Tag Archives: travelling with kids in a car

End of the road… trip

There’s always a sense of letdown coming home from a great holiday. Your excitement to sleep in a comfortable bed is tempered by your disappointment over trading scenic hikes and hot beach days for a predictable routine. So it was for us as we pointed the car east (no one ever says, “Go east,” do they?) from Vernon toward Calgary.

The climb up and the descent down Roger's Pass was the highlight of the final leg of our B.C. road trip, from Vernon to Calgary.

The climb up and the descent down Roger’s Pass was the highlight of the final leg of our B.C. road trip.

With six road hours (and eight tunnels) ahead, we had time to talk about our favourite parts of the B.C. road trip.

Avery most enjoyed the cabin up Indian Arm off North Vancouver. A budding naturalist, she’s in her element turning over rocks to find eels and crabs.

Avery catches one of many crabs up Indian Arm.

Avery catches one of many crabs up Indian Arm.

Bennett has graduated from water baby and is a bonafide splash kid. When he wasn’t paddling around a lake (or the Pacific) in his life jacket, he was imitating Piper’s doggy paddle in shallow water. Perhaps he’ll soon be swimming under his own power?

Bennett swims to his honorary auntie while cousin Jack enjoys the water too.

Bennett swims with his honorary auntie Simone and cousin Jack in the frigid Pacific up Indian Arm fjord.

Blake loved escaping the big city to be active outdoors as a family while hiking, swimming, kayaking and mountain biking in beautiful B.C. Oh, and stuffing his face with peaches, cherries and samosas (and wine!) in between activities.

Hiking as a family to BX Falls near Vernon.

Hiking as a family to BX Falls near Vernon.

I (Lisa) loved the heat. And being outside so much. And the way time seemed to slow down for two weeks. Though the places we visited were quite different from one another — small town Fernie; rustic, rainforest-tinged Indian Arm; smoking hot, lake-blessed Vernon — our theme of being active outside persisted throughout the trip. More than once I was amazed by our kids and their willingness to try new things (crab meat! paddle boarding!), hike several kilometres under the baking sun, or sit for hours in a car without complaint. They are turning into real little travellers and I couldn’t be happier about that. But if I had to pick one moment…

Sweet sibs share a moment at one of the most beautiful alpine lakes near Fernie.

Sweet sibs contemplate a beautiful alpine lake. They’ll always have each other, and share childhood memories of this family vacation.

Some “Vacation” tips for your family road trip

The very idea of a family summer road trip evokes a curious mix of excitement and trepidation. I remember the annual drive from Denver to Kansas fondly; how Mom would point out every cow in every prairie field (my sister and I would roll our eyes) and then redeem herself by finding the only motel in Salina with an outdoor pool and water slide.

But, when I think about embarking on a similar journey with my kids, I realize I’ll be trapped in a vehicle with them between Calgary and somewhere far away, that the boredom of the miles will turn me into a modified version of my mother (“Look children — another waterfall!”), and then I cringe and wonder why we don’t just fly.

A Family Roadster is not a requirement for a successful summer vacation.

As Clark Griswold will tell you: “Why aren’t we flying? Because getting there is half the fun! You know that.” I recently rewatched the original Vacation movie. Thirty years on it’s still funny if over-the-top. Vacation is also instructive for families thinking of saving some money and bonding in a car en route to the beach/amusement park/national monument this summer.

Here are my takeaways from the Griswolds:

1. For getting there to be fun, you have to actually stop and see and do things along the way. One of Clark’s mistakes is that he didn’t budget enough time to make it from Chicago to Wally World in California. They couldn’t stop to see the St. Louis Arch or visit the world’s largest ball of twine in Kansas. Involve the family in the trip planning and you’ll be able to gawk at the world’s largest truck in Sparwood, B.C., for example.

Daughter posed on giant truck tire = priceless vacation memory.

2. Motels are great; they save you money and often have a pool. Just make sure there aren’t boxes next to the beds that accept quarters.

3. Don’t detour out of the way to visit friends or relatives you can’t stand. Life is too short and besides, your redneck cousins might introduce your daughter to weed, your son to nudie mags and then foist their Aunt Edna equivalent on you for part of the drive (and we all remember how that ended).

4. Don’t make Dad do all the driving. Clark clocked so many highway hours while Ellen, Edna and the kids slept, it’s no wonder he cracked (robbed a restaurant, went skinny dipping with Christie Brinkley, held a Wally World security guard hostage). Still, you have to admire his dedication to family fun in the road trip format.

“This is no longer a vacation. It’s a quest. It’s a quest for fun! I’m gonna have fun and you’re gonna have fun. We’re all gonna have so much f**king fun we’ll need plastic surgery to remove our god-damn smiles. You’ll be whistling ‘Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah’ out of your assholes!”

5. Call ahead to make sure your destination will be open. Beaches and national parks don’t typically close, but attractions sometimes do, as the Griswolds found out upon arrival at Wally World.

Oh yeah, and since you’ll be spending a lot of time in the car, remember to bring the children’s Walkman equivalents.