Planning Your Perfect Road Trip in British Columbia
Over the past six or seven years, my husband and I have taken the business of road-tripping seriously. From a 78-day camping trip across Canada with two people and a dog in a Hyundai Elantra to countless adventures around our home province of British Columbia, it is fair to say that we have planning a road trip down to a fine art. Whether you have an extended period of time or just a few days over a weekend, with a little planning and a whole lot of enthusiasm, you too can plan a perfect road trip to discover some of what British Columbia has to offer.
Road trips are one of my favourite ways to travel thanks to their flexibility. There is something about being able to stop at anything (and everything) that strikes your interest without having to worry about keeping to a tight tour schedule that just works for me. Nothing appealing to you in a particular spot? Move on. Can’t imagine leaving town without visiting the third ice cream shop? No problem!
Being flexible allows you to take things as they come while travelling. One of the joys of a road trip is finding all the hidden gems along the way. One of my favourite road trip tips is to visit as many of the local Visitor Centres as possible. I was very fortunate that I spent ten years working at the Hope Visitor Centre & Museum Complex, and during this time I learned SO much about British Columbia. Each local Visitor Centre is a wealth of knowledge, and it is pretty much guaranteed that the counsellors will be able to point you to something unique and excellent to see or do in the community. From the perfect hike to fascinating museums to the best local coffee, the best way to experience what a community has to offer is to speak to the locals – after all, they are the experts!
…But Not Too Flexible
My favourite way to travel is with no expectations, but the reality is that travelling, particularly in the summer, can be challenging when it comes to campsite reservations and ferry traffic. Doing some research ahead of time allows you to take calculated risks and have a backup plan if things go sideways. When I travel to Vancouver Island, I always weigh the benefits of flexibility with the guaranteed convenience (and also expense) of making a reservation. If I have lots of time and am sailing from Horseshoe Bay, I take a missed ferry as an opportunity to explore the village. If I am heading to the island for something with a specific timeline – a wedding, funeral, or other family obligation, for example, I am inclined to make a reservation to guarantee my timely arrival.
Another benefit of pre-trip planning is that it allows you to reduce your stress and have some increased flexibility. I know this may seem counterintuitive, but if you pull into the provincial park you intended to stay at and find it full, it is awfully nice to be able to recall from your research that there is another campsite 45 minutes up the road. This exact situation happened to us on a road trip in the Fraser Canyon when our intended spot (Skihist) was full, our “backup” spot (Goldpan) was full, and we ended up at the Acacia Grove RV Park in Spences Bridge. A valuable resource for camping research is the Camping & RV in BC website. Simply type in your destination (or thereabouts) and get a whole list of private, Provincial Park, and National Park campgrounds in the area.
One of the keys to a successful road trip is to know your likes and dislikes as a traveller. If you spend time each day haunting your local coffee shop, it is pretty likely that you will want to check out the best of the best in each community you travel through. If you can’t go a day without strapping on your sneakers and going for a hike or jog, then checking out the local trails is a must. If, on the other hand, you find coffee and running the height of boredom, then don’t spend your trip doing something just because someone told you they liked it. Do your research, keep an open mind, and then make your decisions about what you are going to see and do.
British Columbia is ripe road-tripping territory with endless gorgeous routes to explore. Over the next few months, I will be highlighting a few of my favourite road trip experiences in BC here on the blog. What are some of your favourite BC road trip routes?
Share your British Columbia travel and camping photos using #campinbc
Published: June 7th, 2018
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