Why I’m Moving into My Car This Year

March 7, 2016

moving-into-my-car

One of the best and worst things about documenting your life on a blog is that you can read old posts, and reflect on who you were and what was happening in your life at the time you wrote it. I typically avoid reading my old posts, more so because I find that my age shines through them, and my writing was terrible… but sometimes, old posts inspire ideas for new posts – and big life changes.

Exactly two years ago, I shared my vision for what the perfect day would look like in 5 years’ time. If I were to write that post again today, some of it would be the same. I’d be an author, freelance writer and public speaker. I’d have a rescue dog or two. And I’d forever work in jeans and a hoodie.

But the one big difference between what I wanted then and what I want now is my definition of the word “home”. Before, I thought I wanted to buy a two-bedroom condo (if I was still single) or a house (if I had a partner and/or kids). I was so adamant about that idea, I even wrote that I would not want to live in a condo if I had kids. I just wasn’t interested in being squeezed into a small space.

As of right now, I can’t imagine either of those housing options being in my 3-year plan. For starters, homeownership is way too far out of my reach. The bidding wars that once only existed in Toronto are now even worse in Vancouver and Victoria. Houses in Victoria are selling within a week of being listed for $70-100K over asking. (And some are going for $1 million over in Vancouver.)

Beyond just the cost issue is the fact that I don’t want all of that square footage anymore. Sure, if I had kids, I think it would be important to give them some space of their own… but I have zero dreams of owning an actual house, at this point. Not only can I not afford it, I just don’t want the extra space. (And I don’t want to spend all my time maintaining it.)

When it really comes down to it, though, the cost and larger square footage aren’t the reasons I don’t want to own a home in the next few years. The reality is that I want to travel long-term – I’ve dreamt about it forever – and I’m finally in a position where I can do it.

After high school, many of my friends took gap years and travelled all over the world. I took time off school, but knew I needed to work if I wanted certain luxuries (like gas for my car), so that’s what I did. I worked and worked and worked. I worked and I didn’t travel. I did manage to put a lifestyle I couldn’t afford on credit, but then I became a slave to my debt.

With a handful of minimum payments to make each month, I couldn’t take a month or two off to travel – I was chained to my paycheques. And I’ve talked a lot about how I was living a life that didn’t make me happy, but I didn’t realize it was all the things I was doing and buying that weren’t helping – I just thought my debt was to blame.

Since I’ve paid off my debt, I’m no longer being held back by the numbers. I know how to live a frugal life, and I know I don’t need much to be happy. And the fact that I’m no longer restricted to only getting a few weeks of vacation each year, and can do all of my work from my laptop, means I can finally make some of my old dreams a reality.

The Idea

There are so many big trips I want to go on. I’ve mentioned before that I really want to spend 8-10 weeks in the UK and Ireland. I’d love to do that this year, but if the Canadian dollar stays low, I don’t think it’ll be an option. I’ve also thought about driving all over the US, going to national parks and visiting friends in various states, but that dollar of ours remains an issue.

…but it’s only an issue if I leave Canada, not if I stay here. For years, I’ve dreamt about driving across the country and visiting friends in every province. And in the months leading up to my surgery, I spent more time outdoors than ever before and it made me come alive. So, why not combine it all? Drive across Canada, hike and camp, and visit friends all along the way?

I love the idea, but if I do it, I want to move extra slow. I don’t just want to hop in my car, hit all the tourist spots and find my way back here in three weeks’ time. I want to take my time and not feel rushed to leave beautiful places with only one picture to remember them by. I want to hike up every mountain and trail that I can. And I want to say “yes” when new friends invite me to new places.

Some of my most memorable trips have been to cities I didn’t know I’d ever visit, but where I had the opportunity to truly slow down and take my time. Winnipeg, Manitoba is one example. I walked 15-20,000 steps every day, saw the city on foot, was treated to home-cooked meals and great conversations – all because I wasn’t on a time crunch. And it was easily one of my favourite trips from last year.

So, that’s the trip I’m finally going to take: slowly make my way across Canada, stop wherever I please, stay in places as long as I like and hike as much as I can.

The Travel Gear

Now, as much as I like the idea of just getting in my car and going, I do need to prepare for this trip. I’ll likely be on the road for a few months, and in that time I not only need to think about how I’ll be getting places, where I’ll be sleeping and showering, and how much everything will cost (new budgets!), I also need to work and write here. I still have commitments, just not nearly as many as before.

I’ll admit, when I first decided to do this, I thought about buying a used van or RV. I’m more drawn to “van life” than tiny houses on wheels, simply because it’s easier and cheaper (I don’t have $25-50K for a tiny house + money for a truck to pull it + gas to drive it). But I also don’t like the idea of investing in a used van or RV that could possibly breakdown constantly.

Renting an RV would also be ridiculously expensive, especially when you add up all the fuel costs. I don’t want to be on a time limit, which a rental would come with. And I like the idea of having a smaller vehicle to bomb around and explore in.

Enter, my car: a 2009 Kia Rio5 with only 76,000 km (47,000 miles) on it. While it’s not your typical long-term travel vehicle, Bandit – as he was serendipitously named when I got him – is definitely ready to go on some adventures. My tires are only 1.5 years old, my dad can tune it up before I go, and any work/maintenance it needs along the way should be fairly cheap. (Knock on wood!)

Owning a vehicle eases the potential costs that will come with this trip, but I’ll still need to buy a lot before I go. For starters, I need a tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad and camping gear. When I was younger, I always borrowed stuff from my parents. But since I plan to do multi-day hiking/camping trips, I need smaller/lighter stuff that can squeeze into a backpack (which I also need to buy).

I’ll also need a few things for my hikes, a car charger for my phone (which I’ve never owned before), and some safety precautions (bear bell and spray, knife, etc.). If you can think of anything else, add it to my list! I’m hoping to spend less than $1,500 on everything, maybe $2,000 with some new clothing (as my tiny wardrobe is not equipped for camping or multi-day treks, at the moment).

The Timeline and (Shopping Ban) Logistics

Here’s where things get tricky. I have no idea when I can leave Victoria and start this adventure. The recovery time for my surgery is 4-6 months, and I’ll be doing everything I can to make sure it’s just 4; that would mean I could leave as early as July. Ideally, I’d go in the spring and come back before the summer (to avoid tourists), but that’s not an option… so summer/fall it is.

Note: If it takes 6 months, I’ll leave in August/September and just explore BC and Alberta for a couple months.

If that’s the case, I’ll need to break the shopping ban in a very big way. Since I have months to prepare, I want to take advantage of any sales that come up – not buy everything as soon as the ban is over, simply to prove a point. Maybe I’ll end the ban early. I don’t know. I do know I’ll use my shopping ban savings ($3,000) to pay for it all, and can then thank the ban for helping me do this.

I also know I’m going to downsize a bit more, before I leave – not by much, but so my stuff isn’t taking up too much space at my dad’s, while I’m gone.

There’s so much more to think about… I’ll need to find places to shower, dedicate a couple days/week to work (somewhere with internet), and read up on all the hidden gems I absolutely must find and see. And I want to come up with some tentative monthly budgets and savings goals – because my hope is that I can earn enough to both live and still save, so I can embrace “car life” for as long as possible.

While my first goal is to drive across Canada, I can’t deny that I’m open to this being a long-term choice: life on the road, that is. Who knows. Maybe I’ll be gone for two weeks, hate it and come crying home to my family. Living alone in an apartment is a lot different than living alone in your car/tent, and being surrounded by wilderness and all the weather elements. I’m fully aware that it won’t be easy.

But I also know I’ll hate myself if I don’t try. For years, I’ve known I wasn’t ready to “settle down” (or where I’d even do that). But I’ve always known that I want to travel more… and I can’t waste time waiting until someone can join me. Maybe I’ll only get to go on one short trip in 2016, then do something bigger in 2017. We’ll have to see how things go, when I can leave and where I end up.

What I’ll Share Here

So, why am I sharing this with you now, when I have no idea when I can leave or what any of my plans are? I’ll admit, I was worried about hitting publish on this post. Most of the other “big ideas” (like the shopping ban) I’ve shared here were impulsive – mapped out just days before I began the new challenge. But this is different…

In the past, I made a lot of big decisions based on what I thought I should do. I thought I needed a nice apartment with all matching furniture, I thought I needed to move up a career ladder, and I thought I needed to settle down somewhere. It’s taken me a long time to realize what makes me happy, however, and through many small and intentional decisions, I now know I want something very different.

I want to travel long-term. I want to see more of my own country, to start, but I also want to see more of the world – and to be in places for more than just a week at a time. It’s taken a long time for me to not only realize this, but to get to a place where I can do it; this blog is nearly six years old, after all. So I’m not making any quick and fast decisions here. I am choosing this life…

I don’t see this ever turning into a full-time travel blog – not even close. But over the next few months, I will likely share a monthly update on how the planning is going, if I’ve bought anything yet (and the day I end the shopping ban for good) and what other decisions I’ve made. The same way someone might share their savings progress for buying a home or retiring early, I want to share my journey into car life.

And the reason I want to share it all here, rather than just spring the news on you days before I go, is because I want your input.

Even when people go on solo trips, they’re never really alone – not entirely. Friends and family tell you places to see and cheap places to eat, you can read blogs or travel guides written by people who have been there, and you will forever be asking others where to find free Wi-Fi. When you’re travelling long-term, you will also run into lots of other people on the road – and it’s ok to ask for help.

I’m going to have lots of questions that only people who have backpacked or lived on the road will have answers to – that might be you! Or maybe you can share posts with people you know who have travelled a lot, or have been to places I’m going to or even live there now (insider info from locals is the best). Maybe we could meet up and go for a hike together. Or maybe I’ll just have a panic attack on Twitter and say “please someone in X city help me!” Haha. The point is, if you’re going to travel long-term, you need to be open to accepting help from others. I know I can’t do it all without you.

By this point, my guess is none of you are surprised I’m going to do this. When I told my family, I thought my dad might have a list of reasons why I shouldn’t do it, or my sister would tell me all the things that would go wrong, but that never happened. Instead, my dad nodded and said “get on the road!” and Alli drove me to MEC so we could start researching items and costs.

The first question I have for you is re: packing for a long trip. Whether you went backpacking or on a road trip, what were some of the most important things to pack? (And to that end, what did you buy that you never needed?)

232 Comments

  • Reply The Vagabond March 7, 2016 at 10:52 am

    I’m more reductive than additive when it comes to packing. Less is almost always the right answer for me, no matter how far or how long I am traveling. I look at each item I’m thinking about packing and ask:

    * Have I used this at home in the past month? If no, why do I think I will need it on the road?
    * Is this an item that is not available where I am going?
    * Am I taking another item that would fulfill the same purpose?

    At this point I basically take up to five pairs of clothes/underwear/socks, two types of shoes, travel documents, and a laptop. I don’t feel wasteful if I need to grab a couple of items if something wears out, and toiletries are available everywhere (and sometimes provided gratis).

    I am sure you will get lots of great suggestions on things to pack that seem reasonable based on anecdotes– but for your own mobility’s sake, make sure to also ask yourself just how likely those scenarios are to occur!

    • Reply Michelle Brooks March 7, 2016 at 12:29 pm

      Hi Cait! You will love travelling around our beautiful country!

      My parents and I went on a road trip May of 2014. I had wanted to travel out west after graduating university but *life* happened. Long story short, after a bad relationship ended I moved back to Kingston Ontario, from Greenwood Nova Scotia, and new it was time to go!

      It took us 21 days, to drive from Kingston, Ontario to Portland, Oregon, and back. We took our time and saw so many amazing things. Alberta was one of my favourite provinces. Drumheller is amazing, so is Banff.

      If you ever find your way to Kingston, I’d be happy to host you! We are the land of the Thousand Islands, and there’s lots of camping and hiking in this region.

      Bon Voyage!

      • Reply Elizabeth March 7, 2016 at 4:31 pm

        I second visiting Kingston and the Thousand Islands — especially in the summer or fall. There’s a lot of history there. Take a boat tour out of Gananoque and take your passport so you can visit Boldt Castle.

        If you do go in summer, you can rent out a residence room at Queen’s for pretty cheap.

        Oh! While you’re in the neighbourhood, Prince Edward County is also gorgeous. Lovely arts community and vineyards. (I don’t drink, but some of them offer ciders too — it’s really cool to see the old buildings and the wineries!)

        • Reply MaryJane March 15, 2016 at 6:27 am

          I second Prince Edward County! I’m from Connecticut, but my husband and I love camping in Ontario. Sandbanks and Presque Isle campgrounds are right on the lake; the area surrounding Sandbanks is particularly beautiful as well, with lots of peaceful farmland rolling down to the lake, and some cute towns with good ice cream. Priorities! Also, Kingston has a really cool fort, Fort Henry, in a stunning location.
          The town of Niagara-on-the-Lake is charming, and the falls themselves are breathtaking and really shouldn’t be missed, even though Niagara the city is totally over-priced and sort of touristy-tacky. Enjoy this wonderful opportunity!

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 8, 2016 at 6:54 am

      I especially like your first question, as I want to think about that but in a different way (since I’ll be camping and without access to major appliances). So: have I used *something like* this at home in the past month? If so, do I need it on the road? And I’m definitely open to buying things along the way, if I realize I need them later! Learning lessons about what you need/don’t need will certainly be part of this. :)

    • Reply Colin April 6, 2016 at 5:50 pm

      Great idea go for it!
      We did this for 4 months in 2014 in a Hyundai Accent 2 people and a dog, were over 60 and loved it, were going again this year.

      First the car is your home get some drip shields for the windows so they can be open in the rain and make some mosquito screens secured with magnets for the windows this way you will have some where comfortable to go hang out when the weather or bugs don’t co operate.

      It’s no fun sleeping in a car but the above will help.

      Don’t skim on your tent, mattress and sleeping bag, shop at one of the major outdoor retailers all our gear is from Mountain Equipment Co-op slightly more expensive but well worth, get an air mattress with insulation in it not one of the cheap hardware store jobs. We spent less than $2000 dollars on gear and this includes a lot of extra canoeing and back country gear.

      Have a plan for breakdowns CAA or similar spend the extra on full insurance for your vehicle it’s worth the piece of mind, the better auto plans included an allowance for out of pocket expenses such as motel rooms if you break down or have an accident 500km from the closest repair facility.

      Other gear, as little as possible, it should all fit in your trunk easily otherwise you will be for ever looking for stuff, forget about plug in fridges they are space wasting and inefficient and will rapidly warm up when you shut off your car or run your battery down.

      Get used to canned food, dry food and nuts if your away from civilization for more than 2-3 days, if you leave your car for a length of time to go hiking etc. in bear country don’t leave anything smelly in the car that would attract a bear, we did it cost us one window, we got off cheap.

