Day 1: Toronto to Ottawa
Travel Duration: ~ 3 h 54 min (400 km)
Day 2: Ottawa
Spent our day checking out the core of Ottawa. It was tough to find street parking around so close to Parliament, and after excising some patience we finally found something. We spent the day absorbing this busy city.
- Check out Parliament Hill;
- Leisurely walk the Trans Canada Trail just behind Parliament. Running along the Ottawa River, you’ll have beautiful views of where Ontario and Quebec meet;
- Admire artwork at the National Art Gallery of Canada;
- Window shop at the ByWard Market. This outdoor farmers market is the perfect place to check out local crafts and specialty foods.
Day 3: Ottawa to Montreal
Travel Duration: ~ 2 h (190 km)
Arriving in Montreal, roads are visibly narrow. Without driveways, cars are required to park bumper-to-bumper down side roads.
Navigation with Google Maps was nearly impossible at times. The map gave incorrect instructions and often rerouted, so we couldn’t rely on Google’s AI instructions.
Nearly every road requires a city permit to park, so it took extra time to find a place to park before exploring. Of course, we wanted to stop in Downtown Montreal to get the most out of our short time here.
- Indulge in poutine at the famous La Banquise. There were too many options for specialty poutine. MUST TRY!
- Hike Mont Royal – small mountain, landmark peak just west of downtown Montreal. Offers a beautiful view of the city from the top.
- Wondered through the Montreal Botanical Garden. You can also purchase admission to the Biodome (open Fall 2019) and insectarium (reopen Spring 2021), but are currently closed for renovations.
Day 4: Montreal to Quebec City
Travel Duration: ~ 2 h 10 min (170 km)
We spent much of our first day in Quebec City settling in and familiarizing ourselves with the Beauport area. After a few days of exploring different cities by foot, we were exhausted and ready to relax before starting another crazy day.
Day 5: Quebec City
Quebec blend together nature and residential/commercial areas better than many places we’ve traveled so far. Everywhere we went, people we outside enjoying the green areas!
With beautiful weather, who wouldn’t spend the day hiking and exploring the city some more.
- Visited Parc de la Chute-Montmorency Park – a breathtaking park featuring Montmorency Falls, conveniently located a few minutes from downtown Quebec! At 93 meters tall, it’s larger than Niagara Falls.
Montmorency Falls is truly a natural wonder. Atop the suspended bridge above the falls, you can see Montmorency River feeding into the St. Lawrence River.
We found the most unique part of this trip was that you could follow a staircase down the cliff side to the foot of these massive falls.
You can get another amazing view of these falls driving down Autoroute Dufferin-Montmorency or Boulevard Sainte-Anne!
Day 6: Quebec City to Tadoussac
Travel Duration: ~ 2 h 55 min (210 km)
When travelling through Quebec, you MUST stop at a local fromagerie! There are so many you likely won’t even need to go out of your way to enjoy one.
- Fromagerie St-Fidele – carrying swiss and cheddar options perfected over more than 100 years, their sales counter is open year round. Interestingly, these guys do cheese-flavoured ice cream during summer seasons.
Crossing over from Baie-Sainte-Catherine to Tadoussac, we took the ferry across the Saguenay River. Even better, this vehicle ferry works 24/7, year round and provides a great opportunity to observe the majestic fjords or spot a whale!
Day 7 & 8: Tadoussac
For some reason, this tiny village had us hooked!
Maybe it was the beautiful lookout point we found just a few kilometers out of town, the indigenous history, or the tiny seasonal grocery store (called Epicerie Cote) that had everything we need in perfect portion sizes.
This area is also known as the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park – a national park that conducts research and protects all marine life in it. The first park in Quebec to protect a marine environment including endangered species such as the Beluga and Blue whale that frequent these waters to ensure survival of their habitat.
It was so special, we adjusted our plans to stay an additional few days extra to explore everything it had.
- Wild camp at Les Dunes (4 km outside Tadoussac village) overlooking the Baie du Moulin à Baude;
- Observed the tides change and the locals clamming during low tide;
- Dinner and wine at a rest stop overlooking Baie de Tadoussac;
- Visited the Marine Mammal Interpretation Center – self-guided tour with material in both French and English. Education on whale and initiatives for preservation;
- Walked the peninsula boardwalk/observation decks around to the Inlet Point – with a little luck, Beluga whales are often spotted!
If you wish to support GREMM’s initiatives to raise awareness and protect whales, you can donate here.
Day 9: Tadoussac to Chicoutimi
Travel Duration: ~ 1 h 40 min (135 km)
There are plenty of picture perfect fjord lookouts and trails along the Saguenay River. Most of our day traveling was spent adventuring along the way to Chicoutimi.
- Walk some trails at Saguenay Fjord National Park – off of Baie Éternité. Educate yourself on the history of Saguenay’s Aboriginals and European settlers;
- Visit the small village of Sainte-Rose-du-Nord local hiking trails – located in a deep valley surounded by mountains, the Sainte-Rose-du-Nord Lookout is a popular hike.
