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Ultimate Canada Backpacking Travel Guide 2020

When it comes to backpacking trips, most people consider visiting Asian countries to explore nature or, they like visiting European countries to learn about different regions and their cultures. These places are beautiful in their own ways, but most people miss out on a backpacking destination: Canada. It is a world-renowned country famous for its scenic and fascinating landscapes, a unique blend of cultures, and classic dining.

In this backpacking travel guide for Canada, you’ll find everything you need to plan the perfect trip. 

Canada at a Glace

Language

English and French

Currency

Canadian dollar

Best Money Exchange

ATMs & KnightsbridgeFX

Local Dishes

Poutine

Drones Allowed

Yes

Is water safe to drink

Yes

Vaccinations

Check CDC

Power Plug Type

A and B

Car Sharing Options

Car2Go

Peak Season

June - September(summers)

Backpacker Friendly

Yes

Hitch hiker Friendly

Yes

Credit Cards Accepted

Yes

Preferred Payment Method

Cash

Low Season

November to March(Winters)

Top 5 Things to See and Do in Canada

1. Montreal

The cultural capital of Quebec, Montreal is one of North America’s liveliest cities and is called the Paris of Canada because of its strong French roots.

2. Vancouver

Vancouver is one of the most expensive cities in the country known for its outdoor activities like kayaking, hiking, skiing.

3. Toronto

Toronto is one of the world’s most ethnically diverse cities that is full of art galleries, museums, parks and the breathtaking Niagara Falls.

4. Quebec City

One of the oldest cities in Canada whose town still offers cobblestone walkways, well-preserved 17th-century structures, and the only North American fortress existing to date.

5. Banff

Banff is a famous resort town known for its stunning trails, hot springs, and outdoor sports like skiing, hiking, biking, and snowboarding.

Other Things to See and Do in Canada

1. Ottawa

Ottawa is Canada’s capital and can be easily explored on foot. This charming city is home to various historic buildings, museums, art galleries, and shops.

2. Rio Platano Biosphere Kelowna

Kelowna is the place where Canadians spend their holidays. The weather is mild in winter and warm in summer, attracting lots of people to enjoy. It is located on the Okanagan Valley which is surrounded by mountains, vineyards, pine forests, and parks.

3. Victoria

Located on Vancouver Island, Victoria is a beautiful British Columbian city full of nurseries and beautiful gardens like Butchart Gardens and Abkhazi Gardens. You can also go for a hike, try tasty seafood, relax on the beach, or spot some whales.

4. Winnipeg

A green city housing great museums, historical attractions, beautiful parks, and important monuments. This place has been appreciated for its impressive arts and cultural scene.

5. Edmonton

It is a young city whose strengths are its natural parks and lively performing arts scene. The food and drink scene here is booming and they have got something for every appetite.

6. Calgary

One of Canada’s wealthiest cities, Calgary offers low-cost and even free activities for budget travelers. Rent a bike and enjoy a picnic in one of its parks or go for rollerblading, camping, skiing, water rafting, kayaking, and hiking.

7. Lake Waterloo

Waterloo is the smartest Canadian city known for its rich cultural diversity and offers the tourists a unique fusion of outstanding galleries, restaurants, boutiques, and nightlife. This dynamic urban center houses several microbreweries where people can taste the exceptional craft beers.

Typical Costs

WPCS 2.1.4

Transportation

A number of budget-friendly traveling modes available within Canada which include buses, ride-sharing, and hitchhiking. You can also consider renting a car which is highly recommended. But as gas is quite expensive in Canada due to higher taxes, research where the cheapest gas is available.

Accommodation

The rates differ depending on the place you are living in. The average rate for a dorm room at a hostel is about $22.00 and you can expect to pay around $48.00 for a budget hotel room. Airbnb is also a great option and is available all across the country. For shared rooms, expect to pay around $22.00/night while you can get an entire home or apartment costing you around $60.00. If you like camping, you’ll get a range of options all across the country. Prices will vary depending on the grounds but expect to pay between $7.00$22.00/night.

Food

As long as you stick to your hostel’s kitchen or to local restaurants, you can save a lot of money in eating. If you have a meal at a restaurant, it will cost you between $15.00$25.00. You can try going for cheap meals and sandwiches which costs $10.00 for a single time. But if you choose to cook your meals, expect to pay around $25.00$55.00 per week.

Activities

No matter what part of Canada you are in or which the season is, Canada has various outdoor activities ranging from skiing, snowboarding, and kayaking to water rafting and canoeing. Historic sites and parks charge entrance fees round $15.00.

Suggested Budget

How much does it cost to visit Canada? This section details the suggested daily budget in Canada 2020:

Travel Style Accommodation (per night) Food (3 Meals) Transportation Activities (Per activity) Daily Cost
Backpacker
$20.00
$15.00
$10.00
$20.00
$60.00
Mid - Range
$50.00
$35.00
$35.00
$30.00
$130.00
High - End
$140.00
$90.00
$50.00
$80.00
$350.00+

Budgeting Tips

1. Free Walking Tours

With walking tours, you can learn about the city even from a local. There are different tours established in various parts of the country but you’ll also find free walking tours in the major cities of Canada.

2. Couchsurfing

Sleeping on somebody’s spare bed or couch for free is always a great idea to spare some money and interact with locals.