      Clothing as much as possible should be synthetic, comfortable and quick drying, remember you will likely have to wash your clothes by hand every few days. We only carry 4 changes of the basics, if they are synthetic you can wash them by hand in the evening and finish the drying in a couple of hours in the back of the car if necessary.

      All our clothing for the trip fits in one 20 litre bag although we do have some highly compressible synthetic insulate clothing. Get good rain gear that way you won’t have much rain.

      If your into technology and GPS there are some great files available with the camp sites location across Canada, not always 100% accurate but overall a great aid. I carry 3 GPS devices one for the car, a waterproof hand held unit and one in the phone all carry complete road and topographic maps for Canada plus files with camp sites etc. depending on your device most of these are available free.

      BC is the best place for cheap/free camping the recreational sites are great, Ontario is the most expensive place we have camped, generally the further east you travel the harder it is to find places to wild camp especially in a tent, it can be done it’s just more challenging.

      With a small car like yours the trip will cost you less than you think, for our 4 month 20,000km trip we only spent $1000 more than our normal budget although most of the time was spent in BC with its’ cheap camping, we are from Nova Scotia. A motor home would spend that much just to get out of the Atlantic provinces you really get to see a lot more when you don’t have to think about gas costs.

      We will be heading west at the May long week end when most of the camp sites open for the season, hopefully you will be over your operation and be able to get on the road soon, you could spend a lot of time just exploring BC.

  • Reply Des @ Half Banked March 7, 2016 at 10:52 am

    Cait! Congratulations! I am so excited for you and this adventure!

    While I’ve never done anything even kind of similar, I will say that if/when you make it to Ottawa, there are SO MANY great hikes and outdoor fun things to do (even late fall, if that’s when you get here – the Gatineau hills are gorgeous that time of year!) and I would love to show you some of them!

    Seriously, I can’t even get over how excited I am for you – this sounds amazing!

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 8, 2016 at 6:55 am

      I definitely want to hit Ottawa, Des! :)

    • Reply Isabelle March 9, 2016 at 12:31 am

      I second the suggestion for the Gatineau Hills. Go check out the Champlain Belvedere!

  • Reply Kate @ Cashville Skyline March 7, 2016 at 10:53 am

    Wow, Cait. So exciting! I traveled all over the United States by car for about 5 years at my old job. For me, the most important packed item was always snacks (are you surprised?) There were so many long stretches of rural areas outside major cities where the only place to eat was fast food & gas stations. So trying to eat healthy was a huge challenge! Other than that, I loved having plenty of podcasts and music to listen to on my journeys. And a solid car charger! If you make it to the Southeast U.S., there’s a guest bedroom in my East Nashville house with your name on it! :)

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 8, 2016 at 6:57 am

      Healthy snacks, it is! I’ll pick them up whenever I’m running low, so I don’t run out. Great tip, friend ;) and I definitely want to come to Nashville one day! Hopefully Bandit can get me there :)

  • Reply Chris @ Explore Beyond the Usual March 7, 2016 at 10:54 am

    We will sit down and go over the 10-essentials you will need for the hiking aspect to keep the cost vs quality in mind as well as what you really need. As for the driving portion plan out when you feel you are strong enough to hike as well as recovered enough for the longer seated positions of driving. For the actual costs of a solo adventure via vehicle it is much cheaper than you imagine using my US trip as an example in my blog. I like that you have been inspired to do this and look forward to doing the same once the kids have graduated from high school. Nice post Cait!

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 8, 2016 at 6:59 am

      Yes yes yes! I also want to keep a record of how much things cost, along the way – mostly campgrounds, gas, food. So maybe I can write a post that says “2 weeks in BC cost me X” kinda thing. Can’t wait to chat more, friend!

  • Reply J. Money March 7, 2016 at 10:56 am

    My input:

    DO IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    And soak up alll that fun and adventure and even all the crazy “I can’t believe this is happening” phases.

    I can’t think of a better time where this opportunity would be so easily taken?

    Proud of you for putting it all out there regardless… Nothing like some good ol accountability! haha..

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 8, 2016 at 7:00 am

      Haha! Yea, there’s no going back now, eh? ;) Thanks, friend! Appreciate your support, always. :)

  • Reply Liz March 7, 2016 at 10:57 am

    I have never been on a road trip, but I want to! I am currently “held back by the numbers,” but every day I get closer to not being so. When I am down to $0 debt, I want to do what you’re doing, because I put it off in my 20’s as well. I don’t have kids and I am not married, and I don’t desire either at this point in my life… I want to see more of the world before I am too old to do so. So, I wish I could offer you advice, but really I am just looking forward to following you on your journey, and continuing to receive inspiration from all that you do and have done. Good luck to you, and thank you!

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 8, 2016 at 7:09 am

      I know how much I’ve appreciated reading other people’s stories, at various stages in life, so I’m grateful I can share mine with you, Liz. <3

      • Reply Claire May 24, 2016 at 1:13 pm

        You are never too old to see the world!

  • Reply Catherine March 7, 2016 at 10:57 am

    This is amazing Cait. I hope you make it to the east coast ;) Did you know all national parks in Canada are free in 2017( admission fees anyway) which may help you plan. What do you plan to do about food/storage…I guess you could live out of a cooler and change ice daily? I’d say checking out something like MEC might be helpful! If you stay at camogrounds you’d have shower facilities….or buy day passes to local rec centers where you may be…go fir a swim then shower? Cant wait to read this roll out!

    • Reply Aviva March 7, 2016 at 11:58 pm

      Icebox that plugs into car lighter essential
      Freecycle camping gear!
      Blow up mattress !! you will get fed up of sleeping on a mat and your tent will be your bedroom!

    • Reply HK March 8, 2016 at 4:47 am

      Might be worth investing in a plug in Koolatron (or whatever they are called now a days!!) I second the idea of free admission to National Parks & to come out East!! NB is a wonderful province… one you shouldn’t “drive on through”, as we have been toted…

      Or even if you have a gym membership to something National… like Goodlife, or the Y etc – they can give you gym and shower facilities.

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 8, 2016 at 7:12 am

      I did know that! It’s just admission though (not camping) and an annual pass for an adult is $67 – so I’m still going to buy one. :) And I really hope I make it all the way over there! One of my best friends lives on PEI and I haven’t seen her in years. It would be so cool to drive up to her place… and yours! :)

  • Reply Revanche March 7, 2016 at 11:01 am

    Adventure!! Let us know if you might add the US to the list of places to go, it can be done relatively on the cheap if you hit up enough of us :) We had a blast hosting NZMuse a while back. My friend actually did a full on backpacking trip for several months across all of Asia and brought: several changes of clothes, a swimsuit, a hat, sunblock, lip balm, toothbrush, socks, a wallet, a crossbody bag/pack, two pairs of shoes, her phone, her laptop, and chargers. I’m pretty sure that was it. She was hostelling and wouldn’t have any safe place to lock up her stuff most of the time, so she basically had to be able to carry everything with her almost all the time, even when she was going to work sites during the trip.

    She strategically planned any gift purchases for just before we met up with her so she could send them back with us to the States :D

    I’m excited for you, this will be so much fun!

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 8, 2016 at 7:15 am

      Oh, I will absolutely let you know if/when I’m crossing the border! And packing light will be key, for sure. I actually think I’ll have two backpacks – a day one, and a hike/camp overnight one. My goal is to fit most of my stuff in my trunk, so no one sees how much I have with me. And then no matter what I’m doing, I can fit the important (expensive) stuff in my day pack or everything in my big backpack. But we’ll see how this all unfolds!

  • Reply Lynne March 7, 2016 at 11:04 am

    Hi Cait!

    Great travel plans! Bravo on following your dream!

    1. The number one thing I always bring with me wherever I travel is a Traveling Towel (eg. http://www.mec.ca/product/5024-431/packtowl-personal-towel/).

    2. Also, you might enjoy the website: http://www.nomadtopia.com, where people share their experiences + tips about living & working around the globe.

    3. This travel blogger, Alex in Wanderland, speaks of what to prepare before you leave: http://www.alexinwanderland.com/departures/

    Enjoy!
    Lynne

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 8, 2016 at 7:18 am

      Thank you so much, Lynne! I seriously appreciate the links. I’ve stumbled across Alex’s blog before, but that’s a great resource – thanks for making sure I saw it! And Nomadtopia has a podcast! Can’t wait to give that a listen :)

    • Reply Amy @ Nomadtopia March 24, 2016 at 8:46 pm

      Thanks so much for mentioning Nomadtopia, Lynne! I had to come see why I was getting a lot of visitors from this site all of a sudden (and so random, after I was just checking out the minimalist wardrobe post last week!). :)

      Cait, you’re welcome to join the Nomadtopia group on Facebook (www.nomadtopia.com/facebook) if you’d like to connect with others who are doing/have done/want to do the same thing. And I hope you enjoy the podcast!

      As far as what to pack, road trips definitely warrant different things (and give you a lot more space!) than other forms of travel. One quick tip that comes to mind that I learned the hard way while I was on a Canadian road trip myself (with my U.S. SIM card): If you’re going to be traveling in both countries, be sure you understand what the data and roaming charges are ahead of time! I blew through about $20 worth of data in just a few minutes when I had to look up an address while I was in Canada. :(

  • Reply rachael March 7, 2016 at 11:12 am

    At the YMCA in our city you could get a day pass for the gym and pool and then use the showers. I think it’s like $4.00. Good luck!

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 8, 2016 at 7:19 am

      Yes, I am certain I’ll be hitting up a few Y locations! A shower first (because I’ll be disgusting) / swim and hot tub / shower after combo sounds perfect.

  • Reply Shelly March 7, 2016 at 11:27 am

    Oh wow!!! I’m so excited for you!! We are at such different places on our lives (and in the country!), but I hope you have an excellent adventure. Hopefully you can make it all the way here to the Atlantic (Newfoundland). I can’t wait to hear all about your planning and while you are on your trip. I don’t do any back packing and not as much hiking as I should, but our family of four do camp in our 21 ft travel trailer in the summer. If it’s something you use on a daily/regular basis then you may need it with you. For the four of us, I carry a small tub with medications, Band-Aids, etc. Robin Esrock has a few books out. One being “The Great Canadian Bucket List” and others for each region of Canada. I’m sure you can check it out on his website http://www.robinesrock.com/about.html and http://www.canadianbucketlist.com/ I believe I have the book somewhere if you are interested. Bought it last year and glanced through it. LOL. Looking forward to all of your updates.

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 8, 2016 at 7:22 am

      Ahhh more great links! And a book recommendation – thanks, Shelly! I’d love to get all the way to Newfoundland. Is this the site I’d use for the ferry? http://www.marineatlantic.ca/en/plan-your-travel/Schedule/

      • Reply Shelly March 8, 2016 at 9:38 am

        Yes Cait. That is the right site for the ferries. There are two. One lands on the west coast and is a shorter boat ride. The other lands on the east coast but is a longer boat ride. If you have any other questions, you know where to find me. :)

  • Reply Lauren March 7, 2016 at 11:29 am

    I love this! Would love to do it someday: I’ve been thinking about buying an RV one day for exactly this reason (easier to drive/travel/camp with a dog that way)… looking forward to reading about your adventures! Sidenote, you can get a thing that plugs into your cigarette lighter that creates actual plugs in your car, to charge things like camera batteries, etc, as opposed to getting just a car charger for your phone. They’re not too expensive and pretty handy!

    In terms of showering (etc), at many gyms you can purchase a day guest pass for between $5-10, and there’s also portable camping shower bags that are solar heated for the warmer months. Not helpful for Canada, but when you eventually get to the USA leg, truck stops and gas stations along the highways typically have showers you can pay for (a couple bucks).

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 8, 2016 at 7:24 am

      Yes, if I had a dog, I’d want a big van or small RV too! And do you have any links to these plugs? That sounds amazing, Lauren!

  • Reply Casey @Waffling March 7, 2016 at 11:30 am

    what an exciting adventure! Im hoping to drive from BC to Toronto this summer with my dad, who just bought an RV and is planning a long adventure to to west coast with it (I would fly out and keep him company on the way home).

    As for items, maybe get a cooler that plugs into the cigarette lighter? That way you can keep some healthy snacks and meals for on the go and buy more at grocery stores vs eating out all the time. Also a LOT of camping gear can be bought 2nd hand!

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 8, 2016 at 7:26 am

      Oh, I will definitely be buying groceries – not takeout! Eating bad food would be the fastest way to get sick on the road, and I definitely don’t want that. So I’ll be sure to consider what I need in that dept. :) Hope you have an amazing time with your dad, Casey!

      • Reply MedSchool Financial March 18, 2016 at 3:55 am

        This is awesome Cait, It seems like for one reason or another we end up putting off adventures like this, so no better time than when you are young and definitely in full support of staying healthy especially on the road, its tempting to hit fast food spot, after fast food spot. Make the healthy choice, the easy choice by having healthy snacks and foods on hand. Look forward to following the journey!

  • Reply Michelle March 7, 2016 at 11:38 am

    Love this! As you know, we RV full-time and LOVE it. We’ll do this for a few years and then the plan is to sail for a few years.

    One thing I recommend is a small stove. We have one from REI and it can literally fit into our pocket. We have used it, even in our RV because sometimes the propane stops working (we have a brand new RV too!).

    Wish you the best of luck!

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 8, 2016 at 7:29 am

      SAIL FOR A FEW YEARS! Girl, I’m so excited/jealous already. My aunt lived on a sailboat for many years… the stories she can tell, my goodness. You will have an incredible time. And thanks for the tip about the small stove! Do you mean something like this: https://www.rei.com/product/660163/msr-pocketrocket-backpacking-stove

      • Reply Michelle March 8, 2016 at 9:57 am

        Yes, that’s what we have!

  • Reply Michelle March 7, 2016 at 11:48 am

    Amazing! I look forward to reading about your adventures.

    It’s hard to say what you’ll need as one person’s “must-have” is another’s “why did I buy this?” But my purchases would be:

    1: footwear. One pair of lightweight, waterproof hiking boots and one pair of hiking sandals. (Happy feet are essential to my enjoyment of any experience.)
    2: good quality tent that won’t leak
    3: comfortable sleeping pad (well worth the extra dollars to get a thicker one unless you’re planning to do multi-day hikes).
    4: a sleeping bag
    5: Basic cooking stuff (one-burner white gas stove, a little pot, stuff to eat out of and with, a tupperware container for on-the-road leftovers and a cooler)
    6: A headlamp and/or lantern
    7: A small folding camp chair

    I’d get everything I could off craigslist or even borrow some things, but go to MEC first to get an idea of what I want. For anything I wasn’t sure I’d need, I’d hold off and then pick it up in another city if it turned out I needed it.

