Along with its iconic landscapes, one of the biggest draws for visitors is the high…
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Canada has always been one of my absolute dream destinations to visit. So when we decided to plan an epic 2 week road trip through the Canadian Rockies I nearly couldn’t contain my excitement!
Canada is one of those countries that constantly makes it in the top 10 travel bucket lists and once you arrive you immediately understand why. From its incredible natural beauty, delicious food, unique culture, exciting cities, Canada pretty much has it all!
On top of that, Canada is home to no less than 16 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and the country practically screams: “Go on a road trip!”
We started our journey in Vancouver and drove up all the way to Banff National Park, Kananaskis Country and Jasper National Park in Alberta. I had planned an incredible itinerary but know that if you’re traveling in the shoulder season of June you’ll have to remain flexible due to weather conditions.
We decided to rent a campervan with Outdoorsy for our Canada adventure and it was the best decision we could have made! It gave us the freedom to change plans last minute and it’s also a more budget friendly way to see the Canadian Rockies.
Get ready for emerald and turquoise shimmering alpine lakes, spectacular mountain ranges, once in a lifetime wildlife sightings and probably the road trip of a lifetime!
The best time to visit Canada totally depends on what you want to do and you’ll need to take a couple of things into consideration.
Do you want to avoid high tourist season and lower the costs of your holiday? Then opt for traveling during the Canada shoulder season which runs from May to June and September to October. Do know that the Summers in Canada do not last long at all! In May you’ll probably still deal with frozen lakes and lots of snow. The same goes for October, by that time it already started snowing again.
The month of June is ideal for longer days and the first hiking trails start opening up. Do know that if you want to hike on the higher alpine levels you’ll need proper avalanche equipment cause due to the warmer days and melting snow the chances on an avalanche are also higher.
But if you want the best of both worlds then the first two weeks of September are the way to go! All of the snow will have melted, the larches will already start turning orange and you’ll be able to complete nearly any hike that you want! Do know that it will already be a little more colder during this month.
If you don’t mind paying more money and you want to enjoy hot summer days while enjoying all of the hikes and lakes then you should book your trip in August!
Language – The two official languages of Canada are English and French, with over 80% of Canadians speaking English.
Currency – The Canadian currency is the Canadian Dollar (CAD).
Credit Cards & ATM’s – Make sure that as a European you have a proper Credit Card with you such as a Mastercard and that you make arrangements with your bank that you can make payments outside of Europe. A regular European debit card won’t work in Canada. ATMs are also readily available everywhere you go if you do need to withdraw cash but we never had to withdraw money during our trip.
Plugs – The plugs in Canada are type B (the same as the US). The standard voltage is 110-120 V, and the standard frequency is 60Hz. The best advice I can give you is to make sure you bring a universal adapter with you.
Safety – Canada is a very safe country to visit, and there’s hardly any violent crime committed.
Pick an area – Canada is enormous and the distances between different provinces are long. Depending on the amount of time that you have stick to one province. For instance we had two weeks and divided our time between Alberta and British Columbia.
Tipping is expected – As Europeans tipping usually isn’t in our nature but in Canada almost all service staff earn less than minimum wage and it’s expected of them to earn the rest in tips. Once you pay your bill you’ll be able to add a tip of 10%, 15% or 20%, depending on how happy you are with the service.
Pack layers – Especially if you’re visiting the Canadian Rockies you need to be prepared for any kind of weather. Make sure bring enough layers so you can dress warmer or cooler if necessary.
National Parks – If you want to visit National Parks such as Jasper and Banff you’ll need to buy an annual Parks Canada Discovery Pass. This pass gives you unlimited access to over 80 destinations in Canada and costs $145.25 per vehicle. You can buy your pass online and it will be sent by mail. Make sure to bring it with you to Canada and hang it around your rearview mirror.
ETA visa – Some nationalities require an ETA visa for Canada—it can be purchased online and it’s pretty cheap.
Sales Tax – Be prepared to have sales tax added to your bills on all goods and services. So when you buy something in a store, the price you see on the label is not the final price and your bill could come with up to about 15% taxes. But also expect these taxes to be added to your restaurant bills, hotel bills, etc.
Trekking poles – These will especially come in handy cause a lot of the hikes in these guides can be rather strenuous on the joints. I used the Leki Adventure Light trekking poles for all of my hikes in Canada!
Back Pack – You’ll want to bring a back pack with you to carry your camera, some snacks and your refillable water bottle. I love the Kanken No. 2 back pack from Fjallraven and pretty much take it with me everywhere I go.
Refillable Water Bottle – The water in Canada is some of the freshest in the entire world so there’s no need at all to buy plastic bottles. Simply find the nearest stream to fill up your bottle and you’re good to go.
Another option is to use a back pack which has a water reservoir built inside of it. For instance this 3L Hydration Bladder is leak proof and can be stored inside a back pack.
Trail Leggings – I love hiking in leggings and have lately been loving the Abisko Tights from Fjallraven.
Fast Drying Shirt – When hiking you tend to sweat, especially when climbing a mountain. One of the best things to wear is a shirt that quickly dries so you don’t get cold high up the mountain.
Insulating Jacket – Depending on the temperature you’ll either want a thicker or lighter jacket. If it’s pretty cold outside I always go for my Fjallraven Vidda Jacket. Otherwise I go for their High Coast Light Jacket which is super light weight.
Woolen cap – The perfect accessory to protect your ears from the cold and to cover your hair after a few days without a shower.
Protein Bars – Make sure you have a couple of these stowed a way in your back pack to boost up your energy level during the hike.
Sunscreen – Make sure to re apply to your face regularly. I love this one by Neutrogena which feels like a face mist but also provides SPF 50 protection!
Merino Wool Socks – My go to brand has always been Falke and I love how fast they drive after a long day of hiking. Plus since they’re made of merino wool they don’t smell and can be worn for a couple of days.
Traffic rules – Canadians drive on the right hand side of the road and pass on the left. Making full stops at red lights and stop signs is mandatory (running these could land you with a ticket) Pedestrians always have the right of way. Speed limits are regularly followed and enforced with photo radar detectors.
Budget – Expect to burn lots of gasoline during your Canada road trip, no matter what type of vehicle you drive. For our 2 week road trip we spent around $800 (€590) on gasoline alone.
Road Conditions – Paved roads and highways are generally in good condition, especially the main routes. Still, expect potholes on smaller roads as well as cattle guards if you venture onto a side road. Also, be prepared to come along road construction sites. Always follow the markings and keep the speed limit.
Campsites – If you’re driving with a campervan like we did (one that doesn’t need electricity) you can pretty much camp at every official frontcountry campsite. I highly recommend getting the Allstays Camp & RV app where you can see every sort of campground: a National Park campground, a Provincial Park campground or even free campgrounds.
Check in – It totally depends on the campsite. The bigger campsites usually come with an entrance booth where you need to check in and pay. Others are equipped with a self check-in where you need to fill out a paper with your credit card details. Check in starts at 2PM and once you have your assigned camp spot you can go out exploring again! We usually would time our check in between 2PM and 6PM and always had space. Check out is at 11AM.
Facilities – Every campsite comes with a fire pit and a picknick table. Depending on the luxury level of the campground there will also be showers and regular toilets. Otherwise it will be a primitive toilet.
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