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RV Adventures Prove the Value of Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone


Hitting the road in an RV is an activity that has become popular during the pandemic, attracting several first-time users. (Photo by Jay Fleming for Vacay.ca)

RVing is more than just a vacation — it’s a full-on lifestyle change. And whether you’re going all-in or testing the waters with a first-time RV rental — it’s good to feel prepared. For many, being prepared means meticulous planning. The stops, the sights, the restaurants, all of it gets your attention before you get behind the wheel. So do all the moments that cause you to dream. The anticipation of experiencing them can be almost as exciting as the trip itself. On the other hand, there’s the uncertainty that keeps you cautious, if not on edge. Will your choices live up to your expectations? Are the joyful pictures you see online or in brochures really what it will be like? What if the weather doesn’t cooperate? What if the COVID-19 regulations change again?

As my partner, Teresa, and I planned our very first RVing journey into Alberta’s national parks in Banff and Jasper, our excitement was equalled (and maybe even surpassed) by our stress level. We’d never driven, or even set foot in, an RV, and had no idea where to start. We’d soon learn that RVs are a fantastic antidote to many common travel stressors. Bad weather? We’d have a fully equipped kitchen and entertainment system to keep us fed and busy while we waited out the rain. If we didn’t love a chosen campground, we’d be in a hotel room on wheels, and could drive to a new one. The mobility and versatility provided us with an unrivalled sense of freedom.


Stunning Moraine Lake is so popular you need to arrive before dawn to get a parking spot. RV drivers have up to three large spots available on the site. (Jay Fleming photo for Vacay.ca)

With our rental, we were immediately given access to the CanaDream Club App that offered options galore, including a map of all the nearby campgrounds in the parks (and their hookups/facilities — key information for us newbies), recommended activities, as well as exclusive deals and discounts. Once we compiled our long list of places we wanted to visit from the app, it was easy to find user-submitted reviews and tips on TripAdvisor and Google Maps to validate and whittle down our choices.

Next, we bought a Parks Canada Family Pass — an essential for any new entrant to the RV way of life. For $140, we gained unlimited access to all of Canada’s national parks for the next 12 months.

(Sneaky Benefit: Since we’re from Ontario, we’ll be putting the pass to use again, and have already started planning our next RV adventure to Point Pelee National Park next summer.)

Before picking up the RV and starting our adventure, we were prepared to compromise on food, expecting that the options near campgrounds wouldn’t be great, or that we’d be eating campfire-cooked hot dogs. Then we stumbled upon a fantastic RV lifestyle tip: pre-cooked frozen meals. We cooked like mad in our home kitchen leading up to pick-up day and were able to pack the RV’s freezer and fridge with perogies, pulled pork, meatballs, chicken breasts, and more.

MORE RV STORIES: Family Fun in B.C.

With our fridge packed, our campgrounds picked, and our iPhone’s GPS hooked up to the handy Apple CarPlay in the RV’s touch screen, we were on the road.


Pyramid Mountain, shown from its namesake lake, is among the peaks that captivate your eyes while in Jasper National Park. (Adrian Brijbassi photo for Vacay.ca)

Perhaps the clearest illustration of what makes RVing different from a traditional vacation was our first sunrise adventure, at Moraine Lake near Lake Louise. For those who haven’t yet seen it, Moraine Lake is a bit of a global phenomenon. In fact, the lake was posted so frequently on Reddit that some travellers started calling it “Reddit Lake.” Because it was so popular, we knew we’d have to get there early to beat the crowds and get the full experience. We’d read online that in order to beat the rush, we’d need to be in the parking lot “well before sunrise,” which was at 5:35 a.m. So, we arrived at 4:25 a.m., and were rewarded. Only one (of three) RV-size parking spots was available (tip: always Google “RV parking” for any stop you plan to make).

Once we parked our rig, we realized the RV was worth its (considerable) weight in gold. Instead of napping in a freezing cold car, waiting for the darkness to subside, we fired up the generator, made fresh coffee in our CanaDream-supplied coffee maker, and accompanied it with a full hot breakfast, cooked on the gas stove. We were the warmest and best-fed explorers at the lake that morning. After that first sunrise experience, we repeated the same routine at Pyramid Lake in Jasper the following morning. The flexibility of the RV had turned these two morning-averse people into sunrise chasers.


RV lifestyle agrees with writer Jay Fleming, who quickly took to the freedom offered by campgrounds and the open road. (Teresa Tam photo)

As many travellers to Alberta’s national parks are eager to do, we posted our pictures and adventures on social media — and the reaction was overwhelming. Many of our connections online jumped at the chance to talk about their RV experiences having seen ours on their feed. It felt as if our one-week rental had given us entry into the secret society of RV nomads, a lifestyle membership we won’t be forfeiting anytime soon.

Note: Jay Fleming will be writing a series of articles about his RV experience in Canada. Check his first installment, “Becoming RV People in the Canadian Rockies”.