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 8, 2016 at 7:41 am

      Yes, that’s exactly my plan, Michelle! Do my research at MEC, see what I can get used (or even borrow, like you said) and I’m definitely ok with buying things along the way. Thank you so much for the list! (And I actually have zero pairs of sandals, at the moment, so a good pair for hiking – and, ahem, outdoor showering – is a great idea!)

      • Reply Megan March 9, 2016 at 10:25 am

        I believe MEC has a section on their website and/or at the store where people post their secondhand MEC items for sale. Make sure the tent you buy is one you can easily put up by yourself.

      • Reply Chris @ Mindful Explorer March 9, 2016 at 5:58 pm

        Cait , don’t rule Valhalla Pure Outfitters in Nanaimo out. I will take you there and introduce you to the team. They also do 2x sales a year where almost everything is 30% off (all the things you need are on sale) We will go over every pro and con of what you really need. I am also more than happy to share my equipment prior to purchasing on small local trips to see what you do or do not like. Go Team Road Trip Explorer !

        • Reply Cait Flanders March 10, 2016 at 7:55 am

          Megan and Chris – you’re both awesome. Megan, I’ve seen some used stuff in stores at MEC! Chris, that would be AMAZING.

  • Reply Dawn March 7, 2016 at 11:49 am

    One item I can’t live without while traveling – is a sarong. Such a simple square of material, that has so many uses. A pillow, a sheet, a cover up, a towel, etc., it comes in handy, and doesn’t take up much room. (and they aren’t expensive either!) Your adventure sounds amazing! Good luck!

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 8, 2016 at 7:41 am

      And I already have one, surprisingly enough! Thanks for the tip, Dawn. :)

  • Reply Lynsey March 7, 2016 at 11:51 am

    Cait, this sounds incredible! Have you read Wild by Cheryl Strayed? I devoured it in one sitting & it made me want to go an adventure immediately! Mortgage kind of holds me back though. One day…
    On another note, I’ve been reading your blog for years and if you ever make the trip to the UK you are more than welcome to stay in Aberdeen, Scotland :-) I’m aware that makes me sound a bit like a creepy fan girl, but it’s meant with enthusiasm rather than weird-ness!

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 8, 2016 at 7:43 am

      I have read it! Many years ago. Maybe I’ll bring a copy with me :) and that is so incredibly sweet, Lynsey! It doesn’t make you sound creepy at all. I would open my door to anyone who needed a warm place to stay, too. I’d love to visit Aberdeen. My friend Leanne is from there, as is another girl I knew years ago (neither of them live there now though). When I make my way over there, I’ll be sure to accept your offer!

  • Reply Melanie @ Dear Debt March 7, 2016 at 11:56 am

    I love this! Traveling more long-term is a goal of mine, too! I’d love to follow your adventures on the road. I say YES, do it and have fun.

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 8, 2016 at 7:50 am

      Thanks, friend! Appreciate the support. :)

  • Reply Bridget March 7, 2016 at 11:59 am

    If you don’t want to sleep in your car while in Calgary, my guest room is already waiting for you!

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 8, 2016 at 7:51 am

      Woo hoo! Does that mean I can sleep in MAG HQ?

  • Reply suzanne hrynyk March 7, 2016 at 12:09 pm

    Congratulations on your awesome plan! I would love to do this in Europe in the very near future! I would agree with previous replies, that MEC is a must stop. Have a great, comfortable footwear is a must. The Y is an option; however, that price can add up for showers. If you need a place to re-charge in Winnipeg and free access to laundry, send me a note! Cheers! Suzanne

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 8, 2016 at 7:52 am

      I’m sure I’ll be camping at some places that have shower facilities, and hope the Y won’t be a regular thing… just good to think of that as an option! If there’s a pool / hot tub too, I’m in. (Note: Must remember bathing suit.) And thanks, Suzanne! I’ll definitely hit up Winnipeg along the way. :)

  • Reply Stephanie March 7, 2016 at 12:12 pm

    This is where you and I differ. I’m totally on board with minimalism and small spaces, but I absolutely loathe traveling. I’m scared of flying most of all but even driving like you’ll be doing – I hate being away from my home and my dog. (and princess Hawkeye is not a camping dog, that’s for sure.) Travel just makes me anxious. I realize that’s comfort zone issues talking but I’ve just never been a fan of travel. I’ve been all over the states and to Mexico and India and it only gets worse every time I leave. So… I’ll just live vicariously through you! I used to feel bad, like travel is what you’re ‘supposed’ to do, but I’ve accepted that everyone is different. It’ll be way more fun for me to watch you do this than to do it myself! Good luck out there Cait! Sorry I can’t help but once you’re out of Canada and into Chicago one day, I’ll give you a bed and a shower :)

    • Reply kate March 7, 2016 at 1:06 pm

      Stephanie —

      So glad to know I am not the only one who doesn’t love to travel. I take several trips a year for work and to visit far away family and friends and while I am always glad to spend the time with family and friends, I always wish that they lived closer. Travel makes me anxious as well and really there’s no place I’d rather be most days than at my home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with my husband (who also doesn’t like to travel much) and my dog. I’ve been all over the US — my parents took my brother and I on many trips when we were growing up and have been to Canada and Germany, so it isn’t like I’ve never traveled or are afraid to leave home, I just prefer not to. On the flip side, I love taking day trips to undiscovered destinations that are within a reasonable (2-3 hours away) driving distance from my house, but I’m always glad to come home at night and cozy up again. I also did not grow up in this area, but rather discovered it during a family vacation when I was a kid and instantly felt at home. As soon as I was old enough, I moved to Wisconsin and haven’t left since. It just feels ‘right’ for me to be here. :)

      Most people think I’m boring for not wanting to travel more, but that’s on them. I’m very happy at home! :)

      • Reply Stephanie March 7, 2016 at 6:16 pm

        Aw Milwaukee, you’re so close to me! Maybe it’s a midwest thing, it just feels like home and it’s too tough to leave. Thankfully my family is here and most of my friends. I love meeting up with my further away friends when I’m there but I’d much rather them visit me here. I’ve been to India twice and my parents and I used to go yearly to Mexico, Vegas, and Florida so I don’t feel like I’m a stranger to travel – I just don’t enjoy it. Nothing wrong with being happy at home! It may be boring to some, but it’s certainly not boring to me, which is what matters at the end of the day!

        • Reply kate March 8, 2016 at 7:45 am

          It must be a midwest thing. People are just so friendly and welcoming here. I used to live on the east coast and I couldn’t wait to get out of there. When I moved to the midwest I felt like I had finally come home, even though I didn’t live here until I was 22! My husband is from the Chicago area — we met in Milwaukee a few months after we both moved here. The in-laws still live in the Chicago area and we love going down to visit them, but they are only about 1.5-2 hours from us so we can do a day trip. :) Chicago is a very cool city!

          • Isabelle March 9, 2016 at 12:43 am

            Well, I guess that makes 3 of us! I can’t say that I enjoy traveling eighter. I like… no, I love the comfort of my own home. And with 2 young kids, traveling equal lots of packing, and I particularly hate packing. That said, I am not against traveling, just not for a very long period and definitely somewhere that involves a room/bed! (As opposed to camping, yuck!).

      • Reply JB March 26, 2016 at 10:42 am

        Your theory is interesting, but may be proven flawed by my parents. Both are from SE Wisconsin and my father loathes being away from home. My mother, on the other hand, LOVES traveling. I do agree, however, about how homey it feels living here!

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 8, 2016 at 7:55 am

      I think it’s wonderful that you two know who you are, in that sense, though! Then there’s nothing more to question: this is the life you want, and you are happy. We should ALL aspire to get to that place. (Also, now I’m scared to go to the Midwest… what if I never want to leave!? hehe)

      • Reply kate March 9, 2016 at 8:26 am

        You would be welcome to stay Cait! Midwesterners are known for their friendliness! (Plus we have awesome food and drinks too!) :)

        • Reply Cait Flanders March 10, 2016 at 7:55 am

          I’ll definitely take you up on that sometime, Kate! :)

  • Reply Kimberly March 7, 2016 at 12:13 pm

    My husband and I had a “year of being homeless” (in the best sense of the word) in 2012…we went to about 17 states that year. If we had to do it over again, we’d bring less stuff! (Actually, we have done it over again for shorter periods of time. Mexico for six months, Hawaii for several months, etc.)
    A few tips we learned:
    Always have snacks/food and water
    A sense of humor is priceless
    Flexibility is a must
    Bring a couple comfort items
    Going places off-season can save a lot of money and be a lot of fun
    Bring less stuff, if you end up really needing something you can generally purchase it

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 8, 2016 at 7:58 am

      Hawaii for several months would be incredible, Kimberly. Can you do that sometime in your future? :) This is a great list of tips. I’m generally a positive person, and know how to laugh (a lot)… so hopefully that helps during any troubles I come across! Comfort items is an interesting one, but makes sense. I know something I really want is to be able to make coffee in the morning. I can drink it black, don’t need anything fancy… but to be able to slowly wake up, sip coffee, breathe in fresh air and just relax… yep, I want that.

  • Reply Samantha March 7, 2016 at 12:15 pm

    So, so fun! Excited to hear about it all. Two things leap to mind. Bring a couple tarps for camping, the are priceless for shade and rain protection. Also, if you want to splurge stay at a B and B actually within the museum town of Barkerville. It was such an interesting experience and totally worth the hot bath after nights of tenting:)

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 8, 2016 at 7:59 am

      Tarps will be an essential – for sure! And Barkerville! See, I wouldn’t have thought to even go there, until you just said it. Now, I’m sold. Thanks, Samantha! :)

  • Reply Alexis Kienlen March 7, 2016 at 12:26 pm

    This is really exciting! I have been loving your blog and your podcast since I just discovered it a few weeks ago. My friend did a similar trip driving across Canada and I’ve asked her to send you her blog link, via Twitter.

    As for things to bring- you can’t really go wrong with a sarong and a bandanna when you’re travelling. I did a fair amount of travelling in my 20s and these were two essentials. A sarong can double as a sheet, skirt, towel or bag to carry things. You can use a bandanna to keep your hair out of your face (especially if you can’t have a shower) or as an eye cover if you need to sleep and it is too light out. I’m sure there are other uses too. Both of these things are easy to pack and don’t take up a lot of space.

    Oh and I’m in Edmonton. I will take you hiking in Elk Island or in Edmonton’s river valley, and you can use my place or my partner’s place for a shower. :)

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 8, 2016 at 8:13 am

      Oh, I would love a hiking partner, Alexis! Elk Island looks beautiful. Thank you so much for the tips! And I appreciate the connection you made on Twitter. :)

  • Reply Judie Roberts March 7, 2016 at 12:31 pm

    I’ve done a few survival trips over the years… And a couple of fun road trips with my kids and my sisters. Fresh fruit and flavors for water bottles are some thing we all enjoyed. A thermal blanket packs small an is efficient.
    An app called History Here is a great indicator to see things around your local location no matter where you are.
    If you make it to Salt Lake City contact me for an empty bed and a warm meal.

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 8, 2016 at 8:36 am

      Ooo, I’ll definitely check out that app, Judie! And when I do the US (I definitely want to go hiking in Utah!), I’ll certainly let you know. Thank you so much for the kind offer. :)

  • Reply Allanah March 7, 2016 at 12:32 pm

    Hi form the UK , we are also embarking on a road trip of sorts :) , going to walk the Gr5 from Geneva to NIce across the Alps , so the most import thing we are looking at is lightweight kit , if your hiking you really want your pack weight less than 10kg without food or water , so think about all those kg , REI is a really good source for tips , and check out lightweight backpacking sites ,
    Life is fluid and constentently changes just go with the flow and things always work out in the end … Maybe not how you thought they would but always ok :) , enjoy x

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 8, 2016 at 8:37 am

      Wow, that sounds like an incredible trek, Allanah! Have a wonderful time! And thanks for the tips. :)

  • Reply Melanie March 7, 2016 at 12:45 pm

    I absolutely loved reading this!!! You are going to have an amazing time! What a great idea! We drove across from Ottawa to Edmonton when we moved to Edmonton for a while and it was such a great way to see the country! If you end up lost or bored in Ottawa don’t hesitate to reach out! :)

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 8, 2016 at 8:37 am

      Thanks, Melanie! I’m definitely going to stop in Ottawa. Lots of friendly faces there. :)

  • Reply Jordann March 7, 2016 at 12:46 pm

    Cait, this is amazing! I don’t know why, but this huge announcement doesn’t surprise me at all. It’s like you’ve been building towards this moment ever since you sat down and started to declutter your apartment for the first time.

    If/when you make it to the east coast, you know Catherine and I will hook you up with some truly amazing hikes and definitely a guest bedroom if you need it.

    For the actual living-in-your-car part, I’d consider a cooler that plugs into your car as an option for keeping food cold. I’m not sure if it would be too much of a drag on Bandit’s battery, but I’ve seen them at Canadian Tire (mostly aimed at hunters) and they seem like a sweet little idea.

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 10, 2016 at 7:58 am

      Well you guys might like this: I think my plan now is to go along the US, up/over to the Maritimes and hit you guys up FIRST! Then slowly make my way home across Canada. So I’ll be there sometime this summer! :D

  • Reply Liz March 7, 2016 at 12:54 pm

    Excellent plan! Two years ago, my parents give me the Canadian Places to Visit Bucket list book (at least I think that’s the title), and it’s my own personal goal to get to a point in life where I can start to put a checkmark to the destinations in the book.

    Congratulations on getting to a point in your life that you can realize your dream! What a great thing to be planning during your recovery!

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 10, 2016 at 7:59 am

      Sounds like a great book, Liz! If there’s anything you see in there that you think I should absolutely check out, let me know :)

  • Reply Claudia @ Two Cup House March 7, 2016 at 12:55 pm

    Coolers and ice get old very quickly, so we switched to a Koolatron. (I believe that’s the brand.) Car camping is much more enjoyable now!

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 10, 2016 at 7:59 am

      Koolatron! I love it just because of the name, haha.

  • Reply Susan Daley March 7, 2016 at 12:58 pm

    This sounds fantastic, I can’t wait to hear all about it.

    I don’t have a ton of experience with extended road trips or camping but a few suggestions from my limited experiences and family:

    If you are looking to bring food with you, I know my parents found a cooler on kijiji that you can plug into your car’s lighter to keep it cool.

    For those day hiking trips, bring extra socks!! Especially for warm summer days to avoid blisters.

    The Bruce trail going from the Bruce peninsula through Hamilton to Niagara is a great place to go hiking.

    Finally, I’ve got a shower, spare bed, and wifi if you stop in Kitchener-Waterloo.

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 10, 2016 at 8:00 am

      I’d never heard of the Bruce Trail! It’s on the list now, Susan (as are extra socks – for sure). Thank you so much for the kind offer! <3

  • Reply Rob March 7, 2016 at 1:03 pm

    Well Cait, I don’t have a lot of advice for you – relating to travel, packing, etc etc. I’m sure, knowing you, that you’ll have a lot of those details well sorted out long before you start on your travels, along with an abundance of advice and suggestions from your other blog readers and r/l friends.

