Monday, October 7, 2013

11 Days in New England

Vacations are something that are near and dear to my heart. I try to do a small trip and a big trip each year. Small trips have included long weekends in Nashville, New York and - this year - Washington D.C. Big trips used to be tied to work travel and took me to Istanbul, Poland and Greece among others. Bob and I have picked up the slack from my lack of international work trips as of late and have headed to Egypt, Italy and Belize over the last couple years. This fall, I took a hint from the fact that I had been to nearly as many countries as states of America and we decided to focus on a domestic trip.

And what a domestic trip it was. Seeing the leaves of New England in the fall has been on my list for quite some time, so we planned out a road trip itinerary that took us through Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and Boston over an 11 day stretch in late September.
I'll be writing about the food, the Bed & Breakfasts and the culture over a few posts so stay tuned for the full details.

First up though, a few quick hit tips that helped make our road trip a success. Seriously, not one fight the entire time considering Bob and I spent 11 days straight in each other's sight (okay, one little fight, but more like a two-minute disagreement).

Itinerary Planning
Don't pack too much in. I stopped myself from adding one more sight to see, let alone one more state to see, on this trip. I knew that driving time would inevitably be longer than I anticipated and did not want to spend half the trip stressed out we weren't going to make it to the next activity on time. Of course, we had to pack in a 1:30pm re-enactment in front of the State House in Boston!
Embrace the location, but do what you love. We ate a lot of lobster. We went to a plethora of museums. We hiked our little hearts out. But we also spent our nights watching the last season of The Wire on our iPad and found the time to go see 2 movies. Now that made it a pretty perfect trip. Oh, and Bob convinced me to stop at one of the many mini-golf courses we passed along the way. I got a hole in one on Number 2, but Bob came out ahead overall.
Lengthen the Stay. We tried to stay at each location at least 2 nights (with 2 exceptions) so that it didn't feel as though we were constantly packing back up and leaving. This meant finding some centrally located spots. For instance, instead of staying a night in Concord, New Hampshire and another night further north, I found a Bed&Breakfast in Meredith, NH which meant we could stop at Concord on our way up and then drive north the next day to the national parks.
In the Car
We packed our collapsible cooler in one of the suitcases and made our first stop on the trip the Trader Joe's by the airport. I had a gift card so we piled up on car snacks and lunch fixin's to avoid stopping too often. We grabbed sliced apples, a bucket of animal crackers, bread/deli meat/cheese for sandwiches and a bunch of bottled water. Frozen vegetables acted as ice packs and our bed&breakfasts featured mini-fridges which helped us keep everything lasting almost the whole trip.
Our best purchase? A box of pita crackers and a cheese tray variety pack that provided mucho sustenance and lasted a long time (there were 40 slices of cheese and each were cut in half. That means 40 mini sandwiches each!)
I don't like to drive, so resigned myself to be the best 'lil navigator I could be. I was on cooler duty, making sandwiches and snacks as needed. Although, one incident resulted in ham water spilling all down my leg as I lost a grip on the packaging. Not cool. I opened Bob's drinks and manned the iPhone's GPS. Ahh, iPhone GPS, what would we have done without you? Probably still be lost on the Kancamagus Highway in New Hampshire, that's where.
Packing
I would have loved to say we only carried on and didn't get charged $25 each way for a checked bag, but I knew we'd be struggling to fit everything in and that we'd probably end up with some liquids on the way home. On the flight to Boston, I had my carry-on roller suitcase packed full and my usual backpack I bring on trips. Bob had one small bag and we checked our larger suitcase. As mentioned above, the collapsible cooler took up some space in that large suitcase.
I packed a small duffel bag that folds up into a zippered pouch into my suitcase and we unfurled it for the return trip. Almost all of my clothes fit into this smaller bag, which Bob then carried on. 
Bob's clothes moved into my carry-on suitcase, and the large bag was packed carefully with all of our trip purchases. Some fragile (like our new Nutcracker we fell in love with at a Christmas shop), some liquid (like the lotions I found in an outlet shop, perfect for grab bag gifts) and some fragile liquids (like a bottle of Gin made with honey Bob picked up at a Vermont Farmer's Market.).

Until next write up - I'll leave you with one more shot of the views. Can we go back?

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