy to leave at my house with my mother.
  • Notify your bank: I learned this the hard way. I was once on a road trip and used my card in two different states and then did an online purchase where the transaction was processed in a different state, which led the bank to shut down my card.  Go by your bank a few days before you leave and let them know where you are going and if you need to remove any limits on transactions.
  • Safe deposit box: This may be my insurance background going into overdrive, but I’ve always kept a safe deposit box that holds important documents and when I travel I let the bank know to give access to my mother and/or husband if something were to happen to me. I keep car titles, my husband’s adoption papers, birth certificates, our will, and copies of life insurance documents.
  • Insurance: I make sure whoever is watching over my home knows who to call if something were to happen to the house and claim needed to be started. I also make sure that whoever is watching my child has a copy of my health insurance card.
  • A will: If you don’t have a will and you have a child at home, get a will before you leave on your next trip.
  • Alarm: I always call my home monitoring company and give them the number to whoever is watching or staying at my home while I’m gone so that if it gets set off, that person is immediately called. Also make sure this person knows your password and alarm code.
  • House keys: Again, we learned this the hard way. We returned home during a power outage and our garage door wouldn’t open and my mom had already left to return home… with our house key.
  • Medical: If you have a child at home, make sure you leave a notarized document granting a certain person the right to make medical decisions for your little one while you are gone.
  • Pay your bills: You don’t want to return home to your water being shut off because you forgot about it.
  • Take out your trash: You don’t want to return home to a stinky garage or kitchen.
  • Cash to tip with: We always carry an envelope with enough bills in small denominations to cover tipping.
  • Car maintenance: If you are going on a road trip, have your vehicle looked over for any issues during the oil change prior to leaving.

What are some things you make sure are done before you travel?

Road Trip Through Waco


Last month I headed to Houston for a summer visit.  My niece wanted to come back with me so we decided to take a little detour through Waco to visit the beloved Silos at Magnolia Market that serve as the background to one of our favorite shows on HGTV.

We checked in to the Hilton in Waco, which I must say, was just top notch.  The price and location was great.  We arrived a little early but they said we could go on and check in.  It is right across from the river and suspension bridge.  You cannot beat the location, which is why I can’t wait to return for a football game.

We headed out to the Silos the next morning so we could be there right when the doors opened.  Our hotel was right by the trolley pickup but it was a nice morning so we opted to walk.  We got there about 10 minutes before the doors opened and there was already a line, but don’t worry, once the doors open it moves quick.  It was a Saturday so it was a bit a crowded.  We had a hard time being able to look at stuff and considering we had a stroller for my son, that made it even tougher.  Had my husband been there, he probably would have stayed with my son out on the lawn to play games until we were done.  We made it to the merchandise area and grabbed t-shirts, hats, and coffee mugs.  There will be a line at the bakery but just do it, it’s worth the wait.  I let my niece play with my toddler out on the lawn while I got the cupcakes.  The lemon lavender was like having a unicorn do a little dance in your mouth.  On our next trip, I’ll probably try to go on a weekday so I can browse some of the home décor.

We then headed back to the hotel to unwind before we hit the road again.  We took a nice stroll on the bridge to get some great pictures.  I also wanted to read all the monuments because I’m a history nerd.  Apparently though, no trip is complete without a stop at In and Out Burger so we had to try one.  I confess, it was delicious.

So, if you get the chance and are doing a road trip through Texas, just take the time to stop off and visit Waco.  You can get a night’s rest and visit a couple things the next morning and still be on the road by lunch.  Also, if you are driving through the town of West, Texas which is just about 15 minutes or so north of Waco on I35, stop at the bakery there call Little Czech Bakery. I always stop to get cookies to bring back.

3 Nights In Branson


I’ve made quite a few trips to Branson over the last several years and it seems to be a place that always calls me back.  I love the lake, the shows, and the food.  Mostly, I go to Branson because every summer I take my niece on a trip and each time we’ve been to Branson, we’ve left saying “next time we need to do this…”  So out of all my trips I’ve compiled, what I think, is a great itinerary.

Day 1: Driving In.  So we drive in from Oklahoma City and I would suggest making two stops on the drive there.

  • Fantastic Caverns in Springfield- You will literally be in the middle of nowhere and begin to wonder is your map is leading you to the wrong spot but you’ll get there. I like this cavern because you can ride in a jeep all the way through.  My son was little so I didn’t have to worry about walking slippery surfaces with him in a stroller or holding him.  It take about an hour and a half in total by the time we got our tickets, waited for the tram, took the tour, and got our picture.
  • Lamberts- After we left Springfield to head towards Branson, we made another pit stop and had an early dinner. It’s off Hwy 65 somewhat half way between Springfield and Branson.  It may look like it’s super crowded, but trust me they move people in and out quick.  And keep your head up because they will throw rolls at you.  They also only take cash so either bring some or hit up the ATM they have.  Also, take a cinnamon roll with you for breakfast the next morning.

Day 2:

  • Silver Dollar City- Get your tickets early and they can often be combined online with other tickets to other attractions for a discount. We arrived right when the park opened on a Friday and were done with all the rides by 1 o’clock.
  • Dixie Stampede- Sit a couple rows up because the dirt from the horses will fly up. This show is great!  My toddler son even enjoyed it.  Also, the seating is divided by the North side and the South side and audience participation is key.  You will also be eating with your hands… don’t worry, it’s not like they are serving spaghetti.
  • Take in an evening Ferris Wheel ride.

Day 3:

  • Start off your day by going on an early Duck Tour- This is a great way to view Table Rock Lake and learn about the history of the town and lake. They even let my nine-month-old come up and take the wheel for pictures.  We saw people parasailing, which is new, so we put that on the list for the next trip.
  • Grab Lunch at Mel’s Hard Luck Diner- The food is great and all the wait staff sings!
  • Right across from Mel’s is the North Pole so grab a souvenir ornament while you are there.
  • Sight and Sound Theatre- go early for a behind the scenes tour. It’s amazing what gets put into these shows and how the animals are trained.  Then stick around for the show.  I’ve seen Moses and Jonah there and each time I left just in shock of how great it was.  Also, if you want to be close to the animals when they come down the aisle get in the middle section close to the aisle.

Day 4: Before we head back we like to grab breakfast and piddle around the shops on Branson Landing for a bit. Continue reading