There is no better time than NOW to stay put and explore what your "backyard" has to offer you. Chances are there are less crowds, minimal lineups and you will save both time and money!
I have always been keen on travel and in my twenties spent time living in Hong Kong for a year and continued to take trips to S.E Asia, South America and across the USA. It wasn’t until my late thirties I started to realize there was a lot to discover in my own backyard, of course referring to Ontario.
With COVID shutting down all of my summer travel plans overnight, it has made me reflect again on all Ontario has to offer including my actual own backyard paradise which leaves me wondering why I was so eager to travel far away again when I still have lots to explore close to home. So shifting from airplanes to vehicles it's time for more road trips!
I’ve made another bucket list, a local one, called Staycation #bucketlist and want to help you create yours! Travel does not have to be expensive, I can’t repeat that enough, and though life is uncertain it’s not about dying it’s about living so what are you waiting for?
As our government continues to sort out and open up businesses that were closed or minimized due to Covid we can be sure that domestic travel will be opening up sooner and more desirable than international travel. So rather than focusing on ALL the destinations I can't visit anytime soon I will be a Tourist, but in my own town with less rushing of the baggage carousel in excitement and staring at maps upside down figuring out which way is north.
Here are some steps to a successful Staycation Bucket list and read until the end to find out how to be entered for a chance to win a prize pack from The Travelling Pint!
Step 1- Grab a Beer, obvi, and create your list!
All list’s need a name so name it! Summer of [insert name here], Covid won’t stop me exploring, Things I need to See, All the places to ‘Beer Me', things to keep me sane this summer, I could go on….
Your phone is a great place to store your list as is an old fashioned paper. Nothing like adding doodles and the satisfaction of scratching an item off the paper list with permanent ink!
Start with some easy predictable day trips that don’t need much planning or packing.
Hop online and look for new breweries you want to discover and then what sights, trails or scenery is in that area to explore! Even if the taproom isn’t open the retail probably is so grab some beers to go from the local brewery to enjoy on your hike, paddle or back home.
Escalate to some weird sites, an overnighter, cravings you have (new ice cream shop, beer release or packed to the rim Caesars) or cool experiences you’d love to try.
Instagram is FULL of cool pictures of beer & travel and can inspire something you want to see, experience or taste! Tip: Search local hashtags in the search bar for more specific finds ex. #ontariocraftbeer #discoveron #onsouthwest #ontarioblogger Clearly adjust them for where you live and want to discover.
Decide what is a must do and most important and arrange the list!
Heres some questions to help you discover where you may want to go:
What types of new foods or beer styles do you want to try?
What sort of sights excite you?
What new cultural do you want to learn about?
Are there any activities or sports that you want to try?
What classes have you always thought about taking?
If money and fear were not an issue what would you do?
What would you like to do with family and friends?
What is your favourite drink or food?
What skills have you wanted to learn?
Is there a charity you have always wanted to support?
What was your childhood dream — is it still relevant today? Can you explore it?
What travel stories would you want to share with your grandchildren or friends over a beer?
Is there someplace you have always wanted to take your spouse, best friend and parent?
Step 2- Organize, trust me it's easier than your sock drawer!
If you’re like me your list is now 30+ adventures long and you’ve discovered way more than you thought possible and not that far from you! Push yourself, but also be realistic in deadlines. Feel free to break this list up into seasons (mind you that grew mine) or categories like adventure, creativity or taste buds and know this list has no expiration!
Who do you want to experience these activities with? It doesn’t have to be the same person always or anyone. Perhaps exploring solo like solo camping is intriguing or calling up your best friends to relieve a childhood experience or a day out with the kids or dog. Girl nights, date night, dudes night all apply here! Think who you’d enjoy each activity with the most!
Grab your calendar, paper again in my case and start placing activities into empty weekends, weekdays or evenings. Not everything on your list will be an overnight or all day activity. You’d be surprised what you can fit into an afternoon. New ice cream flavours, line up for a beer release, visiting waterfalls, hiking in the badlands are all achievable list adventures!
Step 3- Now follow through and START THE CAR!!
This is the fun part so don't let the weather, poor mood or lack of beer fridge space stop you! You will come home happier, sleep better and be excited for the next list item.
Go social and follow the places on IG or FB that are on your list. You may find a certain day they are offering something that peaks your interest, or they may be offering a deal or as they now keep popping up in your newsfeed you will be reminded that you need to get there! Tagging them in any pics you post are helping them spread the word, free advertising, and showing them how much fun you had while there.