    No, instead I would have just one question for you – the same question that I would ask either of our 2 kids if they were embarking on an adventure such as you are considering – and that would be:

    Have you thought carefully as to what security and emergency arrangements that you will need for this trip? You remember back when you were living in that basement apartment? Unless I misread your words, I assume that you plan to be travelling alone in your car for a good few months and, at times, living and sleeping out of your car (rather than in other more structured accommodations).

    Now I don’t raise this issue to any way cast undo concern and worry for you, but rather only to help you plan for any and all (unexpected) contingencies. Having worked in IT for 45 years I’m a firm believer in Murphy’s Law. So plan well, plan thoroughly, and thoroughly enjoy your exciting travels that await you.

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 10, 2016 at 8:12 am

      Nope, it’s one of the most important questions to consider! And will require a blog post or two of its own, for sure – especially as a woman, as we unfortunately have to worry about the matter of safety more than men. The first thing I know I’m going to do is NOT share details about where I am on the blog/social media until AFTER I leave it. I also know I’m going to accept a lot of these offers to stay on people’s couches, etc. I have friends in SO many cities, as it is… I imagine I’ll camp every second night, kind of thing. Maybe longer, if I really want to stay in one place for a while. But only if I feel safe. (And if I’m in a situation where I don’t feel comfortable camping, I’ll happily pay for a crappy motel.) Anyway, lots to think about for sure! :)

  • Reply Celia Lewis March 7, 2016 at 1:08 pm

    My #1 problem when I went camping for about a month at a time, was my period! So I talked with my doctor and got my ‘birth control’ pills set up so I could take them all the time with no down time. One’s body is just fine being a ‘little bit pregnant’ with the pill for extra months. Saved me so much fuss and muss, I wished I’d done it sooner!

    As I was camping on my own, I scoped out the campgrounds I found, including rest stops, to find some friendly people I could camp beside, and would introduce myself to them. I was mildly nervous on my own. I also had a few older truckers I met who were very encouraging and kept watch while I was on the road, handing me off to others down the road! Heroes.

    Definitely you can get lots of camping equipment of all sorts second-hand – just check it out thoroughly before you buy anything – i.e., put up the tent in their yard to make sure all the parts are there, zippers work, etc. And the hint for more tarps – priceless. You’ll be amazed how helpful an adidtional tarp is! Also, you can wash out some items in washrooms with a bit of liquid soap (bring a container of it), wring out, and put in your back window or over the other seats – dries very quickly.

    Join BCAA or CAA and you will have on-road help if you ever need it – it’s like cheap insurance. So helpful. You’ll enjoy your trips so much! I’ve been all across Canada, plus gone up to Yellowknife – another beautiful area of Canada. I remember hitting Yellowknife on June 22nd – yup, the sun never went down! Very friendly people, glorious scenery, and yes, the black flies are annoying, but you’ll learn to cook outside and eat inside! :)

    Cheers on your next adventure, Cait.

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 10, 2016 at 8:16 am

      Wow, that’s such a cool story about the truckers! Thank you for ALL your tips, Celia. Oh, and if I could make it up to Yellowknife, I’d actually have a place to stay! A friend who crashed with me in Port Moody for a couple months now lives up there, and has nothing but good things to say. :)

    • Reply MJ March 15, 2016 at 6:43 am

      Don’t know if you have this specific product in Canada, but the Diva Cup changed my life. It’s a menstrual cup, so you can go much longer between needing to empty it than with traditional pads and tampons. Way less worries when camping, as you might imagine. And totally minimal, as you only need one! http://divacup.com/products/the-divacup/

  • Reply Rhonda March 7, 2016 at 1:16 pm

    Read BlondeCoyote blog!! She is awesome and has been traveling in her car everywhere for years. Her blog is very informative. I’m soo envious

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 10, 2016 at 8:16 am

      Ooo, I love her little trailer! One day, I’d love to have a setup like that. Thanks for the reco! :)

  • Reply Bonnie @ BusyBonnie.com March 7, 2016 at 1:20 pm

    I love everything about this post. As a newlywed with a new home (and mortgage), I wish I took more time to live minimally before settling down. Before law school, I backpacked around Europe for a few weeks and I’m so glad I splurged on that experience for myself. My top recommendations for things to bring would be a camera (and charger!), a journal and your favorite pens (if you’re neurotic about writing utensils like me), load up your phone with audiobooks and kindle books, a tiny capsule wardrobe of 1-2 bottoms, 5-7 shirts (just enough between laundering) and an all weather jacket, and literally nothing else matters. Nothing. Have a quick recovery and an absolute blast planning your trip!

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 11, 2016 at 7:48 am

      There will definitely be a FEW journals + pens in my car, Bonnie! And a small wardrobe, too. Shorts, pants, long johns, a few shirts and tanks, two jackets. I don’t need all new stuff, just a few things! Thanks for the list :)

  • Reply Rachel @ Betty LIVIN March 7, 2016 at 1:22 pm

    Ah! I’m so jealous! I am dying to see all of our beautiful country. If you come to Southern Alberta, particularly Waterton Lakes National Park let me know and I’ll take you on a good hike! Can’t wait to hear all about this amazing adventure!

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 11, 2016 at 7:49 am

      That would be awesome, Rachel! I definitely want to see Southern AB. :)

  • Reply Jennifer March 7, 2016 at 1:27 pm

    This is awesome. As my first thought in reading this was “How can I help?” I think you should compile information about people you can stay with from the blog or otherwise. I’d be happy to house you in Waterloo and take you to the Elora Gorge. On that note, I’d recommend water shoes. They’re lightweight and good when running into high water instead of going barefoot and dry quickly.

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 11, 2016 at 7:51 am

      Yes, I’m definitely going to need to create a spreadsheet of all the names/places people have said they’d take me out or let me stop by for a hot shower! Haha. And good tip! I was thinking of a pair of hiking sandals (already have decent shoes).

  • Reply Sara March 7, 2016 at 1:32 pm

    Cait – Brava! You will have a fantastic adventure. Life is short and if you have the opportunity to see more of the world, you should by all means take advantage of every single one. I have a black Kelty Redwing 40L backpack I bought off of Ebay that I will never use. I’m short and it just doesn’t fit me correctly. You are welcome to it if you like :) When you get to ON, if you go to Niagara Falls – you are welcome to a spare room south of Buffalo, NY.

    As the mother of a young lady striking out on her own, please do plan on having someone you check in with daily morning and night. We parents worry badly when we can’t reach our chics to know they’re safe.

    Enjoy the planning! That’s part of the fun.

    • Reply Emilie March 7, 2016 at 2:06 pm

      Cait, I find this so exciting and am very happy for you! […and I hope the surgery went well and you are getting better each day.] I want to “ditto” Sara — I’m mum to kids that are launching as well, and hope you do check in regularly with someone. And I ask this of my boys as well as girls! Also — if you’re crossing the midwest of the US, shoot me an email and we’ll give you some food, a bed and hot shower!

    • Reply Linda Sand March 7, 2016 at 5:03 pm

      Not sure what your electronics are but whenI traveled solo I turned on find my iPad and my husband tracked my travels. As long as I was moving he knew I was OK. When I stopped for more than 2 nights I’d look for decent wifi so I could let him know I was OK. When I got home he was sitting outside waiting to help me unload because he tracked my movement those last few miles.

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 11, 2016 at 7:54 am

      Sara, you are too kind! So you’re in NY? I think my plan now is to actually drive across the northern states, up and over to the Maritimes – so I’d be going right through NY state! And yes, I will definitely be in touch with family every day – even if it’s just a quick text to say where I am and where I’m going next!

      • Reply Sara March 22, 2016 at 4:43 pm

        I am – I’m only about 15 or 20 minutes from the border between Buffalo, NY and Fort Erie, ON. As long as you don’t mind dogs (we have two), you’re welcome any time! My daughter is a very social 19 YO college student, so you’d even have someone to explore the city with.

  • Reply Meghan H. March 7, 2016 at 1:37 pm

    Woo hoo! If your Alberta/BC travel plans come to fruition I will definitely have some input! There are so many beautiful hikes and places up here in Northern BC (and on the way here) :). Comfortable footwear and a camera, those would be my must pack items!

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 11, 2016 at 7:55 am

      I would love to go to Northern BC! I don’t know if I’ll be able to make it happen this trip (maybe?) but I’m sure I could easily spend a month or two just in BC alone. <3

  • Reply nicoleandmaggie March 7, 2016 at 1:48 pm

    You will need less than you think. If you earmark some money for buying necessities as you need them, you can get away with purchasing a lot less stuff “just in case”.

    I do, however, second good hiking shoes.

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 11, 2016 at 7:56 am

      That’s definitely the plan! To only buy the basics for camping/hiking (and a girl’s gotta eat) but to see what life on the road is really like and pick up things as I need them. :)

  • Reply Priscilla March 7, 2016 at 1:50 pm

    I’m so excited that you brought this up, Cait!
    I’m a college student who is graduating in 2 weeks and planning on traveling Europe at the end of May for a month with very little money, a backpack, and a tent. I’m very nervous about graduating and starting a new chapter. But this is all part of my plan on doing something remarkable before I turn 25 at the end of the year. It sounds like you’ve come a long way and you continue to inspire me so!

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 11, 2016 at 7:59 am

      Wow, good for you, Priscilla! I wish I’d had the courage to do this years ago. I hope you have a wonderful trip! Just trust your gut and have fun! :)

  • Reply Sara March 7, 2016 at 1:59 pm

    What an exciting idea and a great use for your shopping ban fund! A road trip like the one you want to take is something I’ve never done. I think it would be a great experience, but my husband isn’t location independent with his job like I am.

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 11, 2016 at 7:59 am

      You guys could still plan something shorter to do during his vacation time! :)

  • Reply Sabrina March 7, 2016 at 2:11 pm

    I have never lived on the road, but I have traveled and moved a lot. Here are some thoughts I had:
    1.) If you plan on carrying your backpack a lot, don’t go cheap or flashy – durability, flexibility in use, weight, and quality would be where I focused my research before purchasing.
    2.) In clothing, two points –
    A.) Multi-use, a reversible jacket/coat, warmth and weatherproof, clothes that mix and match easily.
    B.) Roll outfits together to save space; put undergarments and socks on top of a shirt, at the top of your pants/shorts, and then roll. Time and space saver.
    3.) Multi-tool! With at least both types of screwdriver, scissors, knife, and pliers.
    4.) Fishing kit, can be tiny and fit into an Artois box; twine, hooks, weights, and possibly bait.
    5.) Quality flashlight, possibly crank style.
    6.) Fire starting kit.
    7.) Mess kit and silverware combo w/ all three utensils.
    8.) Car manual, fuses, etc.
    9.) Rope, you never know!
    10.) Family/friend photos, book, some comfort object.
    11.) Phone battery charger, takes a few hours to charge and can provide up to 10 additional charges for when electricity isn’t available.
    12.) Emergency food stash – water bottles, energy bars, oatmeal packs.

    Good luck, sounds fabulous!!!!

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 11, 2016 at 8:27 am

      I already have #12! Water + Clif bars live in my trunk. This is an amazing list, Sabrina! Thank you :)

  • Reply Anne March 7, 2016 at 2:13 pm

    Fun!
    You are welcome to look me up if you’re in my neck of the woods.
    You can get car chargers for laptops, too, my spouse has one for work and it’s super handy.
    Do not cheap out on camping gear that you will use all the time. You have so little stuff that poor quality or bad design can drive you insane when it doesn’t have to.
    For sleeping pads, I highly recommend the NeoAir Xtherm.
    The gravity fed water purification things are handy, especially when combined with a SteriPen. The gravity fed systems get rid of sediment really easily and the steripen kills bacteria.
    Make sure you understand the medical system – I believe QC still doesn’t reciprocate with BC for medicare.
    A Spot or InReach would be invaluable. Remember that (at least in BC) Search and Rescue is free. Some people almost died a few weeks back who were foreigners and didn’t want to call due to the fear of call outs. Thank goodness some Canadians came across them, helped, and activated their beacon. We take our Spot even on road trips, there’s huge swathes of Canada with no cell service.
    That’s probably lots for now ;-)

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 11, 2016 at 8:31 am

      With all these charger suggestions, I’m a little scared I’ll drain my car battery, haha. I’m definitely going to buy quality camping gear! The tent, sleeping pad (thanks for the suggestion!), sleeping bag, etc. And thanks for mentioning the Spot. I do like the idea of keeping something on me so family knows where I am. Where did you buy yours?

  • Reply Maggie @ Northern Expenditure March 7, 2016 at 2:21 pm

    YAY! I can’t wait to follow all of your wonderful adventures. And please, let me know if you cross into Alaska. I’ll feed you some salmon in Anchorage. :)

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 11, 2016 at 8:32 am

      One day, I hope! Thanks, Maggie :)

  • Reply Zandria March 7, 2016 at 2:21 pm

    One of my life regrets is that I didn’t take advantage of more travel opportunities when I was younger and single (I’m 35 and married, but no kids). I’ve driven across the U.S. (solo) several times, I spent a college semester in Amsterdam, and I returned to Europe in 2010 for two weeks and visited five major cities. I’ve always felt like I haven’t done enough though. What I’m missing, and what I’ve been saying for a LONG time that I need to do, is long-term travel (preferably abroad, but I’d love to do a slow road trip across the U.S., too).

    Luckily my husband isn’t opposed to my plans, but our timeframe for a major change (selling our house and making definite plans for long-term travel) is still at least a few years out. We’re thinking of having a baby, but that wouldn’t change my goals — I’ve seen plenty of people who travel with young children.

    I’m already a minimalist, but I’ve been even more vigilant lately about going through our possessions and donating/selling things we no longer want or need. Plus, getting rid of belongings has a dual purpose: 1) it makes me feel like I’m making progress toward my future goal; and 2) it’s less stuff I’ll have to get rid of later when it’s time to dramatically downsize our possessions.

    I’ve been reading your blog for a year or so now, but I’m not sure if I’ve commented before. This post finally inspired me to do so! What I want to say is: GOOD FOR YOU.

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 11, 2016 at 8:34 am

      Even if it takes a couple years to make long-term travel a reality, Zandria, it sounds like you guys could make it happen – and are both on board with the idea, which is awesome! If that’s what you really want, take small steps towards it every day. Save a little here, declutter a little more there, and start doing research to help you stay motivated. :)

  • Reply Lindsay March 7, 2016 at 2:22 pm

    Cait! Get a bear banger. I’ve never needed either, but have been told by many hikers I know that they are more effective if faced by a bear.
    AND… swing by Kamloops on your way through the mountains! We have some beautiful hikes.

