It can be so difficult deciding what to take on a road trip. Especially, if, like us, you have a small car.

There were a few things that really helped us with this trip.

Smartphone Apps + Websites for Long Car Journeys

Gasbuddy

Gasbuddy has an app and a website, so if you have internet access you will be able to figure out when to stop for fuel. Buying gas on our journey would have been far more expensive if we hadn’t found this app. Fuel prices vary from street-to-street in Canada and knowing where the nearest, cheapest fuel was really helped us stick to budget. It can be annoying when you fill up, only to find it .20c less per litre 10 km down the road!

TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor potentially prevented food poisoning and bedbugs during our trip. It was far from perfect, as consumer reviews can sometimes be skewed; everyone has different standards. One persons ‘too expensive for what you get’ meal is another persons ‘ahh, bliss, I was desperate for this type of meal/environment etc’. Still, if you’re able to read between the lines and you’re working within a budget, this is a brilliant app/website to visit. There are reviews on hotels, B&Bs, restaurants and even take out chains across Canada.

Audible

We signed up for the trial version and downloaded a few audio books. On a 9 day, 6 hours of driving per day, road trip, conversation and attention can dry up. It was nice to have a little distraction on occasion. If we did more driving, we’d definitely sign up for the membership too. I’d recommend any Terry Pratchett novel and Tina Fey’s BossyPants. Best stories ever for ridiculously long road trips.

Packing

Clothes

Let’s face it. You’re probably not going to do much laundry on a 9 day road trip. Maaaybe if it was longer, you would. Maaaybe you will. Anyway, bring enough clothes so that you have layered outfits for 3-4 days. You want to make sure that you have a raincoat, sandals, walking shoes. You do not need jewellery and you do not need fancy make up. Be simple. It saves space and time.

Bedding

This probably sounds weird, but bring a pillow, and a throw (if there’s room). We did this because I really like my own pillow and we couldn’t be sure that the hotel standards would be suitable. We have stayed in quite a few fancy schmancy hotels (can you say the Fairmont?) in the middle of winter, only to discover that they had no spare blankets and no hot water bottles because of this, the throw was a must. Plus, it makes snuggly car sleeping possible (more on this later!).

Food and ‘Stuff’

We bought 2 books each. My camera and 2 lenses. And a whole heap of other ‘stuff’ (this is because we were waiting 2 months before moving into our new house, and wouldn’t have access to any of our stuff in Ontario), including military gear and dress uniforms. There was a lot! But, we also brought an icebox with us and bought fruit and water at road side stops. We bought bread, plastic cutlery and jam for emergency sandwiches and snacks.

Planning for Large Road Trips

If it’s more than just you, decide whether the trip is an A-B journey or a road trip where the destination signifies the end of a mini adventure. Once you and your driving buddy are on the same page, it really will make for a smoother journey. We decided to take our time, to take an alternate route and how many days would be spent in each province. The Canadian had travelled through Canada before, so he had some insight into speed restrictions (Ontario) and any other issues that could impede our journey plans.

Are we there yet?

We had a rough idea of how many nights would be spent in each province. Our goal was to spend more time in Ontario than in SK or MB (we’d already visited those places), so, by the end of each evening, we would sit down and review the map, we’d pull out the TripAdvisor and try to find a good hotel and goal. We would book the hotel the night before and then we knew where we had to be at the end of the day. After that, we would see if there were any ‘must see’ places along the way, if not, then we would just drive with a vague, flexible plan of where we would eat at lunch time and maybe dinner.

Sleeping

Yes, road trips are long. They can be boring. And, at some point you get tired. We heard of many stories of non-stop driving for 72 hours etc. This, for us, was not right. We like our sleep! We’re also poor drivers when we’re tired. We decided that we would, for the most part, keep each other company during the drive. Especially, if we were driving through the night on dark country roads. In the mornings, we allowed the other to sleep in the car, if needed, but at night, the extra attention from the passenger was helpful.

I loved our trip but there are so many things I would do differently next time. I’d ensure that there were more snacks and that I was more mindful of time. I’d plan dinner and meals more firmly. There’s only so many times you can eat burgers in dodgy looking take outs. But overall it was a great experience.

What are your suggestions for keeping your sanity during a road trip?

I’ve broken our Canada road trip into a series of blog posts, which can be found here:
How to Find Great Photo Opportunities on Road Trips
What are your tips for making a mundane trip into an adventure? Do you have any road trip hints and tips for smooth travel?
In 2012, I travelled across 3 Canadian provinces and completed my first major ‘road trip’. Road trips are a new concept to me, so my excitement was intense. Follow the Road Trip Journey and discover places to visit and enjoy in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario, as well as hints and tips on the best way to make a road trip romantic, enjoy each others company and find great photo opportunities

Successfully documenting a road trip doesn’t have to be hard work. With some planning and a little exploring you can really have fun with it. Taking photos on a long car journey can be your first step toward creating an art journal, collecting your own textures for editing, developing travel journals + photo albums and tracking experiences. It’s so much fun to be able to review details of adventures long after the memories begin to fade.

