15 Days in Canada.
An in-depth look at what this trip cost us, along with some useful tips and advice to keep your budget as reasonable as possible.
If you’re planning a trip to Canada, you’re probably aware by now that you’ll need to dig deep into your pockets. This is not a cheap adventure, and that’s why we think it may come handy to have an initial estimation of the price tag of our 15 days itinerary across the country.
Read in conjunction with our Canada Itinerary post to have all the relevant info.
We split our trip in two: one week in the cities of the East side (Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and Quebec), and another one in the Rocky Mountains and the Vancouver Area.
Keep reading for some saving tips!
USEFUL ADVICE TO KEEP YOUR BUDGET TIGHT!
- The more people, the better. Splitting the bill is always a good idea. For this one, budget wise, we came to the conclusion that travelling with two more people would be ideal. Four is the magic number for road trips, in our opinion, since most of your budget will go to vehicle rental and gas. Besides, as it happens in the States, the difference between a double room, and a quadruple one is usually quite small, thus making it a really smart choice.
2. Good itinerary planning is key. Keep in mind that the car rental companies always charge a hefty extra when you return the car on another office, different than the pick up one.
Sometimes this is hard to avoid when driving across a country as big as this one. The first car we rented was in Toronto, our point of entry into Canada, and, in order to avoid this extra charge, we did a round trip going up to Ottawa and Quebec, and back down through Montreal (check out our full itinerary post for more info!).
KEEN ON FREE UPGRADES? If you end up renting the smallest car available to stay within your budget, don’t miss the opportunity to get a free upgrade to a cooler looking SUV by simply asking at the counter if they’re in need of relocating any vehicles in their fleet! They may ask you to pay a small extra, but they’ll give it to you for free if you insist a little bit. It’s a win-win and they know it! They get their car back to where it belongs, and you get the perfect car to cruise across the Rockies in style.
However, this wasn’t an option in the second part of our trip: we rented the car in Calgary and returned it in Vancouver, crossing the Rockies in between. This meant hours of online searching for the best deal on our rental car. We tend to find the best deals using Rentalcars.com as it’s easy to use and it provides a quick overview of your options.
However, since we couldn’t find anything within our budget, we tried with several other web comparison services, and ended up using BSP Auto for the car rental in Toronto: a more than reasonable 134€ for 7 days with Avis.
ABOUT BSP-AUTO: As usual, if it all goes to plan, they work well, but if you have to modify your reservation or make any unexpected changes, be ready to wait for hours on the phone. They have very few customer service agents, and it’s really hard to get in tocuh with them!
We also used Expedia to rent our car in Calgary and return it in Vancouver. The cheapest we could find was 427€ for 8 days (including the fee for returning it to a different office), also with Avis.
SAVING TIP! The car rental pick up office in Calgary offered us the possibility of prepaying the full gas tank so we could return it empty if we wanted to.
We don’t usually accept it, since they usually charge a lot more per litre than a gas station… But in this case, it’s highly recommended to do it!
Different states have different gas prices, and Alberta (Calgary) is much cheaper than British Columbia (Vancouver). We paid 0,96$/l for what would’ve cost us 1,39$/l in Vancouver!
3. (Without a doubt, the most important) BOOK IN ADVANCE!
Wise to do it for the whole trip, east coast included, but an absolute must when travelling to the National Parks of Banff and Jasper.
We let it slide a little bit (booked them only to months in advance), and paid the consequences. The accomodation offer in these Parks is not that scarce, but it’s quite expensive. The cheaper options dissapear quickly, so the sooner the better.
NOTE. Despite having to stay in hostels in this area, and some of them being really overpriced, we found them to be really clean, comfortable and very well managed overall. We can really recommend the International Banff Hostel but expect plenty more recommendations in our upcoming post about accomodation in Canada!
Camping grounds are the cheapest alternative, and there are plenty along the Parks, but travelling with all the camping gear from Europe was not an option for us this time. We looked for cabins or small bugalows, but the few that offered them were fully booked. From what we saw, camping grounds are mostly used by Canadians or Americans, which can travel easily with all their gear.
