Summer is nearly upon us, and that means the season for summer road trips is here! Living in BC, we are fortunate to have so many incredible destinations within easy reach.  Previously we’ve shared our favourite road trips right here on Vancouver Island. This year, we have assembled a list of our favourite scenic drives through BC, along with some handy tips to keep your trip safe and enjoyable.

The Gold Rush Trail

Fraser Valley - Hells Gate

 

Following the routes of the gold seekers of the 1800s, the Gold Rush Trail travels from New Westminster to Prince George. Winding through the stunning Fraser Canyon and the iconic Cariboo, the route travels 1,900 km through BC’s interior.  Offering desert landscapes and rolling grasslands, there’s no better way to get in touch with your inner pioneer.  To truly make your trip complete, we highly recommend a visit to the historic gold mining town of Barkerville!

Our Travel Tips:

Pull Over:  Breathtaking views can lead to distracted driving. Save your canyon sightseeing for designated rest stops along the road, or consider taking turns with another licensed driver in the vehicle to give everyone a turn at the window.

Get an Emergency Safety Kit:  Rockslides, are not uncommon in BC’s interior, and driving through remote areas always comes with some risk.  Public Safety Canada recommends assembling an emergency safety kit that includes, food, water, a first aid kit and warning lights. For the full list, visit the Public Safety Get Prepared websiteFor more information, see our recommendation for the 10 items to keep in your car if you’re leaving civilization.

 

The Sunshine Coast

Sunshine Coast

Explore the beauty of BC’s coast with a 359 km route that jumps through the gulf islands.  Providing numerous options for hiking and fishing, this trip is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream.  As an added bonus for us island folk, the Sunshine Coast route begins in Horseshoe bay and ends in Victoria!

Our Travel Tips:

Keep Items Secure: Storing that heavy camera in the backseat may be convenient for taking a quick snap of the ocean, but a sudden stop can transform any seemingly benign object into a dangerous projectile.  Keep heavy and loose items in the trunk of the car, or deep in the seat well where they can be contained.

Watch your Fuel Gauge: While you think you may know your vehicle’s mileage, road trips are a different beast. Using the air conditioner can increase fuel consumption by up to 20%, and if you’re planning on hauling any additional gear, be aware that extra weight and high temperatures will make your vehicle work harder.

In short, a summer road trip means you will be burning through your tank a lot faster than normal.  Checking your tire pressure and buying gas in the coolest part of the day are just a few our tips for getting better gas mileage. (And don’t forget to always take that ‘last chance’ to fill-up!)

 

The Okanagan Valley & Mountain Route

Okanagan Valley BC

Enjoy BC’s summer bounty with a tour through the orchards and vineyards of the Okanagan, followed by a breathtaking view of the mountains. Circling 1261km from Yoho National Park to Penticton, this route passes through some of BC’s best wineries and hot springs, so be sure to leave plenty of time for some rest and relaxation!

Our Travel Tips:

Protect yourself from the Heat:  Did you know you can get a sunburn from inside your car?  While windshields include a layer of plastic that acts as a barrier to UVA and UVB rays, the same can’t always be said for the rest of the windows in a vehicle. With shade in short supply in the valley, be sure to protect your skin from harmful rays using sunscreen, hats and sunglasses.

Consider getting a sunshield for your vehicle when it’s parked to help avoid the shock of climbing into a hot car after a rest stop.  And remember, kids & pets should never be left alone in a vehicle when it’s warm out.

Get a Tune Up before you go:  When planning a road trip, you should never forget about the family member who is getting you there – your car! Get your tires, battery and fluids checked before you leave, and be sure to tell your mechanic if you’re going to be driving in hot weather, or towing a boat and trailer, as you may require a different motor oil than usual.

To prevent a last minute panic, book your service 2 weeks before you leave. This gives everyone plenty of time to address any issues and make sure your car is good to go! Searle’s is currently running a Spring-Summer Maintenance Special. Get an oil, lube, and filter change, plus a comprehensive visual inspection and tire rotation for only $99.95.  (Plus you can enter to win an iRobot Roomba 650 – which is handy for keeping house clean while you’re gone.)

BC Road Trip

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8 Important Things to Stock in Your Car Emergency Kit

Car Emergency Kit from Canadian Tire

Have you ever noticed that whenever a small earthquake shakes Vancouver Island and surrounding areas, out come all the emergency preparedness headlines? The only reason these reminders exist is because few people are prepared for disaster around here, and the media knows it!

