Canada On a Budget
Because of its vast size, flying can be the most efficient way to travel around Canada. Alternatively, many people choose to use the train which is a beautiful and fun way to see the country. Driving offers you the most flexibility and accessibility as destinations are often spread out. It is possible to access many areas, particularly the larger cities, by bus as well.
In general, Canada is comparable in cost to the United States. Camping is a great option if you're visiting the national parks. This will definitely allow you to stretch your dollar farther. If you're renting a car, try to pick up and return it in the same location, as the price is typically less. Also consider stocking up on groceries and cooking your own meals. Restaurants can be somewhat expensive and cooking is a fun way to save money. Canada has similar fast food restaurants to the United States. They're not always good, but they are cheap if you find yourself running short of funds. Also consider traveling during the off season when hotels are more affordable and attractions are generally cheaper. Also, like the United States, you'll be able to stretch your money farther if you choose one region to explore. Don't set out to see all of Canada. Instead, pick a few parks and cities and make your trip a regional vacation. This will cut down on costs as well because you won't have to take as many flights. As a rule, national parks are also much cheaper than cities. By visiting the country for its naturally beauty, you'll keep entertainment costs to a minimum. Even if you don't camp, hotels are generally cheaper near parks than in cities, and it's much easier to prepare your own food. So if you're hoping to travel around Canada on a budget, consider skipping some of the cities and instead spend more time in the country's very impressive national parks.
At A Glance
- Canada covers a vast area of land. It is virtually impossible to see it all in one trip, regardless of how much time you have. Definitely choose one or two regions that you can explore in depth. You'll have a more fulfilling experience and you'll save yourself a lot of money. Every region is different so do some research to determine what appeals to you the most.
- If you're hoping to cover vast distances, then flying is the most convenient way to get around the country. It is also one of the most expensive. Other options include taking trains, buses, or renting your own vehicle. Bus connections are decent but not great. They typically connect the largest cities. Having your own vehicle will allow you more flexibility and you will be able to delve into the experience on a different level.
- One fun way to experience the national parks throughout the country is to travel with a RV. This gives you the added flexibility of having your own vehicle, and you have your accommodation with you wherever you go. Many of the campgrounds have adequate hookups for RVs so this is a great way to experience all that the country has to offer.
- Wildlife spotting is a popular activity throughout the country. Whether you're looking for bears, whales, or something else, it's best to make sure you're traveling during the appropriate season. Also make sure you have a good guide with you as that can make all of the difference.
- You'll find most major western chain restaurants throughout the country. Fast food options are abundant and cheap, but generally the quality is quite low. Instead, look for local options. These are everywhere in the larger cities, and available on a smaller scale in the more rural locations.
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Top Tourist AttractionsWhale watching: Whether you're on the Atlantic or Pacific Coast, Canada offers some breathtaking whale watching opportunities. You can see humpback whales or beautiful Orcas on the Pacific Coast. Choose your season wisely as many whales migrate and you want to make sure they are in the area during your trip.
Banff: Beautifully positioned in the Canadian Rockies, Banff offers wonderful skiing in an area that is surrounded by breathtaking landscapes.
Halifax: Centered in the quaint island of Nova Scotia, Halifax is a wonderful jumping off point to explore the character filled towns around the island.
Popular FoodsCanada is known for its regional specialties and international cuisine. In large cities like Vancouver and Toronto you will find many different international restaurants, and many of the dishes are influenced by European and Asian cooking styles. In smaller towns there are often a good number of chain restaurants available, as well as a few local restaurants that are often quite good and reasonably prices. If you're camping, then grilling is a good option as there are often grocery stores near most of the major parks. This is a great way to keep your food costs low as well.
Poutine: Poutine is a popular Canadian dish that is made of french fries, cheese curds and a brown gravy. It was originally a regional specialty created in Quebec, but is now found throughout the entire country. You'll find it in most diners and cafe style restaurants as well as major fast food chains like McDonald's, KFC, or Burger King.
Croquignoles: This is a delicious homemade version of a donut that is deep fried in shortening. You can find it throughout Canada at various restaurants. Although not exactly healthy, it is tasty.
Nanaimo Bars: A nanaimo bar is a dessert dish that is made from custard or vanilla filled squares. It is made with a crumb base and topped with chocolate. It's a cookie based bar that requires no baking and is ubiquitous in Canada.