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Tent trailer camping tips? Ontario to Nanaimo (Summer 2014) with 2 kids

Tent trailer camping tips? Ontario to Nanaimo (Summer 2014) with 2 kids

Old Dec 29th, 2013, 06:39 PM
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Tent trailer camping tips? Ontario to Nanaimo (Summer 2014) with 2 kids

We're a 2 adult, 2 kid (boy 6, girl 3) Canadian (GTA) family wanting to camp (tent trailer) west to BC to visit friends. Taking July/Aug 2014 (5-6 weeks) to get there and back. I did this trip twice as a kid. Considering coming back through the States (we did that once). Hubby and I have spent time camping in US and backpacked through Aus, NZ, Asia 10 years ago. Now hoping to add kids into our passion for traveling (our home country!). So inspired by Amazing Race Canada...need to get out there and experience it for ourselves!

Done basic homework (followed busywith4 forums on Fodors), googled transcanada highway websites, researched Tripadvisor forums/tips, bought guidebook (Great Canadian Bucket List: Robin Esrock).

Still feeling overwhelmed. It's been a long time since we've traveled like this and NEVER with kids!?

Any advice (above and beyond what you've added to busywith4's forum...) would be great...wish I could find her trip report?!!

Thanks!
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Old Dec 30th, 2013, 10:58 AM
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What a great plan! When our kids were small we travelled to both east and west coasts, first with a converted VW van, then with a beat up canvas top tent trailer. Now that we are Old Folks we have a very small tent trailer (Aliner) and are doing our best to see all the national parks . So here are some suggestions from someone who has ‘been there, done a lot of that”.

Be familiar with your equipment before you set out. If possible, do a trial weekend in advance.

Be realistic about how much driving you can do in a day, allowing time for traffic slow downs, bathroom stops, etc. Plan to arrive at a campground by mid afternoon at the latest. Get off the main highway for a picnic lunch now and then and you will find something lovely around every bend.

Have a campground directory and a good map for each province (even if you have a GPS you are accustomed to using.) You can get these by mail from tourism boards in each province. I do not recommend maps from CAA.

The Ontario provincial parks system is one of the best in the world so plan to stop at those if you can. Our National Parks are equally wonderful, each with their own personality and usually in very beautiful natural settings. Services vary from park to park, so plan accordingly. Call the park office if you need to know about site availability at the time you are travelling.

If you want to avoid being sandwiched between huge motor homes, chose a site without electricity.

Go prepared for all kinds of weather, with a dining tent or at least a tarp to protect you from sun and rain, plus raincoats and rubber boots. We once did a six week trip from southern Ontario to the west Coast of Vancouver island in which we had not a single day of sunshine. But—we had a marvelous trip.

Go with a sense of adventure and curiosity about this wonderful country of ours. There is no better way to enjoy Canada.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2014, 02:12 AM
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Here are some tips for you:
Pack Enough Bedding

Since most tent trailers go along with inherent beds, pack enough bedding or sleeping baggage for the quantity of individuals in your party. while not the insulation of normal recreational vehicles, tent trailers while not a heat will get cold in the dead of night, thus albeit you’re victimization sleeping baggage, bring further blankets.

Stabilize Wheels

Imagine rousing within the morning and realizing your tent trailer has traveled many feet from its original destination throughout the night. you will not be able to tell the refined slopes within the ground around your tent trailer, thus place blocks on the skin of all the wheels to forestall it from moving.

Pack a Backup Tent

You ne'er understand what could fail together with your tent trailer, however it’s perpetually best to be ready. Pack on a keep a copy tent just in case your tent trailer malfunctions once you try and place it up.

Dry Off Your Trailer

When you’re finished your habitation trip, take care to dry off all the areas—inside and out—of your tent trailer. Since it goes compact for storage, any wet will produce mildew and mildew, a nasty surprise future time you wish to require it habitation.

Invest in an exceedingly Screen space

Sleeping in an exceedingly pop-up trailer packed with mosquitoes will result in an extended and frustrating habitation trip. several trailers go along with screens for the front of the trailer, however if yours doesn’t, you'll be able to sometimes realize AN adequate screen structure at your native sportsman’s warehouse or RV superstore. The screen space can function a buffer to stay bugs and different pests out of your tent trailer.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2014, 08:55 AM
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i think family camping trips are a fabulous "gift" that you'll give your kids. as mentioned, do a trial run weekend. try to pack up things in the same space everytime so that you know where everything "should be" if you are in a rush or the weather isn't great. set up a tarp first thing when you arrive...so you will always have a dry spot to sit under outside of the tent trailer. you should consider making reservations for areas in the rocky mountains in alberta and bc. otherwise, you need to plan on arriving at campsites around 10:00-11:00 to get a spot. if you can fit them in, bring bikes to amuse the kids in the evenings at the campsites. think up a lot of games that can be played in the car and around the campfire. have fun.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2014, 04:52 PM
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Due to economics and no time constraints we travelled every year via staion wagon and tent trailer when our kids were young. Crowded but FUN!! Used to make good time leaving in the AM after a very light bkfst of juice, cereal and milk. Packed up and stopped later at an IHOP or whatever for a brunchy kind of thing. Saved time getting away, saved nerves and angst and the idea of a "fun" stop was a carrot for the youngsters. Everyone had their own small duffle (before the days of backpacks for kids) with their distractions/toys in them. There was a duffle with a change of clothes for each that I dealt with. Everything else was in the trailer, except of cours the 1st aid kit. We did, among other places, the whole Pacific Coast,then Mexico to Ensenada, Michigan from Western Canada, Montreal from Michigan and had a ball each trip..Schedules were not on item and we did as we wanted..Sometimes I did this with a friend or sister and Dad met us..Those times were even better as there was no need for formalizing the activities..Whatever popped up we were ready to experience it. My grown family still tells the tales and we have a hoot remembering. Now adays you probably have DVD etc..It will be great if you laugh alot, smile and grit your teeth!!
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Old Jan 5th, 2014, 05:11 PM
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Wow. These are AMAZING replies. I'm so impressed with the detail that you've included. Given me a lot to think about...

