Traveling with kids? I spent 22 days vacationing in Canada and this is what happened.
Traveling has never been tiring for me, although 2019 has been a challenging year both physically and emotionally; with my kids around us while we got some work done on the home maintenance front along with other nick-nacks. I faced quite a few challenges from the very upstart, from booking tickets to returning home, the 22 days long vacation with the whole family was indeed an unexpected roller coaster ride as we had not pre-planned our stay and activities. The only thought in our mind was that we would be going home, the situation would improve once we start progressing towards our goals. I have two lovely boys aged 4 and 6 respectively and believe me, they have never uttered the word no whenever we planned our travel destinations or made unnecessary stopovers. Besides, who would ever say no to such travel destinations where one has the freedom to be anyone or everyone at any given time, right? Staying in a fairly nice hotel, exploring new places and a variety of new cuisines is everyone’s dream. If you ever get the opportunity to ask a backpacker, they would promptly reply with their love for traveling.
They are aware of the many things they are missing out on…like luxurious stays at five-star hotels and being pampered thoroughly by the services provided by the same. They would be traveling on a budget which would include hitchhiking, free food and sometimes offering their services in return for purchases. It is the choice of an individual on where to go, what to do and how to do.
We as a family love to experience the essence of life and its surroundings, as a result, my children started to get picky when they found out about the budgeted travel plans, they pre-booked their activities to make sure we stayed on the route. My first challenge was as to what needs to be packed on a long vacation trip as I would be staying at my home away from home? My first preference for booking accommodation is, of course, hotel apartments then Airbnb and then hotel suites or three plus star hotels with very good reviews. When you travel with kids, you must be prepared with things you may not need on a daily basis (for usage inside the house). So, I started making a list of everything I must have or I will need while I take the time to adjust for the first few days. From almost over two hundred items, I omitted quite a few after lengthy discussions with my husband, (men have the least requirements you see). So, finally, I had 55 items in my checklist to pack along with a few electronics and food packets to survive on an emergency mode with two hunger packs.
It is like a blessing in disguise if your airline allows two pieces of checked baggage plus a carry on plus a personal item and laptop bag. Here’s a tip; use this advantage wisely, as people usually stuff things and the extra space just goes to waste. Once they have landed, they realize that they didn’t need certain items and most of the time people end up carrying them all the way back home completely untouched. Such a waste of space right? Everyone is cautious over extra baggage charges, may it be overweight bags or number of bags per person. It is true that you will need all the food but also you’ll not be opening them once you see freshly cooked hot meals. Brace yourself, Do not take frozen food packets, instant mixes that need to be warm/cooked in utensils and food packets in which you have to add fresh vegetables or onion, garlic, tomato to achieve the authentic taste. It’s all useless if you arrived all tired at the hotel in midnight, looking for a warmer or a microwave to cook and have the courage to clean everything early morning before checking out the hotel room. Mostly, we are on a time constraint on the trip or transiting from one city to another through lunch or dinner time. At this time, all one can do is give food packets to kids and ask them to keep themselves busy with some activity. Long drives are tough when you are with toddlers who do not like to be on the car seat for a long time.
The universal question a parent is asked : “Are we there yet?”
So, I had two fully charged ipads, a couple of snacks and juice set on the cup holder before fixing them into the car seat hoping they wouldn’t hop. The first few hours from Seattle (our first port of entry was in WA, USA) to Vancouver (British Columbia, CA) was so much fun as they were checking everything out with the iPad in one hand and food in the other. Soon, as it started getting dark, the kids got cranky. We decided to pull over at a rest area and let them walk around with us! It was a lifetime experience walking in the bushes, sitting amidst trees who were almost a hundred years old. After all, BC is known for its green landscape and provincial parks. We took a breather, used fresh rooms and voila, all set to drive for a few more hours to our first nightstand, Kelowna. Driving through British Columbia is always fun. It was our seventh or eighth road trip on the same route I guess, but every time we had new memories and all of them were worth cherishing. The only regret I have is, I hardly encountered any wildlife. Maybe, we were driving at a fair speed or it was late for animals to come to show us some moves or maybe its the weather that gets chilled overnight.
The next day from Kelowna, we had a hot breakfast and hit the road to Alberta, home sweet home. I couldn’t wait to see my home. I left Canada three years ago, nothing has changed though. Looking at the road conditions, people and cars, I felt like I was there just yesterday. All this time I met new people and my interactions of working in three different countries was not new to them. Many Canadians have friends and relatives working in different countries. The only thing, not common was frequent traveling for both work and leisure. People do not travel unless necessary, that I know. I urge myself to explore in order to travel and share my experiences along with exchanging culture and ideas. Canada has a lot to offer; landscapes, scenic driveways, fresh air, mountains, and parks. My favourite would have to be the multicultural food and cultural activities.
Canadians are so diverse, one will never feel left out. People smile, greet and interact everywhere we go. If the kids give any trouble, they help us by distracting them. People I met along the way gave me good vibes. Moneywise, I will not brag, I spent way over my budget on food and car rental (kind of expected) as the inflation did hit this corner of the world. I engaged myself into binge shopping a few branded clothes and treated myself like a queen quite a few times! It is the so-called side effect of having a lovely spouse who never minds money (until we are broke). I overheard people talking about unemployment and recession, though looking at brand new construction sites, flashy cars on the road and celebrations taking place in every banquet halls around the cities like mine, makes me question who is struggling and who is flourishing in Canada. If I had an option to make a change in my community, I would consult with every individual striving to jump into a new career and help them to the best of my abilities, not because of their odd choices and unavoidable circumstances but for their courage of raising their family.
It is okay, Canadians accept, we match flyer deals before going shopping, we love groupons and we are never home on weekends during the summer. We love to sit with our neighbors on a barbeque and talk with our natives until the phone battery dies.
I could have been exhausted, though nature kept me going and today I would happily recommend everyone to visit Canada. And if you are planning to settle in Canada then this country will definitely make you fall in love with it from every aspect.
Am I supposed to give you tips on savings or budget planning for vacation trips? Give me a break, you know everything.
- Do a little homework on the new places you are about to visit
- Pack bags according to needs and not with a “what I want” attitude
- Keep extras like winsitter, power bank, iPad (kids friendly) & healthy food options
- Check deals before booking hotels, car rentals, and attractions
- Always check the weather forecast before hitting the road & indulge in the surprises happily
So, traveling to Canada soon? Ask me questions and I will be happy to answer them all, no matter how simple or how emotional they are! It may help newcomers or help start a conversation on something for God’s sake. Talk and release your worries; that’s my mojo!
Author – Mitali Jani – Experienced Creative Head with a demonstrated history of working in the media production industry. Highly skilled in Audio-video productions, Communication, Event management, Presentation skills, Corporate Communications and market research. Strong content development professional with a diploma focused in Cinematography and graduate in computers with multimedia majors from well-known institution in Canada and India. Currently liaisoning with various films and media for productions and distribution.