This is the beginning of my travel log for a dream family vacation to some of our nation’s national parks. As I write, I’m sitting at the gate, awaiting a flight from BWI to Phoenix, Arizona. With me are my husband, three sons, and my little cousin, Noah.
The kids just finished their annual summer camp at Camp Tall timbers and Noah will meet his mother in Phoenix. Once we complete the cousin-hand-off, the Leibow family’s first bucket-list trip will officially be underway.
The idea for this trip grew out of a family movie-watching experience. We saw the movie The Bucket List, starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson. In the film, the two main characters, being treated for terminal illnesses, decided to carry out every adventure on their bucket list before it’s too late.
Luckily, my entire family is happy and healthy. But we do have limited time. My oldest is entering high school in the fall. We decided that since we only have five more years with us all living under one roof that we would each make our own bucket list of the places we would like to travel together. Then we compared our lists and came up with our family bucket list.
This first bucket list trip is a trip to the Grand Canyon and more. Here’s the plan: Fly to Phoenix, spend one night in Scottsdale. Drive from Scottsdale to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, stopping a Montezuma’s Castle along the way. After a night and a full day at the Grand Canyon, we’ll head to Lake Powell for two nights. Then it’s Bryce, Zion, and then off to Vegas.
I insisted that seeing the natural wonders of the world will exceed any Disney “Fake” place.
My oldest responded, “Mom, we’ll love the real stuff but I really like the face places. I’m psyched for Vegas!”
The logistics for planning for this trip for a family of five might just be the most complicated trip I have ever planned. We pieced it together on our own instead of joining an organized tour. What I ended up doing, though, was to borrow an itinerary from a tour company and mimic their route and how many nights they stayed in each place. I figured they had done this a million times and know how long to spend in each place and where were the good stopping points along the way.
Since we plan to haul our own gear from place to place and stay in a different location practically every night, packing bags worried me, too. But I came up with a great system. I bought enough of the jumbo-sized Ziploc bags for each person to have one per lodging location. I packed what each of us needed for that night in the bag, and tossed them into a suitcase for that particular place. That way, we have one suitcase per location instead of one suitcase per person. I ended up packing one additional bag with toiletries, extra t-shirts, a raincoat, etc. that we might need anywhere. That means that we only have to carry two bags. This will save us a lot of lugging in and out, as we’ll avoid dragging five bags in and out of each hotel or lodge.