Gosselin Family Eco Vacation - Hopewell RocksThis week we’re on vacation. We had not really planned to write anything. But our vacation has left us renewed and overjoyed. It was just good. We feel good. And when we feel good, we feel like sharing it.

So here it is. It’s not a challenge per se, but rather an experience. We hope you like it.


Our Challenge

I guess we took what could be termed an “eco vacation”. We did not really intend it as such, but when we compare it to our past travel experiences, we had a very minimal footprint. If we had wanted to, we could have challenged ourselves to be green this week and we certainly would have passed the test.

Our Tale

So, what did we do? We started out the best way possible. We visited friends. Good friends. The kind of friends that just exude happiness and relaxation. Visiting them is always the same – the family equivalent of a yoga retreat. There are lots of hands to cook, clean and play with little ones. Everyone is just happy to be together. Don’t get me wrong, the ease with which mealtimes and activities are carried out is certainly the result of hard work and good planning, but it’s the kind of planning that exudes serenity not stress. It’s inspiring.

While visiting our friends, we still did a host of “touristy” things. We visited the local market. We took the kids to a local sheep festival.  We visited a maple syrup farm.  We went boating and played on the beach. We had a campfire. All of the  typical Canadian vacation stuff.

After three nights with our friends, we parted ways and went camping. Well, actually, we went “yurting” at Fundy National Park.

A yurt overlooking the Bay of Fundy

© Parks Canada / André Audet

“What is a yurt?”, you may ask.  Well, it’s basically a cross between a tent and a hut.  It’s a permanent, weather-proof tent of sorts – but with a floor.  (I’m not doing well here.  If you’re interested, please just Google “yurt”.)

Yurts are actually quite divine.  Ours was furnished and had a deck attached with a view of the Bay of Fundy.  We learned firsthand that a yurt can easily withstand hours and hours of severe thunder and lightning.  (Thank God for smores!)  But the best thing about a yurt is the fact that we didn’t have to set it up or take it down.  We just moved our pack-and-play right in.

While on our yurting trip, we really focused on activities for the kids.  We had a picnic at the Hopewell Rocks.  We took our 3 year old horseback riding.  We went to the playground multiple times.  (It had a zipline – what tourist attraction could top that?)  We walked on the beach and collected treasures.  We let the kids stay up late.  We just enjoyed.  It was good.

Our Findings

The Footprint

Our friends live about 3 hours away in Nova Scotia.  And Fundy National Park is about an hour’s drive away.  Including all of our outings, we drove 862.1 km and used 80.2 litres of gas.  That means our carbon footprint for the trip was 508.69 lbs.  (Yes Carl – I included the time I got us lost.)

That’s actually quite a bit more than our typical weekly household usage of roughly 56 lbs per week.  (For a baseline, check out our previous post Drive Responsibly: Reduce Your Carbon Emissions.)  In order to offset this, we need to plant an additional tree this year.

Are we proud of this?  Not really.  But we think we’ve done the most efficient trip possible.  Trains are not readily available here on the east coast.  Given that we are a family of 4, car travel was really our best option.

The average family vacation trip is about 1200 miles – or 1920 kilometers – in total (Source: Union of Concerned Scientists – Getting There Greener), which is more in line with our previous vacations.  We’re happy to have at least improved upon that.

In addition, we chose low-impact accommodations (like free-loading and yurting) and ate local and organic just like we would at home.  We can’t think of any additional carbon emissions we’ve created beyond our car travel.  Short of staying home, this is probably the best we could do.

Fundy National Park ZiplineThe Goodness

Now, this is our favorite part – the part we really wanted to share.  Beyond having a good time, we feel strongly that we gave something.  We spent real, quality time with our kids.  Don’t get me wrong, we’re all for Disney World and Sea World, but there is something truly good about seeing the wonder on your child’s face when they are just playing with a friend or collecting shells or exploring the woods.  There’s something heart-stopping about how happy they are just to be with you.  And not just after work or after the chores are done.  But all the time.

We’re thinking our children need this from us every year.  Our undivided attention – just once in a while.  We’re certain that the young minds and hearts we’re developing  will pay us back tenfold in the years to come.  Carbon aside, there is no distance we wouldn’t drive for this.  Now that’s goodness!

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Just a small town mom trying to make the world a better place for my kids. One small change at a time.

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