Road Trip: Portland

I’m excited to be going on a road trip next week for the Easter long weekend to Portland! It’s been a minute since I’ve been there and the place holds a special place in our hearts as it’s where we got engaged. This time we’ll be with my brother and cousins so it’s doubly exciting.  Of course, with any road trips, it’s always good to go prepared.  I always go on the tad over-prepared but this is what works for me.

Nob Hill

5 things to do before heading down to Portland

  1. Passports – Make sure that your passport is current and at least 6 months or more before expiring.  It is the same for when you are flying out of the country as it is taking a road trip.  Making sure that your passport is current ensures ease of passing through the border going to and returning.
  2. US Cash – Make sure to get adequate US cash.  While being able to increasingly be able to use interac as well as using credit cards may make it tempting to not have to get cash, it’s always good to have cash to be able to get food, gas and tip. I always go to Happy Currency Exchange, as they have pretty competitive rates.  It’s also worth knowing that paying with cash means that you won’t have to pay the exorbitant fees for using your cards cross border. If you’re unsure how much your bank may charge for using your cards, check your bank website for more info.
  3. Phone roaming – This is an important one, especially if you’re travelling in groups and may need to keep in contact.  While Fido has competitive US roaming plans of $7/day, I’ve long been a user of Roam Mobility which charges a very low rate of $4.95/day for talk, text and data plans.  I love that I can do all the things I usually do back home at a low rate and I don’t have to worry about going over and getting charged crazy overages.  If you do go low on the plan (which I highly doubt) you can always top up by going into your account.  Easy peasy!
  4. Coupons – I love shopping, and Portland is well known for having good shopping especially with their not having tax! Of course that said, there’s nothing wrong with trying to get the most of your trip by checking out the various sites for coupons and special deals.  I will always check out the premium outlet website (sign up to become a member!) and of course, retail me not for any deals.  I’d also advise to check out the Canadian websites of anything you have your eyes on to compare prices. 
  5. Weather – days before leaving, this goes without saying that checking the weather for the proper clothes to pack is important.  I’ve been in places poorly packed due to not considering the weather (SF during their excessive heatwave!).  During spring, the weather can change in the PNW drastically and so I wouldn’t rely on just being able to pick something up along the way. 

Other tips:

  • Know your limit, play within it’ – just like the lottery slogan, it’s important to know your limits crossing the border, so as not to incur tax and duties coming back.  It’s more hassle than it’s worth having to go through all your receipts at the border crossing.  Check out Personal exemptions Mini guide to find out more info.  Also check out What you can bring home to Canada for info on what you can bring home like alcohol and tobacco.

  • Be weary of traffic; going on roadtrips especially during long weekends can be made worse with the traffic that comes with everyone else doing the same.  Note the regular travel times, but be sure to keep in mind to add an hour or so for any traffic or construction you encounter along the way.  I personally like to leave the night before so that I can avoid any early morning border lineups, but if you’re choosing to leave in the morning, just note that it may get crazy crossing the border and along the way.

  • Playlists – to make the long, daunting trip more bearable, create a playlist that is both cheerful and upbeat so that it keeps you as well as the driver up.  The long roadtrip seems doable but trust me, after hour 2, you start to get tired, sleepy and have a bit of cabin fever in the car! Stop by along the way but note not to linger too long.  Stop long enough to explore a bit, stretch your legs and maybe get snacks and get going!

  • Split stops heading to and coming from Portland.  Your 5 hour drive will stretch farther than you anticipate if you create too many stops to your final destination, so split them between going to and on the way back to ensure you leave some time to explore Portland as well!

  • Snacks and water – Trust me, you’ll need these for the roadtrip! Pack some chips or granola bars and water to ensure you’re able to eat when there aren’t any good stops along the way, and to stay hydrated.  Note not to bring any meat products as they don’t tend to let that pass through the border.

If you have any other tips, please comment below! These are just some things that I’ve learnt from our countless roadtrips to Portland and we look forward to this next one!

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