Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Travelling Across Canada

Sunshine Coast, BC

A couple years ago we took our three kids, then 6 and under on a road trip of a lifetime for us.  We packed up our van, hitched up our old, 1982 tent trailer, and drove from Ontario to Vancouver, BC.  I had never been to see the mountains, and my husband had only saw it when he was 4.  It was amazing!  But given it was our first HUGE trip, we definitely learned some things.  Here are a few things we would do differently, had we known.

1.  Take our time.  My goal was to get to the farthest point I could -Vancouver.  My family didn't travel much growing up, and I was desperate to see as much as I could on our trip.  The problem with that plan is that while my husband wanted to see so much more in the stops we did make, I was always rushing us to try and get to the next point.  Looking back, i feel like we missed out on just enjoying some really great moments and experiencing some really cool things had we just stayed put in some areas.

Jasper, Alberta
2.  Travel with a HARD top trailer.  I love our little tent trailer.  We nicknamed it the "Dandelion."  But there were two problems with travelling that far with a tent trailer.  First, it was a lot of work to set up and take down constantly, as we stayed only one or two nights at most campgrounds.  Secondly, when we wanted to stay free in Walmart parking lots we didn't feel like we should because we were one step up from a tent.  The only time we stayed in a Walmart parking lot was in Edmonton when we drove too late, were going to get a hotel room but discovered we couldn't find a room as it was a busy night in the city.  Which leads me to my next point.

Jasper, Alberta
3.  Stop sooner than later to set up camp.  We ended up in the Walmart parking lot in Edmonton because of me.  My husband tried to stop at a few very cheap sites on the way, but I was uncomfortable with them, due to the fact that I have read too many stories. ;)  Now, had we had a hardtop trailer with a bathroom where no one had to leave the trailer all night, I might have been more comfortable with this.  But in the end, I definitely wasn't super comfortable being in a parking lot with a tent trailer but at that point had no choice!

4.  Look for hidden costs.   I thought we got this awesome deal in Vancouver that was a package with a hotel and a bunch of free tickets to attractions around the city.  However, I didn't realize how much we would pay for parking.  Or food in some of these places.  One place was charging 12 dollars for a burger...just THE BURGER, no fries or anything!!!!  And I couldn't believe how expensive parking was EVERYWHERE!!!!!!In the end, we ended up paying way more money than we intended.
Johnston's Canyon, Alberta, Canada

5.  Enjoy the smaller places.  It can be fun to find yourself in the middle of it all, the bustling big cities where all the tourism action is happening.  But I found that we really enjoyed a lot of the smaller places we drove through.  And I still regret not taking time to explore those smaller places more.  Also, it was always less stressful with the kids in smaller locations.  I didn't have to worry about losing sight of them in the middle of a large crowd.

6.  Find a way, and GO!!!  Travelling across Canada was a last minute decision for us.  We were working at a camp in Manitoba, 24 hours away from home, when we were supposed to move to another local farm and work as Woofers.  My husband hurt his back and we knew we would be useless at the farm.  But we still had all this extra time.  We figured we were halfway to BC already, might as well go now!  I couldn't believe I had waited all these years to travel...it was beautiful and amazing and you just feel so close to God in the middle of all his creation!!!!  Right now we can't go as far, but we are taking weekend trips closer to home, and planning for something bigger as soon as we have the money saved up.  


7. Bring at least one extra sleeping bag.  My one year old at the time got sick in the middle of the night while we were away.  He threw up all over the sleeping bag.  Oh, did I mention he was sleeping next to me??  Of course, laundry facilities were closed at that time of night at the campground.  All I could do was throw the sleeping bag off of the bed, wash down the other stuff by hand, and wait till morning.  And sleep without any blankets.  When it comes to kids, ALWAYS bring an extra blanket.

8.  Pack light, but pack twice as much extra underwear and bottoms for your kids.  My kids, once they are potty trained, don't have accidents.  Even at night.  But all of a sudden, routine has changed, and there are a lot of outhouses we end up using, which, turns out, my children despise. (I don't really jump for joy when using an outhouse, either.)  So, while travelling, in an effort to avoid trips to the outhouses, my kids had a few accidents.  I've learned to pack extra unmentionables for them now. ;)

I would love to share in a future post some of my favorite places we visited so that you don't miss them either!  What are your favorite places to travel or some amazing attractions you've been? Share in the comments, I'd love to hear it!

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