Canada Budget Travel Advice

The second largest country in the world is also one of the world’s least densely populated, leaving huge expanses of wilderness to be explored. In the winter, Canada is buried under several metres of snow and some parts of the country become almost inaccessible. In the summer however, temperatures rocket and everything has changed. Canada is a country country of contrasts and really gets the best of all seasons. It is blessed with some of the most rugged and beautiful scenery in the world, whilst also being home to miles of bare prairies. If you like getting outdoors, Canada is a great country to visit. And you’re going to love the views. It isn’t without reason that so many people go to Canada and never come back. I for one, contemplated dropping out of university a year before graduating in order to stay in this most amazing country.

Food and Drink in Canada

Eating out and going for drinks in Canada isn’t cheap. Aim to cook your own food wherever you are and if you do decide to go for drinks, looks for signs. If someone is selling cheap drinks, they will want to advertise it. If you’re drinking in a bar, staff expect heavy tipping, even if all they do is pour you a drink without communicating. Failure to tip will often result in a lack of service the next time around. When not in bars, strong alcohol is only sold in licensed liquor shops and they have extremely high minimum pricing laws. Fast food deals can be cheap, particularly if you’re sharing with others. Although tasty, the fast food is noticeably unhealthy.

Accommodation in Canada

Accommodation in Canada is a budget packers nightmare in the beautiful areas, but in cities, you can find budget hostels that just about offer acceptable rates. There are millions of camping places in Canada as so much of the country is wilderness, although you may get into trouble if you get caught in the wrong place. Try other tips from my free accommodation page and see what works out best.

Transport in Canada

Transport is expensive, whatever way you look at it. If you can get hold of a car, a group of you can enjoy sharing the cost of a road trip. For long distance travel, flights might save you time and money. But then you miss out on everything in-between. Cross country trains let you see a bit more, but are very overpriced. Hitchhiking is considered good in Canada, especially out of large urban areas. Just don’t get caught outside in winter because you will probably die.


What to See and Do in Canada

Watch and Play Ice Hockey. Whether on TV, in a stadium, or on a pond, watch people play hockey and then have a try yourself. Officially lacrosse is Canada’s national sport, but if you ask the majority of Canadian’s it’s ice hockey that really matters.

Walk in the Forests. Canada has nature and landscapes like no other country and they can be enjoyed without having to pay money. Wherever you are in Canada, you are able to reach somewhere beautiful and free of charge in a short amount of time.

Visit Vancouver Island. The whole of the island is a wonderful place filled with stunning landscapes, pleasant towns, and a relaxed lifestyle. Victoria, the main town, is friendly with a chilled out vibe and definitely worth stopping in for a few days. There are huge trails all over the island that you could spend lifetimes exploring and Vancouver Island is the only place in Canada where you can surf. In the forests, you can see Douglas Firs; not as big as Californian Redwoods, but they truly make you feel insignificant. If you happen to go near Coombs, try and visit Coombs Country Market because it has goats on it’s roof. Who could say no to that?

Explore Alberta. If I was God and I could make the land looked anyway I wanted it, more of the world might just look something like this.

Relax in Banff and Jasper. Although terribly expensive towns, once here you can walk or cycle for miles without having to worry about anything else in the world.

Go to Vancouver. The hippest, funkiest, friendliest city in all of Canada has beaches, forests, and skyscrapers. This might just be one of my favourite cities in the world.

Do Things in the Snow. Ice climbing, dog sledding, glacier hiking, broom ball, snow shoeing, ice fishing.. whatever it is, try activities that are impossible in most parts of the world.

Explore Old Canada. Montreal and even more so, Quebec, are two of the most interesting cities in Canada. They are both fairly large and can be enjoyed for a few days at a time.

Visit Emerald Lake. Whatever time of year you go, this lake is always a wonderful sight. There is big hotel that overlooks the lake and if you’re sneaky, you might even be able to make it into a room on the top floor to get an improved view. I’m not saying you won’t get kicked out shortly afterwards, but it’s good fun trying.

Nibble on a Beaver Tail in Mock England. This type of beaver tail is suitable for vegetarians but may leave you feeling giddy from sugar. Beaver tails are a dessert from Ottawa, in which you can see the houses of parliament are in fact replicas of those in the UK. They even made a clock like Big Ben.

