The roadtrip known as the Great Canadian Vacation With Bonus Stops is nearly at an end. On Tuesday, we started our trip back from Quebec to return to our home in central Florida. One rooftop carrier, two parents, three kids, and a whole lot of luggage… and by the end of this trip, we will have added over 3000 miles to our Ford Flex, which is an amazing vehicle for this kind of adventure. While any enormous vacation can be stressful, we somehow managed to make it through nearly two weeks without any major blow-ups or meltdowns.
So, what have we learned from this traveling adventure? I’m not sure if we can say there were any huge revelations, but several items came to light in our trip up and down the East Coast. Strangely enough, they have a wonderful geek theme to them, which should make for an entertaining blog post.
1) Don’t forget your towel. Although I illustrated this concept during my first Balticon at our time-traveler party, it’s something that I really do practice when we travel. We packed a beach towel for everyone as well as some small dish towels and two washcloths in our first aid bag. When we got to Quebec and the summer cottage where we spent a long weekend, having the extra towels came in handy. We also used the smaller towels when we needed to do important things like wash to-go cups and wipe out our coolers during the longer stops. We even brought an old shamois to use as a placemat for the kids when they had a snack in the car. We also splurged on a roll of shop towels for the car, since they are a bit stronger for the tougher messes.
2) It’s bigger on the inside. While I don’t confess to being a packing guru, I can say that spending a little bit of money on some large plastic storage bags was worth the space that it saved in our large duffel bag. We started out with one for our ‘cold weather’ clothing, and two shoved into the duffel with all of the clean clothes. By the end of the trip, I had mastered the use of all three bags to keep clean and dirty clothes separated. These bags had an ingenious valve on them that allowed the air to be forced out without the use of a vacuum, so we could stack two of the bags into the duffel and put our shoes on top, without worrying about dirtying the clothes inside.
3) With great power comes great responsibility. One of the best investments our tech-dependent family has made was a power inverter that plugs into the power port (or cigarette lighter, whatever you want to call it) of the car. We plug in a power strip and each person gets one plug for their devices on the road. This way, no one’s tablet or handheld system goes dark unless they forget to plug it in. We still stick to common-sense safety (you can’t undo your seat belt and plug something in while we’re cruising on I-95) and the kids have to wait until a rest stop to plug things in if they forget… but it cuts down on the boredom-induced ‘are we there yet.’
Truly, I don’t think we did anything else that was particularly strange or special. We let the kids stay up a little later, and they tended to get up a little earlier. We took a lot of pictures of our adventures, and we weren’t afraid to use our phones to look for new places to discover. Some of the neatest things we did weren’t planned. We stopped in Savannah for a picnic lunch and wandered upon a bird rescue demonstration. We didn’t hesitate to try new ice cream flavors at different stores in different cities. We wandered and picked fun things to do, and if we just wanted to hang out and relax, we did that.
I ate poutine for the first time in St-Zacharie, Quebec. Those who know my weird food quirks can appreciate how big of a thing this is, since I am not a gravy person… but it was so delicious. When I come back in a few years, I will likely have it again, because vacation and Quebec and squeaky cheese.
The biggest thing that I learned (or rather, had confirmed several times over) is that I am blessed beyond belief to have such wonderful, resourceful, respectful, and pleasant children. They managed our travels in style; whether it was a long car ride, a two-mile walk in the middle of Washington, DC, a chilly morning in Bar Harbor, or a raucous family gathering on a cold and drizzly night in St-Aurelie, they always stuck by each other, kept the sibling squabbles to a minimum, and made sure that they spoke pleasantly and politely to everyone around them. It was rather nice, and it made the trip that much more enjoyable.
My final travel tip? Audiobooks that the whole family will enjoy. We did “How to Train Your Dragon” narrated by David Tennant (which was rather good) and Sigler’s GFL titles “The Rookie” and “The Starter” (which are always amazing).
And Canada? Your coffee is delicious. The Timbits invasion will commence Tuesday at dawn… or shortly thereafter, when I have consumed more coffee.