Travelling with Kids / stretch your legs


We just returned from the most amazing vacation. Over the course of two weeks, the four of us drove over 5000 kilometres across the country. And when I say drove, I mean, Tyler drove. I was the snack getter, the garbage collector, the music woman, the referee, the navigator (at times), and a host of other things - all from the passenger seat.

When we announced our decision to drive to BC, some 25 hours from our home in Winnipeg, we got some raised eyebrows. 'Are your kids good in the car?' - everyone asked. Hmm... are they? They were always good in the car when we drove to the park, or to daycare, or even to cottages an hour or two away. But we'd never gone on a ROAD TRIP, per se, so while we were optimistic, we also had some lingering doubts.

The reason we wanted to drive was to explore the country. We were not on a super-mission to drive 14 hour days, or 'though the night', as many prefer to do. We wanted to meander - to stop at interesting parks or playgrounds - to grab coffees when places looked cute. I planned our route to drive no more than about 8 hours per day - preferably a little less than that. 

Our first day, a friday, we left after work - around 4pm, and drove 6 hours to Regina. We thought the kids would go to sleep at their normal times, and we'd carry them sleeping into the hotel. That didn't quite work, as the kids proved not to fall asleep easily at bedtime, but rather turn into hyper crazies... throwing things across the car at each other. This was done in good fun, and we smiled in the front seat as we heard crazy squeals and giggles behind us. So, on the first night we all stayed up pretty late - which kind of set the tone for the road-trip part of our trip. 

Our first big 'stop' was at the dinosaur museum in Drumheller, which is about an hour east of Calgary. My sister and her boyfriend joined us, and we enjoyed hiking the 'mountain', as Soren put it. In fact, the kids much preferred the outdoor hiking area and the playground to the museum itself. Poppy enjoyed the dinosaurs, but Soren just raced from one exhibit to the next, barely pausing to even glance at what was on display.

The skies were gorgeous, and as we drove towards Calgary that night we saw some of the most amazing sunsets - complete with massive thunderclouds in the distance. Again, the kids stayed up past their bedtimes, but I think it worked itself out as they tended to have long naps during the day, as we drove. We usually started our day around 9, and drove about 3 hours until it was time for lunch. Lunch was usually at a playground, after which the kids would fall asleep for a few hours in the car. We would then stop again, sometimes at a destination like Drumheller, and all stretch our legs for a good hour at least. Then, it was back in the car for a couple of hours until we reached our destination for the night.

I booked our first two nights at hotels using points. In Regina we stayed at the Delta, which was average, but upon checkout a wonderful lady at the front desk gave the kids presents for the road. Both were age appropriate, and both kids really enjoyed them!  In Calgary we stayed at the Holiday Inn Airport which was quite awful. Live and learn... and we were only on the room for about 12 hours. Next up - the rocky mountains!

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