Loading...
Browsing Category

Lifestyle

lifestyle- back2basicsliving

3-week RV trip with a 10-month-old: What we recommend to bring

We had planned to go home to Ireland in June for a month but COVID put an end to that plan. Instead, we decided to rent an RV, Canadream and go travel around our province of British Columbia, Canada. An RV trip has been on our list of things to do for a long time so we decided to go for it. Our baby is just over 10months old, crawling, climbing & wanting to walk. She is a very active baby, because of this we went for the RV that had a little more space. The midi RV sleeps 4 adults and 2 children (really would not recommend that many people staying in it, perfect for 2 adults and 2 kids). The size was perfect for us as it gave our baby room to play and we could fit her travel cot in too, we use the Baby Bjorn travel cot. We bought this cot as it was super lightweight, neat & easy to assemble, excellent for travel.

Our baby only takes one nap a day, always in the morning, 3 hours after waking up. We planned our travel time while she napped. She is definitely not a child that will sleep when put in the car, she gets super bored & needs entertainment & movement. Cries instead of sleep! To avoid all that stress, we limited our drive time to nap time, usually about 2 hours. On days we needed to travel longer we stopped for lunch and had some playtime before travelling for another 30-60 minutes. We would take turns during this awake time to entertain the boss;-) This made our drive time stress free & fun. We definitely recommend planning the travel around your child and not the other way around. You will lose or go crazy with stress! We gave ourselves 3 weeks to complete a 30-hour round trip, we wanted to take it slow and go at our baby’s pace. We want her to enjoy travel so easing her in, we believe is best.

To say baba enjoyed the RV is an understatement, she loved waking up, coming into our bed and looking out the windows, she can stand and look out from there. So excited every day to do this. The campgrounds were all great to pop up her tent so she could have a bit more legroom, be outside & protected from the sun & bugs. We also had a picnic blanket (the waterproof kind) to unfold for cloudy days for her to play on, she always chose to sit beside it though! 😉

The items we brought for our baby and we would recommend are:

  1. Stroller, we used this for a high chair, a place to rest & for strolling around the towns & cities we stopped at
  2. Hiking carrier, we love to hike and this was an awesome purchase pre-used on Facebook market place. We used this a lot on trails during our trip and cannot wait to use it on our local trails too.
  3. Baby Bjorn crib, love this crib & baby sleeps so well in it. It unfolds & folds super easy, it’s compact & perfect for travel.
  4. Pop up tent to protect from the sun, we got the 3-man size as we all get in the tent, another great place for baby to play in the open, safe from sun and mosquitos. Great for us too. We bought it on amazon.
  5. Mec travel mattress, we placed the lightweight mattress inside the tent and baby love it, great for snoozing on
  6. Waterproof picnic blanket, this was great for having our take out teas on the grass after a stop off, great for baby to stretch out when we need to stop for a short time
  7. Ergo baby carrier, we used this a handful of times & probably would leave it at home the next time. Our baby feels too heavy in it as she is almost 11 months now.

The items we didn’t bring and would have liked are:

  1. A lightweight foldable high chair (not sure if they exist but will look into it), we used the stroller as a highchair to limit the amount of stuff to bring. However, with an RV you can bring all your luxury items as there is so much storage. Our baby loves feeding herself and our stroller doesn’t have a cross over shelf or table. Food got everywhere and feeding time would have been easier if we had a high chair. Saying that we managed fine without but I would bring one the next time. That’s the only thing I can think of that we would have liked to bring. In terms of the stuff we did bring, we used everything we brought.

Overall, I would say this trip has been one of our all-time favourite travel experiences. We have travelled all over the world & have experienced many different ways to travel. An RV trip in Canada is a must-do if you like to travel. The scenery, the campgrounds, the services, the food, the people, wildlife and parks all contribute to the best holiday & travel experience ever. We will cherish these amazing memories for the rest of our life, our first big holiday in Canada with our daughter has been an absolutely incredible experience. We are definitely going to plan another RV trip with her, thinking the East Coast of Canada next. Watch this space;-)

P.s George wrote his first novel which has been published if you like historical fiction go check out his book here.

