Summer road trips are an annual ritual for many families. This year, a short drive from home is the extent of a vacation many of us will have. Limits and travel advisories restrict foreign trips. Continued social distancing guidelines remain in place, even as Canadian communities reopen.
Consider a local summer road trip an opportunity. It is a great way to get outside, change your scenery. Discover a little history, or see and taste something new in the area you live.
Before you go
Coming along for the ride should be common sense actions for road safety. Ensure your vehicle is road trip ready, since it may have been parked more than normal lately. Fuel up.
Maybe get your mechanic to change the oil, air filter and check tire pressure. Just like winter tires, they are key to road safety. Top up the washer fluid. Refresh the first aid kit in the trunk. Drive in style, take your vehicle through a wash, and give the inside surfaces a sanitizing wipe.
Make a plan
Plan your summer road trip a little before you pile everyone into the car. Have a democratic vote on a destination. Throw rings on the paper map in your glove compartment. Draw straws to pick who’s doing the driving and the family member who gets to choose your summer road trip.
Be guided by theme or destination for your adventure. Forget the GPS and let serendipity navigate for a change. The wrong turn can lead to great times, if you avoid the argument. If you make it a road trip series, then everyone in your bubble can lead at least one.
Still stuck? Here are a few summer road trip ideas:
Make it natural
Pick a Provincial park you have not been to before. Walk a trail. There are several at the pastoral Scottsdale Farm, an Ontario Heritage Trust property about an hour’s drive from Toronto. Get everyone to photograph their favourite local flora and fauna.
A walk works up an appetite. Maybe bring a change of shoes or clothes in case you get muddy or wet. Book a table for an alfresco lunch at an outdoor patio before you head home.
Make it tasty
Pick a picnic destination. Pack a basket or cooler with something to eat and drink. Or map out a route past farm-gate produce stands and a local take-out sandwich shop to pick up freshly made provisions. Bring a blanket, wrap individual cutlery and plates in napkins. Have hand wipes or sanitizers. Bring a frizbee, soccer ball or book. Or, just look up at the clouds and while away the afternoon daydreaming you are far away…
Make it historic
Canada is still a young country, but there are plenty of historic plaques, places and routes to discover. Look them up. For example, in Upper Canada, the Underground Railroad has several terminus sites such as Uncle Tom’s Cabin in Dresden (check first if they are open before you drive there).
Since school has been abnormal for quite some time, you could turn your road trip into a history, geography or literary lesson if the kids permit, and you are not tired of being the teacher.
Debate monuments and movements. Link them to events of today. Add new vocabulary like ‘abolitionist’.
Make it a sweet compromise
If you would rather avoid sticky issues, try sticky sweets instead.
Across the country, there are no less than 15 festivals, trails, and tours that celebrate the not-so-humble butter tart. The surprisingly controversial story of the butter tart, by Emma Waverman, Cottage Life, July 6, 2020.
There is controversy even with desserts. In Ontario, the Wellington County Butter Tart Trail first launched in 2008 in the Kitchener-Waterloo Region. Further east, a copycat Butter Tart Tour through Northumberland, Peterborough and the Kawarthas now has more than 50 self-guided sweet stops to choose from.
At first, these rival treat trails exchanged nasty letters over the ‘invention’ of local tart road trips. But in true Canadian fashion, they compromised (apparently over butter tarts!). Good lesson whether you have a sweet tooth or not, prefer your tarts plain, or with raisins, currants or pecans:
Differences can be resolved through cordial discussion.
Apparently, butter tarts are a Canadian culinary invention dating back at least two centuries when pantry supplies were quite limited. Nationally there are many variations. Sugar pie (tarte au sucre) is a close cousin in Quebec, if you want to take a road trip in la belle province. Evolving as Canadians’ tastes change, butter tarts commonly found now have new ingredients like spices, maple syrup and bacon. Debate that!
Whatever direction of your summer road trip, look up the weather forecast for the day you plan to take it. Plot your route, have your designated field guide navigate. Follow the road signs, don’t speed, and look out for cyclists and pedestrians sharing the road.
Our own Be Alert program of reflective child-friendly designs are made to be highly visible in low light conditions. They are easy to attach to clothing, bike helmets or backpacks. We can customize a wide range of safety products with insignia, badges, zippers and other identity and apparel products with your own important message. In the meantime, take a summer road trip to discover some pretty amazing things just a little ways from home. We are here, contact us for help with your safety communications.