To Canada or Not? That is the Question

Thanks to Simone about her Canadian adventure to Minden, Ontario with a toddler in tow!

After having had guests from Germany, for two weeks in June, vacation is calling. How convenient that my husband’s work’s shutdown week is right around the corner! How about a trip to Minden, Ontario, Canada to visit friends at their cottage at Mountain Lake? I am immediately thinking to rent an RV for the week. That should be an inexpensive, adventurous, and hopefully fun, way to travel and we can take the dogs along; so we save even more money. “Yes? Great! Let’s do this!”

Traveling To Canada with a Toddler


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Is it easy to rent an RV?

I have never looked up RV rental before, but I am expecting it should be a fairly easy and quick endeavor. WRONG! Not only is there no RV rental place anywhere near us, but RVs are also not cheap to rent. Great! The next idea is to maybe rent an RV privately. It is definitely cheaper, but I was unaware that the entire United States of America is renting RVs for the week we had in mind. Ok, to be fair: it is 4th of July week. Duh!

Trains, Planes, and Automobiles

Back to the drawing board: what are our other options? Train: what train…? Airplane: really expensive! Our own SUV: looks like that is the only option left. After having established how to get there, where will we stay when we get there? Quick call to ask our friends about hotels in the area: “what do you mean ‘no hotels available’?” Shoot! I wonder whether or not we can stay with them for a couple nights at their cottage? They tell us that we can stay with them. Whew!

But wait, the dogs?!

So, this vacation is still happening. Wait a second, what about our dogs? After a quick call to our usual boarding facility the result is that they have, obviously, no room anymore. Shoot! It was expected, but darn it! There has to be a boarding place somewhere that has an opening…maybe. I finally find one! The obligatory meet and greet is scheduled for two days before our planned departure.

Just for your information, this is happening to a type A person! I am not sure whether this vacation is still a good idea, but I am trying to be spontaneous and flexible here. (Pat on my own back).

It IS happening!

July 1st rolls around and the dogs are really in boarding. Our guests from Germany are all packed and ready to go. We are packed and ready to go as well; including lots toys and CDs for kiddo, snacks, and tons of mosquito spray. We must be forgetting something. This seems too good to be true. A while into the trip I ask my husband: “did you pack diaper cream? No? Me neither!”

At this point we are already close to Detroit, MI, where we are scheduled to stop and unload our guests at the airport. Their flight to Germany is delayed by one hour, of course, and I do not want to leave them without knowing they made it at least to the gate, which pushes our arrival time in Stratford, ON, significantly back. No big deal, we can still make it there before midnight.

Onwards to Stratford, Ontario. Which is famous for the Stratford Festival

Our guests make it to their gate, and we are off to Stratford, ON. Crossing the border is no problem, since we are late enough that everyone else, who is crazy enough to travel around this time of year and who was waiting in line earlier that day, had already crossed the border into Canada. From here on, it is smooth sailing to Stratford.

When we arrive at our hotel in Stratford, they tell us that they have NO vacancies! Turns out, Stratford is a popular spot during Stratford festival weekend which is, of course, this weekend. You have to be kidding! It is already after 9pm, and we are getting to the point of no return here. One hour later, we finally find a place to crash at a, surprisingly, nice little Inn. I cannot help it but feel a little bit like Mary and Joseph looking for a place to stay (only I am not pregnant). If I were a believer, I would think that this is some kind of divine intervention/sign.

Driving Day 2: To Minden, Ontario, Canada

After our quick night at the Inn, we enjoy a surprisingly nice breakfast. Then we are on route again to Minden. 6 more hours ahead of us, but we can do it. Lots of games and CDs later, we finally get to our destination without any other problems. Our friends, their two children, and one set of parents are already expecting us.

After three minutes there, I am so glad that I brought lots of mosquito spray. The cottage is lovely and right by Mountain Lake which is beautiful and much bigger than I thought.

Exacty what vacation is supposed to be

The next four days we spend our time playing with the kids, boating, canoeing, water skiing, tubing, swimming (just a little, since the lake was only about 65 degrees F warm), jumping off cliffs (once was enough for me), jogging, walking, cooking, eating, and lots of socializing with beer and wine next to a camp fire in the evening. One night, we ask the parents to watch all the kids after they had gone to bed. The rest of us adults go out in the boat to enjoy the night sky and the lake in the dark. It is quite magical.

We make plans to buy a cottage of our own together and try to imagine how and where it will be. Unfortunately, 9 hours driving time, without stops, is too far for my husband and me to own a cottage in Minden, Canada; even if it would be a shared cottage. It was nice to imagine it for a few days, though.

Our way back to Ohio is not as eventful as the way to Minden was. My husband and I decide to try to go home in one day. We can always stop somewhere if we change our mind or if our toddler is not cooperating anymore. The trooper she is, though, and thanks to YouTube cartoons, we make it in about 11 hours home. We stop once for an hour for a sit-down lunch and then again a few times for short pit stops.

Travel keeps giving, even upon returning home

When we arrive home, it has already started to get dark, and our daughter is not asleep yet (again, thanks to cartoons on the phone). The fireflies are starting to fly around our property, and as always they provide quite the light show for us. Our daughter was able to see it for the first time (usually she is asleep by now). It was such a fun way to end our spontaneous trip to Canada which we all enjoyed very much.

Have you ever made spontaneous trips that turned out well?

About Simone

Originally from Germany, Simone now makes her home in the US with her husband and daughter. She travels frequently to Germany with her toddler to visit family. She has also written about her favorite city (spoiler: it’s Paris) and taking her toddler to an all-inclusive resort.

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