Thanks for reading,

Chat soon,

Theresa xxx

 

Road Trip – Part 1 – Vancouver To The Rockies

As restrictions lift in British Columbia we judged that it was safe enough to take a road trip. We will not come into contact with many people and will be staying in a self-contained RV. The original plan was to travel to Ireland but overseas travel is unlikely to happen for a while.

May is usually good in the lower mainland but June can be wet. VERY wet sometimes, so we decided on the end of May/start of June. Where to go? We thought about driving to the Yukon. It has been on my list for a long time. I am not the only George from my family to immigrate to Canada, my great grand uncle, George Pilkington spent time in the Yukon in the early part of the 20 century. Maybe the very tail end of the Gold Rush. That’s what brought him there anyway – gold, as far as I know.

After looking into the rout, we decided against this as it would have been a 30-hour one-way journey meaning we’d have to cover a few hours every day. Our idea of a holiday is taking it easy and stopping for a few nights if we want to. We did a crazy road trip like that when we drove across Argentina (read about it here) and then back again and that was a lot of driving every day.

We also thought about hitting Haida Gwaii as it has been on the list for a long time. Again, it’s about a 30-hour trip oneway including the ferries and I’m not sure if visitors are currently allowed there, so we decided on the following.

I thought of the trip as being in three stages. Vancouver to the Rockies (Jasper), Head south through the Rockies (Jasper to Cranbrook) and the Rockies back to Vancouver.

We decided on renting a 27′ RV rather than going with a smaller Westfalia (or something similar) mostly because we want the space with the baby. The total cost for three weeks was $3,300 which included delivery and pick up ($150 each way) to save us a trip to Delta. Keep in mind that if you do a trip like this you are paying fuel and campsites on top of this.

Fuel is currently at an all-time low which is helpful in this situation and private RV campsites generally charge approx. $40 for full hook up. Full hook means power and sanitary dump. There are so many places along the route where you can just safely pull over and spend the night. If you’re not hooked up you will have lights and hot water but you won’t have sockets or aircon (though there is a generator if you need it). Canadream recommends that you try to get a power hook up every two or three days.

The RV itself sleeps, 4 adults and 2 children. That would be tight but a family of 4 or 6 (2 adults 4 children) would be ok. We have a shower with hot water, toilet, stove, oven (which doesn’t work), microwave, kitchen sink and personal sink with running water, heating, air-con, fridge.

It is surprisingly easy to drive even though I have no experience driving these but once you get used to it it’s ok. It also feels kind of nice being the slowest vehicle on the road. Once you park up, the inside of the RV expands and you have lots of space with loads of storage underneath.

I was surprised how often we needed to empty the grey water (sinks and showers). Almost every day – at least every 2 days. Blackwater (poop and pee) we emptied every time with the greywater but that has not gotten close to full yet. It’s easy but you need to make sure you have a site with a sanitary dump or make sure there is a sani dump nearby. This link is useful for Sani dumps in BC.

The freshwater either comes with a tank which you need to fill every couple of days or some sites have a city main you can hook up to that has a constant water supply.

Onto the trip itself.

Day 1 Saturday: Vancouver to Squamish – 67km.

This was an easy day, we drove to Squamish and stayed with our friends Miles and Pippa who live under the watchful eye of The Chief, surrounded by mountains in Squamish. The drive takes you along the spectacular Sea to Sky highway with amazing views of Howe Sound.

If you have not been here before, Squamish offers some of the best rock climbing in the world with some great hiking also. It is close to Garibaldi park which has some great wilderness camping and close to Whistler. It has so much more to offer but hiking and camping is my thing, so that’s what usually takes me there.

Day 2 Sunday: Squamish to Lillooet – 189km:

This is another beautiful drive which takes you through Whistler which is a world-famous ski resort. If you have time and you like skiing or snowboarding it’s great (so I’m told – I’ve never skied there in 9 years living here) but it’s expensive. Worth a stop for lunch or a walk around.

