Is it just us or are you finding that this summer is absolutely flying by? We’re already half way through July and certainly the rest of the month and August will coast by as well. Naturally, you want the summer to be as long as possible and filled with as many adventures and experiences as possible but you also have to look ahead to the fall. For a lot of you, that means that summer vacation is over and the kiddos are heading back to school. For us, it means a trip from one end of the country all the way to the other side.
When we were first discussing the possibility of becoming full-time RVers we knew that we only had one choice for staying in Canada during the winter months. Because of the difference in climate, Vancouver Island is the perfect place to call home for us this winter. Winter temperatures rarely fall below zero and snow is a rare sight. Even if it does snow, it’s not likely to stay for too long. Everything about Vancouver Island during the winter sounds great and we’re looking forward to getting there after a long cross-Canada journey.
The Knowns & Unknown
With that being said, all we really know right now is that we’re leaving PEI in mid-September and arriving somewhere on Vancouver Island sometime around the first or second week of October. What happens in between is completely up in the air as of now. We have no idea yet where we’re going to be staying once we get to Vancouver Island or where we’re going to be stopping (for campgrounds) along the way throughout Canada.
The feeling of the unknown started to weigh a bit on me over the last couple of weeks as I realized the summer is flying by. The last thing we want to happen is for mid-August to hit and we have nothing yet planned. Recently, I made it a priority to sit down and roughly map out an itinerary that we could work from. I knew that this first itinerary would be like a very rough draft of a book – a good scope of what you want but with lots of changes to come.
Neither of us has ever driven with the fifth wheel yet. This will change at some point in the next month or so as we surely will need to practice towing and parking it before driving across Canada. We’re both a little bit nervous to do this but we’re confident that with a little patience it’ll be something we can easily pick up in no time.
When it comes to our daily driving from one spot to the next, we’ve already decided that we’re going to try not to drive more than 5-7 hours a day. Yes, that is still a lot of driving but we’ve read about a lot of fellow RVers who will drive 10-14 hours a day to get to their next location. We realize that there is pretty much no joy in that amount of driving for anyone. With a daily schedule of 5-7 hours of driving, we can bite off a huge chunk of territory, arrive at our destination mid-afternoon and still have time to relax and go on a bit of an adventure.
When to Leave?
Our planned departure date as of now is somewhere around the 10-12th of September. Kate reminded me that when I was putting together this itinerary, that Jim Bryson* is performing at the Trailside Cafe in Mount Stewart on the 11th. So, we’ll probably end up getting tickets to that show and leaving on the 12th. We also decided that the middle of the month would be a good time to cross Canada as the weather starts to get cooler here on PEI around that time. Leaving by the middle of the month also allows us plenty of time to get to Vancouver Island should we wish to call an audible along the way and wish to stay somewhere a bit longer than planned.
Because we are travelling in mid-September we have the bonus of what should be quieter campgrounds and tourist attractions. We do plan on hitting up some of the major cities across Canada like Montreal, Winnipeg, Regina, and Calgary which would be busier during the summer months. The other sites we’d like to see in Banff/Jasper are massively popular during the summer and should be a tad quieter when we pass through.
Because neither Kate or I have been west of Ontario, we don’t really have a clue what’s out there aside from what we’ve seen on social media or tv over the years. We can research a lot but at the same time, we know the best travel advice comes from fellow travellers and their past experiences. When you look at our rough itinerary, please do not hesitate to offer your advice as to what we should do and see along the way. We’re always looking for helpful advice on tourist attractions or even great campgrounds to stay at along the way.
With that being said, here’s how the journey looks…as of now.
September 12th – Borden-Carleton, PEI to Edmundston, NB
This will surely be a bittersweet day. We’ll be sad to leave PEI and what’s been a fantastic place to call our summer home at Jellystone. At the same time, we’re really excited to be starting the move west.
The goal of this day is to get to Edmundston in the northern part of New Brunswick. We may, however, stop in Fredericton for a part of the day for appointments and to see some friends before heading north for the day.
I’ve already had one recommendation that we should go to Quebec City. As soon as I heard that recommendation I was all for it. We may end up driving through Edmundston and on our way to Quebec City for a day or two to enjoy the historic city.
September 13th – Edmundston, NB to Montreal, QC
Neither Kate or I have ever really spent time in Montreal. We’ve been to the airport on a couple of occasions and driven through it but never actually got to enjoy the city. We know a lot of people who have been to Montreal multiple times and they say that it is one of their favourite cities.
The hope is to find a campground close to the city allowing us to freely explore the city for a day or so before continuing on. I’ve always wanted to enjoy both a poutine and a smoked meat sandwich in Montreal. Hopefully, this will be the point in time where that occurs.
*Your Input: What are some of the best spots to visit in Montreal?
