Momma packed clothes for the family and put them in a suitcase, and put "a whole bunch of food" in a borrowed cooler, but that was just the beginning of the things she did to get ready for the trip to Birmingham. Momma did some intricate planning for the trip; she had considered every aspect down to the last detail, and outlined it all in a notebook which she entitled, "The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963". Momma had planned out the route they would take, and done research on the main road on which they would be traveling and every state through which they would pass. She also bought books and puzzles and games so the kids would not get bored.
Momma's plans were so detailed that she had predetermined exactly how many miles they would drive each day, where they would stay each night, and what alternatives they would have if things did not work out according to plan. A lot of her planning was born of necessity, because traveling to the Deep South was very dangerous for Negroes back in the 1960s, and there was no guarantee that they would be able find a place to stay or even restaurants that would serve them at many points along their journey. Momma also considered the family budget in planning the trip, and made allowances so that there would be a minimum of arguing and fighting among the kids. She had even preassigned "who got baloney sandwiches on Day One, who got tuna fish on Day Two, who got peanut butter and jelly on Day three...how long we could hold ourselves between going to the bathroom..who'd get the windows on each day and who was responsible for keeping paper and junk from piling up in the car" (Chapter 9).