What’s the longest drive you’ve ever completed in your life? For Telelink Solutions Expert, Chris Legge, it’s a coast-to-coast journey across Canada.
In the summer of 2020, Chris and his fiancé packed up their lives and moved from Newfoundland to British Columbia. As a lover of safety best practices, and Journey Management™ Chris was committed to booking a journey every day and keeping his trip on track.
When Chris arrived safely at his new home, I asked him if he would answer some questions about his trip.
How far did you travel in KM?
Total trip was 7,575 Km from St. John’s, NL to Burnaby, BC.
How many stops did you make?
Approximately 31 stops for refuelling, eating and sleeping. There were 10 stops to sleep. After sleeping night one on the Port Aux Basques ferry, we stayed/slept in Halifax (off the path but a city we wanted to check out), Edmundston, Ottawa, Sault St. Marie, Thunder Bay, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, northwest to Edmonton (to visit family), through the Jasper ranges to Kamloops then Burnaby.
Go-to travel snack?
Bacon Egg McMuffins were a popular quick breakfast to start the trips in the morning. Grocery store fruit trays and granola bars to tide us over between stops for lunch/dinner where we had proper meals.
Who was in charge of tunes?
Passenger/co-pilot controlled the tunes with the driver making the call on what music to play.
Is there a road trip song you're sick of right now?
I was warned about this by others that have made the cross-Canada Journey. I took a few hours curating a Canada Road Trip playlist with plenty of songs and mixed in a few podcasts and audiobooks to avoid burning out on a single song or album (No, “I’m Gonna Be/500 miles” by the Proclaimers did not make the cut). We listened to Canadian artists, sometimes focusing on artists originating from the province we were currently driving through. Matt Mays/Wintersleep through Nova Scotia, and lots of Tragically Hip through Ontario (Although we had to play “At the Hundredth Meridian” when we hit the prairies in Manitoba. Some Gordon Lightfoot while we drove along the Great Lakes. Canadian Classics.)
For Audiobooks, we listened to “They Call Me Number One” (a memoir written Xatsu'll chief Bev Sellars where she gives an inside look into Canadian First Nations groups and breaks her silence on her years at the church-run St. Joseph’ mission residential school. Great book!) and “Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art” by James Nestor, a best-seller on the importance and health benefits of proper breathing techniques. Interesting stuff!
In addition to the audiobooks, comedy podcasts were a good way to pass the time on the road and have a chuckle.
Would you do it again?
I would definitely do it again. It makes for a great vacation if you don’t rush it and take your time. There are alternative routes I’d love to drive and explore. Also, there are cities I would like to spend more time in and get to know better.
What did you think of the Journey Management app and remember to check-in?
We utilized the VDIS journey management app for keeping us safe during our journeys. Remembering to check-in was easy to do, especially with my fiancé as co-pilot to remind us to do so. Both the app’s push notifications and text messages from the monitoring centre were handy reminders as well. With the app, we felt safe and confident to complete our 8 to 10 hour journeys each day.
What was the most scenic part of the drive?
The most scenic part of the drive would have to be driving through the Rocky Mountains and into the beautiful hills of the British Columbia Interior. Since we stayed several nights in Edmonton to visit family, we took the Yellowhead highway west into the Rockies toward Jasper then southwest to Kamloops.
Tied for second most scenic would have to be the Ontario drive along Lake Huron/Lake Superior, or the Long-Range Mountains on the west coast of Newfoundland from Corner Brook to Port Aux Basques.
Thoughts on passing through the prairies
Two days of straight highways, big skies and cattle farms. It's easy-driving and you can travel far distances much faster than through the more winding roads of Eastern Canada.
What advice would you give somebody about to complete the journey for the first time?
- Plan your route and where you will be stopping in advance.
- Get a mechanic to inspect your vehicle prior to starting the journey. Change your vehicle’s oil and have critical vehicle systems checked, especially breaks and tires. Prior to re-starting your journey each day, walk around your vehicle and do a quick inspection to ensure everything looks good before continuing.
- Pack an emergency roadside kit. Ours included a first aid kit, flashlight, tool kit, tire compressor, booster cables or a portable battery-powered car jump starter, tire patch kit, cable/zip ties, rope, emergency blanket, etc.
- Due to driving mid-pandemic, we had an inventory of hand sanitizer, masks, and disposable gloves.
- Winter tires are a MUST if driving in winter months.
- Fuel up often. There are some long stretches of highway with few gas stations and no cellular reception (Western Ontario for example, from Sault St Marie to Thunder Bay). We rarely let our tank go below the half-way mark.
- Keep cellphones charged.
- Our cars satellite navigation was a big help in addition to our phone's navigation. For smartphone navigation, we used the app Waze. In addition to accurate directions, Waze was able to warn us in advance of road hazards such as cars on the shoulder, potholes, train crossings, as well as provide alerts on upcoming police speed traps. It helps to have a phone holder that clips onto the dash of your car. This keeps navigation within view and keeps you hands-free. Alternatively, let the co-pilot handle this.
- I would advise taking your time. 8 to 10 hours of driving per day was comfortable, with stops every 2 hours to stretch and use the bathroom, and stopping at the 4-5 hour mark for lunch helped break up the day of driving.
- Start your driving days early in the AM to avoid late-night driving. Getting to our destinations earlier allowed us to have a good meal and then explore each of the cities in the evenings.
- Get a good sleep each night. Energy drinks and coffee can be a help if you need a boost but be advised these can also cause you to “crash” so it is advised you use these later in your drive to get you to the finish line comfortably.
- Bring a co-pilot and alternative the role of driving.
- Keep an eye out for wildlife, especially moose and deer, they are everywhere.
- Enjoy the scenic drive and our beautiful country!