Let’s make this interesting if you are sharing on social use the hashtag #TPintStaycation in your story or post on IG or FB and you’ll be entered to win a prize pack from myself, The Travelling Pint, that will help you enjoy your backyard or living room and relax after your busy day of travel! (*Prize winner will be announced September 30th at 6pm ESD i've included September as fall is a great time to travel) You can search that hashtag and get inspired for your next road trip or in turn can inspire others to discover somewhere new!
I hope I have inspired you to clear your calendar of worry and work and have as much fun as you can over the next while as this continues. You will be helping out the local economy, strengthening your mental health and breathing fresh air even if you choose to try Float chambers for the first time or explore a cave. Now get exploring your backyard and province and let me know what I MUST do next!
Please remember during your research and before travelling make sure to check the city or state Covid-19 restrictions to see what is open and who is welcoming visitors. Be safe, wear a mask, crank the tunes in the car and physical distance when necessary!
Here are some posts from great experiences I’ve had across Ontario and remember to follow @TravellingPint on IG to discover more beer and adventure filled destinations!
Cheese Tour - https://gunnshillcheese.ca/
Located near Woodstock, ON you can take a tour at Gunn's Hill Cheese and shop to your hearts content. Also in the area are fresh coffee roasters, breweries and artisanal chocolate! #tourismoxford
Beer Spa - https://grandwellness.ca/our-services/beer-spa/ You don't have to travel to Europe to experience this luxury as it's in Brantford! They are open and practicing safe measures during this time and pro tip... Check out Groupon as they always have some great deals on their and for under $100 you can get a beer bath soak complete with hops and a salt cave session for two!
Jumbo the Elephant - https://www.railwaycitytourism.com/jumbo.html
At the entrance to city of St. Thomas on your way to explore more breweries, railways and trails you find this towering statue of Jumbo and learn about his history. A great day trip! #ExploreRailwayCity #OntSouthwest
Sandwich Brewing Company - https://www.instagram.com/sandwichbrewing/
The town of Sandwich is located just outside of Windsor and this brewery is a must stop and now offer sandwiches!. Windsor, Kingsville and Pelee Island are all worth a visit and full of great breweries, distilleries and even better people. Check out the brewery hotels in Kingsville to spend a night and put Windsor back on your list. You can check out my blog post on their Barrels, Bottles and Brews Trail here. #twepi
Dominion City Brewing Co. https://www.instagram.com/dominioncity/
Ottawa, ON and area are hosting more and more fantastic breweries and can definitely compete with the Toronto when it comes to beer. Dominion City is a great example of a brewery making a difference in both beer and what they stand for. In addition to beer there are a ton of sights and things to do in Ottawa and the areas surrounding including Brew Donkey Bus Tours! #MyOttawa
Blackwater Coffee Co - http://www.blackwatercoffee.ca/
Coffee is life! It's needing when road tripping and this shop in Sarnia was amazing. Fresh baked goodies, fantastic roasted on site coffee and the owners stories of how and why he got started were inspiring! I start to find a relation between coffee roasting and beer brewing! #OntSouthWest
Valley Axe Throwing- http://valleyaxe.com/
Have you tried axe throwing? It was waaayy more fun than I expected! Great place to go and close to Refined Fool Brewery for beers after!
Hop Farms - https://www.ontariohopgrowersassociation.ca/ontario-hop-growers/
Not all hop farms are open to the public but some are and if you're lucky enough there is a brewery attached to them like Steel Wheel Brewery in Brant County. You will have do do some of your own research here but even driving by most hop farms in late summer before the harvest you will see them from the road climbing up tall and if you get a chance to get up close it's a sight to see and a lot to learn! #OnHops
Craft Farmacy- https://www.instagram.com/craftfarmacy/
Food pairs so well with beer and Craft Farmacy is an excellent example of that in London, ON which is another great day trip destination with a great selection of breweries and restaurants you can quench your thirst and feed your belly all day long! #ExploreLdnOnt
Rent a cottage - https://www.ontariocottagerentals.com/
So may lakes to explore up north and many are lined with cottages! It seems to be a popular Ontario pastime to getaway for a week and rent a cottage or a cabin at a local KOA as we did! More breweries are popping up north of Toronto and Sawdust City (pictured below) in Gravenhurst is one of my favourites. Regardless be sure to look for the local brewery closest to your next rental!
Feel free to share with your travel friends and family and start planning together!