I loved travelling across Canada. It’s the biggest car adventure I’ve undertaken and I enjoyed myself so much. I’m so happy that I decided to photograph the entire trip. The Canadian and I rarely go on holiday, so when we were posted from Edmonton to Ottawa, we decided that it was going to be fun. We’d been told by many people that the drive could be completed in 3 straight days of driving but, for us, that wouldn’t have been as safe, beneficial or as enjoyable as the time we took to smell the roses, photograph and explore areas of the country we’d never have the opportunity to see again.

Undoubtedly, the greatest part of the trip was spending time with my Canadian but, I’m not going to lie, seeing Canada and improving my photography skills were definitely up there on my list of enjoyment. 3,000+ km later and I had learnt a lot about finding great photo opportunities and improving my way of documenting our travels while road tripping it.

Here are my top tips:

1. Plan your trip

Planning your road tip, breaks and the time you have each day to take photographs can really help bring things together. If you know that you will be stopping in Town X for lunch and that you have an hour, you could plan to see the towns tourist attraction, have a picnic by a remote lake or visit a small market. Planning your photo breaks saves time and makes the experience enjoyable.

2. Wander

 Leave the highway. Study the map before you travel and look for unusual place names. Some of the best experiences and photo opportunities can be found in those remote places.

3. Document Enjoyment

Take photos of the things you enjoy, capture images that sum up your mood or the mood of the journey on that day. Don’t take photos for the sake of taking photos.

4. Practice your Photo Techniques

I took a camera manual with me. I know how to pick ’em, huh? When The Canadian drove, I read my book and learnt new techniques, compositions or settings that I would try out. Learning how to manipulate shutter speed, adjust composition and learn more about my camera was fun.

5. Use the Car

Take photos in the car, use the rear view mirror, the side mirror and the driver. There are so many options, but remember to be safe. Don’t distract the driver!

6. Be Real

Remember to document the things that make the trip real. Document the mess of travelling, the hotel rooms, the food. Your road trip is yours. It adds up and documenting all of it, including the little things makes a big difference.

7. Road Signs

Road signs make great photo opportunities on long journeys. The road trip was really long and we went through many towns. If for no other reasons, taking pictures of road signs can help divide your images into location points. This is particularly useful on a long road trip when you have no option of downloading your images to a computer.

8. Take Landscape Photos

Learn to take landscape photographs, especially of scenery that you love. They make great backdrops for written text in journals and blogs.

9. Review!

Review your photos often. Better yet, upload your photos to your computer, cloud or wherever you decide to store them and do it every evening. If you can’t upload then at least review your images in the camera. On our road trip I found so many photo opportunities that I had over 1k images by the time we reached Ontario! Far too many. It took an hour to go through and delete blurry, duplicate and imperfect images. If I’d have done this every evening it would have made my life easier.

10. Write

Take a notebook with you and write. It might not seem like a big deal but road trips are a great way to make big plans and goals. Conversations on long journeys are great and the experiences you have are rich. Don’t miss out on documenting those experiences. Having text to go with your photographs can really help bring a journal together.

Finally, don’t forget to have fun. Enjoy the moment. Photographs are great but if you don’t enjoy yourself then it becomes a bit pointless. Taking photos of everyday only has meaning if you enjoyed the moment. 

Canada is a beautiful country, but there are also some serious risks to wandering off, always be aware of wildlife, especially bears and other dangerous creatures. Polar bears, for instance, are not going to pose nicely, no matter how great your camera is.

I’ve broken our Canada road trip into a series of blog posts, which can be found here:
Tips for Successful Road Trips
What are your tips for making a mundane trip into an adventure? Do you have any road trip hints and tips for smooth travel?
In 2012, I travelled across 3 Canadian provinces and completed my first major ‘road trip’. Road trips are a new concept to me, so my excitement was intense. Follow the Road Trip Journey and discover places to visit and enjoy in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario, as well as hints and tips on the best way to make a road trip romantic, enjoy each others company and find great photo opportunities

It’s been a while since I’ve updated the Etsy shop but it’s not from a lack of hard work.  I have updated the listings in the Etsy shop. There are new cards, many of them hand painted.

original hand painted greetings cards

This time around, I’ve focused on the things that make me happy. There are still many cards for special occasions and events, but I made a special effort to ensure that I included greetings cards for every occasion. I thoroughly enjoy receiving cards from friends ‘just because…’, it’s the best feeling and they usually have the most sentiment, so I introduced some to my collection.

original hand painted greetings cards

Self doubt and not feeling as though I ‘fit in’ is often something that plagues me. This is why these two cards below were really important to me.

original hand painted greetings cards

original hand painted greetings cards

original hand painted greetings cards

And, just because you came here, I am offering a special discount code. LH3FOR2 will allow you to buy 3 cards for the price of 2.

original hand painted greetings cards

What other types of cards would you like to see in The Lemon Hive Etsy shop?