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 11, 2016 at 8:34 am

      On the list! And I absolutely will drive through Kamloops, Lindsay! :)

  • Reply Sarah Noelle @ The Yachtless March 7, 2016 at 2:23 pm

    Very cool, Cait! Thanks for sharing your plan with us!

    I haven’t done any type of super long trip like this, but when I was car camping in Hawaii this past summer (just for one week), I was SO happy that I’d thought to bring along a bunch of Kind bars. When you don’t know an area well, it can be hard to locate good food in a timely fashion, and having the bars around made a big difference whenever I started to get hangry.

    The other thing that is always an issue for me — don’t know if it is for you or not — is trying to stay warm. I am always colder than I think I’m going to be when traveling and have never regretted packing an extra sweatshirt/coat/hat/pair of long underwear/pair of thick socks.

    If the Canadian/US exchange rate gets any better, I bet you’d love the Boston Harbor Islands. :)

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 11, 2016 at 8:36 am

      All great suggestions, Sarah! My body can usually stay warm for a while, as long as I have a toque and thick socks… so those will definitely be on the packing list!

  • Reply Elizabeth March 7, 2016 at 2:24 pm

    That sounds really amazing! I love road trips and really want to do one in Alberta / BC; I’m hoping 2017 will be the year for that (I already have all my vacation time accounted for this year!). There’s just so much to see within Canada!

    …If you do make it all the way to Newfoundland, I put together a Newfoundland Travel Guide which may be helpful! It’s pretty in-depth and covers many places across the island
    http://www.somethingsaturdays.com/newfoundland-travel-guide.html

    I no longer live in Newfoundland (we live in Toronto now) but let me know if you have any questions about the place!

    Enjoy your trip! :)

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 11, 2016 at 9:05 am

      Oh my gosh, this is a fantastic resource, Elizabeth! Thank you for sharing it here!

  • Reply Mir March 7, 2016 at 2:26 pm

    Hi!

    I would definitely suggest a good Swiss knife (the multi tool kind), warm sweater, easy-to-dry towel, a lamp that you can charge in your car.

    Happy camping!

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 11, 2016 at 9:05 am

      Thanks, Mir!

  • Reply Jenn March 7, 2016 at 2:29 pm

    Go for it we only have one shot at life might as well live it to the fullest and make as many memories as u can. I have been fortunate enough to do a lot of different traveling both here in Canada and away. Please let me know if and when u decide to come to Newfoundland there are so many amazing things to see in your providence and we live visitors you’ll always find a good chat and lots to do. My guest room and lots of people I know will ways be open if u get here:) good luck and live every min of it!

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 11, 2016 at 9:06 am

      Thank you so much, Jenn! I’ll make sure I come up to Newfoundland, especially after that warm welcome via a single comment. :)

  • Reply Kalie @ Pretend to Be Poor March 7, 2016 at 2:31 pm

    What an exciting adventure! I’m sure you’ll find lots of great writing material on your journey. We LOVE camping, but have never camped for more than a week. So I’m not sure what gear you’d need for being on the road for longer. I love my Slumberjack sleeping bag & have had it for 12 years.

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 11, 2016 at 9:07 am

      Ahh yes, that’s very true! I hadn’t thought about the posts it might inspire, haha. Good tip re: the sleeping bag – thanks!

  • Reply David H March 7, 2016 at 2:45 pm

    If you’ve never read Chris sawey’s Hotel prius blog, you should check it out. https://chrissawey.wordpress.com/ he moved into his Prius and traveled around the states for over a year. lots of interesting info and stories from firsthand experience. should be a cool journey.

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 11, 2016 at 9:08 am

      Someone else emailed me a link to his blog and told me all about him! I LOVE the life lessons he’s shared so far. Thanks, David!

  • Reply Our Next Life March 7, 2016 at 2:51 pm

    I’m SO EXCITED to read this! What a fantastic decision, Cait. I will try to keep my advice short, but know that there’s plenty more where this comes from, if you’re interested. :-) Here goes:
    Wifi is generally terrible in campgrounds. Make sure your phone has a hotspot option, or consider a separate hotspot device (I don’t know which ones are best in Canada, so not recommending brands). Larger point: When campgrounds advertise wifi, don’t place much stock in that. Find backup options.
    Consider installing an inverter and marine battery in your car. That way you can plug your laptop in without risking running down the battery that you need to start your car. Maybe consider a plug-in or solar-powered cooler, too, so you don’t have to constantly buy ice and the plastic bags it always comes in, and can keep more fresh produce around.
    Don’t cheap out on your backpack, your hiking boots/shoes or the mattress you plan to sleep on, especially given your injury/surgery. But you can look for the best deals on absolutely everything else.
    A “briefcase stove” (the folding Coleman style) is way easier to deal with day in, day out than a stove where the burner balances on top of the fuel canister. And they can be fitted with a converter that lets you hook them up to a big, refillable propane tank instead of using those wasteful and expensive little throwaway green bottles.
    Okay, I’ll stop there. So excited to hear how your plans progress!

    • Reply Chris @ Explore Beyond the Usual March 7, 2016 at 7:39 pm

      You guys rock and glad you had info for Cait! Your suggestions are absolute gems for living out of the car and then we can get her dialled in for the actual hiking in a side discussion possibly. As for SPOT device, I use my inReach Delorme Explorer SE . Full SOS function plus satellite two way texting (she can even update her Facebook page from it with Topo Maps updates to her followers) it also syncs via bluetooth to your smart phone for better texting and top map gps tracking.

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 11, 2016 at 9:10 am

      YOU GUYS! All of your input is invaluable. <3

  • Reply Marlon March 7, 2016 at 2:55 pm

    I spent two weeks in the Kootenays with my partner/daughter in our van last May and it was so wonderful; I never wanted to go home (despite home being more or less paradise in the gulf islands)! It makes sense as a solo person to just travel in your car, you will save a lot on gas, and not buying a vehicle for the trip only. There were three of us, so we took the van, and it was one of my best memories. I was on the road much less than a few months in the van so not sure if my tips would apply, but here it goes;
    1) be mindful of what produce you buy. We personally didn’t really refrigerate things on ice, and a lot of things will keep pretty well overnight (as long as it’s not too hot) and you can just eat things quickly. That being said I definitely bought cucumbers that went off, and greens need to be eaten ASAP or else they’ll get soggy.
    2) aside from good shoes (the worst thing to have to buy in a jam) and a decent sweater/jacket, clothes usually aren’t much concern. You can pick up anything you need affordably on the way in experience (this especially goes for long term travel). It’s also hard to know exactly what you’d be utilizing until you’r eon the move, and if you’re travelling in Canada you’ll have no trouble finding viable clothing options.
    3) Pay attention to propane prices and stock up; this seemed to be priced really inconsistently even just in the interior of BC
    4) we travelled with a stainless steel bodum which was GREAT for coffee; but a stovetop espresso maker works great on a camp stove as well

    I think there’s no better thing you could be doing while you’re financially able and free enough of responsibility!! Honestly I did “settle down” in the way that I have a family but I have eschewed buying a house and lengthy university education in exchange for these experiences.. Whether or not it was prudent to do so I’m unsure, but I sincerely feel I have NO regrets for any money spent travelling (unfortunately have regrets about the clothing shopping and alcohol I bought I must say..)

    There’s a certain intentionality that can’t be duplicated about life travelling, simple things like brewing coffee and just walking anywhere you feel, spending time in nature, exploring new cities… It’s a freshness of sight I wish I could live every day with! It can also feel quite good to travel such as to appreciate ones home when you return. Best of luck!

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 11, 2016 at 9:15 am

      Love your thoughts re: not using ice, Marlon. Honestly, I think a cooler would be my absolute last priority… I eat a lot of produce, but I can do without greens on the road (and just occasionally grab salads along the way, instead). I also don’t need milk for my coffee, eat dairy, etc. etc. etc. so I just don’t see myself buying/needing anything to keep my food chilled. A stainless steel bodum, however… YES… that will be in my future! (Or at least a bodum travel mug.) I can’t wait for the morning you just described: waking up somewhere new, breathing in fresh air, making coffee and just feeling alive. <3

  • Reply RM3 March 7, 2016 at 3:07 pm

    Cait, your travel adventure sounds amazing! Another comment on the clothing&underwear to bring – when I road trip, clothes has to be comfortable (knits, items with stretch) and washable in a sink/river/plastic tub and quick drying (think workout shirt material) so that I can bring very little and wash each night for it to be dry in the morning to wear again. As well, another consideration if you are planning to be driving in snow/ice (esp since you mentioned exploring AB and BC in the fall if you don’t start the trip until August) — the mountains will likely have snow and Calgary could as well (I put my snow tires on in mid-Sept since it just may snow….), so snow tires will likely make the driving a lot less stressful and a whole lot safer, especially on the mountain roads. They can be expensive but you may be able to get an end of season deal right now if this is something that you are interested in.

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 11, 2016 at 9:18 am

      I have all-weather tires that handle soft snow beautifully – so I think I’ll be ok! I do need to be back by mid-Sept, as I forgot I have to be in California then… so hopefully I don’t run into any major snowfalls before then. ;)

  • Reply Bri March 7, 2016 at 3:09 pm

    Reading this gave me a “red alert.” I am going to encourage you not to go off hiking into very rugged areas without a buddy. Life happens as you know. I second the recommendation for A Spot or InReach. It will be money well spent, as is anything that increases your safety. Also, I would recommend that you not broadcast exactly where you are or where you are going next, either in person to those you meet casually or on your blog. You may have a reader or a new acquaintance whom you don’t really want to get to know better. You know what I mean. Keep it vague! Wasp spray by your bed at night can deter anyone who happens to want to join you uninvited. Shake it well before you bed down – it will spray 10′ (aim for the face) and could buy you some time if needed. Checkout the “Staying Safe” section of this link: http://www.women-on-the-road.com/travel-resources.html. I highly recommend the silk long johns (no kidding). They are light, surprisingly warm, they dry fast, and they are not ugly. nznature.co.nz These went up in price since I bought them – but they have never worn out! Many outdoors people highly recommend you do synthetics over natural fibers – and I totally agree that they are right (do your research) except for these silk long johns. A LifeStraw or other water purifier in case you get stuck without good water, a first aid kit, checkout how to put together a bugoutbag and you will have most of the essentials you would need. ** Have a fantastic time and remember to listen to your gut. If your gut says you are in trouble, you are in trouble – trust it and act accordingly. That may mean you repack the car and head out for a safer place. We give young men this same advice, but for women, it is even more so. Happy trails, travel smart, be observant/vigilant. We will do our part in asking the divine to safeguard you, make you wise(r) if the need arises, and give you many magic moments and some bliss in your travels. Philia’

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 11, 2016 at 9:23 am

      I’m definitely not going to tell people (other than family) where I am. My plan is to not share pics or write about a place until long after I’ve left it – and not talk about where I’m going next either. And a Spot or InReach is definitely on the shopping list! Thank you so much for sharing that site with me! It’s sad that we (women) need to think about how to stay safe, even more than men, and I want to talk about that in a future post… but I’ll always trust my gut (and lock myself in my car or get a motel room, if I have to!).

  • Reply Hetty Laidlaw March 7, 2016 at 3:18 pm

    Hi Cait,

    I back packed 20 years ago for a whole year, 3 months Canada, 6 months Australia and 3 months China. After that I decided to emigrate from the Netherlands to Canada.
    All I can say, DO IT! I loved it and it was one of the best things I’ve done in life. Please travel lightly as you will wear mostly the same clothing anyways. Keep it simple. Get the Lonely Planet guide from the Public library and you will be amazed what Canada has to offer. Don’t limit yourself to the summer and early fall, also look into how to explore Canada in the winter.
    Have fun planning, dreaming and leave it up to the Universe :)

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 11, 2016 at 9:24 am

      You are my backpacking hero, Hetty! And I love that you wanted to call Canada home, after your time here. :) <3

  • Reply Marrianna March 7, 2016 at 3:29 pm

    Somebody already posted this blog for ideas but I found it and thought I’d send the link: http://theblondecoyote.com/.

    The only travel items I can think of are earth friendly wet-wipes & baby powder. When showers are not an option, they work.

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 11, 2016 at 9:25 am

      And another friend texted me “baby wipes” – so maybe that’s what I’ll have to do. ;) Thanks!

  • Reply Kate@GoodnightDebt March 7, 2016 at 3:48 pm

    You might be crazy, but that doesn’t matter! Go for it! It will be the ultimate adventure in learning about yourself!

    A friend of mine and her husband lived out of a Prius for a while, touring around the US and Canada. Here’s their blog filled with how to’s: http://tigerinourcar.blogspot.com/.

  • Reply Japneet March 7, 2016 at 3:56 pm

    Hi Cait,

    I’ve never commented here before, but I very recently stumbled across something that I just thought might be useful to you here!

    http://www.wildwomanroadtrip.com

    Congratulations! I’m glad you’re doing this. It’s something I’ve always thought about, and still don’t know if it will pan out, but I’m slowly trying to nudge my life in a direction that may lead to an extended road trip :) Good luck!

  • Reply Fervent Finance March 7, 2016 at 4:02 pm

    Enjoy your adventure! Sorry I have no advice on packing though :(

  • Reply Sue Peters March 7, 2016 at 4:15 pm

    Cait-
    I am so excited to read about both your preparations and your travels. I will live vicariously through you. As a Mom, my only concern is your safety, so I hope you will take the next few months learning all you can- so that both your health and physical safety are top priorities. When your adventures take you into the US, you can count on having a room in NJ- quite close to NYC. Meanwhile, please dont rush the healing time. I had foot surgery a few years back- thought I was fine to do a trip with a lot of walking 8 weeks later and was miserable with a very swollen foot on most days. Please follow your physicians advise!!!

  • Reply Jo-Anne March 7, 2016 at 4:17 pm

    I personally take enough clothes for a week no matter if I travel for a week or more…I don’t want to waste my week away washing but when I am away for a month or two washing, and curating, my stuff is a nice ‘pause’. I also take enough camisoles because they are handy for warmth in cooler weather, and they absorb body odours and sweat when active which allows more wears before washing shirts or tops. I live in the tropics and I can tell you it works. Various scarves/sarongs too…for warmth, swimming cover up, shade, insect control, dressing up a casual outfit, window curtains in the car, ‘laundry or picnic or shopping basket’, extra blanket/sheet, table cloth, to sit on etc..

