Hittin the road again

I am off today on a 9 day journey back to Toronto, via Nelson B.C., Waterton, A.B., Grasslands National Park, Sask., Riding Mountain National Park, Man., Thunder Bay, Ont. and one final stop to break up T. Bay to Toronto.

Phew.

So long Vancouver, I’ll miss you!

Let the driving begin!!

Fare thee well

A great blogger friend of mine once told me not to apologize for leaving, so I will just say – farewell, and see you soon!

I shall post when I have internet access again this summer.

But do not fret, my sister and my friend will be here to keep you company once in a while as well.

See you all in August!! Happy travels!

Great article for me to read

Ok – I’m basically packed and ready to head out on a summer long road trip from east to west across the US and Canada.

Too excited!!!!

AND I came across this article from Lonely Planet last night, which I felt suited my situation right now (except that I have a car):

How to take a broke-ass road trip

  • Stuart Schuffman

There’s a saying that goes, ‘The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco’. It’s credited to Mark Twain, but that’s a lie; nobody really knows who said it. I wish I had.

You know what else I wish I had? A friggin’ car! Don’t get me wrong, San Francisco is one of the true loves of my life, but I could really use some summer sunshine. So what I’m gonna do is sit here and fantasize about taking a road trip and in the meantime give you some pointers on how to do it on the cheap.

1. You don’t actually need a car

(I know I just complained about not having a car, but I’m actually tied to my desk right now, so just look at my car reference before as a metaphor for ‘the freedom to not be at my damn desk’.) Wanna go on a road trip but your only vehicle is your ChevroLEGS? All you gotta do is ride share! That’s right, go to erideshare.com or craigslist.org and find a ride to wherever you’re going.  And if you wanna hit up multiple locations on your trip, just set up rideshares to and from all the different spots on your itinerary.  Then your only costs are sharing gas costs with the other riders.

2. Cheap rental cars

If you don’t have wheels but aren’t too keen on riding with random strangers, you can always rent a car. Start by comparing prices from a few websites like hotwire.comexpedia.com and travelocity.com (to name a few) then find the cheapest rates. Here’s the real tip though: If you have a major credit card and you make a car rental reservation with it, the credit card company covers your rental insurance! Amazing right? I just saved you like $15 a day! Just make sure you check with your credit card company to see what they cover.

3. Car sharing

Still on the car-less theme, if you use Zipcar or one of the countless smaller local versions of car sharing, you can take a vehicle for multiple days at a time. This often amounts to somewhere around $60, but that money also covers gas and insurance. There’s typically a 3 days limit though, so it would have to be a shorter road trip. Peer-to-peer car sharing is starting to take off in some cities, so check out services like getaround.com for local deals on cars that are probably more interesting than the typical Ford Focus rental.

4. Pack your food

Don’t wanna spend too much loot on food while traveling? Pack your grub and take it with you. Pick foods with a decent shelf-life and bring a cooler. Not only will this save you money, it will probably allow you to eat healthier too. Unless all you pack is Lunchables of course. Then you might as well just eat at McDonalds.

5. Camping, hostels and couch surfing

You read Lonely Planet, so you know the drill, but just in case you don’t, I’ll break it down for you. Save money by not staying in hotels. Is the weather warm? Then sleep outside. Don’t like critters crawling in your sleeping bag? Then stay at a hostel. Can’t afford that? Then check out couchsurfing.com and find a nice soul who will let your weird ass sleep on their couch. Just kidding, you’re not that weird…probably.

6. Do free activities

If you wanna save money on a road trip, don’t go to Disneyland, or any other theme park for that matter. Pick things to do that don’t cost money like going to the beach or hiking. If you’re one of those people who just needs a destination, go to a national park. There’s so much beauty out there to be seen.

7. Free food at happy hours

If your road trip is leading you to a city and not the wilderness, do a little research beforehand.  Every American city has bars that give out free food at happy hour, you just need to know where to find them.  Go to yelp.com or chowhound.com and search for terms like ‘free food happy hour’ and see what you find.

