Trust your gut instinct over spreadsheets. There are too many variables in the real world that you simply can’t put into a spreadsheet. – NJ

Mr. Jain is absolutely correct. I expect many changes and adaptations to occur during my road trip. In fact I’m looking forward to them! If the trip goes exactly as I’ve planned I imagine it’ll get a bit dull. I’m looking forward to the destinations I’ve chosen, but I sort of know what to expect from them. I’ve seen pictures of the museums, read menus of the restaurants, and checked out reviews of attractions. It’s the changes and people I meet that will really make this an adventure. That being said, I have been using a spreadsheet from the start as a skeleton for the trip.

First let me apologize to the two of you who read this blog. I’ve been too preoccupied with my latest class to attend to the blog or the trip. I just took my capstone class which was labor intensive. I had several writing projects each week, case studies, a group project, and a difficult final project. I was successful and aced it! I have one week until my vacation and then no work from Dec. 24th through Jan. 8th. I’ll certainly put in some effort during that period to write a little. I even have a mini-trip planned.

I digress. Back to my massive spreadsheet. Much like my maps, this is a living document that has gone through many, many revisions. Actually this document preceded much of my mapping and has been more useful in the planning process. At this point I think the destinations are locked in, so I need to begin putting the spreadsheet into daily agendas. I’m hoping by the end of April I’ll have started a binder with an overall agenda and map, daily agendas and maps, reservation numbers, dates the rooms need to be canceled by, etc.

There are several different tabs to my spreadsheet. I’ve kept a copy of each incarnation of the trip as it’s own page. In this post I’ll show the original and update 2 which feels like the final draft. Update 1 is basically the original with notes scrawled all over it. I won’t be showing any destinations that appear on the latest draft. As mentioned in other posts, I want to unveil the stops each night after my visit. I also have three tabs stuffed full of information for the 3 cities I plan to spend more than 1 night in.

There are 4 other tabs being used to prep. The first contain rules for the trip. While it is about having fun I want to have some structure. Rules contained within include trying to geocache in each state, getting a picture of/with the welcome sign to each state, and no eating at chain restaurants. The next tab includes measurements and notes I want to keep. These include daily mileage as well as total money spent on food, hotels, and gas. I hope to make some charts after the whole trip to quantify parts of it. Another tab is a collection of supplies I want to pack, ranging from what I need in my first aid kit to mundane items like pens and folders. Lastly is a tab for apps that may prove useful. They include hotel price finders, geocache assistance, and mapping software.

Okay I give up playing with the settings trying to get the spreadsheet to show completely. You’ll just have to scroll, sorry. As I said I’ve blacked out the names, addresses, and notes for all stops that are still on the agenda. Those that have been cut I left in to show examples of the kinds of stops I’m aiming for and how my notes and categorization works. There are three stops that have a line going through them. These are sights I don’t mind cutting if I’m tired or rushed on a particular date. The three you see here have been completely cut from the trip but there are a few more on the current schedule. These are things I’d like to see but won’t be heartbroken if I have to miss them.

I color coded the days to make it easier to read. The two days in green I was thinking about combining into one long day to give me an extra free day elsewhere. The days in red, as evidenced by the lack of mileage, are break days. For example, my original goal was for the 12th day to be spent hanging out with my friend Howard at his place.

The is the latest and possibly final destination spreadsheet. I left some of my notes in to give hints as to where I’ll be. If you can figure any of it out leave a message in the comments. Notice I’ve added a column to denote where I know penny smashers are located. I’ll still be on the look out for more but this will expedite some of my stops. I’ve also added the hours of operations for each sight. That’s going to be crucial in doing my daily agenda. This info will help me decide what time I need to leave each morning and how to plan my meals.

I managed to trim the trip down by a day cutting the Northwest excursion. Between that, combining two days, and eliminating my rest day in Montana, I now have extra time to spend on my first two breaks. Both of those destinations are high points on my trip, so I’m pretty excited about how that worked out. As you can see, this trip is very ambitious but I’ve worked too hard planning to blow it off now. The foundation is in place, now I need to work on logistics and start saving cash!

2 thoughts on “Trust your gut instinct over spreadsheets. There are too many variables in the real world that you simply can’t put into a spreadsheet. – NJ

    1. Funny you mention cost, I’ve recently added a new column with ticket prices. Because my stops are all silly and frivolous they are cheap to free. For 9 days all of the stops are FREE! I’m with you though, Excel is awesome!

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