    • Reply Jo-Anne March 7, 2016 at 4:37 pm

      …add changing room to the list for sarongs…

  • Reply Erin March 7, 2016 at 4:17 pm

    Hi Cait! This is so exciting. It brings back memories of my East Coast Trip after I graduated University (6 years ago). My original plan was to drive across Canada and spend one month living in each province. Being from Ontario, I started East because I had lived in Winnipeg for a Co-op for 4 months and traveled to BC already. So I started in Newfoundland, then to Nova Scotia, PEI, New Brunswick and lastly Quebec. I packed camping gear and my bike. I camped a lot in Newfoundland but that was mostly it. I don’t like living out of my car so I found a lot of one month room rentals in a shared house. It was cheaper this way too. Room rentals were $300 – $500 for the month and camping at National Parks costs $15 -20 a night in some places. Since I didn’t know anyone, I usually made friends with my roommates and they showed me around. I picked a city fairly central to the province so I could do day trips anywhere I wanted. Best 5 months of my life!!! When I came back to Ontario in November I started to freak out about not having work experience for a year and started my job hunt. I’ve been to all 10 provinces since then, but sometimes I wish I had continued West. Now I have to visit all the territories! Next year will be a great year to travel Canada: all National Park entries are free! http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/park-passes-free-canada-150-1.3389451

  • Reply Erica M. March 7, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    As someone who does a lot of backcountry canoeing, I can tell you that less is more when it comes to packing! You truly do not need a ton of gear to camp & hike comfortably. I recommend a titanium pot for cooking, and an alcohol stove (so tiny! so light-weight!). Minimal clothing; wool is your friend.
    I think you would love the Yukon – we drove there this past summer (from Winnipeg) and we were blown away by the sheer beauty of the place. Tons of great camping, hiking, and genuinely awesome people! It is probably my favourite place in Canada. Tombstone Territorial Park is especially great for backcountry hiking & camping. If you feel like doing some canoeing when you reach Manitoba, let me know! :)

  • Reply Mackenzie March 7, 2016 at 4:26 pm

    This all sounds so exciting Cait! :) I’ve never travelled extensively so I don’t have any advice for you but I can’t wait to read about your upcoming adventures!

  • Reply Guida March 7, 2016 at 4:34 pm

    Wow, and good luck on your adventure. I do lots of camping and I agree that you need less than you think. You need to sleep warm and fairly comfortably, as a sleepless night will spoil the next day, so a good sleeping bag and mat are important. Hygiene is important for comfort, but a small washcloth and a bowl of warm water is often enough. A headlamp is the best torch as it allows your hands to be free. If you are venturing into the wild, get a compass and learn to use it. I also agree with getting a real stove as the very small camping stoves won’t withstand everyday use, also we carry food and drinks in cardboard boxes instead of plastic totes as they allow for flexible & disposable storage needs. Lastly I couldn’t go anywhere without books – so my kindle is a must as is wine in a real wine glass to enjoy while watching a beautiful sunset (did I mention I live in Africa).

  • Reply Emma Lincoln March 7, 2016 at 4:35 pm

    So so so excited for you :) I think the most important thing I bring on my travels is a willingness to accept situations that are out of my control, and being open to admitting if it’s not as fun as I thought.

  • Reply Linda Sand March 7, 2016 at 4:43 pm

    I wish you hadn’t already bought the car. This is the best travel rig I’ve seen in a long time but your vehicle is not quite long enough to do this I think: http://www.cheaprvliving.com/blog/converting-a-kia-sedona-minivan-for-travel-and-living/. You can still get a lot of good ideas and product reviews from the cheap rv living blog. Happy travels. I look forward to making this journey with you.

  • Reply Elizabeth March 7, 2016 at 4:46 pm

    Sounds like an amazing journey! Can’t wait to follow along.

    I’ve never done something like this, so take my suggestions with a grain of salt…

    – Find a good website or guide to hostels across Canada. I know there are some pretty cool ones — like sleeping in a former jail or a lighthouse. A lot of hostels offer private rooms which are still cheaper than hotels.

    – If you’re in university towns during the May to August period, look into renting a residence room. Many universities are beautiful in the summer, and there’s access to showers, free wi-fi and all sorts of other good stuff for a good price.

  • Reply Michelle March 7, 2016 at 4:47 pm

    This is super exciting. Here’s a great video about van life issues by a Canadian YouTube couple: https://youtu.be/ZTJzuHQNZE4

    I watched that today and it made me think of this post.

  • Reply Sarah March 7, 2016 at 5:25 pm

    This is amazing! I really want to do a similar sort of trip, but haven’t yet. I don’t really have any tips, since I haven’t done this before, but when you find yourself in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, I would be more than happy to give you ideas of what to do and places to see (and meet up for coffee?? :) ). I have a lot to share about the rest of the province too, so when the time comes please e-mail me!

  • Reply Lexie March 7, 2016 at 5:29 pm

    FIRST: Sending you healing prayers and vibes. Second- you are my hero ! Thank you for the best most honest writing I have seen on a blog. most blogs today are awful, free merchandise abounds and less realistic life. This is so refreshing so authentic !!! You rock !!! I also have zero desire for owning a house. Ever. It has zero appeal. I live in less then 300 square feet with only a few things and that suits me fine being a renter I also own a Kia Rio 2004 120 K in miles and still on the road ! I took a year after my mom died and I traveled up and down the coast of my home state of California in my Rio (zippie is her name ) . To escape abusive family and learn to enjoy life again on my own terms and my own version of a Eat Pray Me trip. . So you know the size of the Rio trunk and back seat you know what you have to do is choose carefully ! I am a photographer so I had 3 cameras and traveled with a Kindle and a laptop. (yes I know I love my tech). So those were packed carefully in the trunk with clothing as padding. I took enough clothes for one dressy outfit, 5 casual outfits that I could interchange, two pairs of shoes, flats only and hats for sun, 5 pairs of jeans, and 5 shorts as its CA so we wear shorts most of the year. . It was California in spring so no coats needed just a couple light sweaters. I reserved the other side of the trunk for food, tote bags with toiletries, and my books. I kept the daily food in the bottom of the passenger seat on the floor in a cooler. It worked out to perfection ! I had everything I needed for that year on the road. The Rio should not be over packed, they do better when you don’t stress the wheel bearings and axels. You get a better response if you don’t over pack it, better mileage etc. One thing to check before you leave is the timing belt, water pump and those wheel bearings. You may want to invest in changing them out. Once they go you cannot move the car. If you going to colder areas of Canada, then do get a new battery first. A trip in a Rio to me was heaven as it was my freedom, and I adore my car. it took me everywhere all over California for a year and never failed on 38 MPG! . Enjoy your planning and remember, its just around the corner !!!!! Good for you!!! Keep us informed as your trip grows near.

  • Reply mark March 7, 2016 at 5:46 pm

    You will get a lot of value from http://technomadia.com- they are tech nomads and blog and community around how to live and work from the road – from your car … they have been at it for a decade. Enjoy!

  • Reply Cheryl McInerney March 7, 2016 at 5:50 pm

    I’m so jealous. I’ve always wanted to do this with a small trailer or RV but alas, I think I’m too old now. I hope you travel across Canada and even the United States (which is wonderful btw despite our ridiculous political parties). Good luck and I look forward to hearing all about it.

  • Reply Line D. March 7, 2016 at 5:54 pm

    What a super idea! Today on Radio-Canada (French CBC) there was an interview with a young man who decided to travel the world for a couple of years. When asked what had been the best part of his journey, he answered that meeting people, their generosity by inviting him for a meal or offering a place to stay for a night was what he would remember fondly. This is what I wish for you on this great journey!

  • Reply Bec Linn March 7, 2016 at 6:20 pm

    My hubby and I spent 2 months over summer with a car and doing tent camping in Alaska and beautiful Banff/Jasper. We popped into Montana and hit Yellowstone too before heading to the west coast.
    Totally with you to ditch the RV idea. We thought about that too, but it’s just too expensive for us.
    For gear, Walmart was our savior, believe it or not. For under $150 we got everything we needed. It wasn’t top quality stuff, but was good enough and with a nice return policy when we had mishaps like the air bed leaking, we just drove to the nearest store and got it replaced, but we did buy a premium auto-inflate air bed, so only 1 replacement in 2 months of daily use was good. Also because we only paid $20 or so when our sleeping bags got a bit stinky, we just bought new ones. We got an awesome 30 second set up tent with bendy plastic poles that click locked (and were so happy we got a quick set up tent – last thing you want to do at the end of a solid day of driving or hiking is spend ages setting up your home.)

    But… For hikes you’ll definitely want the smallest, compact, warmest sleeping bag. We’ve recently done a 20 day hike in Nepal, so not the same trip as the car camping deal, but my advice is to take less clothes than you think but make sure you’ve got a waterproof jacket and pack cover.

    Also, for hiking boots, I love my Salomon x ultra mid 2 gtx.

    Stuff we were happy we bought for car camping:
    A chiller for the car to self cater and keep stuff cold and eat healthy
    Axe, fire starters
    Pillows
    Headlamps – used it loads.
    Tektowel/travel towel

    Stuff I wish we had:
    Small burner and pan to cook food (we survived ok with foil tins over the fire and heating up soup in cans, but a butane burner would have been nice)

  • Reply Katherine Payne March 7, 2016 at 6:46 pm

    Recommend getting a bracelet from roadid.com. When I’m out on the trail, I like knowing that my family could easily be contacted if something happened

  • Reply Lilly March 7, 2016 at 7:22 pm

    Exciting! If you get to Halifax, you’ve got a hiking/food partner here (we have an amazing local food system and wonderful restaurants). The biggest thing I can suggest from my travels is quite little: good soap and shampoo. Lush has wonderful solid shampoo/conditioner bars that are perfect for traveling, keep for months in their little tins, usable in natural water sources as they’re properly biodegradable, and smell really really good. I’d recommend the solid moisturizers too. It’s the little treats like knowing you smell good even when you’ve been on a ramshackle 70s train in the middle of the Moroccan dessert for days.

  • Reply Sharon March 7, 2016 at 8:33 pm

    Everyone who comes through Kamloops usually says it is hot and dry. It is so much more than that. If you come this way …always a place to stay.

  • Reply Archana March 7, 2016 at 9:06 pm

    I hope you use your readership to your advantage. Couch surf a little. Perhaps make a city tour plan when your trip gets concrete. And have a meetup or find some sleeping arrangement. The trip might be more fun.

    Living in the car gets tiring – I have tried it.

    If you happen to end up in San Jose, my couch will be reserved for you. We have lots of National Parks in California. The real good ones. And great weather.

    and DO IT ! Good luck on your adventures !

  • Reply Maria March 7, 2016 at 10:36 pm

    Cait, I say GO, go as soon as you can! I’ve made a lot of mistakes in life (debt, bad relationships…list goes on) but travel and living abroad are not among them. As long as you have the gear you need; sleeping bag that will tolerate low temperatures, medical kit, cooking options – you’ll be just fine! You have the internet in your pocket, you have friends along the road and lots more to meet, you don’t rely on someone else for transport… it all sounds pretty ideal if you want to do “into the wild”-type of experience (obviously without the ending!)
    *Bring more of this; money, extra battery for mobile phone (seriously important!), patience (LOL!)
    *Bring less of this; clothes, toletries, heavy items (unless completely necessary)
    Since you’re travelling by car I would also recommend getting some sort of sheet/cover to place over possessions so anyone who sees you parked won’t immediately know what you’ve got packed.
    Be careful what info you’re haring with random people; but do let close friends in on what roads you plan on taking and always always trust your gut feeling; if a place doesn’t feel safe or “right”, don’t hang around there. If a person seems “weird” or creeps you out, make a quick exit. Stay safe!

    Let us know how you’re getting on; maybe blog some “postcards” on here? Have a wonderful trip!

  • Reply Ella March 8, 2016 at 1:45 am

    A great idea! Good luck Cait and if you happen to arrive in Israel someday (if you decide on a very very lond trip), my door is open for you!
    Crossing my fingrs for the quick healing.
    Ella

  • Reply Nancy atkinson March 8, 2016 at 3:59 am

    I think one of the most important things you should invest in is a CAA membership for a couple of reasons. If you break down somewhere any towing is free etc. Also they offer trip planners and information on different sites etc to see also with a CAA membership you can get discounts at hotels and some touris attractions
    My sister and I travelled across Canada camping a few years ago in my Honda Civic. One thing I learned was to not over pack. A good tent is most important and a tent you can put up quickly and easily. A good air mattress. I bought an air pump that plugs into the car it was perfect. A single burner stove is all you need for cooking. A couple of pots and a frying pan for cooking and a plate and couple of utensils and a good knife. We kept everything in a Rubbermaid tote which doubled as a sink for washing
    If you wait and travel in 2017 all travel in the National Parks is free
    Places to see. We loved the west the best. Esp Alberta and Drumhellier
    If you make it to Ontario contact me. I live in Muskoka which is beautiful in summer and especially the fall. I could show you around and am not far from Algonquin provincial park which is a must see
    Good luck on your adventures and hoping to hear about the travels

  • Reply ladyfrufru March 8, 2016 at 4:32 am

    I’m sure you’ve read Wild by Cheryl Strayed. If not, read it. Perfect pre-read for you. (Don’t bother with the movie. It was awful. The book is so much more powerful.)

    Most important thing to pack: a flexible attitude.

  • Reply Emily March 8, 2016 at 5:18 am

    Might be useful to check out some posts from Mariah at COMET Camper. She and her partner live part of the year in their camper, part of the year out of their car. They might have some useful tips for you: http://www.tinyhousedesign.com/extreme-downsizing-months-people-35-square-feet/
    http://www.cometcamper.com/blog/2015/1/29/why-we-love-van-life
    http://www.cometcamper.com/blog/?offset=1427278380000

  • Reply James March 8, 2016 at 5:42 am

    There’s a guy from Vancouver who did a similar thing to you (Travel and work at the same time) and has a website about it. He might be an interesting person to get in touch with: http://www.migratorynerd.com/

  • Reply Laura March 8, 2016 at 6:47 am

    How exciting! There is so much to see in our beautiful country! I hope you make it east this year. Lots to see in Ottawa/Montreal/Quebec City/Halifax/St John’s and everywhere in between. :-) The UK/Europe etc. are amazing, but the currency exchange would destroy your budget pretty quickly… it will come around and you will be more experienced at these big trips to tackle those locations!

    There must be a decent market for used items like tents, camping stoves, etc. I would imagine a lot of people (esp. in your part of the world) are caught up in buying the best of everything and then need to sell it to upgrade for the latest model. Or people that go on one trip and have all kinds of new equipment… :-)

    There is a blog about a writer in NYC (http://www.trashisfortossers.com/search/label/Travel) who is into minimalism/waste reduction. She has done some road trips with interesting tips on eating on the road – she takes mason jars and stuff like that to buy pb etc. at stores on the way. Reduces her waste, but still has healthy food available.

    Can’t wait to hear about your planning for this big adventure!