8. Free and cheap websites

Same goes for cheap entertainment in the city you’re heading to.  Let’s say you’re going to Chicago, Google something like ‘free and cheap Chicago’ and do a little research.  You’re guaranteed to find websites that cover all the cool free and cheap happenings in that city. And if you’re going to San Francisco or New York you can just check out BrokeAssStuart.com.

Let the packing begin!

It’s almost time to pick up and leave for 2.5 months for the summer.

One major challenge is fitting all of our camping gear and clothing in my tiny little Toyota Echo hatchback.

We need room for 2 suitcases/bags, our tent, an inflatable mattress, pillows, snacks and drinks, a camp stove and pot (only to make coffee of course!), our photography gear including 4 lenses, 2 tripods and 2 camera bodies, and my boyfriend and myself. AND I have the tiniest trunk in the universe! The one bright spot in the selection of my car for a long road trip is the great gas mileage.

The challenge will be difficult, but I know that with my boyfriends amazing packing skills, and my cars various hidden nooks and crannies, our supplies will make it throughout the summer and come back in one piece…right?!

The countdown is on!

Just over a week and I am OUTTA HERE!

I am going to miss posting on my blog every morning, as internet access will be far and few between.

As often as I can make it to a computer, I’ll be posting an update on my adventures.

In the meantime, do not fear….I have a few guest bloggers who are going to keep you entertained including my good friend from Switzerland and my sister (also from Toronto like myself).

Here is my very general plan to start off the summer:

Take off from Toronto at 1pm (when school is OVER!) head to just outside Chicago:

Lag 1: Toronto to Chicago (8.5 hours)

Pick up in Chicago and drive a loooong day to approx. North Platte:

Chicago to North Platte, Nebraska (11.5 hrs)

North Platte to GRAND TETON! Yippee!:

North Platte to Grand Teton National Park (10 hrs)

I am so excited, I am bouncing off my couch as I type this!

Not so excited for some parts of the driving experience…..looooong days, and just me in the drivers seat and my boyfriend navigating…oh and one trip to Target along the way.

By the way, try OnTheWay

I saw this website OnTheWayApp, where you can plug in a road trip start and destination and it will plot “must sees” along the way.

What a great concept, and then I put it into practice.

Last summer, I drove out from Toronto to Yellowstone (Wyoming/Montana) and had probably the greatest tour guide (my boy) directing me to our destination. He has been to Yellowstone every year since he was 10 years old (29 now).

Although he either flew in, or drove in from Vancouver, he still had one of those great childhoods where he and his parents explored as many park as they could when he was growing up.

What I am saying about this new site is – it is great if you have absolutely no clue where to stop and what to eat along your road trip journey.

But when I looked up the route we took last year to Yellowstone, it recommended stopping at a movie theatre in Guelph (been there….it’s a movie theatre), then Limeridge Mall in Hamilton (ummm a mall, with banks, a few clothing stores and a food court), after the mall, it recommended John Labatt Centre in London, Ontario where you could view the OHL hockey team for an evening, if they are playing there that evening…in the fall – spring…then IKEA in Dearborn, Michigan.

It’s a great way to look up malls and arenas as I discovered after looking up alternate road trip destinations.

Really, I despise criticizing anything, but this site is just a google map with a few tagged waypoints.

Great concept, but more people need to ‘write in’ the local must-sees to make this site work.

Picture of the day

When I was in Yellowstone this summer, as part of my 2 month camping trip, my boyfriend and I decided to leave quite early from the park. It was about 2 minutes in the car, on our journey to Jasper, that we decided we neeeeeded to stop in Hayden Valley to photograph the sunrise through some of the most densest fog I have ever experienced.

We both took some amazing shots in that 30 minutes of crazy fog, some great sunrise shots, ducks in the water, and all that. But right when we were finishing up, this dude below decided to walk by on the road beside my car…