Eat Poutine. Chips (fries) smothered in gravy and cheese curds is much more delicious than it sounds.

Eat Maple. Canadians would be offended if you didn’t. Have it with breakfast, lunch, dinner, and maybe even shower in it. Personally I don’t like it that much, but it’s one of those things that you have to try.

Ski / Snowboard. East or west coast, Canada has some of the biggest and best snow conditions in the world. You will never be able to ski through the trees in Europe as you can here, nor will you ever have such a deep and consistent snowpack. Unfortunately wind chill often makes  ‘feels like’ temperatures drop way below -30 celsius.

Hunt Animals With Your Eyes. Bears and moose are two fascinating creatures that you don’t find everywhere in the world. Funnily enough, so are raccoons to newcomers. When they empty your bins every night looking for food, they become less impressive. Did you know Canada also has black squirrels?!

Closing Remarks

Canada is the great outdoors. If you love nature, you have to love this country. Your opportunities for unspoilt landscapes are limitless and for this reason I chose not to include Niagara Falls on my list. Although the waterfall itself is wonderful, the trashy town built around it is not. You can sit in a casino and overlook the falls. This is not how it should be. Otherwise, Canada is a raging success and one day soon I will be following some of my family members back out there. They loved it so much that they never came back!

By | 2018-02-25T10:52:24+00:00 January 17th, 2013|Advice|2 Comments


  1. Josh 27/11/2013 at 05:27 - Reply

    Poutine is national dish, although Quebec uses cheese curds in lieu of shredded cheese; its a better taste.

    I hate when people think of Canada and it is always focused on B.C., the Rockies, or Montreal. There is more than that. Personally, I hate Montreal… too English and the people are snobbish. The small French towns are way nicer, especially when you cross the St Lawrence River towards New Brunswick. There is also little English, so you really get to feel the Quebecois national identity. Also, Check out “Gaspe” next time, its gorgeous.

    The prairies are nice in the right places. The “Interlake” in Manitoba is like being next to the ocean, but it is a large fresh water lake. Riding Mountain National Park is green, hilly, and there are attractive farm towns that surround it. Saskatchewan & Manitoba, though flat and rolling, leave you breathless because you can see so far away. On a clear sunny day, the dark blue and greens of the landscape look like pastel. When it storms, you see the greatest lighting storms occurring in the vast sky. Because the skies are usually clear, in the countryside you will see the best view of the stars than anywhere else in the country. Don’t forget the prairies, you just a different perspective.

    In Northern Ontario, if you take the south highway (search for the town Fort Frances), you will see spectacular sights and drink the cleanest water in the world (I never treat it when camping). There is a large water system great for canoeing or kayeking. Search up Cypress Lake, the Grotto, located on the Bruce Peninsula. The water is deep blue like the tropics… in Canada! Manitoulin Island is also a great place to explore.

    Don’t forget the east side of the country either. The Maritimes (coasal provinces) are beautiful in their own right, but Cape Bretton Island is breathtakingm especially if you take the Cabot Trail. The Northern Part of Prince Edward Island has great beaches, and the soil is red.

    The highlight in the east is Newfoundland. The capital of the province, St. Johns, is very picturesque, but the small towns are a completely unique culture anywhere in the world. Some of the friendliest people I have ever met, but an accent so strange you will not be able to understand them. They leave out consonants, say only part of the word, and then leave out words in sentences. You think the Irish are bad saying “Turty free & and a turd”, imagine, “urry eee & a urd”. Try having a conversation with that. (the accent is not so bad in St John’s. Its there but understandable). You will also be “screeched in”, their are so many hilarious folk songs, and well, its a great culture.

    So, sorry for the long rant, there is more to Canada than the Rockies, and horrible, horrible, Montreal…

    • Jamie 28/11/2013 at 20:07 - Reply

      I just looked up Gaspe: it looks like a place I want to visit. In fact, I will have to take a lot of these recommendations into account when I next come back to Canada, which I hope isn’t too long because I love it so very much. B.C. and Alberta are pretty awesome though 😉

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