Jul
03

Roadside Trouble and Elk Island National Park

Soon after leaving Jasper we encountered our first problem with our motorhome. We were driving along at a good clip down the Yellowhead Hwy when we heard a strange sound and felt like we had run over something. My first thought was that the bikes or scooters had come off the bike rack and we had lost them on the highway. But it was not the bikes, it was a blown tire!

No problem, my dependable and capable husband took out the spare tire, his tools, and jack and prepared to switch out the tires. Unfortunately, the tire jack, which we bought at a garage sale before our trip but didn’t test on the motorhome, was busted. Hydraulic oil sprayed through the O-rings. As we pumped it up and it would not hold pressure. La-sigh. Luckily we have BCAA (AAA) so we called to get someone out to help us. It ended up taking three hours of waiting on the side of the highway for help to arrive. The tire was changed in 15 minutes. Ugh.

35545479_10155429243592233_731194400910082048_n Read the rest of this entry »

Jun
29

Exploring The Rockies

We LOVED the Rockies. From the time we first saw them in the East Kootenays to the time we left them in Jasper we were in awe. No wonder millions of people come to these towering, snow-capped mountains each year. We explored Kootenay National Park, Banff National Park, and Jasper National Park which all border each other.

Unfortunately, the weather for almost our entire time in the National Parks was rainy. My friend Josee says that there is no bad weather, only bad clothing. Well, we had bad clothing. My spring jacket soaks in the rain instead of repelling it, and my kids, well, they have decent spring coats but refuse to wear them. They always opt for their hoodies much to my dismay, saying, “It’s FINE mom!” Mike also had an unexplained pinched nerve in his back that started giving him trouble a few days before. This meant that we didn’t get in as much hiking as we would have liked. We kept most of our hikes to the well-trodden 5km or less hikes but we still saw jaw-dropping scenery and enjoyed some amazing camp spots!

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Jun
13

Our Next Worldschool Adventure: A One Year Road Trip

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? Read the rest of this entry »

Jan
19

9 Weeks in San Miguel de Allende. Costs For a Family of Four.

Our family of four spent the fall of 2017 in the beautiful city of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. We scrapped our original plan of spending four weeks there, as we fell in love with the city and ended up extending our trip to nine weeks. We would have stayed longer if we did not already have other plans for winter!

Some people track their time, some people track their calories, some people track their steps…I track our money. Call it an obsession, but one of the reasons we are able to live this lifestyle of extended travel and have a home base is because we are always aware of where our money is going. Knowing how much you spend and what you are spending it on is, in my opinion, the easiest way to start spending less on things that don’t really matter. I use an app called Trail Wallet to track our travel spending and I highly recommend it to other travelers.

numbers-money-calculating-calculation (1)

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Nov
27

10 Reasons to Love San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

The FREE six-month visa to Mexico for Canadian and American visitors make Mexico an easy country to visit, and to fall in love with. There are not many countries that offer such a long visa at absolutely no cost (I could probably count them on one hand!)  The ease of entry, the reduced cost of living, the ease of finding rentals in Mexico, and the gorgeous weather make Mexico a hot spot for North American vacationers, expats, digital nomads, and snowbirds!

Our family decided to drive from our home in British Columbia, down to Las Vegas to visit with my sister and then catch a plane from there to Mexico. Originally we planned and booked for five weeks. Well, within two weeks of arriving in San Miguel de Allende we extended our visit another month, and we would stay longer if we hadn’t promised our children that we would come home so they could ski this winter.

Yes, we love it here, and that surprised us! I had heard a lot of good things about San Miguel. Indeed, I already knew four families that had settled here! But you know when you hear of those popular tourist destinations and they just seem TOO popular? That is how we felt, we wondered if it would be TOO easy, TOO overrun with tourists, TOO many expats. While there are a tonne of expats and tourists here (most of the tourists are domestic) they are here for a reason. It is beautiful!

So what do we love about San Miguel de Allende, Mexico? Read the rest of this entry »

Nov
04

Day of the Dead in San Miguel de Allende

We have experienced some really jaw-dropping festivals around the world. We’ve lit lanterns in Thailand’s Yi Ping Festival, watched the Ogoh Ogohs dance in the streets of Bali at Nyepi, and witnessed the self-mutilation at the Vegetarian Festival in Phuket. Experiencing the Day of the Dead in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico is right up there on our list of awe-inspiring cultural experiences.

Each year, Day of the Dead is celebrated on November 1st and 2nd. It is believed that on these two days the veil on the spirit world is temporarily pulled back and the spirits of loved ones can come back to this world to visit. November 1st is when the spirits of children return, November 2nd is when the spirits of adults return. For the most part, this is not a somber occasion, rather it is a full-blown party! After all, what spirit would want to return to sadness?

The main part of the celebration comprises of making a shrine to the spirit you are welcoming back. The shrine will include pictures of the loved one, favorite foods, favorite items, flowers, candles, drinks, and more. The alters are to help the returning souls feel welcomed and show them that they have not been forgotten. Most alters are placed in the home, but some are placed for public display as well.

23031323_10154902183297233_7566512606745800158_n Read the rest of this entry »

Oct
21

Hola San Miguel de Allende!