The truth is, it’s not that people are too lazy or too cheap to think about preparing for an emergency, it’s just that most of us don’t want to think about the possibility of something bad happening. It’s just not something we place on the top of our minds—same goes for taxes, rising food costs, climate change and the like. So, items in our emergency kits remain on the store shelves, waiting to be assembled.

Well, I’m here to tell you that experiencing an emergency while on the road is a lot more likely than a tidal wave or the Big One coming for us, and that preparing for a roadside emergency takes very little effort and space inside your vehicle. In fact, there are emergency car-care kits available at stores that have included some or all of these components for you already. It’s just a matter of picking one up, or putting it on your birthday wish list. Read More

How to Choose a Roadside Assistance Provider

Roadside Assistance

It used to be that you’d be hanging out with your buddies in downtown Victoria, and if someone accidentally locked their keys in their car, someone else would know somebody with a BCAA membership. Problem solved.

But these days, BCAA is no longer the frontrunner in the roadside assistance realm, as it seems like every man and their dog is offering some sort of roadside assistance package.

Consumers can now purchase their plans through big box stores, local towing companies and ICBC. Even banks, credit card companies and cell phone providers are throwing in roadside assistance packages to sweeten their deals. Read More

10 Great Vancouver Island Road Trips

Long Beach in Tofino, BC

 

Compared to other places, driving on Vancouver Island is a relaxing experience for many. Whether our trips are for work or recreation, we appreciate Island driving because traffic is minimal, roads and routes are straightforward enough, and there isn’t a whole lot of treacherous terrain to contend with.

Plus, you can’t beat the lakes, mountains, farmland, artisan shops and vineyards along the way. While Vancouver Island is only 460 kilometres, give or take, from top to bottom, there is a lot to see in between.

Long weekends are the ideal time to explore the Island via a road trip excursion, so if you find yourself longing for just one more get-away before it’s back to school and cloudy weather, might we suggest taking a mini get-away this Labour Day weekend. Read More

10 Items to Keep in Your Car If You’re Leaving Civilization

Road Map

If you’re considering a road trip off the beaten path, your first job is to make sure your car is in good working order. After that, it’s time to consider what to bring along.

Even if you’re not planning on leaving civilization, there are items that are always good to have at the ready.

Take a look at these 10 items to keep in your car if you’re leaving civilization and ask yourself if you might want to toss a few of these things into your car today — who knows? They could end up saving your life.

  1. Clothes, blankets, plastic bags

You don’t want to overload your vehicle, but putting an old sleeping bag and sweater into the trunk won’t make a significant difference to your gas mileage and their possible uses are numerous.

In addition to keeping you warm, a sleeping bag might become a makeshift shelter and a sweater could be refashioned into a bag. While you’re at it, grab some plastic garbage bags, too. They are surprisingly handy.Lighter

  1. Lighters

With smoking rates plummeting, the old question, “Do you have a light?” is increasingly being answered with a “no.” But lighters are great time savers.  People on TV rub sticks together to make fire … but trust us, it’s not as easy as they make it look.

Having a couple of lighters in your glove box or trunk could mean warmth and light in an emergency, and they sure beat sticks!

  1. Liquids

Water is heavy. A 20 gallon jug of water is going to affect your gas mileage. What’s more, in cold temperatures water will freeze and the container could crack. In searing heat, water left in a hot car gets rancid pretty quickly.

One workaround is bottled water — grab a couple medium-size bottles from the supermarket, and rotate them out when you go grocery shopping. Read More

The Top 5 Most Dangerous Intersections in Victoria BC

dangerous intersection victoria bc

Victoria BC has some great roads. Epic, really. From winding coastal roads to mountaintop vistas to leafy tree-lined streets, your new favorite drive is just around the corner.

But…we also have some really awful roads. So bad, in fact, that 7 out of the top 10 crash intersections on Vancouver Island are located right here in Victoria. The helpful folks over at ICBC compiled some stats on these intersections, including how many crashes happened at each one in 2013.

Here’s a rundown of our fine city’s most dangerous spots for drivers:

#5. Burnside Rd W & Tillicum Rd

Crashes: 49

Here, you have all sorts of drivers and they don’t always get along. There are people just coming off the highway, people heading to the highway, impatient commuters trying to avoid the Douglas St. crush, mall shoppers who are in no hurry whatsoever, and the occasional parent who can’t find the Little League field. You’ll see every speed and every disposition, not to mention an endless stream of pedestrians to brake for. Not pretty. Read More