For most of my childhood summers, my family drove down to New Jersey to visit my aunt and uncle. 10 hours each way. I loved visiting them, but HATED the drive.
I absolutely dreaded it. 10 hours where my brother was either sleeping or bugging me. 10 hours where I couldn’t even read because I’d get carsick. Those 10 hours were simply a means to an end. It was the only way to get to the fun stuff in New Jersey.
So it’s crazy that as an adult, I willingly planned a 4500km roadtrip. I even came up with the idea and convinced a friend to join me.
But I did and it was spectacular.
Here was our itinerary:
Day 1: Drive to Quebec City (11 hours…including nutty Toronto traffic)
Day 2: Explore Quebec City
Day 3: Drive to Charlottetown, PEI (about 9 hours)
Day 4: Explore PEI – we did Cavendish and Charlottetown
Day 5: Drive to Halifax, Nova Scotia (about 4 hours) and explore
Day 6: Explore Halifax and the area
Day 7: Drive to Hopewell Rocks (2.5 hours), walk along the ocean floor and watch the tide come in. Continue along to Saint John (2.5 more hours).
Day 8: Drive to Boston (7 hours)
Day 9: Explore Boston
Day 10: Drive home (10 hours)
If you were counting, that’s 46 hours of driving. And that doesn’t even include the adventures on our exploration days!
So now that I’m an expert on road trips, here’s how to make them awesome.
1. Go with a friend you love. A friend who challenges you to get out of your comfort zone. A friend who is silly and will pretend the massive closets at the University of PEI (where we stayed in Charlottetown) are gateways to Narnia, but will also have super serious conversations with you about every topic under the sun (you can cover a lot in 46 hours). It’s even better if that friend can speak French as you travel through Quebec…
2. Travel to magical places. Places that are so beautiful they take your breath away. Places you’ve read about and heard about.
3. Be silly. Take jump shots. Go on Segway tours. Create new inside jokes that make you laugh until you cry.
5. Stay in a variety of places. Consider university residences if you’re travelling in the summer. Try out Air B&B. Stay with friends, or friends of friends.
6. Pack lightly. Because packing and repacking a suitcase five times in nine days is much easier with less stuff.
7. Discover a new podcast. Ali had already listened to Serial, but was willing to listen to it all again and, oh boy, was I ever addicted. I know I was late to this party, but if anyone wants to debrief, please let me know!
8. Experience touristy stuff and local stuff. Say yes to “trivia night” at a local bar and then go to Peggy’s Cove the next day.
9. Stay at a small B&B to experience hospitality at its finest. We were only at Moore’s Tourist House for a short time, but it was a highlight of the trip. The owner, May, was lovely with real “down east” stories. She even met her husband at a picnic basket auction…Gilmore Girls style! (Don’t worry if you don’t get that reference…May didn’t either).
11. End your trip with something really exciting. For us, that was seeing Waitress at the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge. And that experience will be a post unto itself.
Maybe there’s something to this road tripping business afterall…