Next stop along the way is Black Bird Bakery in Pemberton, we stop here every time we pass through and love this place. We couldn’t go inside because of social distancing requirements but there are loads of nice places outside to sit if the weather is good. We got talking to Joel who works with Whistler Bear Safaris which is something I’d love to try out. He reminded us if we do see any bears on the road trying not to cause a “bear jam” – it’s ok to slow down to get a picture but don’t stop and DON’T gets out. Hadn’t planned on it anyway – not sure what kind of person gets out of their car to face one of the largest land carnivores on the planet. Especially around Pemberton where you are getting into grizzly country.

From here conditions start to get dryer as we leave the lush rainforests typical of BC and get into a much dryer warmer climate. Lillooet is spectacular. We camped at Texas Creek camp Ground and were surrounded by mountains on all sides with a view of the setting sun casting shadows against the stark rock straight across from us.

Texas Creek is run by Bruce and Jane who live there with their dog Craig. They have 15 amp hook up and fresh water hook up at the RV pads and fire pits with tables and benches. Such friendly welcoming people. The site is just off the main road which you can walk along to get into town or get to some trails. If you keep your eyes peeled in the evening you might see some owls on the property.

Immediately on arriving we loved the place and decided to spend an extra night to rest up and chill out. Baba played with the dog and by play I mean pointed and cried when he walked away. We also went for a few easy hikes, drank some beverages, had some fine food and that was the general gist of it.

Day 3 Monday, we took it easy and went for a couple of walks. The campsite is the perfect place just to chill out after a long drive. It is worth noting that Texas Creek does not have a sanitary dump to empty out you’re RV.

Day 4 Tuesday – Lillooet to Clearwater  – 295km:

Next destination was Clearwater BC. We got up, packed up and hit the road.

The drive from Lillooet to Cache Creek is absolutely spectacular. The landscape is dry and somewhat arid and the rock formations are beautiful. It really is frontier land, though some people might laugh at me for saying that (I have lived in a city for 9 years).

Just before Cache Creek, there is a great farm to stop off in for supplies and a break called Horsting’s Farm Market. You’ll find their website here.

It’s worth noting that there is a public sanitary dump in Cache Creek (exact location here) also which is free to use. I’m told there is a free one in Squamish also but we didn’t use it. We were full up with the greywater and didn’t notice until it backed up into the sink a little. The gauge full wasn’t exactly accurate. After a few days, we figure a shower for both of us every day, regular toilet use and washing dishes mean dumping the grey water every day. We also fill the freshwater tank every day also. The black water doesn’t even get 1/3 full but we empty it with the greywater anyway.

Emptying the tanks is easy, you literally just connect the hose and pull a handle, no smell, no mess, no hassle.

Remember this – Irish readers?

Anyway, enough about poop. The next stop-off point is Kamloops. We gassed up (petrol if you’re reading in Ireland – forgive me – I am Canadian also) and stopped in the station for an hour. They had a parking lot that allowed up to 8-hour stops for customers.

Kamloops wasn’t part of our plan to stay but if you haven’t stayed here before there are some great places to camp – Tunkwa Lake, where you have the choice of the Provincial campsite or the resort, Monck Provincial Park is also really nice – right by a lake.

My favourite thing to do near Kamloops is to visit Birken Forest Monastery which we visited a couple of years ago. You can read about my experience here.

Kamloops to Clearwater is another fantastic drive. The scenery changes again, from dry and arid to greener and more vegetated. The drive along the North Thompson River is so nice and I can imagine if we weren’t dealing with COVID it would be crazy busy.

We arrived at Dutch Lake Camp Ground. My strategy for picking campsites is just going with Google review above 4 out of 5. It certainly paid off here. Dutch Lake is amazing. It’s right on the lake with great views. There is a restaurant in the campground (currently closed with COVID), cabins, RV sites, tent sites, laundry, walking distance to shops and trails.