The seed was planted right after we finished up with the 2017 Family Adventure Summit. Most of the organizing team was still at my house and we dove in deep to the huge task of planning the 2018 summit in San Miguel de Allende. Brainstorming and inspiration come much easier when enthusiastic minds are able to collaborate in the same space and feed off each other’s energy!

team

That is when Mike and I started to think about coming down to SMA this year. I’m the Logistics Coordinator and Social Media Manager for the Family Adventure Summit and planning would be SO much easier if our family could swing a trip down to Mexico for this year’s Day of the Dead. Experiencing it this year so we would know what to expect and plan for next year would be so helpful!

Once the seed started to grow, the flower bloomed within a weekend. On Friday we were researching, by Sunday night we had booked our tickets and a one month stay in San Miguel! Read the rest of this entry »

Sep
14

96 Days in Europe. Costs For A Family of Four.

This spring our family of four spent a grand total of 96 days in Europe. With my background in bookkeeping and my incessant need to always know how much we are spending, we kept a detailed log of ALL of our costs along the way. We used a handy, dandy app called Trail Wallet to track our spending. With this app you can record spending by trip (super handy) and input all of your transactions in the local currency. Trail Wallet takes the day’s exchange rates and converts to your home currency (super dandy).

Our trip started out in Vancouver. We were able to drive there from our home base in BC and leave our car at my Uncle’s house (thanks again Uncle Jim!!) We spent the night at a hotel close to Vancouver International that had a free shuttle to the airport for our morning flight. From there we grabbed our direct flights to London. We got a great deal on those flights, $2506.44 CAD return for four people.

Once we arrived in London we were picked up by Mike’s Aunt and Uncle and spent the next five days with them in their flat in Portsmouth, England. How lucky are we to have such good relatives? (Big Love to Aunt Laura and Uncle Jimmy!) From there we flew to Barcelona where we spent an entire month in an Airbnb apartment. Next up came Rome for one week, then Budapest for one month. While spending our month in Budapest, a house sitting gig fell out of the sky and into our laps and we housesat for an amazing family in the Hungarian countryside for the next two weeks. After that, we flew back to London, spent four nights trying not to break the budget in that expensive city, then took a train back down to Portsmouth for another five nights at Mike’s Aunt and Uncles before we flew back to Canada. Read the rest of this entry »

Jun
10

London on the Cheap. Is It Possible?

Is it possible to see London with a family without breaking the bank?

Accommodation

I don’t know that it is possible to do London cheaply….unless you can find a housesitting gig or if you have family to stay with.  We found accommodation in London to be RIDICULOUSLY expensive! It is the most expensive city we have every stayed in!

We spent hours scouring the Internet looking for a reasonably priced hotel room. We even looked at hostels and they were not any cheaper than a hotel since we are a family of four. I asked for advice in Family Travel Groups, searched on Airbnb, and asked friends for their recommendations.

In the end, the cheapest place we could find was a Travelodge, all the way out in Greenwich. The cost? Over $160 CAD per night (About $135 USD) for a very basic room. On the plus side, that room had a queen bed and two singles (Yay for not sharing a bed!) and included a decent buffet breakfast. On the downside, it was nothing special and for that kind of money, I expect something really nice! Depending on traffic it took between 40 minutes to an hour to get into downtown London by bus.

Now if we wanted to save time instead of money, we could have reserved a room in downtown London but that would set us back upwards of $250 per night. No thanks!

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May
28

London And The Kindness Of Strangers

We arrived in London from Budapest tired and a bit anxious to make our way to our hotel in Greenwich so we could settle in for the night. We flew into Stansted Airport which is about an hour North of London. We had pre-purchased tickets on The National Express bus (you pay much less if you pre-purchase) and had everything mapped out on Google maps offline since we were arriving in England without data on our phones. In case you are wondering, we put our cell phone plans at home on “vacation” as the prices to use them in Europe are astronomical. As soon as we get to a new country in Europe we buy a new SIM card and a data plan but this means on the day of arrival we are without Internet.

The bus ride into London was smooth and easy. We took the bus to London Bow station where we planned to take the DLR all the way to our hotel. But, when we got to the station the station was closed for weekend maintenance! What?

With no Internet on our phones ,we were able to sleuth out where the next DLR stop was using offline Google maps and we walked with all of our bags to the next station. We arrived at the second station only to find it was closed too. The entire northern DLR route was closed for the weekend. Talk about bad timing!

By this time we were stressing out. We were tired, in a new city, and had no idea where to go. Seeing we were in distress, an older Muslum man approached us and asked where we were going. He had a very thick accent and a mouth full of beetle nut and was very, very hard to understand! When we could not quite figure out what he was telling us to do he motioned for us to follow him. We did. This kind, old man walked us to the closest bus station, showed us on the board what bus we should take, gave us directions once we got off the bus (we think, we could not quite understand) and then bid us goodbye.

bus

The correct bus came soon after and Mike talked to the bus driver about our predicament. I went to pay for our fair using our contactless credit card and the machine would not work with my card. We thought we were going to be hooped as we did not have cash on us either (It has been so easy in Europe to only rely on credit cards).  The bus driver told us we did not have to pay and said he would let us know when to get off. When it was time to leave the bus the driver actually took the time to tell us exactly where to go next to get to our hotel.

The kindness of strangers. When you are in a bind, chances are someone will be willing to go out of their way to help you out. What a great introduction to London. 🙂

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