Another great option is to rent an RV/motor home or a camper van, although it can get really expensive! Go back to tip number one to find the solution (travel in a group). 😉 We checked on sites like Canadream, and the cheapest we found was a campervan for around 2000$…
4. Food for all budgets. We were pleasantly surprised by the food in Canada. The eastern cities offer an amazing gastronomic variety for all budgets (check out our post full of yummy recommendations!).
Since we had a mix of hotels with breakfast included, AirBnB apartments, hostels… we had days where we could eat something at home, along with days of diving into the gastronomic richness of the cities (what we saved on the first, we spent on the second!).
Our main tip here is for the days in Banff and Jasper: we recommend you find a good supermarket and bring food with you. Why? Well, firstly you’ll save some $$, but also because most hostels are very well equiped with kitchen and common areas where you can prepare your food and dine with other nice people.
But more importantly, a picnic in front of a deep blue lake or a shiny glacier are not everyday pleasures to be overlooked! Our happiest moments on this trip where improvised lunch breaks in the wild (while always keeping an eye on the lookout for hungry bears, of course!!). A priceless experience.
5. eTA (electronic Travel Authorization): don’t get scammed!
This is a classic tip, and works both for the USA and for Canada: there are a huge number of websites offering to do this process for you.
The scam is not that they’ll take your money and disappear, but that it’s completely unnecesary!
They can ask for 2, 10 or 20 times the actual price of the electronic visa, claiming that they’ll be saving you plenty of time and hustle… but in fact, if you do it yourself through the official immigration channels, it’ll only take 10 minutes of your time, and only $7 CAD!
Head to this link and apply for the eTA yourself!
SO… HOW MUCH DID WE SPEND?
If you’ve read this far, here’s your reward: a breakdown of our expenses so that you can make your own estimation of what you’ll spend.We don’t indulge in unnecesary luxuries, but we can assure you we had a nice and comfortable trip at all times:
**keep in mind all prices are for two people.
Car-rental 1: Pick up and return in Toronto. 7 days: 134€
Car-rental 2: Pick up in Calgary, return in Vancouver. 8 days: 427€
Rental and public bikes: 22€
Other (boats, buses and trains for shorter trips): 116€
Total Transport: 1060€
Toronto. Airbnb 2 nights: 165,42 €
Otawa. Arc The Hotel. 1 night: 88€
Quebec. Couette & café (B&B) A la Québécoise. Dos nights 172,63€
Montreal. Airbnb 2 nights: 150 €
Toronto. Home in Downtown. 1 night: 80€
Banff. Banff International Hostel. 2 nights: 268,12 €
Saskatchewan River Crossing. The Crossing. 1 night: 197€
Valemount. Rose Cottage B&B. 1 night: 97€
Kamloops. Kings Motor Inn. 1 night: 58,62 €
Vancouver. Airbnb 2 nights: 155,41€
Total Accomodation: 1432 €
- FOOD AND DRINKS: 770€
- NATIONAL PARKS AND ATTRACTIONS:
CN Tower Toronto: 58€
Pass Banff and Jasper: 41€
Grouse Mountain Gondola: 84€
Total Attractions: 183€
Holafly (SIM card): 46,55€
Travel Insurance: 83,18€
Eta (tourist visa): 9.72€
Total Other: 139€
TOTAL BUDGET FOR 15 DAYS IN CANADA: 5200€
FLIGHTS. You’ll be wondering…how about your flights? Well, we don’t usually include them in these budgets, since ours will probably not apply to most of our readers. But just to give you an indication, we flew Madrid-Toronto, Toronto-Calgary, Vancouver-Toronto and Toronto-Madrid for around 950€ per person!
Once you make up your mind and decide to travel to Canada, try to enjoy it to the fullest and have a hard time with the price of it.
Remember it only hurts when you pay it, but you’ll forget all about that when the wonderful cities and breathtaking landscapes get engraved into your memories forever!!