We have been sticking with the private campgrounds as there is no sign of the provincial sites opening up for overnight use yet. To be honest I haven’t really been listening to the news anyway to keep an eye on the situation but they are currently closed as I write this on May 23.

We had Dutch Lake booked for 2 nights but thought another night might be in order.

Day 5 and 6 (Wednesday and Thursday) we checked out the trails around Dutch Lake. There are lots of trails around the campground some of them along the river. The river is wide and fast-flowing and the trail gives some great views.

One of the nice things about Dutch Lake is that there is a sanitary dump right in your campsite so you don’t need to go anywhere to empty.

Day 7 Friday – Clearwater to Valemount – 199km

I would have liked to explore Wells Grey Provincial Park when we were so close but it wasn’t happening with the baba as it was a decent detour.

Valemount seemed like the logical stopping point on the way to Jasper and the Swiss Bakery made it worthwhile. Great cake and great bread, apparently at this time of year there are usually lines out the door but COVID has had a serious impact on the tourist industry. It’s also not a copy or a franchise it is owned by a Swiss lady.

We camped for the night at Yellowhead RV Park which is nestled away in the trees. The site was drive through which is good with an RV with one sani dump for the park which means you have to drive a couple of hundred meters to it. There are loads of sites here and it seems like it would be a fun campground in the height of the season though it was quiet when we stayed which suited us.

The campsites are very close together so you would definitely get to know your neighbours when it’s busy here.

The town is really nice and has an IGA if you need to stock up on supplies.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed reading about our trip. We have another two weeks to go so I am going to leave part two for next week.

Keep safe and keep sane (ish)

Peace,

George

 

PS – If you are into historical fiction, my new book, The Pagans Revenge is available on Amazon. 10th Century Ireland, war, love and lots of other good stuff.

 

We Are Each Others Strength

As thousands around the world die, the news tells us that the situation in British Columbia is looking up a little as the curve begins to settle.

This is good news but I write to implore everybody to remain vigilant. We must remain strong for the person standing next to us. We must be the shoulder to cry on and the rock to support them. We must remain close to those we love by staying away.

This situation is not likely to end soon, our patience and resolve will wane but it is those moments of weakness that we find our true strength. It is when we are about to fall that we find the greatest strength deep within ourselves to remain standing and fight on.

We must stand strong for each other when the strength of the person next to us dips. We will be there to hold them up because we know they will be there to hold us up when our strength dips.

When we stay inside, when we are lonely, when we cross the street because we see someone walking towards us, when we tune into the news to hear the death toll rising, that is when we must look within ourselves and each other. We can support each other from a distance. We can smile across the street or the alleyway. Just listen to the noise every night at 7pm when complete strangers join to cheer from their balconies and wave to each other.

We have the strength to carry ourselves through this but we also have the strength to carry each other through this so let us stand strong and stand together by maintaining our distance and maintaining our resolve.

This is our chance to prove that we are not to be remembered as a generation of polluters of the planet, slaughterers of animals and as violent misfits who are constantly in conflict. This is our chance to be remembered as the generation who pulled together in a time of great loneliness. The generation who stood strong and defended each other no matter what race, religion or culture we come from. We will be remembered as survivors who did what we had to do so our generation would pull through and rebuild our economy carry on. We will endure.

This situation will not last forever. When you see your friend struggle, be there to take some of the load, remind them that we must stay strong and stay resolute in our determination to beat this disease. Short term isolation does not have to be long term loneliness. We are all there for each other.

Peace,

George

Covid-19: Our Thoughts

Up until a week ago, Covid-19 virus had a small impact on our daily life. Apart from being super aware of washing & sanitizing our hands and staying clear of overpopulated areas, life was pretty much the same. What a difference a week can make.

Social distancing is in full effect. What does this mean to us? It means we are not meeting with our friends, avoiding public places, bars, restaurants, fitness classes, favourite café’s & limiting our grocery shopping to once a week at quiet times. Luxuries like haircuts, waxing, massage & acupuncture have been cancelled.

