Travel with Awe and Wonder: A Change of Life Predeparture Checklist

by Christy Anselmi /
Christy Anselmi's picture
Aug 10, 2022 / 0 comments

This summer, my husband and I undertook a move. Our relocation from Massachusetts to Arizona has been undertaken by others, no doubt. We decided to make things a little more interesting than a direct route. We headed north. Our circuitous route is winding us through Newfoundland, Portugal, and North Carolina. When one would think to take the southerly route from the Carolina’s to Arizona in the winter months, we will make Bugs Bunny’s famous right turn at Albuquerque to get to Bozeman, Montana. Then, we’ll drive to Arizona. Our 100 pound Golden Doodle, Kipper, was not consulted in the making of these plans, but we plied him with treats for the first three years of his life to the point he considers us his pack and blindly follows our direction. Our two sons weren’t consulted either. But, given that they abandoned us in their selfish quest to get a college education, we felt at liberty to leave a note on the front door explaining why other people now live in their house.

Travel with Awe and Wonder: A Change of Life Predeparture Checklist

People who don't move houses frequently know things that people who move houses frequently do not. They include:

1) Moving takes thought and time and energy. 
Hey, I know! Let's use all that thought and time and energy to just stay here and spend time at the beach! 

2) Moving is expensive. 
Hey! It just occurred to me that we don't actually need to go into debt! We could stay in our current house and spend money on a beach vacation. 

3) Moving is stressful. 
A beach vacation is not stressful!

Given that we have established that moving all on its own is difficult, it makes perfect sense that my husband John and I wouldn't want to do a normal, inherently difficult move. What's the fun in that?! We want to do a logistically improbable adventure…while moving! 

And thus, our plan was born. We'll add in a six month detour to 3 states (North Carolina, Tennessee, and Montana) and 2 countries (Canada and Portugal) for extended stays before moving to our new home 2,500 miles away from our current one. 


Let's do it in a Jeep! 

Top down. From Travel with Awe and Wonder: A Change of Life Predeparture Checklist
Top down

With a 100 pound dog named Kipper! 

Top down. From Travel with Awe and Wonder: A Change of Life Predeparture Checklist
I guess we're taking the dog

Can we make sure we will be in places where we need clothes for all four seasons? Count us in!

There is a lot to think about before you move. Things like:
1) Does the dog go in the donate, recycle, or keep pile?
2) How many rooms in a house need to be painted white or gray to sell it?
3) Are there, in fact, enough rolls of bubble wrap in the world to pack up all this junk?
4) Is our marriage strong enough to survive the millions of decisions this move will require?

1) Fine! We'll keep him. 
2) 14. 
3) No, but after you've gone through your 94th roll of 150 foot long bubble wrap you'll be so tired of packing that everything else will just get thrown in one last box with no thought to the crashing glass sound you are making. 
4) We'll find out!

Once the decision has been made to move, then the fun begins. Have you ever thought, "Going on that enormous roller coaster looks like fun,” then halfway through the ride you think, "This was a bad idea. I don't feel so good." 

Such is the nature of the move John and I concocted...equal parts excitement and dread. 

We have kept detailed notes since the beginning of this process. Let me lay out the stats…

On average, there are 196,372 decisions to be made after you decide to move (80% of which occur to you unexpectedly and instantly at 3:00am four times per week). 

Your house will lose 16.5 tons of weight after you take the unnecessary things you have been storing to the dump and donation center. 

You will lose the end of the clear packing tape 10 times per hour of packing boxes for a total of 800 times in an average move. 

Trips to the store for more boxes, packing tape, packing peanuts, and bubble wrap will total 4 per week over an extended month-long packing venture and a total of 27 times if you decide to go for the blitz one week pack job (not recommended). 

To keep cussing to a minimum, the average person needs to stop every 15 minutes of packing a storage container to meditate for 23 seconds. (Worth it, but it adds 19 hours to the time it takes you to pack the storage container.)

23 seconds of meditation. From Travel with Awe and Wonder: A Change of Life Predeparture Checklist
23 seconds of meditation

And what about their children, you might be asking. We provided homes for our 2 sons throughout their childhood. Now in their early twenties, we have effectively made them homeless. They will have to tell friends that their parents live out of a car. They have been super supportive of the crazy plan their parents concocted enroute to a new house in Arizona. "You HAVE to do this," they both said. Fortunately for us, we have raised them to expect such upheavals. 

Thanks to conditioning, they lived the past 13 years in Pepperell, Massachusetts expecting daily that their parents would drop some sort of crazy moving scheme on them. So as not to disappoint their expectations, we eventually complied. Such the good parents that we are.


Once all that was done, we were ready to go. Kipper refusing to get into the back of the Jeep wouldn't stop this dynamic duo from our 800 mile car ride to the 14-hour ferry to Newfoundland! 

With John lifting the licky end of Kipper and me lifting the waggy end, we got everyone loaded and headed out of town. With Kipper's head out the window and The Indigo Girls Get Out The Map bursting through the radio, we cruised out of Pepperell on 111 or 113. (In our 13 years living in Pepperell, I never figured out which was which.)

Christy, John, and both of Kipper's ends. From Travel with Awe and Wonder: A Change of Life Predeparture Checklist
Christy, John, and both of Kipper's ends


Please click the photo below for a collection of my Travel with Awe and Wonder columns:

Travel with Awe and Wonder: A Compendium

Christy Anselmi, the Travel with Awe and Wonder Editor for Wandering Educators, taught kindergarten and first grade for 13 years in public schools in Atlanta and Massachusetts. She took a two year diversion to teach and learn in a Montessori school in Bozeman, Montana and a 10 year sabbatical to raise her own children. Christy has an abiding interest in early childhood education and how to provide developmentally appropriate experiences to engage young people in connection and communication. Raised by parents who got Christy involved in travel at a young age, she developed a curiosity about what is around each corner. Married to a Wyoming man who developed his own wanderlust after years in the Army, the two (along with two sons) have lived in five states (Georgia, Montana, Utah, Kansas, Massachusetts, and soon to be Arizona) and one country (Germany). Christy is a life-long noticer of intriguing scenarios, phrases, and ironies in everyday life. Finally putting pen to paper, she has a growing passion for insightful travel-experience writing.