It’s no secret that Canada is a notoriously expensive country to travel (and live in)! It can be challenging to explore this beautiful country on a budget but it’s by no means impossible. After never having travelled through Canada but facing travel restrictions this year, I finally decided to explore the west coast. My 10 day trip from Toronto to BC cost just over $1000 CAD all in – yes flights were included! That means I spent roughly $100/day and while that’s not exactly a ‘budget vacation’, it’s one heck of a good price for travelling in Canada. This British Columbia travel guide will take you through a breakdown of my costs so you can start planning your trip!
Return flights from Toronto (YYZ):
If you’ve booked flights within Canada in the past, you’ll be familiar with the outrageous domestic flight prices. A round trip from Toronto usually costs around $600-800 depending on the time of year you fly. I think it’s honestly ridiculous for a 5 hour flight but there isn’t much you can do about it. Although I’m no flight expert, I’ve booked my fair share of flights over the years and have learned a thing or two. That’s how I ended up getting my flights for only $372 with Air Canada!
I can’t take all of the credit though. I had initially booked with Air Transat about two months ahead of time and they kept cancelling the flights. That’s when I took to my cousin who’s a travel agent to ask for some advice. She informed me that during the pandemic, Air Canada would be my best bet in terms of avoiding a cancelled flight. So I re-booked about a week or two before I was set out to leave and Air Canada prices had dropped significantly!
PRO TIP: If you’re booking flights from Toronto to other parts of Canada (or anywhere in the world), take a look at YYZ Deals for amazing flight deals.
Transit to & from both airports:
If you’re looking to save some extra cash when travelling around Canada, avoid taking Uber’s and opt for cheaper transit options. I took the UP Express from Union to Pearson International Airport and the SkyTrain from Vancouver International Airport to the city.
UP Express fares with Presto card – $9.25 one way
SkyTrain to the city – $9 one way
I ended up taking a free shuttle from a hotel on my last night so I only ended up spending around $30 to and from both airports!
Once again, if you can avoid taking cabs or an Uber, you’ll save heaps. I walked most of Vancouver and took a few local trains and buses.
Total spend on transit: ~ $20
Accommodation is usually the biggest spend anytime you travel. If you read my previous blog post, you’ll know that I spent my 10 days in BC mostly living out of a camper van.
I chose to rent a camper van because it would be the most cost-effective for the type of trip I wanted to do and since Canada is so large, you need a car to get from place to place. I rented from Wicked Campers, who I had used before in other countries. They usually have pretty decent prices but I happened to book at a time where they had a 50% off promotion.
The van came to be $660 for 8 days and I split it with a friend so it was $330 per person. 👌🏽
Aside from sleeping in the van, we also had to worry about where to park the van overnight as well as a night of accommodation in the city. To avoid paying for campsites each night we found a few ways to sleep for free. Yes you heard me correcting!
- Walmart parking lots – Believe it or not, you can sleep for free in any Walmart parking lot for one night. It was the perfect spot for a few nights because we were able to warm up a bit, brush our teeth and grab some snacks!
- Park4Night – The best spot to look for free campsites online and they have an app as well.
- Freecampsites.net – No app but this is another great spot to look for free spots.
- WikiCamps – Another app and website. I found this one really easy to use with all of the filters and we found our best paid sites through this app.
- iOlverlander- I haven’t used this app yet but I heard nothing but good things about using it for finding free parking spots.
- Agoda – The best place to search for deals on hotels if you’re in the city.
My overall spend for campsites and the hotel split with one other person was about $70, bringing my accommodation total to $400.
Gas & groceries:
Of course, if you’re looking to keep a tight budget while travelling through Canada, you should definitely think about doing a grocery haul and cooking most of your meals! We got most of the food we needed at the beginning of the road trip. Then we planned out a few easy meals to make sure as stir fry, pasta and sandwiches. Make sure to buy a few Tupperware containers to store meals so you can make a large batch and avoid spending time figuring out what to eat!
You can’t avoid gas but you can use GasBuddy to find the cheapest gas around.
We spent about $400 or $200 per person on gas and groceries for the 10 days.
Anytime you travel, you encounter a few unexpected expenses along the way. From alcohol to eating at restaurants, cafes, visiting wineries and more, I ended up spending around $110. This number would probably be a lot higher for most but because I had bought groceries for the week and didn’t do any frivolous shopping along the way, I saved quite a lot.
With that being said, you can still enjoy a few meals out without breaking the bank. Avoiding alcohol will be the easiest way to cut down on costs!
One of the best things about travelling in British Columbia is that you don’t need to spend much on activities. In fact, I spent absolutely nothing on activities! If you’re big on nature, you’ll have the best time hiking throughout the province and enjoying Canada’s beauty for free. Some parks or hikes will have a fee but many don’t so it’s extremely easy to keep costs low!
GRAND TOTAL = $1132.00
So, as you can see I was able to keep my costs fairly low and spend $113.20/day. You can find more budget travel tips on my blog every week. If you’re looking for easy ways to start saving money for travelling, you can find my best tips here.
What are you waiting for?
With this British Columbia travel guide in hand, you should have no problem travelling through BC on a budget! Although $100/day can seem like a lot, you can find ways to make it cheaper, such as splitting a camper van rental with more than one other person. You can also make sure you don’t eat out at restaurants at all or avoid drinking alcohol to cut back on costs.
See you in 2021 with more budget travel tips.