Travel With Bender

Uncovering the best family holidays

Reflections

#motherofallroadtrips: A Year Around US & Canada

22nd June 2015 to 24th May 2016

337 days – 11 months and 2 days

242 weekdays & 96 weekend days

8,088 hours

Total approximate miles: 15,645 (25,179 km)

Total fuel: Under US$2,000

Total US states: 41 out of 50

Total Canadian provinces: 6 out of 10

What a trip! 8 phases on the #motherofallroadtrips.

Phase 1: We toured Eastern Canada for over one month.

Phase 2: A little under one month in the Midwest USA.

Phase 3: We made our way from Oregon to Vancouver, Canada.

Phase 4: We discovered Western Canada with a quick side trip to Alaska.

Phase 5: Drove more than 5,500 km from British Colombia to New York.

Phase 6: A meandering journey from New York to Florida with stops in Nashville & Atlanta.

Phase 7: Drove west through Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and New Mexico.

Phase 8: Starting part 1 of the Grand Circle in Colorado and Utah, before finishing in Las Vegas.

Phew, that’s a lot of segments to an epic road trip. Here’s the breakdown: 


Phase #1 – Eastern Canada

New York, USA
Boston, USA
Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada
Quebec City, Quebec, Canada
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Toronto, Ontario, Canada 

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Eastern Canada was a remarkable introduction to the land of the maple leaf. We housesat in the small city of Moncton and got our first taste of poutine. Quebec City was quaintly French and Montreal surprised us with a free performance by Weird Al Yankovic at a comedy festival. Ottawa was a firm family friendly favourite and our two sunny weeks in Toronto were unbeatable.

If you are thinking about visiting any part of this region, head to Phase 1 for fuel and accommodation costs, plus a sample itinerary.

Toronto skyline
Light show on Parliament Hill in Ottawa


Phase #2 – Midwest USA

Indiana, USA
Kentucky, USA
Illinois, USA

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Fort Wayne, Indiana was a surprise and we loved it so much we visited again in December. And if you really want a great theme park experience, head to Holiday World in Spencer County. Louisville, Kentucky was filled with interesting museums from Mohammed Ali to the Kentucky Derby, but also home to serious adventure experiences like the Mammoth Cave. Finally, as we headed to Chicago we stopped in at the largest children’s museum in the US in Indianapolis. We loved Chicago so much that (like Fort Wayne) we visited again in December. There’s an endless list of things to do in the Windy City and the food was amazing. We took our kids to their very first baseball game there.  

If you are thinking about visiting any part of this region, head to Phase 2 for fuel and accommodation costs, plus a sample itinerary.

Holiday World, Indiana
View of downtown Chicago from Chicago 360 observation deck


Phase #3 – Pacific Northwest

Oregon, USA
Washington, USA

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This is one of our favourite parts of the US, from the enormous gentle giants in the Redwoods, to the hidden scenic beaches of Oregon. Crater Lake (one of our favourite must-see national parks) was a highlight and of course we made time for a sweet treat at Voodoo Doughnut in Portland. The Olympic Peninsula was stunning and home to the freakiest beaches we’ve seen, but unfortunately Forks, WA never embraced its movie-stardom and wasn’t worth the visit.

If you are thinking about visiting any part of this region, head to Phase 3 for fuel and accommodation costs, plus a sample itinerary.

Redwoods
Rialto Beach in Olympic National Park, Washington


Phase #4 – Alaska and Western Canada

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Alaska, USA
Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada
Alberta, Canada

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Just when we thought Oregon was the most gorgeous part of North America we travelled to Alaska and Western Canada. We toured southeast Alaska on a Holland America cruise, witnessing glacial ice fall into the sea, landing on a glacier via helicopter, and panning for gold where Alaska’s gold rush was born. Incredible.

In Vancouver we got to watch whales up close and caught a seaplane to the picturesque Victoria island. We loved our relaxing month in Kelowna, taking the kids up to Big White and walking along the Lake Okanagan. Our 2-week trek around Alberta was also insanely scenic with Banff and Icefields Parkway becoming our new favourite spots in Canada. Oh, and the food was incredible too!

If you are thinking about visiting any part of this region, head to Phase 4 for fuel and accommodation costs, plus a sample itinerary.

