Travel Diary Part 1: Expedition in Vancouver
We just ticked off one of the important items in our bucket list and that’s travelling as a family for one month. It doesn’t sound hard. But if you have five kids with three under the ages of 8 and were nicknamed #tuasontornados, you would think otherwise.
Our chosen destination this year was Canada. We spent most of our time in the province of British Columbia. The Great Outdoors, a beautiful city and lots of healthy food options. Our goal was to expose our kids to different places and cultures; teach basic life skills; live independently from help and to prove to ourselves that we can actually parent our kids.
While planning this trip, our friends thought we were masochist parents who just wanted to give ourselves a hard time. Good luck wishes were given both sincerely and sarcastically in tone. Some even offered prayers for us to survive this episode, still married.
Everything was a challenge, from inflatable beds for the 14-hour flight, to a car that will fit 7 of us, plus our luggage; strollers and cars seats, and how to entertain a mixed age and temperamental offsprings. I had some preconceived notion on how I will become a domestic goddess. I will be cooking and feeding my family healthy meals, enjoy many outdoor activities such as running, biking and maybe, hiking.
Perception Vs. Reality
Nothing can really prepare you for reality, no matter how much preparation you make. After whipping up roasted free-range lemon garlic chicken with organic mash potatoes, partnered with organic mushroom soup with roasted Portobello slivers, I never realized how tiring it was to cook and clean up. Plus the fact that I had to do the laundry for seven people, before my older kids pitched in. Good thing we were only four blocks from Wholefoods and the IGA supermarket-their cooked food section was a life saver.
Car=7 People + luggage
We were loaned a Ford Expedition for the first part of our trip. As we have owned previous generations of the Expedition, we know that it just gets bigger and bigger but also easier to drive. What I liked about the Expedition is its rugged yet, luxurious feel. It really affords you space and height, plus the interiors are superior to its other counterparts.
The latest version integrates aluminum parts into the body and chassis, reducing weight by up to 300 lbs. The steering angle and turning radius for such a big vehicle are quite small, allowing the car to maneuver into tight spots easily. The backup and 360 cameras were very helpful in parking, and ensuring we parked in-between the parking lines, and avoiding becoming an internet Meme for Asians that cannot park.
We had a total of 2 Rimowa Trunks, one Large Rimowa Luggage, a medium size Samsonite, 2 strollers, three cabin rollers, and a white box for all our kitchen supplies. The power fold and recline 2nd and 3rd-row seats were a great feature when we had to move the family and luggage in two trips in between Airbnb.
The power step boards were also an excellent feature for the family. We have kids of all ages, from 4-year-olds to teens. Everyone used the step boards to get both in and out of the vehicle. But once the doors were shut, they became hidden, giving the expedition a sleeker profile.
Mobility Gadgets: Compact is the way to go
In most western countries, cars seats are a must. Our primary concern is portability, and we also realized that some model car seats are not allowed by individual Canadian provinces. We opted for the Mifold car seats but bought the non-foldable ones. I also have that foldable version but sitting on it is quite a struggle, especially for smaller kids.
When traveling, strollers are a must for kids 6 and below. But I needed something more compact because I knew we had limited space in the car. My friends from the Parenting Emporium hooked me up for a great deal on two GB Pockit+ strollers. It holds a Guinness Book World Record of having the smallest fold for a stroller. The Pockit+ has a recline feature which really helped when the twins were sleepy. Plus, when you don’t need it, I just pop it inside the luggage because when folded, it can fit inside a regular size backpack.
Goal: Tired, ready to sleep, Kids
Soon enough, we realized that this was harder than expected. For one, the kids are so lazy, and doing everything from cooking to laundry was really time-consuming. So, to lessen the stress, we all agreed to do one activity with one goal in mind: to have the energetic munchkins be bedtime compliant by 8 p.m.
For Vancouver, your best bet is the park. I think the reason why city government maintains parks in every possible corner there, is to help parents out or they will go berserk. We made sure our accommodations were walking distance to parks with playgrounds.
Our special days were a trip to Granville Island, Science World, and Stanley Park.
When you enter Granville, the first thing you see is the Kids Market; A beacon of hope for parents because it has an enclosed playground where the kids can stay all day for 11C$. After a relaxed lunch in the food market, you can hang out in the Pier or catch a waterbus that goes around the river.
Another full day activity will be the Science World. Parents can have as much as 30 minutes of peace and quiet in 2-3 sections of the Museum. There they can play with balls, water, drums and learn at the same time.
Our first house was a 10-minute walk to Kitsilano Beach, where they can look for shells and hermit crabs. Vancouver has lots of beaches, unfortunately for us tropical people, it is winter weather. So while the locals are bare-chested and in swimsuits, we were sporting winter jackets and beanies.
Stanley Park has lots to offer. You can spend one day at the Aquarium, another biking, another day riding horse-drawn carriages, and or freezing in the big bayside pool or waterpark. But the trick is to limit your activities to one or two to lessen stress, cranky children and annoying teenagers.
Resistance was strong for the first few weeks.
For the untrained body, housework is a pain. We were all missing Yaya, and the magic of putting dirty clothes in the hamper, and appearing clean and folded in the closet. The combination of jetlag and resistance to heavier chores was becoming very taxing to all of us. My kids resorted to Netflix while I resorted to a glass of wine which graduated to half a bottle when my husband left for six days to attend a class in MIT Boston. In the next 2 weeks, we saw ourselves traveling to Salt Spring Island and Whistler which gave us another set of challenges.
Next Chapter: Island and Mountain Hoping with the Toyota Highlander Hybrid.
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