September 15th -Montreal, QC to Bradford, ON
The drive on this day will see one of us returning home. I grew up in Bradford which is perfectly sandwiched between Toronto and Barrie. It was a decent place to grow up and I’ll be looking forward to getting home for a week and being able to see my family and friends.
Because of the size of our camper, we may have to find a campground to park at for the night. Luckily, I know that there’s another Jellystone right off the 400 highway that we could easily park at and is a 10-minute drive to my parent’s house.
September 16th – Bradford, ON to Long Point, ON
This will be the day that I bid adieu to Kate for a week. She’ll take off with the trailer, Bella, and Paris and head down to her neck of the woods for the week.
September 26th – Long Point, ON to Bradford, ON to Echo Bay, ON
This is going to be a day with more driving than usual. Kate will leave her family, pick me up and then we’ll head for Northern Ontario. Remember, when I said that neither of us has been west of Ontario? In reality, we haven’t been north of Sudbury, so we’ll be venturing into new & unknown territory on this day.
I’m also very excited because the plan on this day is to see a few of my friends. I haven’t seen my friend Erica, who I met in college, in many, many years. She’s hilarious and will have a brand new mini-me at that point, too. Jenn and Lincoln I met while working in Strathroy, Ontario and I haven’t seen them since they left for the Soo many years back. It’ll be great to catch up with these fine folks.
September 27th – Echo Bay, ON to Maraton/Pusaskwa National Park
I must admit, as much as I am a fan of national parks, I had never heard of Pusaskwa National Park. The first time I heard of it was when I was looking at the map along our driving route and saw it quietly nestled on the shores of Lake Superior.
We both love national parks and we think that this would be a nice spot to stop for a couple days to enjoy some relaxing, outdoors time. Hopefully, the weather won’t be too cool at this time of year. If it is, we’ll likely just shorten our stay to a day and take off early.
September 29th – Marathon/Pusaskwa National Park to Fort Frances, ON
Northern Ontario. We’ll already have been in it a bit, but this will be a full introduction to how Northern Ontario really is. From what we understand it’s very desolate, thick with trees, wildlife, and single lane roads.
I have no idea what to expect during this day of driving, but I’m looking forward to it. If you’ve travelled through this part of Ontario, please let us know what we can look forward to.
September 30th – Fort Frances, ON to Winnipeg, MB
For the first time, we’ll cross the border into a province that neither of us has been to before. Most people say that Manitoba and Saskatchewan are boring provinces. I believe those people don’t have a proper sense of adventure. Regardless, I’m always excited for new places and that’ll be no different on this day.
The plan, similar to our Montreal stop, is to camp somewhere outside of Winnipeg to allow us easy access to the city so that we can take in the sites.
*Your Input: What are some of the best spots to visit in Winnipeg?
October 2nd – Winnipeg, MB to Regina, SK
Saying goodbye to Manitoba and hello to Saskatchewan – the province I can never spell correctly. Thank you, spell check. We’ll be stopping near the city for a couple of days, so that we can again, enjoy some downtime and soak up the atmosphere of the city.
*Your Input: What are some of the best spots to visit in Regina?
October 4th – Regina, SK to Calgary/Jasper/Banff, AB
This will be a long day of driving but one we’re happy to make as we’ll be pulling into one of the anticipated areas of our journey. A lot of our friends have been out this way before and based on their pictures, it’s going to be an amazing spot to stop. The only thing we have to figure out is how long we want to stop for. As of now, I have us in the area for 4 days but I’ve thought hard about changing that to 6 or 7 days. I don’t know when we’ll get back to this area so I really want to be able to do a good chunk activities before we continue on.
*Your Input: What are some of the best spots to visit in the Calgary, Jasper, Banff region?
October 8th – Calgary, AB to Kelowna, BC
The mountains have always been in the back of our heads when it comes to pulling our fifth wheel. By this point, we’ll have already driven through some mountainous areas of Alberta but I believe this drive will really introduce us to some good mountain driving. Fingers crossed it will go smoothly. At the end of the day, we’ll end up in Kelowna where my Great Aunt has a home. She may or may not be there at that time, so I’m unsure if I’ll be able to get to visit with her.
October 9th – Kelowna, BC to Nanaimo, BC
Every time I mention Nanaimo, BC to people I secretly wonder if they’re thinking about sweet Nanaimo bars like I am. This will be the final day of driving for us. Almost a complete month journey across the country. It’ll be a relief I’m sure and we’ll be excited to be arriving at our new home. Honestly, though, I don’t even know if we’re going to be living in Nanaimo or not. It’s just a placeholder for now. We’re looking at many other options for spots to stay/live for the winter on Vancouver Island.
*Your input: Where on Vancouver Island would you recommend that we live? Keep in mind we both need to work.
Have you ever gone on a cross Canada trip? How long did you take to make your journey? What were the highlights? Share your experience and tips!