Day 10 & 11: Chicoutimi/Seguenay
Excited for more breathtaking lookout points, we set out for another day of hiking. One of our favorite hikes was just on the western limit of the Saguenay-St Lawrence Marine Park:
- La Baie – unforgettable views overlooking “Baie des Ha ! Ha !”. Many opportunities for great photos along its two hiking trails (Sentier Eucher and Sentier les berges). Trail starts at the Marina de Ville de la Baie.
Day 12: Chicoutimi to Quebec City
Travel Duration: ~ 2 h 5 min (210 km)
These last few days were spent planning our route back home. We didn’t have much time left to explore. Luckily, driving through Quebec is very scenic and there are plenty of observation points to stop at on the windy roads.
In anticipation of making a stop at another Fromagerie, we stayed the night in Quebec City.
Day 13: Quebec City to Trois-Riviéres
Travel Duration: ~ 1 h 20 min (140 km)
Another day of driving as we make our way back to Ontario, but there was lots to break-up the drive.
- Explored the small village of Saint-Raymond de Portneuf;
- Walked along the Sainte-Anne river in Saint-Raymond;
- Indulged in fresh cheeses made at the Fromagerie Alexis de Portneuf – a local couple recommended their cheeses.
Day 14: Trois-Riviéres to Toronto
Travel Duration: ~ 6 h 45 min (675 km)
Quebec has so much to explore; we drove the Fjord route and were in awe during the majority of the drive. We can’t wait to go back!
We have researched travel in Europe for the past two years, and couldn’t be more excited to begin the journey BUT our plans have changed! Now, we are starting our vanlife adventure here [in Canada] before heading over to Europe.
This entire planning process has been both exciting and educational! We will continue to post updates as things develop so we can pass helpful information along the way.
Why Change Plans?
Our goal with Forever Abroad is to carve a path towards a new way to approach life. With the hopes to travel the globe, it doesn’t really matter where we actually start! With that, the idea to 1st see more of the country we grew up in is as great a place as any to kick everything off!
We have worked out a budget, done plenty of research, and even tested vanlife in Quebec for a while. Our greatest challenge on the road will be discovering new ways to sustain this lifestyle as we transition away from our traditional jobs, towards full-time van dwelling.
While Europe was part of our initial plan – providing unlimited camper van options – we ultimately decided to begin our travel in Canada for a few reasons:
Purchasing any vehicle where you do not have citizenship is a difficult task to begin with, requiring licencing and insurance. To buy vehicle insurance, you need a place of residence [within that country] to register your vehicle under. Since we will not be staying in once place, we cannot provide this.
We came across many campers we thought were ‘the one’, but without actually test driving and viewing the vehicles ourselves we weren’t able to make a decision to move forward. Despite our seemingly unlimited options, it was still difficult to work within a budget AND find something that we wouldn’t need to make many changes too.
Ultimately, we came to find that European ownership, vehicle certification (Eco. testing), registration, and third-party insurance (for both personal and company asset) is easiest to set up in Bulgaria and could be arranged for proceeding import from its country of purchase. Following countless hours of research and communication with lawyers, we stumbled upon this option. It appears to be the best route for us to continue our journey in Europe following our tour in Canada and The States. If you are looking into something like this, check out Bulgarian Plates. Their licensed lawyers provide detailed information and helped to walked us through understanding import and licensing process.
Our New Plan – Self-build Campervan
We’ve been asked numerous times, “why don’t you travel Canada first?”. Having Europe as our starting point was part of our original plan, BUT starting elsewhere turned out to be a better option for our long-term idea! Truthfully, we haven’t seen much of Canada and every trip we have to Nova Scotia or Quebec leaves us counting down until our next time there!
Starting where we have citizenship brings with it many positives we wouldn’t have during long-term travel elsewhere:
- Building our own van – We can choose what we want to put into it. Everything from insulation, electrical, storage, etc. Having viewed many different arrangements, one of the most exciting things about this is to fully customize the mobile home to house EXACTLY what we need! When we’re ready to head over to Europe, it would be easy to import our van conversion to continue our travel there!
- Travel supplies (lower cost) – No longer having to reduce our initial belongings to a 40 Liter travel backpack each, we are able to re-use many household supplies in our van. Dishes, bedding, electronics, and much more would have been additional start-up costs. Check out some of our recommended travel gear here.
- Health care (i.e access to prescriptions and medical coverage) – Unfortunately, there are restrictions to the length of time you can travel outside of your residence country. You risk loosing your provincial health care benefits if you aren’t physically living there a specific number of days out of the year.
- No language barriers – An obvious advantage, we will be able to ease ourselves into this adventure better.
Through our travels we will be using many different items. Everything we use is purchased for its value and quality. If you’re interested in any equipment we use, this is the place to find it!
We’ve done the research and use everything regularly. We will be writing full, detailed product reviews of all of our favorite products along the way. For now, enjoy the below descriptions for AWESOME travel products and electronics that we truly believe in and rely on.
