Imagine a three-month long school trip, covering 20,000 km, and taking your classroom along for the ride. The owner of Victoria B.C.’s CheapTicketsCanada.com, Normand Schafer, his wife Kirsten and their six home-schooled children have done just that.
Since leaving their Saanichton home near Victoria, on May 30th, the family has crossed the continent twice, visiting 10 provinces and 19 states in the process. Their classroom-cum-residence is a 31-foot motorhome emblazoned with their website, www.FamilyAdventuring.com, and slogans such as “We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.” It is also outfitted with hi-tech gadgets that allowed friends, relatives and even total strangers to follow their sojourn in the virtual world of Facebook, Twitter and their own website blogs replete with GPS-mapped photos showing the many places they visited en route.
“We spent the first seven weeks of our adventure promoting Canada,” says Normand. “During this year’s economic downturn we decided to show Canadians that they don’t really have to travel to far-away places to experience spectacular scenery and the hospitality of strangers. It was an amazing experience to meet Canadians from coast to coast and to discover some of their great local places to visit,” Normand says.
Not everything went smoothly. The RV went in for repairs four times to fix everything from a broken propane line to replacing six worn tires. They nearly decapitated their 11 foot high motorhome in Boston while going under a bridge with 11 foot clearance and, due to an electrical problem, travelled for days with the vehicle’s retractable boarding steps hanging out.
However, Normand points out that the family bonded because of their experiences together. “Perhaps the most unique part to our trip was the people we encountered along the way,” he sums up their cross-continental adventure. While the landscapes, landmarks and dialects changed from place to place, they found a common friendship and friendliness wherever they went. “It was a dream-come-true for us to visit our country and an opportunity for us to see places that we would like to visit again and explore a bit more in depth — one place at a time.”