westfalia on the trans canadian highway in the rockies

Sporty getaways: how to prepare for a road trip

Planning to load up the van and head out on a road trip? Learn how to combine sports, exploration, and overall well-being in one trip. Let the adventures begin!

The joy of travelling is all about a feeling of freedom and well-being. Road trips are a great way to break out of your routine and find new adventures! As you travel through small towns and various regions, you’ll discover breathtaking landscapes and exciting new places to practice your favourite sports and activities.

How to plan a road trip

You may have a strong spirit of adventure and welcome the unknown with open arms, but it’s still a good idea to plan ahead. Obviously, a weekend along the St. Lawrence River won’t require the same amount of preparation as a month-long journey through Yukon’s backcountry. It’s up to you to decide what’s necessary for each trip.

It’s important to set a budget, choose the right vehicle for your needs, and research the route, local attractions, and the sights you don’t want to miss. This initial prep will help you plan other aspects of your trip, like which activities and sports you can do along the way.

To start planning your getaway, consider these three main things:
- Budget
- Vehicle organization
- Equipment

man looking at a road map near his camper van


Before hitting the road, be sure to prepare your budget. Estimate the cost for each item below and then tally them up to see if the total is within the budget you had in mind. 

Start with this checklist:
 - Fuel consumption
- Food and restaurants
- Sports and activities
- Tolls
- Camping fees
- National park fees
- Sports equipment

Plan for unexpected expenses. When you’re travelling, anything can happen. It’s wise to expect the unexpected. For peace of mind, add 20% to your total budget. For example, if you calculated $150 for gas, be ready to spend about $180.

Van parked at the foot of a mountain in the Canadian Rockies

Vehicle organization

On the road, your vehicle is more than just your transportation, it becomes your living and storage space as well. If you want to pack everything on your list while still having a bit of elbow room to enjoy the trip, learn to optimize every nook and cranny of your vehicle. 

Consider these tips:
- Use bins, baskets, and bags to organize your gear.
- Stow heavier objects under the seats or on the floor.
- Hang lighter items from the ceiling hooks.
- Bring stackable kitchen items, like camping cooksets.

making banana pancakes in a camper van

What equipment will you need?

Whether you’re discovering Lake Winnipeg by kayak, hiking the Charlevoix region, or cycling in British Columbia, you will need specific equipment and accessories for each activity. By planning your itinerary and activities in advance, you can be sure to install the right racks so that you can bring just about any sports equipment you’d like.

van camp under a starry sky

Our suggestions:

- Water shoes: Ideal for kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, and taking a dip in rocky water.
- Waterproof dry bag: Keep your belongings dry on or near the water.
- Swimming bag: Put away wet clothes if you don’t have a chance to hang them out to dry.
- Merino wool clothing: Thanks to their natural anti-odour properties, these clothes are perfect for road trips.
- Microfibre towel: In addition to being extremely compact, these towels dry in the sun in just a few minutes. A must-have.
- Camping cookset: This set was designed to fit easily in a backpack and takes up very little space.
- Camping solar shower: A hot shower outdoors? Yes, please! Also great for rinsing equipment.
- Repair kit: Bike tools, air pump for water accessories, air mattress patch kit.
- Safety kit: Survival blanket, first aid kit, safety vest, insect repellent, GPS watch, flashlight.

Off you go!

Don’t forget to take other factors into consideration like the weather, the local culture, and your personal preferences. Even if the basic idea of a road trip is to experience an adventure, we still recommend reserving your lodging, travel tickets, and sports activities in advance.

Most importantly, don’t forget to enjoy outdoor recreation responsibly. “Leave No Trace” principles and ecotourism are the only ways to preserve natural landscapes for future generations to enjoy!

Joana and Eric in front of their camping van in Canada

Des fenêtres sur le monde and quechua

A very special thank you to Joana and Eric for the beautiful photos. Since 2015, this nomadic couple has been driving their classic camper van through Canada, the United States, Mexico, and Central America. Learn more about Joana and Eric by following their road trip adventures on Instagram.

We'd also like to give special thanks to Quechua for the opportunity to share unique stories like these on Decathlon Canada's Advice page.

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