On top of all that, this list also contains everything we use in our campervan. Everything from our kitchen appliances to our solar set up. Hopefully this information will help you make informed decisions when you start your own journey!
We highly recommend any of the products on this list. Links to all these items will be available HERE for your convenience!
Travel Equipment/Gear We Actually Use!
– The DJI Spark is the most affordable, fully feature drone currently available on the market. At a price point of roughly $549 USD ($699 CAD) you really can’t go wrong with this high-end drone product.
Spark is easy to fly, making it a great option for both beginner and advanced users.
This mini drone has all the fancy features you’d expect in more expensive technology. The camera takes amazing pictures and stabilized 1080 30fps video. It is equipped with everything from return to home auto landing, palm launch/land, automated flight path features, orbiting designated targets, and much more!
The best thing about this drone is that it’s very portable and weighs less than 1 lbs, making it a great option for mobile professionals and world travelers such as vanlife goers or backpackers. The Fly More Combo comes with a convenient shoulder bag to house all your drone equipment together, making for easy transport on hikes. It can easy be packed into a decently sized backpack or carried along side in its shoulder bag.
If you are trying to start off in the drone space, the Spark is by far the best drone for you. If already familiar with drones and looking for something that can do 4k video, the DJI Mavic 2 Pro is the best option. This DJI drone is priced at roughly 3 times more than the Spark, offering even better features such as a 3-axis stabilization gimbal.
We are super excited about the Spark and its intuitive features leave us with a user friendly device supporting many unique control options. The Spark was a great option for us because of its many protective accessories and comprehensive product warranty.
DJI is the most recognized and respected brand for drones. With affordable accidental crash coverage and fast delivery, you can’t really go wrong purchasing DJI products other than the Spark. For other awesome DJI products. Click Here
This is the perfect travel backpack for us, hands down. Priced at $159.95 USD ($219.99 CAD) it is great for a weekend getaway in the city or the wilderness. The Farpoint 40 has a few key features that you just simply cannot get in other backpacks.
It is not a top loader, and instead has a suitcase-style zipper for loading and unloading your main compartment. This, accompanied by the internal compression straps, allow you to keep things organized and easy removal of items near the bottom of your bag. The laptop/tablet sleeve is lockable in a secure, separate compartment.
The Osprey Farpoint 40 was deigned to fit as a carry-on, on most airlines worldwide. A unique feature is the option to stowaway the backpack
straps, harness, or hip belt in a hidden zippered backpanel. When in use like this, the padded handles allow you to carry your bag as a suitcase, adding to easier transport.
As a 40-liter sized backpack, it can fit everything you need for long term travel while also distributing weight evenly from harness to hipbelt. We find this the perfect sized bag for those traveling as a couple. If each of you have one of these, you are set. It might not be as durable as some others if you are looking for something to use on intense mountain hikes, but it will get the job done.
We have previously used it for back country hikes and camping in the past. This was one of our best bags during our 20km, week long canoe trip in Algonquin. We highly recommend this backpack.
All Of Our Campervan Stuff!
We really did not want to start our campervan adventure without a full oven. We love to cook it has become one of our passions and we did not want to give that up living in a van. This product fit all of our needs.
This oven is simply amazing for any RV/Campervan setup. It works on solely propane. This means you do not need electricity for a spark plug starter or a complex gas set up. Just get a propane tank and plug it in. The front burner is a bit stronger and can cook things very quickly while the back 2 are a bit more for everyday use. The entire top grate can come off for easy cleaning which makes this super convenient as we all know water is a valuable resource when living in a van.
Hello and welcome to Forever Abroad. To be “Forever Abroad” has been a goal of ours for such a long time – NOW we want to make it a reality! We hope to share our adventure through this Blog. Myself (Brian Paquette) and my wife (Christie Kolb) will be making regular posts, updating you with our current travel status.
So much can change from now until our journey starts!
Not only will you get to join along in the fun of our travels, but Forever Abroad will slowly reveal plenty of great posts about tips and advice useful to anyone looking to travel. There will be information for those interested in minimalism, self-sufficient accommodations, a better life balance, or living in a van for travel.
Our current embark date is set for May, 2019. Until then we plan to slowly start gathering our supplies while working full time Monday through Friday and using our free time to research and prepare for our travel. This is no small task and begins with getting rid of all the belongings and downsizing to fit into a van. Before our journey even begins we will purchase a converted Campervan, buying necessary travel gear (i.e. backpacks, clothing), getting our vaccinations, travel documents, and so much more!
As we learn, you can learn with us! We will make slow but periodic blog posts about our preparations, any changes, fun day trips, tips and tricks we find along the way. We want to provide our best advice to those interested in travel and hope to help inspire others to follow their dreams.
Thank you for joining us in this incredible journey! I will have a detailed blog post in the future about what our specific plans are so you can think about maybe doing something similar if it interests you!
Be sure to follow us @_forever_abroad on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook! This way you can stay updated when new blog posts are live! All links to social media can be found at the bottom of the page.