George will be working from home. Thankfully he still has work as the construction industry is still moving forward with projects. Currently, I am on maternity leave and will be until July 2nd, hoping the pandemic will be complete by then. Fingers crossed.

Skype calls to our family back home in Ireland are consumed with chat about the covid-19 virus. Mostly all positive as Irish people we like to use humour in times of stress. However, it is strange that family members cannot visit one another. It is a relief that they are all safe and are taking the safety measures seriously.

It’s interesting in times like these how we react to crisis situations. We have seen the effects of over buying in our grocery stores. Shelves are empty not because of high demand but because people are over buying unnecessary items such as toilet paper out of fear of running out. Toilet paper of all things!

The news & social media can be very informative but also one of the biggest agents for creating fear among the masses. It is constantly feeding us misinformation, showing the ugly side of us, promoting the sense of lack instead of abundance, showing the fear instead of the courage, highlighting the bad instead of the good. I am not saying that we should be fed only good news (not a bad idea) but more of a balance so people can remain balanced and not one-sided.

This weekend, for example, we have seen so much good from people in our neighbourhood. A neighbour a few blocks away from us had free toilet paper on their lawn and a sign saying “take one, if you NEED one”, this is the kindness we need to be shown daily so people can learn from it and follow this example.

Our neighbour just 2 doors down left out enough non-perishable’s goods on our common room table to ensure everyone has food.

Posters are up around Kitsilano from people offering help to go grocery shopping & errands for the high-risk population. These acts of kindness are happening everywhere, I personally would like to hear more about them. They are super inspiring and motivates us to help too.

Inspirational bloggers & Instagrammers are offering support in ways they can via free mediation & yoga classes. These are great services for people to help cope with increased anxiety & fear.

We have quite a few old people in our building. One of the men fought in WW2, Leonid is 96 years old. He still goes out for his walks every day. Judy who lives across from us was born & raised in Vancouver, such a beautiful lady with the most amazing balcony garden. These are at-risk people & we are responsible for keeping them safe just as much as ourselves.

We were so delighted to see signs go up in our building ensuring that management has increased the sanitization of all doorknobs, lift panels, laundry rooms to help combat the spread of germs. They also noted if anyone needs help with anything to reach out to them. Kindness is such a wonderful gift. Seeing those signs made me feel so happy & confirmed that we do care.

On our daily walks, we notice more people are out enjoying the sunshine and they seem content, children are playing & are riding their bikes, so many people make eye contact and smile as we pass by, the human connection feels strong. I really don’t think I am imagining this. It’s almost like people are giving each other the nod as we are all in the same boat.

The future is uncertain over the next few months, uncertainly about finances, our health, our family’s health etc. are all at the forefront of our minds, however, it is encouraging to hear that governments recognise that people are out of work & they are creating new legislation to help support people financially. We are all going to be affected by this pandemic, some more than others. I believe we need to keep our best side out for those people who are in dire straights, they need our help, support and hope. Hope is what we all need, not doom & gloom. Turn off the TV, get outside for fresh air (by yourself or with household members only), call a friend, smile at a stranger,

Facebook groups have been set up to support people who are out of work as a result of the virus which has directly affected so many people around us. Yoga teacher friends, friends in the housing & rental business, friends who own a café, friends who work in the gym, actor friends…. all of these people are now jobless until this virus goes. For those of us privileged enough to still have jobs and our health we have a further responsibility of reaching out and supporting our friends as much as possible. Even if it’s just chatting over the phone, we cannot have people thinking they are alone.

The elderly are the most at-risk group, it is our duty to ensure we are abiding by all the social distancing protocol to keep our elders safe and healthy. All we need to do is keep to ourselves for the next while (could be months) which is not a huge ask.

Our aim over the next few months is to take each day as it comes, look for the positives with each new day; like

  1. We still have our health
  2. Our families are still healthy
  3. The weather is beautiful
  4. The cherry blossoms are blooming
  5. The birds are singing……….