  • Reply Nathan Atkinson March 8, 2016 at 8:18 am

    First off, holy comments! I wish I could get this much engagement on quiet habits! Second, I’m super jealous and now I have wander lust. I want to pack up our car and just start driving somewhere for 6 months. I’m going to convince my wife that we should do something like this once I graduate. This is going to be an awesome adventure for you Cait!
    I haven’t taken any long trips like this, but I’ve looked into some travel-related things. I love Cilo Gear for hiking (http://www.cilogear.com/) and I have one of these bags for my carry on (but they have tons of awesome travel gear): http://www.eaglecreek.com/
    Also, if you want to save on some bulk and $$ for shampoo, check out JR Liggetts bar shampoo. Way smaller/lighter/cheaper than normal shampoo (of course this is a personal choice based on your hair type, but they say it works for almost everyone).

    Good luck and can’t wait to hear more about your plans!

  • Reply Chelsea March 8, 2016 at 8:21 am

    Hi Cait,
    I live in Montreal and would love to show you around. I have traveled a fair bit, not much by car. I find that its always better to pack “warmer” clothes since weather always comes as unexpected. Shoes that don’t absorb water easily (like flats). A watch, cause phones not always an option. Coat that doubles as an umbrella (i.e water proof). You may have to take impromptu road side pit stops I would pack toilet paper and maybe a biodegradable kind?! Have you read “wild” or seen the movie? Not exactly the same but interesting parts about packing!

  • Reply Jonica March 8, 2016 at 8:27 am

    Oh, my gosh, I am sooo jealous right now. You are living my dream.

    Since I have emailed with you before, I don’t feel like a total stranger, or a creep to offer you this…but if you come across Winnipeg, MB again, you are more than welcome to crash at my house. I have a hot shower and make a hot meal every dinner time. We would love to have you. I do have 3 children who would probably love to meet you. (ages 15, 13, 9)
    I read some of your posts to them, and have adopted some of your principles. Last week my little guy was so frustrated with me and said “My goodness, is everything for sale in the house”!! LOL.

    Anyway…also, if you are interested in touring a Hutterite colony, I could take you. My background is Hutterite; I left the colony when I was 17 years old, and have struggled to make a life for myself ever since. Google Hutterite if you don’t know what they are. They are similar to Amish, but completely the opposite when it comes to technology. They may be able to teach you a thing or two about living off the land. Summer, when their massive vegetable gardens are going strong would be a very good time.
    And I’d love to join you for a hike, if we can come up with a good place within the Winnipeg area.

  • Reply strandedrocks March 8, 2016 at 9:23 am

    Hi Cait,
    I am so happy you are doing this. You write about slow travel and that’s what I’m interested in as well. But instead of heading east I plan on heading south. I wondered before if it was because I was running away from something but I’ve decided that’s not my case and probably not yours either. I know you are excited and planning on buying all these things but may I suggest you first look at used items online first. Travel gear can get really expensive and you may end up buying more than you need. Have you seen the movie Wild with Reese Witherspoon where she hikes the PCT trail by herself? There was a scene where she couldn’t lift the backpack it was so heavy. Also you’ll be in a car and close to civilization most of the time therefore maybe hold out for some things and only purchase as the need arises? Thanks Cait, I thank you because in a way you validate my feelings of restlessness and make me feel less alone in the unorthodox trajectory of my life.

  • Reply Cassie March 8, 2016 at 11:28 am

    When I first read the title of this post I seriously thought it was guest post to give you some time while you recover from surgery. I’m actually super stoked that it’s not!

    I can’t say I’ve ever taken a road trip of this magnitude before, so I can’t help a lot in that regard. How is your roadside emergency kit? It will be a little easier given that you’re not planning on driving during the winter, but you may want to consider bumping up the contents to include things like additional oil and coolant, and possibly a charger in case you run into trouble while you’re in a more rural/wilderness area.

    Have you thought about contacting places like Travel Alberta? Maybe you could do something like a sponsored hike during your trip :)

  • Reply Gigi March 8, 2016 at 11:54 am

    As a fellow female traveler, the two things I never go anywhere without – besides my dog – are peanut butter (because you can always find bread to put it on) and a door stop. The door stop might not be necessary if you’re in your car, but if you plan on staying in hostels or shared AirBnBs, you can stick the door stop under your closed door from the inside to barricade it. I know it sounds extreme, but it can really provide peace of mind in a strange new place!

  • Reply Natalie March 8, 2016 at 1:54 pm

    Very cool! If you make it to Nova Scotia, I can definitely recommend a bunch of places!

  • Reply Broke Millennial March 8, 2016 at 3:13 pm

    This is too cool! It’s beautiful to watch your desires manifest into a reality, and that your family is supportive. I can’t wait to follow along on the journey after your recovery.

  • Reply Lana March 8, 2016 at 3:38 pm

    Hi! Very exciting stuff! As for things, I would definitely bring nail clippers, tweezers, some nylon rope and duct tape.

    My kids are almost out of the house and I’m thinking the same thing. I’ve contemplated getting an RV shipped to Amsterdam, they store there also, and driving all over. A small one will cost less and not incur high ferry and toll fees. Or, buying a small canal boat and traversing the waterways of England, France and Belgium. The last option is, to start, renting a furnished apartment in Evora, Portugal. Saw one priced at less than $400 a month including utilities. The world is your oyster! Live fearlessly!

  • Reply Jess March 8, 2016 at 8:52 pm

    That sounds like an amazing plan! I’m so jealous, I’ve been wanting to do a road trip across Canada for ages :) I’ve never done the road trip thing, but a few years ago a friend and I backpacked around Europe (heatherandjess.wordpress.com, if you’re interested, although I don’t think we wrote much about gear). Someone else in the comments mentioned travel towels, they are ESSENTIAL. They dry so fast and take up so much less room than terrycloth. The key is to pat dry, not rub dry.

    My only other relevant tip is if you buy a big backpacking or hiking backpack, make sure you try it on *with weights*. MEC has bag weights you can use when you are trying them on in store. That way you know how the bag will sit when full. And only buy a bag that fits your body, they have ones made especially for women and there really is a difference. You’ll be able to keep most of your stuff in your car so it might not be as big of a deal.

    Good luck with the planning, I’m looking forward to reading about it. You’ve inspired me to dig into my own Canada road trip plans. If you make it all the way to Ottawa there are lots of free tourist things to do here, one of the perks of being in the capital! The museums can get expensive but they usually have a free evening once a week. And the Canal and the Gatineau hills are absolutely stunning in the fall.

  • Reply Dave March 8, 2016 at 9:24 pm

    That car will be perfect for the trip. You won’t have any problems with it

  • Reply Isabelle March 9, 2016 at 1:12 am

    Go for it!!
    I don’t have an interest in travels so I can’t contribute to the suggestions, but I think this is a really cool (and courageous!) project. And if you ever get tired of camping, it seems you could crash on someone’s couch pretty much anywhere in Canada! This is awesome for someone who is at ease with meeting new people. Good luck, can’t wait to witness the adventure!!

  • Reply Kristen March 9, 2016 at 5:27 am

    trustedhousesitters.com
    LOTS of short and long term sits in Canada and the U.K. right now if that is an option for you. Free lodging while caring for someone’s pets. Score.

  • Reply Tracie March 9, 2016 at 5:39 am

    Two words: DO IT! I started my financial journey last year and I’m almost debt free now. All the blogs I’ve read are married stay at home moms and your is so refreshing! I’m 30 and I’m single. I own nothing. Ive never been materialistic and I lived with my parents until just a few years ago. I’m renting a room from a young married couple right now and I’m tired of it. I’m almost out of debt and I want to save for a house. But it is not going to be cheap. This was an inspiring post because it reminded me that maybe that doesn’t need to be an immediate goal. I’m an airline pilot so I can fly for free anywhere in the world. That’s what I should be spending my money on right now, memories, not things. Thank you :-)

  • Reply Sarah Westphal March 9, 2016 at 5:40 am

    Congratulations Cait on your upcoming adventure!

    Please come stay with us in Hampton, New Brunswick! We are the drive-through province, yet with hidden gems and beauty to share :-)

    Tsh Oxenreider from The Art of Simple sent out a really good newsletter on clothes to pack on travels that I could forward to you if you are interested. She traveled the world with her husband and family last year, so she knows a thing or two ;-)

    Very excited for you! And please drop a line when you come our way. We have wi-fi and a shower and hot meals to share.

    Take care,
    Sarah

  • Reply Jennifer M. March 9, 2016 at 9:29 am

    SAFETY. #1 Consideration. A woman traveling across a country in a car and camping alone? Choosing to stay overnight in the homes of strangers? Surprised no one has suggested that safety would be the primary consideration. I’d suggest reading up or taking a class in self defense.

    Here’s an article on: SOLO FEMALE TRAVEL AND SEXUAL ASSAULT http://globalfrolic.com/solo-female-travel-and-sexual-assault/ with tips on how to keep yourself safe on the trip.

  • Reply weenie March 9, 2016 at 10:45 am

    Wow, what an exciting trip to look forward to – all the best for this adventure and hope all goes well with your recovery.

    I’ve never been on a road trip or even backpacking – perhaps a Swiss-army knife might come in handy utensils-wise (I’ve certainly used them in the past on holiday).

  • Reply Sophia March 9, 2016 at 9:16 pm

    What a great adventure Cait! I’m looking forward to reading about all of your planning and eventually, your ravel experiences.
    When travelling I’ve used Y’s and community rec centres for the shower facilities. I’ve been researching longterm RV travel and one suggestion that also makes sense is a month-to-month membership to a gym like Anytime Fitness. They have franchises all over North America (and around the world. if you should decide to hop the pond). I’m passing this suggestion on because once you belong to one you have access to all them, 24 hours a day. The big attraction is the private bathrooms and towel service. I’m also going to make use of gym for yoga and stretching when we don’t get enough time outdoors. Long stretches of sitting in a car can do a number on your back and core muscles and having a convenient, safe place to work out and then enjoy a long, hot shower is worth it to me.
    If you come to Ottawa (and you should!!) I’d be happy to host you! (Here’s the link to an article I wrote about visiting Ottawa: http://www.tips.life/10-things-ottawa
    We live in the Ottawa Valley, about 45 minutes outside of the downtown core but a world away in terms of another piece of Canadian culture and traditions.
    Just come soon, before we leave the house and move into that RV!

  • Reply Hill March 10, 2016 at 5:48 am

    Hi Cait, just had to leave a quick note about what I haven’t seen anyone else mention. I would consider buying a rooftop carrier for your car, a “topper” we call them. Then it may be possible to set up a sleeping situation inside of your car (don’t know how tall you are, but it may be possible in the Rio). My husband and I travel from Colorado all over the west and through BC and Alberta for several months and found having this separate storage for our gear to be invaluable. Look into finding one used, or do what we did- and borrow one. Many people have these but don’t keep them installed on their cars all the time. It can get annoying to have to set up camp everyday, and we found campgrounds in Canada to be EXPENSIVE. I would also second getting an inverter plug for your car to charge everything-just make sure you have a good battery, a small cooler-many people have suggested one that plugs in but we didn’t need that, think about a water purifier, and above all—-splurge on your sleeping pad/mat. If you buy quality camping items they can last for years, but sometimes the cheap stuff is great. My mantra is splurge on anything with zippers or that your comfort relies on, and save on things like the stove and accessories.

  • Reply Keith March 10, 2016 at 6:34 am

    AWESOME. We can all make it happen, but you’re actually doing it! When you look back on your life, you will never regret doing this, and you’ll be better for it. If you make it to PEI, feel free to connect with me, I would be only too happy to show you around Charlottetown and the island. (@keithlawl). In the meantime, I need to take a note from you, and make a plan embrace life more myself. (The West Coast Trail in your neck of the woods is calling us big time!) PS. You’ll have to blog this trip to keep readers along with you. Maybe connect with PF people in each province, blog about experiencing each province ‘on a budget’ etc. There is so much opportunity in an experience like this. I hope to do my own in the not-too-distant future!

  • Reply Amanda @ My Life, I Guess March 10, 2016 at 8:43 am

    You really do incredible things! Even if this is only an idea at this point, the fact that you are taking it seriously is amazing. I’d just sit and dream about it – never actually doing anything!
    If this trip happens and you make it to Northern Ontario, I hope you’ll remember me! I’d be great to meet you in person – and you can of course use my shower if needed :)

  • Reply Jessica March 10, 2016 at 1:29 pm

    Hi Cait, sounds like you’re absolutely ready for an adventure into the wilds. I can’t help but think if the canadian dollar was better you could do the Pacific Crest Trail, or El Camino in Spain. Epic long walks.
    I’ll be watching your blog with envy, getting some ideas for my own future!
    GOOD LUCK!!

  • Reply Christine March 10, 2016 at 2:19 pm

    Hi Cait:
    I can’t read through all the comments but did anyone mention a really good first aid kit? Invaluable when you are camping and not close to a town with a hospital/clinic. I dragged a very compact one all over India, Asia & Europe and had to break it out more than a few times (not just for myself). Your trip sounds fabulous! Good luck with your recovery timeline. Can’t offer you a place to stay or a shower along the way though because I live in Victoria!

  • Reply Christy March 11, 2016 at 11:16 am

    Hi Cait,
    Have you considered a motorcycle tent trailer? My neighbors purchased one of these and pull it behind their Honda Civic. It is light enough so that you can unhitch it from your car and roll it into place.

    http://www.leesurelite.com/

  • Reply sylvia March 12, 2016 at 4:56 am

    I came across 2 ideas I thought were brilliant for the need for showers. One was getting a year membership to a gym that had lots of locations. Then you cans stop by and use the facilities whenever. The other is couchsurfing. Meet new people, get a shower, and usually do laundry either where you are staying, or at a local laundromat.

  • Reply Tony March 12, 2016 at 5:03 am

    I’m 50 years old and was fortunate enough to live out of my car for four months last summer. I live in BC’s Okanagan Valley and have friends and family all over the west, so my four months didn’t take me any further than Saskatchewan. I only spent a few nights sleeping in my car (a Mini Clubman). Most of the time I’d slept in a small tent or while visiting friends and family. And, because I was living so simply, I had the good fortune of backpacking all over the Rockies. An annual backcountry camping permit for the National Parks is under $60 and will allow unlimited backcountry camping for the year. It really was one of the most beautiful summers I’d ever had. I met a ton of great people, had some amazing adventures, and saw parts of this country that people all around the world can only dream about.

    If you happen to be in the Rockies and would like a place to sleep and shower out of the elements, I’d suggest the Alpine Club of Canada Clubhouse in Canmore, AB. It’s a beautiful place, has a great kitchen, and is quite reasonable. http://www.alpineclubofcanada.ca/huts/canmore-clubhouse The ACC also has a wonderful network of backcountry accomodations if you’d like to ditch the tent.

    Have a wonderful summer. Live large.

  • Reply sheryl mclaren March 12, 2016 at 10:07 am

    What a grand adventure!!!

  • Reply Kath March 12, 2016 at 9:09 pm

    Hi Cait!

