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
Honeydew and Pikas: Traveling with (Potentially) Carsick Kids
Now, if you don’t have small kids, or you’re the type of parent who has already nailed this, please feel free to skip ahead.
But if you, like us, have children with cast iron stomachs, or are just generally not used to traveling long distances with them, here is what not to do. (Spoiler: our daughter threw up). We’ll call it, “don’t do what the W family did”.
- Allow your child to skip breakfast because they are excited about the big trip.
- Feed your child a large juice and part of a fast food hash brown just before hitting a very twisty highway.
- Place a laptop in their lap to watch a movie while the road winds around mountains and valleys.
- Sense your child is unwell and respond by feeding them large amounts of ice-cold honeydew.
- Feed your child breakfast!
- Throughout the trip, offer small amounts of liquids, fruit, and clear foods. (Consider how tough something might be to clean if you see it again.)
- On twisty stretches, play games like “I Spy”, listen to books on tape, or tell stories instead of pulling out the laptop – save movies for straighter stretches of road.
- Be prepared to pull over IMMEDIATELY if your child starts throwing up.
- Try not to panic (this is hard if motion sickness is an uncommon experience in your family).
- Keep your sick child hydrated with water.
- Have lots of double-bagged garbage bags at the ready.
- Keep a bag with wet wipes and a change of clothes very handy. (This is just good practice for all parents, on any trip).
- Have one family member clean and comfort the child, while the other (or others) wipe down the seat repeatedly, and thoroughly, with wet wipes.
- Once at your final destination, immediately remove the car seat and sponge-clean it, leaving it outside to air dry. Do not submerge the straps. Keep a copy of your carseat info handy (or Google it) for recommended cleaning: the way you clean the seat effects its ability to keep your child safe.
Well, gentle reader. Have you made it this far? If so, you’ve figured out why the post is called “Honeydew”. But you’re probably wondering about the pikas.
On this same road trip, we discovered a great pit stop for road trippers of all ages: Manning Park. It has plenty of parking, nice vistas, clean washrooms, a general store and restaurant, and … pikas!
Pikas are a reward for the road-weary. They are giant ground squirrels also called “whistling hares” because of the sounds they make when you approach their burrows.
They’re absolutely adorable. And a great way to take a break and compose yourself. Especially after a honeydew incident.
So as a reward for making it this far, I give you, the Pikas of Manning Park:
Published: August 7th, 2013
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