Spring break and summer are around the corner and with the holidays come the plans to hit the road for an adventure somewhere fun, interesting and perhaps wild and free. Heading out on the road is always a must do for many people, groups of friends, couples and families alike, but how to know where to hit the highway for a truly enjoyable getaway? For many people, Canada is a country that beckons from the north, and there’s no better time to visit than the late spring or summer when everything is in bloom. Read ahead for some great tips on road tripping Canada on a budget!
The Year of the Freebie – 2017
There is no better year to visit Canada than this year – the year of Canada’s 150th birthday. The National Parks from coast to coast will be sharing the wealth by providing year-round FREE admission, so get in now! Most of the parks are sometimes in the region of $30-50 per day or more depending on what you’re doing, so this is the perfect time to take advantage of a real money saver especially if you’re a fan of beautiful scenery, nature and camping!
Small Towns, Big Hearts
From coast to coast one thing Canadian towns have in common is their unusually huge hearts and warm welcomes to visitors, especially to people from abroad! You can take advantage of cheaper hotels (if you aren’t renting a camper van or RV) and cheaper roadside “greasy spoon” restaurants in the smaller locales than in the big cities, however this being said, if you’re wanting to spend a night or two in a city, try to find hotels offering one or two night last minute deals. Failing that, there’s usually a motel or hotel chain on most highways just outside of main centres which may have lower rates.
Speaking of renting cars and RV’s….
Gas in Canada and renting cars and RV’s can be pretty expensive, but not if you know how to find a deal. RV’s might be expensive to rent and run, but you will have the added benefit of not having to pay for hotel rooms or dinners out along the way, being able to cook your own. Ask around at car rental companies for vehicles needing to be returned to a specific location – if you don’t really mind where you go, and you’re going one-way, this can be a great way to get a reduced – or even free – rate.
Beware the PST
To keep costs low, beware the Provincial Sales Tax. This is a tax that is in effect on almost all goods and services in almost every province/territory except for Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Yukon, and Alberta. It is in addition to the GST (Goods and Service Tax) which is a federal tax and is on almost everything throughout Canada at a flat rate of 5%. PST is dependent on the province you are in – some provinces have 7% PST while some have as much as 8-9 or even 10% PST where it will be clearly outlined on your receipt the two tax costs. Some provinces have adopted the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) which is a blend of PST and GST into one tax rate and will appear as one tax on your receipts. Saskatchewan has an added tax of 10% on liquor, so it might be worth staying dry in Saskatchewan unless you’re willing to pay a bit more.
To keep costs low consider stopping at campgrounds that are away from main regions and that are a bit further to get to. You won’t regret it and usually many of these campgrounds have fantastic facilities as well as great lakes, streams and sometimes even sandy beaches. Some campgrounds can be as low as $20 a night per RV or per pitch (for multiple tents) so it can be a really great savings.
So there you have a couple of great ways to keep a road trip in Canada cost effective and easy on the wallet. Grab the sleeping bags and tents – summer is perfect for spreading out under the stars anywhere in Canada, just remember the mosquito spray!