Written by: Timothy Fitzgerald
03/05/2010 3:55 PM
Claudine Blanchard is, without a doubt, a persuasive woman. At least this is what her boyfriend Ken Langelier would tell you.
Claudine had always been a travel enthusiast. The Canadian native had traveled twice to Europe as an exchange student during high school, spent almost a full year in Texas as a foreign exchange student, and graduated from an American High School. So it was no surprise when she convinced her boyfriend Ken, also a native Canadian, to go on a two month trip to explore the United States.
The idea was sprung two years ago when Claudine and Ken were thinking about their future. Their mission: take a 2 month long road trip throughout the United States before their daughter Arielle starts kindergarten. This spring, their dream road trip will become a reality.
CampingRoadTrip caught up with the couple to ask them how they planned for the trip.
CampingRoadTrip.com: How did you come up with this idea?
CLAUDINE BLANCHARD: Since Claudine and I had our two children we haven’t taken many vacations. With Arielle starting kindergarten in the fall we felt like our opportunity to take this trip was now or never. We see it as a way to really get immersed in American culture. We want to see as much as possible. We want to disconnect from work, from the routine, and give our children a taste for discovering the world, to experience new things and to enjoy meeting new people.
How do you go about planning such a trip? What were the first steps?
First, we decided on the destination. Since it is our children’s first long trip, we wanted it to be close to home to avoid long flights and the jet lag. The obvious country of destination was of course the USA. With similar culture, similar food, it should be easy for the kids to adapt.
Next, we had to decide how we would travel and where we would sleep. Since we are going on a tight budget we decided a folding trailer was the best option.
We had to decide when to begin our trip. And we had to make sure Ken’s employer would agree to let him take 8 weeks off.
What do you have to take into consideration when planning such a trip?
Our children's needs. We will have to stop often because our children are 2 and 5. We’ll also have to choose age appropriate activities for them. This is not a trip designed for adults only. Therefore extreme sports, guided tours, museums are out of the question. And we’ll need to bring toys, snacks, and water in the car and keep them entertained.
We also have to make sure our car would be able to tow our small folding trailer. We found out that it could not, after we bought the trailer! We did not know that some cars are just not meant for towing despite their size. We’re still working on that.
We also need to make sure that someone can come regularly to our house to make sure everything is ok, to feed the cat, the get the mail, etc.
What are the greatest challenges you have had in planning, and how have you overcome those challenges?
The dream is almost a reality. What else is left to plan?
We have been talking about this trip for almost 2 years, figuring out where to go, when, for how long. The real planning has begun this fall with the gathering of information. We hung a USA map on the wall and pinpointed the attractions and cities we wanted to see. This helped in establishing our itinerary. We will spend the last month slowly packing, buying insurance, and finalizing the details of our preparation.
What resources did you find most useful in planning your trip?
The Internet was our most useful tool. We found packing lists, activity ideas, Websites such as yours [CampingRoadTrip.com] with tons of info about traveling and camping. We also ordered free State guides and campbooks from the CAA (Canadian AAA) and visitor’s guides from each States online, we asked friends who traveled in the USA about their favorites things. GoogleEarth and GoogleMap are helpful too. They allow us to calculate the distances and they show all kinds of information. We will keep using them on the road for sure.
What was the most interesting thing you learned when planning?
Claudine found out she was better at organizing a trip than she thought, and Ken was surprised to see how much planning it actually took! When he read her packing list, he questioned just about every item, to finally understand that they all will be of use.
What attraction are you most looking forward to seeing during your trip?
Arielle can’t wait to meet the princesses at Magic Kingdom-Disney World and to go to the beach. Ken is looking forward to visit national parks.
For Claudine, Ken and 2 young children, this will be a trip of a lifetime. It will also be a trip in which they will document their trials and tribulations throughout their travels.
The family begins their road trip in the early spring. Visit their website to follow the family from Quebec throughout their journey across the United States. Their site will include a weekly journal, as well as recommendations and warnings, activity ideas, and their favorite places.
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