3. Travel Off-season

To get discounted rates and fewer crowds, avoid visiting Canada during the peak time of Summer (June-August) and Winter (December-January). You can try to visit during Fall (September-November) as there will be fewer crowds and the weather will also be pleasant.

4. Shop Local

One of the best ways to save money in Canada is by cooking meals in a kitchen and limiting dining out. Visit local farmer markets and supermarkets which always offer cheap and fresh produce. Luckily, most of the guesthouses and hostels have a kitchen .

5. Get Gas from Native Reserves

If you are driving around Canada, the cheapest and best place to purchase gas is Native Indian Reserves on First Nation Land. This is where you’ll find gas prices comparatively cheaper and with lower taxes. In this way, you’ll also support the local community.

6. Attend Free Festivals

When visiting a particular region in Canada, check out for festivals happening there. Especially during winter months, there are several free events planned like firework festivals, music performances, and weekly markets. Check out the upcoming events online in every area you visit.

Where To Stay

In Canada, you’ll find a wide range of hostels and you won’t have any problem finding one. Most of the hostels are high-quality and clean. Some of the recommended hostels in major cities of Canada are as follow:

Toronto

The Planet Traveler Hostel

Montreal

M Montreal

Calgary

Wicked Hostel

How To Get Around

If you are planning to visit multiple destinations, some research on the transportation modes you are going to use in Canada is important. Following are the modes you’ll be using to make most of your trip:

Car Rentals

In most of the places in Canada, driving is preferable either due to the unavailability of other options or they cost too much. There are various car rental services which charge from $35.00 to $60.00 per day and even more depending on the type of the car.

Ride Sharing

If you are planning to travel between cities or provinces in Canada, keep an eye on the ridesharing services. Allo Stop and Kangaride are Quebec City-based services expanding all across the country. Kangaride charges $7.50 for an annual membership and $5.00 per ride. Most of the cities and towns have taxis that are usually metered. The taxis can be flagged down or ordered by phone.

Trains

Train travel is a convenient, quite affordable, and comfy way to get around Canada. VIA Rail is the country’s only major rail operator which transits passengers all across Canada. You can purchase Canrailpass that gives 7 one-way tickets for $605.00 and unlimited passes for $1,133.00. Besides VIA Rail, the major cities have a commuter train service that moves passengers between the outlying regions. 

Bicycle

Most of the Canadian cities have increasingly become bike-friendly with the addition of dedicated bike parking areas and lanes. It is a popular means of getting around especially during warmer months. 

Bus

Buses are the most common mode of transportation in Canada. There is no singular country-wide bus system, so practically all towns have their own systems. Major cities have passes for tourists to make the most of the metro system. People choose Megabus to travel between Ontario and Quebec as it costs $0.75 if booked in advance.

Airlines

Flying should be the last alternative if you’re planning to travel within the country and have limited time to do so. The country has a few airlines like WestJet, Air Canada, etc. whose prices are extremely high starting from $200.00. For shorter routes, it’s better to travel via bus or train to save a lot of money.

Hitch Hiking

Hitchhiking in Canada is legal and safe but be prepared for long hours of waiting especially if you are traveling through some rural areas. It is better and safer to travel in pairs and let somebody know where you are planning to go.

Resources

When To Go

The best time to go to Canada is during the Summer months when pleasant temperatures and sunny days can be enjoyed. But it is also the busiest time of the year. From June to September is the main tourist season in Canada when you’ll find inflated prices and large crowds. Fall (September-December) is another fantastic time to visit Canada as the temperature still remains warm.

How To Stay Safe and Aware of Scams

 

Canada is considered one of the safest countries in the world; however, crime still does occur from time to time. Though the crime rate is low in Canada, it is advised to take sensible precautions to protect yourself from petty crime.

1. Beware of local wildlife

If you plan to go hiking or camping, be cautious of local wildlife. Always ensure not to make any food products visible to the bears as they actively stalk humans and can attack them too.

2. Valuables

Always keep an eye on your belongings, especially around famous tourist landmarks. It is good to keep your valuables and luggage out of sight in cars and not to leave them behind, even in a locked vehicle.

3. Travel Insurance

Most importantly, purchase good travel insurance as it will protect you against illness, theft, and cancellations. It protects in case anything goes wrong.

4. Stay informed about the weather

Canada is known for its intense weather conditions and is prone to natural disasters like hurricanes and tornadoes. So, it is important to track weather conditions and follow the advice of local authorities and TV reports.

5. Always Carry Cash

Canada is an expensive country having several islands, rural towns, and campgrounds. It is good to carry some extra cash with you as you don’t know when you’ll see the next ATM.

Packing List

If you are wondering what to wear in Canada, what to pack, what not, or anything else, check out the following list that will help you in packing and enjoying your trip:

2 Pairs of Shorts

5 long sleeve

8 pairs of underwear

Medicine

2 Pair of jeans

Flip flops

Toiletries

Locks

Swim Trunks

Comfortable Sneakers

Quick dry towel

Laundry Bag

Security Belt with Hidden Pocket

8 pairs of socks

Dedorant

Hand Sanitizer

Power Bank

First-aid bag

Universal Travel Adapter

Winter clothes: Waterproof Coat, Scarves, Sweaters, Warm Hats Thermal Underwear

Rain Jacket

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