How to road-trip Canada on a budget

By | July 31, 2019

Canada is big and beautiful, but climate, distance and the high cost of domestic travel make it a hard country to get to know. Having the freedom to throw your stuff in the trunk and set off as you please makes self-driving a tempting way to explore this frequently spectacular country.

The Trans-Canada Highway is one of the world’s longest roads, spanning 8030km from St John’s, Newfoundland, to Victoria, British Columbia. The route spans all ten provinces and flirts with the Atlantic and Pacific oceans at its limits. It crosses four islands, passes through tundra, boreal forests, national parks and prairies, glaciers, a few thousand lakes and twists beneath the shadows of vast peaks. But you need more than wanderlust to hit the road; you need a car, a plan and what’s that about winter tires? Never fear, this practical guide will see you zooming across Canada in no time.

Renting wheels

This is the easiest way to get on the road, but one-way penalties can exceed hundreds of dollars and rentals between some locations are prohibited. Experiment with your route – returning your vehicle where you collected it will save you money. Most rates don’t include comprehensive insurance, which the agency will coax you to purchase for an additional daily fee. Many credit cards and travel insurance policies do cover rental car insurance. Clarifying the fine print with all parties could save money and bring peace of mind. Remember to confirm the number of miles included, especially with RV rentals. If you’re flexible, you could get lucky with a relocation, where you pay a drastically reduced rate to deliver a vehicle between depots, sometimes with free fuel. Relocation contracts for private vehicles can also be found.

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