The idea started when our oldest son turned 12 last Fall. We had a family meeting where we talked about what the next six years would look like for our family. Twelve felt like a big deal to us. It is that in-between age where you are no longer a child, but not yet a teenager. Twelve means there are only about six years left with our oldest son at home. At our family meeting, we asked our children where they wanted to travel to next. Surprisingly, they both said they wanted to travel across Canada.
Traveling across Canada presented a problem financially. Going across Canada meant traveling in the summer months. We make most of our money in the summer with Mike’s carpentry business, our popcorn vending business, and our imported clothes business. But even though we had no idea how we would ever pull off a trip across Canada, we pretty much committed to it in our mindset then and there.
Next came the planning. Over the next few weeks, our minds went into overdrive….How could we make enough money to travel if we did not work in the summer? We own a camperized VW Van but it is getting way too small for our family of four. With both our kids in their pre-teen years and the size of small adults, camping in our van for months at a time simply would not be feasible. So what would we travel in? If we traveled in the Summer, that would mean not traveling in the winter because financially, three to four months at a time is what we can save up for. Would we be willing to give up a warm weather winter abroad?
As the questions unfolded, so did our answers.
We decided to turn our summer cross-Canada trip into an entire year of road tripping! Why? Because if we could commit to a full year, we would be able to rent out our house instead of getting house sitters. Renting out our house would provide us with a much-needed income source to make the trip financially viable. We’ll be spending three months crossing Canada, one month in the Eastern States, a few months in San Miguel de Allende for the Family Adventure Summit, maybe a few more months on a beach in Mexico (we are thinking of somewhere around Puerto Vallarta, if you have a recommendation, please tell me about it!), then we’ll be heading North again along the Western States.
The kids thought long and hard about leaving our community for an entire year. They are going to seriously miss their friends. (HEY FRIENDS, come to visit us!!!) But they decided they would be comfortable with committing as long as they had their Lego and our cat. Both of which we obliged.
We decided to pull out all the stops this spring in our money making ventures. Mike worked his but off on a renovation. I sold a bunch of the clothes and earrings from our import business. We went through ALL of our belongs and sold everything that we could that we did not really need. And we seriously buckled down on our expenditures.
We decided to purchase a new-to-us motorhome that would be a livable size for our family, but not so big to be a monstrosity. The purchase of the motorhome came more quickly than we had anticipated. Mike had started scouring the online sites for a used motorhome back in the fall, and in February, we found the one we wanted. A 24.5ft Class C motorhome with a slide out. Mike felt that it was underpriced, and from his research, he feels that when we come home after one year, we will be able to sell it for what we paid for it (which would be amazing!)
And so, as we set the intention to GO, we were able to find (or we were provided with) the answers to make it possible.
The last few months have been an absolute whirlwind for us. We had to get our house ready for the renters. We are renting it unfurnished so we actually had to move everything out of our house. As I mentioned, Mike has been working long hours, and of course, I am still working as a virtual assistant for a few hours a day. It has literally felt like we have had every single waking moment for the past few months taken up with our enormous To-Do list. But nothing this big comes without putting in the work.
We are now 10 days into our trip and for the most part, we are LOVING it.
The first few days we spent at Christina Lake, British Columbia. There we got used to motorhome living and were able to examine the functionality of the motorhome and start coming up with some solutions for storage, packing etc.
Then we had two lovely nights with my cousin and her family in Castlegar, BC. We arrived at around 2 pm in the afternoon and almost immediately got taken out to a BBQ at my cousin’s friends, a live concert, and then fireworks. It’s like Castlegar knew we were coming and put on a celebration in our honor!
The next four blissful days were spent in complete decompression mode at Garland Bay Forestry Site. Seriously one of the prettiest campsites I have ever been to and we got a lakefront spot! It felt SO good to slow down. We rode our bikes, played on the beach, and hiked in the forest. The boys built a shelter on the beach, learning from their carpenter father. I read a book. Gasp! Yes, I actually had time to read a book. Bliss! Although we felt like we could have stayed at Garland Bay for weeks, the road was calling us. Since the beautiful camp spot is practically in our backyard, we had a hard time justifying spending too much time there when that time would have to come off our time exploring the Eastern Provinces.
The next two nights were spent in a parking lot at Home Hardware in Cranbrook, BC. Yeah….we will need to be camping about half of our time for free to keep under budget. We looked online for a free campsite and found that Home Hardware lets you park overnight for free (while the neighboring Walmart does not!) We actually really enjoyed our time there, although that sounds strange to say. The store is off the main highway so it was quite quiet to sleep there and we got excellent free Wifi so I was able to work in the mornings and evenings! We were able to take care of “chores”. We did a bit of shopping for storage solutions, went to some garage sales and thrift stores (we have an ongoing thrift store shopping list!), we got laundry done (OUCH, laundromats are EXPENSIVE! We’ll be wearing the same clothes for a week now that we know the price of a wash and dry!), we went to the community pool for hours which was a lot of fun for all of us (the kids got to swim and go on the waterslide, and Mike and I got to soak in the hot tub, sauna, and steam room), and then just like the true hardcore campers that we are, we got to use the showers in the change room to soap and shampoo ourselves into respectable human beings.
And that brings us all they way to where we are camped tonight. After checking out a few provincial campgrounds along the way North of Cranbrook and deciding that we did not want to pay $30 a night if we could help it, we found a forest service site just five minutes down a dirt road from the highway called Johnson Lake. I’m sitting on my bed, typing offline so as to not use up data on my phone. (My data is reserved for work and I am eating through it at an alarming rate.) My view is of a small lake surrounded by beautiful marsh. We are the only campers here. And best of all it is costing us zero dollars. With little determination, we’ll be able to make this trip affordable!