Photos: Clem Mazars
Caravanning and North America go together like peanut butter and jelly – and we all know how disgusting that is, so obviously it’s wrong. Besides, what is that stuff they call jelly anyway? Jam? Preserves? See, this is exactly the kind of ridiculous question you’ll be dealing with if you make the mistake of hauling yourself to the other hemisphere for a caravan adventure.
It’s far better to stay at home in a land with a delicious, sensible sandwich spread, like Vegemite.
But just in case everyone's favourite yeast spread isn’t enough to convince you to stay at home, here are a few reasons why touring North America in a caravan is a crazy idea and certainly not something that belongs on your bucket list.
1. It’s just too big and diverse
From the arid desert to the Rocky Mountains, the number of times the biosphere changes from coast to coast is innumerable. Just as you get used to one – boom – it switches and you suddenly need a jumper. The stunning west coast beaches and quaint New England docks sandwich the immense valleys, canyons, plains, badlands, mountains, tundra, swamplands, forests, grasslands, sand dunes, and glaciers of North America.
Every coastline is different from the next – you’d arguably have to arguably spend the rest of your life trying to see it all.
Who has time for that? Why bother trying to see anything when it’s impossible to see everything?
2. The options are overwhelming
Even if you decide to commit yourself to one section of North America, how will you choose where to start? As soon as you start flipping through photos and guide books you’ll learn of places you never imagined existed.
Only problem is that it’s 3,000 kilometres from where you'd planned on starting your journey. The abundance and variety of destinations to explore will make your brain burn with frustration at your inability to see it all without flying. What if I want to lay on a white sand beach AND climb a 4000-metre snow-capped mountain? How can you possibly commit to an itinerary when you’re bound to get distracted by all the inspiring choices on offer? Better to spend your morning at the local cafe trying to decide whether to have smashed avo + poached eggs or pancakes.
3. It’s the opposite season
Why would anyone forgo winter in Australia for summer in North America? There is far too much sunshine and activities to participate in.Yuck. Even the shoulder seasons of spring and fall would offer a disgusting amount of balanced weather with smaller crowds. North America is so big that the seasons vary enormously. Basically, you can always find somewhere with a boring temperate climate in which to waste away the hours reading books and drinking beer. Ugh.
And the alternative is no better. If you really wanted to shake it up and head over during the Aussie summer you’d have to learn to survive the snow ― and who ever thought a white Christmas was normal?
Also, if you start trying to research seasons you’ll inevitably end up needing to convert Celsius to Fahrenheit and that’s a mathematically frustrating equation, so don’t bother trying.
4. Discounts demand I.D.
In general, the cost of living is cheaper (in the US more so than Canada). You’ll notice it at the grocery store, out at restaurants, filling up at the gas station, and even at caravan parks.
Discounts are available for everything from happy hour to camping in the off-season, especially for those over 55. That’s right Nomads, there are plenty of discount cards available to you over in North America. But to get them you’ll have to show your ID, and you’re not admitting to all those strangers you’re a day over 40 – how rude!
5. It was built for it
Caravans – otherwise known as RVs in North America – earned their place on North American roads shortly after the rise of the automobile.
On the first day, roads were built and on the second, people wanted to take long distance trips in the comfort of their own home (or something like that).
Nowadays, RVs are extremely commonplace. There are never ending roadsides littered with holiday parks, campgrounds, and RV repair and parts stores. Gas stations sometimes provide water; there are free municipal dumps available, and there’s plenty of free overnight parking to be found, nation-wide.
But you know as well as I do that when caravanning gets to be too easy, the sense of relief, usually experienced after a long day of driving around trying to find amenities, is stifled. If everything is easy and fun all of the time, then none of it is (because logic).
6. They drive on the wrong side of the road
After a lifetime of driving on the correct side of the road, you’ll now have to learn to drive on the right-hand side. It’s absurd! And quite frankly, highly dangerous. All of the road signs will be in American English, most-probably illiterate jargon making it difficult not to swerve head-on into traffic. Yikes! The only solution would be to hire a personal chauffeur to safely drive you from A to B, but that would really take the fun out of being in control of the open road in front of you, wouldn’t it?
Better off staying in Australia with less dangerous roads and more kangaroos.
7. The people are too friendly
Who wants to meet a bunch of gun-toting, maple syrup drinking, hockey loving, loud and proud people? Not Crocodile Dundee, that’s for sure!
In Canada and America, every stereotype exists and there’s a slight chance you might run into one. And in between, you’re bound to meet hordes of friendly, cheerful, overly-excited individuals – especially when it comes to customer service. People will be smiling, eager to ask you questions about the land ‘Down Under’, generally giving off the impression of being far too helpful.
All this cheerfulness must be fake, or at least, annoying to be around.
8. You've already seen everything interesting
Hollywood did a superb job of marketing the Wild West, eliciting images of vast deserts spotted with statuesque cacti and wide open spaces, boasting of vivid hues. Heat radiates from the earth; canyons plunge into torrential rivers; wildlife soars above and hunts below, and while you’ve seen it in the movies, these places truly exist.
But you can easily just Google image Glacier National Park, watch a documentary about Yellowstone, or even check out Instagram photos of Banff, why would you ever bother visiting these tiresome old wonders yourself?
9. You'll probably just get a bit fat
With such a diverse landscape comes a diverse culture, and with that, an overabundance of food choices. Between authentic Mexican street food and irresistible Canadian poutine, you’ll likely pack on a few pounds after taking a gastronomical tour, every day. If you feel flabbergasted by the immense grocery stores with their towering shelves, then you’ll just have to catch your own dinner.
If the idea of hunting for your own venison or fly fishing for salmon sounds not at all relaxing then the copious range of fast food outlets will surely satisfy.
The hub of the craft beer movement, North America is densely populated with brewers eager to entice VB drinkers with new and exotic words like 'hops', 'carbonation', and 'malted barley'. Local vineyards produce award-winning wine, and in general, liquor is far more affordable. With so much delicious and affordable food and drink available, you’ll probably end up not driving anywhere and just slip into a boozy food coma daily. So much for experiencing the open road.
10. Everything is actively outdoors
North America is not just for driving – it’s for hiking, rock climbing, cycling, surfing, 4WDriving, fishing, boating, and so much more. There are white water rapids to raft down and smooth lakes to gently kayak across.
Either way, you’re bound to find outdoor activities that will push you to the edge of your abilities, whether you want to summit the largest peak (which is roughly three times bigger than Australia’s) or simply stroll through a dreamlike forest filled with gigantic redwoods.
In 2017 Canada will finish the last of its 24,000 kilometre Trans Canada Trail (aka The Great Trail), the longest recreational trail in the world. Bike, walk or even horseback ride this trail to get to know Canada’s stunning secrets spanning the entirety of the country.
But that’s of no interest to you. In reality, there’s far too much good stuff on TV to bother with all these exhausting outdoor activities. Besides, you’ll probably just sprain something anyways.
A note on the author:
Ruby hails from North America and actually thinks it's one of the best places in the world to travel in a caravan, hence the obvious note of sarcasm present throughout this article.