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Time for a road trip

With long-distance travel out of reach for now, hit the road for your next adventure.

With respect to the government’s advice to avoid travel outside the country in response to COVID-19, many Canadians are readjusting their vacation plans this year. And, since living in the world's second-largest country means every destination of interest isn’t just a short stroll away, maybe now is the time to embrace a great Canadian cultural tradition and embark on that road trip you’ve always dreamed of. 


Some people seek out ghost towns, picturesque locations or the quirkiest roadside attractions. Perhaps you’ve thought about revisiting your hometown to see how it’s changed over the years. Tracing the path of your family’s origins could be another journey of discovery. Historic places and notable monuments that you’ve only ever heard about might be closer than you think. Whatever sparks your interest, chances are there’s a road that leads right to it.


Destinations and durations are up to you

One of the best things about a road trip is that you have the freedom to choose your destination, your route and the time it’ll take to complete. Simple day trips will allow you to make it back to your own bed for the night, while longer trips can have you camping, stopping overnight in motels or relying on the kindness of friends and relatives to host you for a night or two. Road trips have always been about creating your own adventure, taking your time and living in the moment instead of rushing towards the next stop. If you’re gearing up for one, remember to set aside some extra time for the detours and distractions that are likely to pop up along the way. And isn’t that part of the fun?


Is your vehicle road trip ready? 

As tempting as the open road may be, be sure to assess the roadworthiness of your vehicle before you pack up and go. Nothing sidelines a road trip quite like an avoidable breakdown. It’s always smart to get an annual tune-up, but more important if you’re planning to travel any distance from home. Check your tires for wear and tear and make sure they’re inflated to the recommended pressure for better safety and mileage. A membership in a roadside repair club can have you winding down the road with even more confidence. 


Budget

Go big or go home? No, when it comes to spending money on the road, it’s more like go at your own pace. Budget for gas, meals and accommodations, but if you plan to stop at some attractions or have a list of activities that includes shopping excursions or adventure tours, then be prepared to set your spending limit higher. As with any kind of travel, road trip costs are limited only by what you’re willing to spend. 


Road reminders

Avoid overpacking and bringing too much of one thing. Leave some space if you think you’ll pick up a few souvenirs along the way. If it’s going to be a long trip, it’s better to pack things that give you comfort, such as pillows, snacks, water, an extra pair of eyeglasses, a phone and car-equipped charger, emergency roadside and first-aid kits, hand sanitizer, extra face masks, medication, binoculars, spare change, a travel mug and a reliable spare tire. Don’t forget to take your vehicle ownership documents and check your auto insurance policy to ensure you’re covered while travelling farther than usual from home. Interprovincial travel insurance is also a necessary safeguard that can easily be purchased online in advance of your trip.


Consider what’s open and closed during COVID-19 

Depending on the current medical and government advisories tracking the latest COVID-19 developments, your road trip could have some limitations. Are restaurants and hotels open and available in the areas you’re planning on visiting? Are roadside rest stops clean and accessible? Are the communities and tourist spots you’ll visit open for business? It’s a good idea to do some research before heading out, so you know what to expect down the road. 


Next stop?

Whichever direction your road trip takes you, there’s sure to be plenty to see and do. Planning all the essentials, taking safety precautions and collecting your documents beforehand will help you and your travel companions arrive with big smiles, brimming with satisfaction that you decided to go. 

Looking for destination ideas? Here are some of the more popular road trips Canada has to offer.

  • Breathtaking views and natural wonders dot the two-hour drive up the Sea-to-Sky highway that extends from Vancouver to just north of Whistler, British Columbia. 

  • Cape Breton Island’s Cabot Trail is a must, according to people who have driven this 300-kilometre route along the coast of Nova Scotia. Enjoy some down-home hospitality on the way – taking time to stop in some of the charming villages and meet local artisans can make the experience so much more worthwhile. 

  • In Ontario, the Georgian Bay Coastal Route draws thousands of visitors in a typical year. The Georgian Bay shoreline extends for over 1,300 kilometres, offering views of spectacular geographic features and scenery. Islands, beaches, parks and welcoming small towns are just waiting to be explored. 

  • The journey from Montreal, past Quebec City to the tip of Quebec’s Gaspé Peninsula is a lovely nine-hour drive along the St. Lawrence River. Deep forests and imposing rock cliffs reveal the age and beauty of the land.

  • If bridges are your thing, why not drive across the longest one in Canada on your way to Prince Edward Island? The 12.9-kilometre Confederation Bridge is just the first of many unique attractions that will connect you to the idyllic lifestyle embraced by the island’s inhabitants. 

  • You’ll need to leave your horse at home to take advantage of a road trip along southwest Alberta’s Cowboy Trail. The 700-kilometre drive passes through scenic and serene prairie landscapes that give you a sense of the history of the area. To really get into the spirit, there are plenty of places where you can saddle up for a trail ride into the sunset. 

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CLEMENT CHUNG, CFP, CLU

Certified Financial Planner

Fee-Based Financial Planning
Burnaby & Metro Vancouver

©2018 by Clement Chung.