We pitched this idea at the dinner table this week and the extended family had a laugh...kinda stifled our dreams...but you guys have us pumped again.

Does anyone have an idea of how long it should take us to leisurely get from Toronto area to Vancouver? I was looking at a loose timeline (I remember my single mother driving to my BC uncle's house when I was 7 in about 4 days...yikes!) and estimating 500-700km a day...but that now seems ludicrous, especially if we're supposed to get to a camp site before lunch? We need to be up and gone by 6am!

What are the pros/cons of going to parks versus KOAs? I remember going to KOAs as a kid, but then I also remember my mom making us bathe in glacier water at a NP! Thoughts?

And no, we're not the DVD kind of family, so family/car game suggestions are much appreciated!

And another thing...we haven't actually bought the tent trailer yet. I had one as a kid (and a VW Kombi van with turtle pop top too!!) but they've changed a lot since then. We think our small simple family would be fine with an 8 footer...any ideas? We like the look of the Palomino Real Lite 801 and there are a few in our area for sale on Kijiji...what kind of site do you need with simple tent trailers?

Thanks again for your replies--I'm definitely taking notes
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Old Jan 6th, 2014, 04:09 AM
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Glad to know our suggestions are useful. Its fun to be reminded of our camping days with kids and all the wonderful things we saw.

I've never stayed in a KOA, but my impression is that they aren't much more than grassy parking lots--not my idea of camping. I would much prefer a natural setting, lots of trees, water nearby, maybe some wildlife. Most national and Ontario provincial parks have good washroom facilities ((Bruce Peninsula Natl is an exception) and often laundry facilities. If you use the online booking tool they can tell you what sites are suitable for your particular equipment. Private campgrounds are varied in their amenities and locations but with the proper attitude you can find something to like about any of them.

As ltt suggests, popular campgrounds get pretty booked up in advance but will have some sites that can not be reserved ahead of time and are available on a first come first served basis. So if you want a nice site (e.g. by the water) in a popular park, book well in advance. If you prefer maximum flexibility, take your chances.

When we do a camping trip we spend very little time in cities, preferring to stop in smaller towns for provisions and enjoy the out of doors at the campgrounds. It is wise however to budget for a few nights in motels in case you have a stretch of bad weather, a sick kid, or an overwhelming desire to watch some bad TV.

In terms of time, I would think 5-6 weeks would be adequate. We did a 6 week trip years ago but that included a trip across Vancouver Island and visit with some friends living on an island west of Tofino.

The size of camper you ‘need’ I think is a personal thing. Head room counts, and dining tent or tarp to allow you to do cooking , dishes, etc outside makes a difference.
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Old Jan 7th, 2014, 04:30 PM
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in jasper...i really like snaring river campground. no services so you don't get a lot of rv's. nice large treed sites. only pit toilets but they are kept clean. beautiful scenary. by kelowna in bc...i like bear creek provincial park. one of my favorite beaches in the okanagan area is sun-oka beach by summerland. books up early. by nelson, bc (don't know if you'll be going that way)...kokanee creek provincial park. if dinosaurs are of interest to the family...drumheller in alberta is a very unique area. worth camping at for 2 nights. get a spot with a pool (if possible) as it can be very hot there during the summer.
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Old Jan 16th, 2014, 12:55 PM
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We did this with our kids a long time ago and everyone remembers almost all of it fondly!! Remember that camping in the mountains (ie: Banff), even in summer, can be really chilly . I've camped there twice in August and had frost both times. Still great fun, but bring warmer clothes for evenings and warm bedding.
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Old Jan 17th, 2014, 05:47 AM
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one thing i like to do is figure out which long stretchs don't have any scenary/sites that interest you. then, assuming you guys are comfortable sleeping in the car...put the kids in pj's, pillow, blanket and the adults could take turns driving into the night and just crash at a cheap motel around midnight for a few hours. or, on really straight, boring sections, i'd even consider taking turns driving throughout the night.
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Old Jan 31st, 2014, 02:25 PM
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If you haven't purchased your trailer yet, I suggest you purchase a layout that does not have the kitchen table at the end of one of the beds. If your table is set up, it makes it challenging to get in and out of bed. Especially in the middle of the night. This was a mistake that we made with out trailer purchase. We don't even keep the table in the trailer any more because it is such a nuisance. There are many model that have table along the side wall. I have a 10' that we can fit nicely in the garage.

Good luck!
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Old Feb 4th, 2014, 05:03 PM
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These are such specific great suggestions! Keep them coming. Thanks again for all of your feedback everyone. Still getting excited!!
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Old Apr 19th, 2014, 03:56 AM
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Hi again,
Can anyone provide itinerary/timeline suggestions? Especially if you've done this drive before...sometimes 50km takes hours in the mountains!!
Getting excited!
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