Tag Archives: travel story

Canadian Road Trip: A Snapchat Story

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In May of 2018, I was invited on a 17-hour, 1500 km road trip from southern Ontario to Beresford, New Brunswick with my friend Sam and his family. In order to help pass the time, and in an effort to remember the experience I posted a story on my snapchat account every hour of the car ride, plus a little extra. What follows are the pictures documenting the journey:

We had to leave bright and early in the morning in order to make it in time for dinner later that day. The 3:30 a.m. wake up call also insured we would be driving through the dense forests of New Brunswick in the day-light. Crucial in avoiding a deadly collision with a Moose.

If you’ve ever driven through Toronto, you would understand the extra benefit of driving through the city in the middle of the night. Highway 401, which runs right through the heart of the city is the busiest highway in all of North America, carrying upwards of half a million people per day. No traffic meant we saved upwards of an hour and a half on our trip.

At this point we had been driving for quite a while, and seeing as none of us had eaten yet, Tim Horton’s was always going to be our first stop. Double Doubles, Timbits, and some bacon breakfast sandwiches were just what we needed.

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After picking up refreshments, we got back on the road. Now, if you’re not from Canada then it’s important to know that we tend to make fun of the French province of Quebec. The English – French rivalry in Canada has it’s roots in the formation of the country, which was dominated by settlers from the United Kingdom, and France battling for control of the land surrounding the St. Lawrence river, and the fertile great lakes region.

The closer we got to Quebec, the more vocal my jabs at the French became. The only problem – Sam and his family have French heritage (hence the road trip to partly French New Brunswick) so they were having none of it. It was all in fun, but deep down I knew it ever so slightly got to them. Thus, in order to prevent a civil war in the car, some ground rules had to be established:

  1. There shall be no French slander of any kind; and
  2. If said rule is broken I will be spending the remaining 10 hours of the drive sitting in the trunk.

We continued.

For those that don’t know, Canada is a bilingual nation. This means that our two official languages are French and English. The school system is mandated to teach both, but this doesn’t mean they do a good job.

This trip was the first time that I had been to another Canadian province other than my home of Ontario. It was a long time in the making, and I thought Quebec and New Brunswick were well worth the wait.

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Most of this trip was spent on the road in 5 hours blocks, and there was no exception to this rule. You had better use the washroom when we were filling up on gas because otherwise you’d be peeing in a water bottle in the backseat.

The legal drinking age in Quebec is 18 years old, which is one year lower than Ontario, so you better believe we took this opportunity to buy some beer. To our surprise, we didn’t get ID’d by the gas station attendant and made it out without issue. Don’t worry, we didn’t open the beverages until we got to our final destination. It was a well deserved cold one.

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By this time in the road trip my brain had turned to mush, my legs were practically falling off, and we were all getting pretty irritable. Luckily we didn’t have relatively far left to go and so, we pushed on.

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Let me tell you, when we finally pulled off the highway and saw our first glimpse of the Atlantic Ocean, well, that was a fantastic feeling. We were itching to get out of the car and be greeted by a nice home cooked meal, and a couple drinks by the fire.

Although long, the journey was well worth it. I was grateful to see more of my home country and gained a new appreciation for the diversity such a large nation offers. We stayed in New Brunswick for a week, before cramming in the back of the car for the 17-hour return journey.


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Why I Prefer Long-Haul Flights

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I don’t know about you, but if I had to choose between taking a 14 hour flight or a 4 hour flight, I would choose the 14 hour flight 9 times out of 10.

At this point, you might be asking yourself:

“Is this guy crazy?”

And your completely right to think that. I’ll admit it seems odd that someone would want to spend that much time on a plane, but let me explain.

For me, it comes down to mental preparation. Growing up, I was pretty accustomed to spending hours on end in a car; whether it be driving 3 hours to the cottage every weekend throughout the summer, or travelling 400 km for a minor peewee hockey game on a school night.

So when I see that the flight time to a destination is anything less than 6 hours, my brain relates it to time spent in a car. Obviously, being in a car and a plane are nothing alike. On a road trip I can stop whenever I want, roll down the windows for fresh air whenever I want, and can spread out as much as I want. On a flight, this just isn’t possible.

