While I write mostly about my travels in Europe and Asia, it was actually Canada that was my first international love. Exotic, I know?
Because I grew up about 30 miles from the Canadian border, I had ample chance to visit this country. As a kid we mostly went to take advantage of the favorable exchange rate between the American and Canadian dollar, and eventually my trips were more centered around the more favorable legal drinking age in Ontario. Mostly, though, I loved Canada because I loved hockey and I wanted to work for the NHL one day.
While I haven’t been to Canada in almost a decade, when Expedia Canada reached out and asked me to write about travel in Canada I was excited to think about traveling this country again. With beautiful expanses of untouched nature and cosmopolitan cities, Canada should be on every traveler’s radar. Unfortunately, because of cost Canada often gets skipped by many backpackers.
By following these tips, though, travel to Canada doesn’t have to break the bank.
Hostel prices in Canada are similar to what you’d find in the US or Western Europe and will run you about $30 a night for a dorm bed. If you want to cut down costs considerable, take advantage of the infamous Canadian friendliness and stay with some locals via Couchsurfing. While you shouldn’t look at this opportunity as just free lodging, but a chance to share cultures and learn more about Canada.
Cook your own meals
This is a classic budget travel tip. And for good reason. Eating out adds up quickly, especially in a country like Canada where a meal at a restaurant will usually run you at least $20. Buy groceries and cook at your hostel or Couchsurfing host’s house, take a picnic lunch for when you’re out sightseeing, and don’t forget to splurge on a local speciality every now and then.
Travel during shoulder season
Most Canadians travel during the summer season when schools are out and weather is warm (or in the winter for ski destinations) and because of this prices soar. Try to schedule your trip for spring or fall. You’ll not only save money, but skip the brutal winter temperatures and hot summers. If you want to ski, consider going toward to end of the season for better deals.
Take long distance buses
Canada is a huge country and getting around can be costly, especially by train or plane. Long distance buses aren’t the most comfortable or glamorous (make sure you watch your valuables) but they will save you loads of money in the long run. Alternatively, if you’re with a group of friends you might want to check out renting a car.
While Canada’s cities can be a great place to base yourself, the real beauty of this countries lies in its vast empty space. Canada has thousands of miles of hiking trails of varying miles and difficulties that can be hiked for free. The bike to the lookout above Peyto Lake in Banff National Park offers a stunning view of the lake, and out east the hike up Signal Hill in Newfoundland is a great way to get a bird’s eye view of St. John’s. If you’re visiting in winter consider renting a cheap pair of snowshoes and trekking that way.
Take free walking tours
Big cities like Toronto and Vancouver have free walking tours where you can learn more about the major sites and tip what you feel appropriate at the end. This can be a great way to get to know a new city and possibly meet some fellow travelers, an added bonus if you’re traveling solo.