Canada is a big country – and an expensive one at that. It takes a lot of work to budget for a trip across the country, but for backpackers, the reward will be amazingly unique cities and breathtaking landscapes. Here are the best tips for backpacking on a budget in beautiful Canada.
Choose your top destinations
Canada is the second largest country in the world, so it’s obviously going to be very expensive to see every national park and every major city. For example, flying from Vancouver to Toronto will take over four hours. So the best idea is to choose your top destinations – the places you can’t miss – and work around that. Can you live without seeing Nova Scotia? Will you be truly disappointed if you skip the Canadian Rockies? Choosing either Western or Eastern Canada is also very cost effective.
Look at flying alternatives
Although flying is quick, especially in a big country like Canada, it isn’t cheap. There are no Easyjet, Ryanair or Jetstar airlines with consistently ridiculous low-cost deals. VIA Rail is the national train service, which will slowly take you across the country inexpensively. There are also bus options, including Greyhound, Boltbus, and Megabus; buses are a great way to travel on a budget. If traveling as a couple or in a group, hiring a car may also work out to be a good option.
Ski on a budget
Canada has some of the top ski resorts in the world, such as Whistler Blackcomb. There are ways to ski on a budget if this is an experience on your bucket list. Tips include looking out for ski packages, staying off the mountain at nearby ski towns, and buying lift passes online. Visiting out of season (before or after the Christmas break) is an easy way to save money too.
Stay in hostels
Backpackers will find hostels not only in all urban cities but also in more rural areas that receive a lot of visitors, like Churchill. Fortunately, dorm bed rates usually begin from CAD$30 (US$23) a night and include free extras, such as breakfast and WiFi. An HI Hostels Membership gives you at least a 10% discount at their hostels, plus savings on buses, food, and activities worldwide.
Free walking tours
Walking tours are a fantastic way to learn about a city from a local. Plus, all you have to do is tip the guide at the end. Tour Guys has different tours established in Vancouver, Toronto, and Ottawa. But you will also find free walking tours in other major Canadian cities, including Halifax, Montreal, and Quebec.