For whatever reason, I just can’t wrap my head around the fact that the two just aren’t the same. A few hours into the flight I get irritable, sore, and extremely bored. Every single second is counted down in my mind, and it’s torture.

But put me on a flight for 14 hours from Toronto to Seoul? No. Problem.

A view out of my window seat on a Boeing 747 flight from Bangkok, Thailand to Tokyo, Japan
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My mind completely dissociates the experience from being in a car. I accept my fate, find inner peace, and breeze through it like it was a short run to the corner store.

Now, obviously mental preparation isn’t the only factor. Long Haul flights use larger aircraft with more space, have more comfortable seats, and provide a much wider selection of food, entertainment and amenities.

But If you’ve travelled a bunch, you know that these extra benefits only get you so far. Unless you’re flying business or first class, at the end of the day a plane is a plane and isn’t exactly the most enjoyable experience.

So given the choice, I would choose a long haul flight over a short haul flight any day.

Do you agree with me?

What are your tricks for making flying just a little easier?

Leave me a comment and let me know!


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I Spent an Unexpected Extra Day in Barcelona, Spain

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Sagrada Familia
La Sagrada Familia, and the Barcelona skyline (Stock Photo)

The year was 2013 and the destination was Barcelona, Spain. My family and I (recently turned 14 years old) had just gotten off the 8.5 hour red-eye flight from Toronto’s Pearson International Airport.

We made it through customs at around lunch time. After a short cab ride to the hotel, we discovered that we couldn’t check-in until sometime after 3 p.m. Not a big issue, we left our bags with the concierge and started to explore the nearby streets of Catalonia’s capital. We grabbed some food and basic groceries, visited some tourist sites, and enjoyed the warm Spanish summer sun.

Now I don’t know about you, but for me it is impossible to sleep on an airplane. I’ve tried everything from not sleeping for 2 days leading up to the flight, to bringing my own full sized pillow and blanket, to practically overdosing on sleeping pills. Nothing works, and I’ve just accepted that I will have to suffer through every second of every flight I will ever go on. (But if you have tips, I’d love to hear them in the comments)

So as you could imagine, when we finally made it back to the hotel to check in after touring for the afternoon on zero sleep, to say I was ready for bed would be an understatement. We climbed the stairs to our apartment-style accommodations and finally had the opportunity to rest. I threw my luggage on the ground, and b-lined for the bedroom. I pulled down the black-out shades, climbed under the covers in my sweaty clothes and passed out almost immediately.

When I woke up, my phone was dead. The kind of light shining through the cracks in the window shade told me that it must be dawn, but I wasn’t sure. Had I really slept through to the next day? I opened the bedroom door and as I walked towards the living room, I heard the shower running in the bathroom. A few steps further and I noticed my dad sitting on the balcony drinking his morning coffee. When I got to the living room, my brother was sitting on the couch watching TV. He had a bowl of cereal in his hands and was wearing a new set of clothes.

All the clues were telling me that it was the next morning.


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My initial reaction was confusion, but it quickly turned to anger. How was it possible for a human to sleep for more than 14 hours, and why in the world didn’t my parents wake me up for dinner last night? I shrugged it off; maybe they slept through dinner too. Either way, I was hungry. I went to the fridge but nothing really seemed appetizing. I needed real sustenance and there was just some sliced bread and a block of cheese to be found.

It was at this time that my mom walked into the kitchen.

“What are we going to do for breakfast?” I asked.

My mom paused and seem puzzled.

“Are we going out to eat, or should I make do with what we have here?” I continued.

Suddenly my mom’s confusion turned into an ear to ear grin across her face before she said while chuckling:

“What day do you think it is? We’re about to leave for dinner…”

I was shocked. I checked the time on the microwave clock, and realized I had only been asleep for a few hours. Suddenly it all clicked. My mom was just showering to freshen up, my dad just wanted to taste test the Spanish coffee, and my brother is just weird and eats cereal at 4:30 in the afternoon.

I collected myself and got ready to venture onto the streets of Barcelona for dinner. The rest of the night was a haze, and I couldn’t help but feel like I was living on borrowed time. We finished up, got back to the apartment around 9 p.m., and I went to bed for the night… for the second time that is.


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