Let’s keep our heads up and push through the next few months, all of this will end we just have to sit it out. We are all in this together. Reach out, help & do your bit for humankind by keeping your physical distance.

 

Keep safe.

Chat soon,

Theresa xxxx

Our Top Tips for Travelling with a Baby: As a Couple & Solo

We brought our baby girl of 5 months back to Ireland, our home, for 6 weeks during Christmas. We currently live in Vancouver, Canada. Unfortunately, there are no direct flights to Dublin from Vancouver during the Winter.

Our first tip would be to book your flights early especially if you are planning on travelling a long-distance during holiday seasons. We did not book our flights early enough & paid through the roof for flights. Learn from our mistake. We flew with Air Canada and had to call them after booking our flights to inform them that we would be travelling with our baby. They booked us into bassinette seats, which meant more leg room & a bassinette which attached to the wall for the baby. We would not do this again. Our baby sleeps on her belly so the bassinette was a no go, she would not go into it at all. In addition, the bassinette seats are by the toilets so there are constantly people and noise by the seats. We are lucky that our baby loves white noise which blocked it all out for her, she slept the whole flight (11 hours). However, for myself, it was a further distraction from trying to get some sleep (did not happen).

Honestly, we will be booking a seat for baby from now on, just for the comfort of the long journey. She is more mobile now and needs more space. Yes, it’s more expensive but it’s worth every penny for an easier flight.

Our next tip would be, bring only what you need. Make a list of the must-have items for each person travelling and use this as a checklist. Check in the majority of your luggage (1 suitcase per person worked for us) Only bring the essentials as carry on and avoid having to carry lots of bags. Our essential list for carry on luggage is:

  • Stoller (Brilliant to use in the airport & a must for the baby when at your destination, the airline crew will store the stroller just as you are boarding the flight & it will be waiting for you as you exit the flight at your destination)
  • Baby carrier (arms get tired carrying baby up & down the aisle, handy in the airport too)
  • Changing bag with diapers etc.
  • Change of clothes for baby & parents just in case child poo’s or vomits everywhere
  • Baby food & bottles depending on if that applies
  • 1 -2 toys (empty water bottles entertained our child so she needed very little toys)
  • Mini travel kit for emergencies (Band-Aids, baby Advil etc.)
  • Snacks & Reusable water bottle(We are vegan & vegetarian so we bring our own snacks just in case we don’t like what’s on offer, the water bottle was constantly refilled by the aircrew which was great)

We managed to fit everything under the stroller & 1 backpack so it meant our time in the airport was not stressful and this worked really well when I had to travel solo on the way back with a baby.

Next tip would be to ensure you are completely packed the night before leaving & returning. Be organised, have as little stress the morning/day of flying. Nothing eliminates stress more than being prepared. Ensure you have passports in an easily accessible bag, have your ride to & from the airport arranged & confirmed, know what terminal you fly out from…. eliminate the stress of forgetting something by being prepared the day before. Nothing is worse than trying to pack under pressure with a baby.

If you can, book yourself into an airport lounge. They may be a little pricey but if you have a long layover or arrive at the airport super early like us, the lounge is a nice area to relax. They generally have showers, food, drinks & comfy chairs. Also, great changing areas for babies.

Next tip, look to see if the airport you travel from has a breastfeeding/bottle feeding room. We used this in Dublin airport on the way back & it was amazing. It’s a private room with comfy chairs for feeding and a microwave if you need to heat milk or food. Highly recommend. This is a cool service.

Finally, as you are checking in your bags ask the person at the desk if the flight is busy if not ask if you could be seated in a row where nobody else is seated. I did this on our way back as the flight was very quiet. We got a whole row of 4 seats just for us. It was great as baby could play and had lots of room to stretch out. It’s always worth asking, it rarely happens on short flights but it’s better to ask, we always do this even before the baby arrived.

The above is our top tips & which we will do for every flight moving forward. Keep it simple and the experience goes much smoother. We hope this was helpful. If you would like to share your tips we would love to hear them.

Thanks so much,

Chat soon,

Theresa