Walking on Meade Glacier in Skagway, Alaska
Peyto Lake on Icefields Parkway, Alberta, Canada


Phase #5 – North Coast-To-Coast USA

Washington, USA
Idaho, USA
Wyoming, USA
South Dakota, USA
Minnesota, USA
Iowa, USA
Illinois, USA
Indiana, USA
Ohio, USA
Pennsylvania, USA
New Jersey, USA
New York, USA

phase5_map_narrow.jpg

It took us one month to make our way from British Columbia, Canada to New York, USA and we made some pretty fantastic stops along the way at new places and old favourites.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming introduced us newbies to skiing. If you are going to start somewhere it might as well at the best, right? South Dakota had so many amazing wildlife and nature experiences, as well as spectacular sites like Mount Rushmore. The largest mall in America was home to a pretty neat theme park, while Chicago did not fail to impress a second time, even in winter. A quick drive through the rest of the northeast ensured we made it to New York in time for Christmas.   

If you are thinking about visiting any part of this region, head to Phase 5 for fuel and accommodation costs, plus a sample itinerary.

Skiing at Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Mount Rushmore, South Dakota
Rockefeller Plaza on Christmas Eve


Phase #6 – Northeast to Southeast, USA

New York, USA
Pennsylvania, USA
Virginia, USA
Tennessee, USA
Georgia, USA
Florida, USA

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Want a fun road trip in the US? Take this one. Nashville was one of my favourite destinations, not only as a foodie’s paradise, but offering something for each member of our family. We never ran out of things to do. During our time in Atlanta our kids favourite attraction was World of Coca-Cola, while I enjoyed a tour through CNN’s headquarters. After a short (and delicious) stop in Tallahassee, we arrived for a month’s stay in Orlando with visits to Universal, Disney World and Legoland – a kid’s dream come true.  

If you are thinking about visiting any part of this region, head to Phase 6 for fuel and accommodation costs, plus a sample itinerary.

World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta, Georgia
Magic Kingdom in Disney World, Florida


Phase #7 – South by Southwest, USA

Florida, USA
Mississippi, USA
Louisiana, USA
Texas, USA
New Mexico, USA

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This part of the trip was a food-lover’s fantasy. We caught up with relatives in Mississippi and ate our way through southern Louisiana and Texas. New Orleans has always been a favourite spot for us with it’s seriously mysterious Oak Alley and swimming swamp pigs. But not even that beats the incredible food. Texas was no joke either in the food department. Houston was jam-packed with attractions, but Austin ticked all the boxes as a new family favourite destination. And while a broken down car kept us longer then we planned in Santa Fe, we used the time for an impromptu self-guided Breaking Bad tour in Albuquerque which was a laugh-and-a-half.  

If you are thinking about visiting any part of this region, head to Phase 7 for fuel and accommodation costs, plus a sample itinerary.

Swimming swamp pigs in Louisiana
Space Center Houston


Phase #8 – Grand Circle, USA (Part 1)

Colorado, USA
Utah, USA
Nevada, USA

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The last leg of our #motherofallroadtrips took us from the snowy Rockies in Durango, Colorado to the hot desserts of Utah. Utah has to be the most underrated state in the US, holding several of the best national parks we’ve visited with the most astonishing scenery. And of course no US trip is complete without a few fun nights in the bright lights of Las Vegas with over-the-top buffets and an uninterrupted supply of entertaining live shows.

If you are thinking about visiting any part of this region, head to Phase 8 for fuel and accommodation costs, plus a sample itinerary.

Mesa Verde, Colorado
The iconic Delicate Arch in Arches National Park, Utah
Bellagio fountains in Las Vegas, Nevada


That’s all folks!

It’s been an incredible year in North America and a trip we will never forget. If you can’t get enough stay tuned for 3 more exciting road trips we completed before the whole year was out:

Can you believe it’s been one year?

What’s coming up next for Travel With Bender?

Well, in 2016 you will find us still travelling in and out of the United States and Canada, but also Mexico, Hawaii, Bali and Australia, so stay tuned for more adventures.

Here's what you have to say...

"I respond to every comment by private email. So please leave me comments, I love chatting to you" -
Posted by Karlie @ Miss Wanderlust on
This is an awesome itinerary and totally inspirational! Fabulous photos. I'll have to explore your other posts more in depth.
Posted by Scott - Quirky Travel Guy on
Oh wow, nothing is better than a good road trip. This really gets the inspirational juices flowing. I once went through 46 states in four months, but I still didn't make it to a lot of these spots. This is getting bookmarked for future reference. I especially want to try phase #1 to see that part of Canada!
Posted by Lindsay Nieminen on
It's my dream to do this through Europe watching football!
Posted by Celine Brewer on
Wow, that is seriously impressive!
Posted by [email protected] on
Beautiful pictures!! What a great way to teach kids about *everything* ! Traveling is the ultimate gift of learning! I love your post and I will keep on reading more! I want to do exactly what you're doing!! :)
Posted by Kimberly on
This is so awesome!! Totally goals!! I'm living in OK now, but I see you went through Petal, MS- that's my home town! Pretty glad I stumbled across your site!

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