    Not sure if you’ve heard of these?

    http://www.golittleguy.com

    Also, my friends Amy and Bracken did this http://www.theadvanture.com/home

  • Reply Natalie March 12, 2016 at 9:49 pm

    I love the sound of your plans and hope you take advantage of this opportunity!

    Some of my favourite places in Ontario are:

    Dundas Valley in Hamilton, Ontario is really nice in Summer/Fall
    The Grotto in Tobermory, Ontario is also amazing, it is like the Caribbean of the North.

  • Reply James March 13, 2016 at 6:56 am

    I’m not sure if this has been mentioned, but whenever I go camping or hiking, I always have a small bottle of mosquito/bug repellent. Itchy insect bites are annoying! I hope you have an amazing adventure.

  • Reply Marie-Josée March 13, 2016 at 11:37 am

    I will second many suggestions already made:

    – Car plug-in cooler
    – a variety of comfy and waterproof sandals, shoes and boots with good quality socks
    – good quality wind and waterproof gear
    – two cell phones (one with you at all times and a second one (fully charged) in your car) or any other type of telecom system for your safety
    – tarps for your tent
    – treat yourself to a private room in a youth hostel (which will seem luxurious after camping!)
    – there is a room waiting for you in our condo if you visit Montreal, QC. We live in the Plateau, a really vibrant part of the city, Coffee geek paradise.

    ENJOY!

  • Reply Kaz March 13, 2016 at 2:16 pm

    I’m SO jealous!

    I try to do this, but on a smaller scale. I’m a teacher in Australia and tend to work 80+ hours a week through the school term so when school holidays come around I can just pack my car and go for two weeks at a time (6 weeks over Christmas).

    Since you’re taking a car you won’t need a huge backpack (mine is a beast that I lived out of for two years in U.K./ Europe. He’s still going strong but is a bit big for the smaller trips). Instead I’d invest in a really sturdy hiking pack that will fit everything you need for day and overnight hikes. Something with a good frame that helps keep you cool.

    Aside from the quality backpack, the other big ticket item is your hiking boots. Invest in these (or keep an eye on the sales). A good pair of boots and some quality socks make all the difference sometimes. I’m not a natural hiker, but I love it and I instantly feel more confident when I’ve got some sturdy boots on.

    I always make sure I pack a small makeup bag with bandaids, paracetemol, bandages, hydration salts, blister patches etc. I rarely need them, but there is always someone else who does and its a great way to help out a fellow traveller and make some friends!

    A few other little things for saving money since you have the car:
    – Take your own coffee and a small french press – a nice coffee in the morning makes a difference
    – Keep a few staple foods in the car – bread, pasta, long-life milk, trail mix etc. – saving on breakfasts and snacks makes stopping for a nice meal less guilty and more pleasure
    – No disposables! I hate disposable cups/ plates/ cutlery etc. Plus, hike around long enough and you’re bound to find them lying on the ground somewhere. Take a mug, cup, cutlery, plate etc and wash it after each use. The environment will thank you!

    Can’t wait to see your adventures. I loved my travels through Canada.

  • Reply Melissa March 14, 2016 at 10:41 am

    Best of luck! I’m anxious to hear how it goes, I’m thinking my next big trip will be a US road trip. Two things that were really helpful in my last extended trip were my Scrubba (portable washing machine) and Travelon soap as well as the very quick drying Exofficio underwear.

  • Reply Kim March 14, 2016 at 3:16 pm

    Wow this is so exciting! I have been a world wanderer for forever – but once I had kids – that was that :) School makes it tough to really go anywhere for any period. Hahaha when I read the post I was reminded of the time when I considered moving into my car in San Francisco to save some money on rent. If you are going to be camping I say go for it! Just plan REALLY well. Otherwise it could be less than fun. It’s great to embark on travels without any pressing matters. Anywho – good luck with your surgery and I hope this comes to fruition.

  • Reply Irene Haidner March 14, 2016 at 9:29 pm

    Should be very interesting and yet challenging at the same time! Who knows what ideas you will come up with while you are “getting one with nature”.

    So how are you feeling about breaking the “shopping ban”. Looking forward to your updates.

  • Reply Sarah March 16, 2016 at 2:34 pm

    Cait, your blog has me totally inspired. After a long haul in my college and early adult life, I desire to get out there and travel. The difference between you and I is a two year old. While there are definitely some things I could do, there are a a lot more things I need to stay home for. One day I will get to travel like you intend to. One thing I wish I did before I had my son was study abroad. Michelle Jackson from Shop My Closet Project wrote an article about a similar issue she had regarding travel and working a ton. Mind if I share it here? http://bit.ly/21vJHYG

  • Reply Dylan March 17, 2016 at 8:33 am

    Cait, this is so cool!! I’m so excited for you, I feel like even the planning and preparing stages will be fun! This (and your recent post that lead me to Sarah Von Bargen’s “If You’re The One Making The Rules + Setting The Deadlines, YOU CAN CHANGE THEM”) has been so so motivating for me to stop feeling nervous about making my own far-for-solidified travel plans public. Can’t wait to keep up with your process <3

  • Reply Nicole March 17, 2016 at 6:43 pm

    I was sharing a room with these two girls in a Toronto hostel, they drove over from Vancouver. They said, definitely bring a power bar! I second getting a 24/7 gym membership for daily showers, especially the summer time. And checkout this guy who lives out of his prius #hotelprius https://youtu.be/2PCwnCC5Sw0 He goes over what’s he travelling with!

  • Reply Charlotte Bourget March 18, 2016 at 5:15 pm

    Hey Cait!! This is so cool! I am also from Montréal and would absolutely love to have you staying at our place and tour you around! I also have a cottage in the Eastern Townships, one of the prettiest region of Quebec, and I would gladly take you there as well. Hope I will hear from you at some point! Good luck on your journey, Charlotte xxxx

  • Reply Susan March 18, 2016 at 7:06 pm

    Since I started in the job I’m in, I’ve had the opportunity to travel around the region in Newfoundland I work in. Some beautiful spots to see here. A guy I grew up with travelled around the island last year and posted it to his blog and Instagram (nlshoretoshore). I hope it goes well! My mom’s job meant annual conferences so, as a family, we’ve driven everywhere Ontario east from NL.

  • Reply Benita March 18, 2016 at 10:27 pm

    I have never travelled in the manner you are planning, since I am a homebody. However, my son bicycled solo across the United States a few years ago (from Seattle to Boston, via Colorado, St. Louis MO and Washington DC). One thing he wished he had taken that he didn’t have, was a mosquito net. That would have made some nights when he was camping much more comfortable!

  • Reply NDQ March 20, 2016 at 5:28 pm

    These comments are amazing. Happy planning, Cait. You’re going to be busy!

  • Reply Beth March 20, 2016 at 9:33 pm

    Having driven across our beautiful country a few times now, I’ll chime in and add my two cents!

    I also recommend joining CAA/BCAA. They have incredible maps and books that list all the campgrounds / hotels in the areas with phone number and rates. I found these super helpful when travelling for easy comparison. As a single woman, I wasn’t comfortable with couchsurfing but had no problems setting up my tent at campgrounds along the transcanada.

    Interestingly enough (as an easterner) I found there to be a ton of A&W restaurants when I expected Tim Hortons. Anyway, most fast food places now have free wi-fi and I did some of my best work in the back corner of a McDonalds. There are also public libraries or rec centres that often have free wifi. Depending on the data plan you have for your phone, you can also turn your phone into a hot spot when needed.

    Flying J truck stops often have coin operated showers. They will be filled with truck drivers but most of them are very friendly and will even have great advice for you. YMCAs and gyms in general are another place to find a shower. Goodlife is a national chain that you can buy ’10 passes’ or something similar and use when needed / available.

    Each province and usually each city will have tourist information centres. These are a fantastic resource for discounts, information on festivals, attractions, restaurants – anything you could be looking for. There is lots of information on the internet but sometimes its best to chat up a local and get a ton of under-the-radar information all at once.

    MEC is a fantastic resource for gear. Invest in a quality tent and sleeping bag. You can get used to sleeping without a pad but will want to stay warm and dry, particularly if you are going across the country in the fall – it can get cold fast. You also might want to invest in a small camp stove that is fueled by something that is easily found such as small propane cylinders. You can cook yourself dinners with food from the local grocery stores which can help keep costs down.

    If you drive through parts of the prairies, take the ‘next gas station’ signs seriously. It is likely also the next bathroom and place to get food / water.

    If you are travelling by yourself, make sure you always let someone know your plan. Give them a heads up about your hiking trip, when you expect to be back in contact etc. Don’t sleep in your car if you can help it as its not a great idea on the safety end of things.

    Meetups.com can be fun to use to find a social group in a new city on short notice. You might find you miss things like going to a restaurant with a few friendly people after a long solo hike – this can help fill that void.

    The majority of people’s favourite travel memories happen randomly or sporadically – so give yourself the freedom and breathing room to say ‘yes’ to unexpected things and new adventures.

    Remember that you are travelling across a beautiful country and that the places you typically shop at are available at a moments notice in most cases. There is no need to ‘stock up’ or buy a whole lot in advance beyond quality gear. You can find what you need when you need it and get rid of things whenever you want.

    Don’t drive for too long on an particular day. Your ass will hate you, you will get agitated and in most cases, driving to drive is not that exciting. When you are driving, try to tune into local radio stations, stop at mom and pop shops and take the back roads whenever possible.

    Beyond all that, have fun and don’t take anyone else’s advice about your adventure to seriously – its all opinion and your own is what matters most.

  • Reply Minna (I Basically Travel) March 21, 2016 at 2:40 am

    This sounds really exciting! My hubby and I have toyed with an idea to lease a motor home and start a more nomadic lifestyle but as we haven’t done anything like it before, we need to do a lot of research and planning. I think we’ll do a trial run for a couple of weeks first and see how it goes before committing to anything more long term. But I’m looking forward to reading about your trip and how you’ll find life on the road. Good luck!

  • Reply Kara March 21, 2016 at 9:26 am

    I’m so glad I came across this article! Firstly: you go girl! Live that dream. I’m doing a 3-4 week road trip throughout the US this fall, and I am SO EXCITED. Travel is a big dream of mine, and I like the idea of having everything I need in my car. So looking forward to hearing about your adventures!

  • Reply Ava March 22, 2016 at 2:57 am

    I highly recommend getting an external battery pack. The issue with the car charger is that it charges too slowly to help you if you need to use your phone as a GPS or for anything that really drains the battery. We bought an external battery pack and we take it on all our road trips or train travels. It can charge devices for something like 8 hours and it charges them very quickly. We use it for our phones, music players, and my kindle. It’s amazing.

    Here’s the one we purchased, for reference (you can take this part out of my comment, just wanted to give you the link), it’s no longer available but it could give you an idea of what to look for: http://www.amazon.com/RAVPower-Capacity-Technology-Flashlight-Lightning/dp/B00RYHVFXI?ie=UTF8&psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_search_detailpage

  • Reply Ashleigh March 22, 2016 at 11:38 am

    Just a small tip that is completely unrelated to your question, but a good travel website to check out would be Justin + Lauren: http://justinpluslauren.com/. They are based out of Ontario (like me!) but have travelled to all sorts of places and their blog has some really great tips. You could also reach out to them via Twitter which I’ve done before, and they are more than happy to answer questions. Your trip sounds amazing, and I can’t wait to hear more about your plans!

  • Reply Michelle March 23, 2016 at 7:58 am

    Ok, you have a ton of replies. I’m just going to keep it short-this is AWESOME! And, you should read “Wild” before you go. Can’t wait to read those posts.

  • Reply Michelle Robin March 23, 2016 at 1:01 pm

    Cait, you are a breath of fresh air! Come to the Kansas city, we have a great city and great couches!

    Blessings!

  • Reply Eric Bowlin March 26, 2016 at 3:45 pm

    Apartments, houses, pets, kids, and any other responsibility truly hold you back in your ability to travel. It takes SO much more money to take a whole family traveling than just yourself. It’s great to do it when you are free to do it and before all those things add up to hold you back.

    We are fortunate to be financially free at a young age, but it’s still tough to take the kid and kennel the dog…still we plan for 2-4 major trips per year (at least 3 weeks). It’s important to enjoy life while you can!

  • Reply Ronnica March 26, 2016 at 9:22 pm

    Catching up on some blog reading…this is huge! I love that you’re taking the opportunity that your place in life affords you. While I didn’t make as big a decision, my move to Colorado from North Carolina had some of the same motives: I always wanted to move west, and I was in a place that I could.

    I think it’s wise that you’re taking time to research, plan and figure out what it’s going to look like. There’s going to be plenty of unknowns of course, but you’re taking steps to put yourself in the best position to enjoy it.

    If I were in your shoes, the most important thing I could think to pack is a journal. Of course, I hope that you’ll be blogging parts of the journey, but you’ll want to remember the highs and lows of this trip.

    I look forward to hearing more as you get closer!

  • Reply Kendra @ Life Quintessentials March 29, 2016 at 10:25 am

    How inspiring! I have a close friend that moved into her van for a year and she loved it! Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply Jennifer April 23, 2016 at 9:43 am

    Oooh – I know I’m late to the party with this post but I’m sooooooo excited for you! I’ve done the ‘van life’ thing before (long term in NZ and short term a few months ago in the USA.) I’m also planning to buy a van early next year and do a bit ’round Australia trip (for an undetermined amount of time!)

    The only real must haves are essential gear that’s expensive to replace (hiding shoes, tent, etc.) Other things can be picked up on the road if need be – better to start with less and add more as you need it then to bring too much. Shop secondhand for things you need because you will LOSE things (on our recent USA roadtrip Mike lost his only pair of jeans, I lost my favourite sweatshirt, a tank top, and a pair of pants. We were traveling super light, so this was actually a huge amount of stuff!)

    Be sure to keep us updated on Twitter and definitely ask questions – for me travel planning (even other people’s trips) is half the fun! x

  • Reply Tara May 2, 2016 at 3:33 pm

    So excited for you! I have been following your journey for some time and am always excited to see your emails in my inbox. Deciding to take time to travel and explore the world is such a brave decision. My husband and I dreamed and talked about it for years before we finally took the blunge. There are so many helpful sites out there and ways to camp and do it on a budget. I talk about them a lot on my blog. I hope it will help you on your journey. I can’t wait to follow along.

  • Reply Fiona Pynn June 13, 2016 at 11:43 pm

    I’ll be doing this in a few years also. I’ll most likely be fixing up a used minivan though as opposed to a car. I’m married but this will be a solo trip across Canada with my husband flying out halfway through for a few weeks.

    I’m in Alberta so I’ll be back tracking first to B.C. and then back through Alberta until I make it to St. John’s.

    I’ll be doing day hikes along the way. I’ll also be traveling with a dog for extra safety.

    My eventual goal will be to work from Fall to Spring and then road trip to various First Nations reserves to create and assist with their libraries ☺

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