Canada is a country that truly offers exciting indoor and outdoor activities for every season. Generally, spring runs mid-March to mid-May, summer mid-May to mid-September, fall mid-September to mid-November, and winter mid-November to mid-March. Choose the season best suited to your tastes and temperament.
- What’s the weather going to be like?
- Do I need a visa?
Visitors travelling to Canada by air are now expected to get an electronic travel authorisation (eTA) to enter Canada. For more information about the eTA system, and to apply online, visit the official Canadian Government website.
- What is the emergency services number?
Dial 911 for police, fire, or ambulance
- Can I self-cater on campsites?
Private campgrounds generally offer good cooking facilities, but the more rustic campgrounds don’t generally have any cooking facilities and you will need to use your motorhomes facilities.
- What about laundry?
Private campgrounds generally have laundry facilities.
- Any tips for packing?
Pack carefully, bearing in mind storage at the other end. Motorhomes can be surprisingly spacious but space for huge suitcases can be limited. (Depending on the model of the motorhome there is usually storage under the bed, in the hold beneath the van, or just on top of an unused bed).
Dress codes everywhere are very relaxed and informal, whether out and about, dining out or on a campsite. Light comfortable clothes are ideal, preferably suitable for layering. Weather can be changeable so take a rain jacket, and perhaps a small brolly. Walking shoes or boots are invaluable.
- What are the top tips for driving a motorhome?
- Be aware of your motorhome’s height when parking under a tree or entering a car park.
- Reverse with care – if your motorhome does not have a reversing camera then we suggest that you have someone guide you back.
- Remember to disconnect from your electrical hook up before driving off!
- You’ll have a familiarisation session at pick up but it’s worth noting where the wipers, lights and fuel cap are before setting off.
- Secure cupboard contents and ensure that surfaces are clear of loose items which can slide off in transit (kettles, cameras, cups etc).
- Use a GPS to plan your timings: distances in Canada can take longer to drive due to road trains, animals and the weather (and the fact that you may well be making frequent stops for photos, cups of tea and so on).
- What are the important rules of the road?
What side of the road do Canadians drive on?
The first thing that you will notice when you arrive in Canada is that Canadians drive on the right side of the road and this can take a little bit of getting used to, but just take your time, start out slowly and you’ll soon get the hang of it.
It is compulsory to wear a seatbelt in Canada and you risk a fine for not wearing one.
Canadian speed limits are measured in kilometres per hour. The speed limit on motorways is often 100km/h (62mph) but can be as high as 120km/h in British Columbia and as low as 90km/h on Prince Edward Island. In built up areas it is usually 50kmh (30mph) but will be lower around schools.
Daytime Running Lights
Daytime running lights are present on every Canadian vehicle. Lights are required to be switched on during the daytime in some provinces – so check this when collecting your RV.
It is illegal to talk on the phone or text while driving and getting caught using your mobile phone while driving will result in a fine.
Turning Right on a Red Light
Throughout most of Canada, turning right is permitted on red lights, unless a sign indicates not to do so.
Four-Way Stop Signs
The person who arrives at the stop sign first who has right of way.
There are far fewer road signs in North America than there are elsewhere in the world and sometimes there is no signage at all on the roads, so Canadians often use Sat Navs which have the speed limit shown on the route, which we would suggest investing in if your vehicle doesn’t already have one.
Regional and Provincial Rules
Any driver caught speeding in Ontario at 50km/h above the speed limit can have their vehicle confiscated, towed away, and impounded for up to seven days. Be especially cautious near highway construction zones, which often dip down to temporary 80km/h speed limit.
In Alberta, be wary of inconspicuous photo radar units, usually with a police unit parked at side of the highway, but also with mobile units. Radar detectors are illegal in many provinces, so the best way not to be caught is not to speed.
While you’re driving around Canada it’s likely that you’ll come across some amazing animals along the way. If you see any signs warning you to the presence of animals, please do not ignore them as deer, elk, and moose can be a hazard for all vehicles and especially at night when they are more likely to be mesmerised by your headlights.
Additional caution should be taken in Maritime provinces such as Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, where moose are overpopulated, and in Alberta where Big Horn sheep are also common.
- Do I need to make an advance booking for ferries?
As the majority of ferries in Canada are not particularly large, we always recommend pre-booking your ferries and particularly during the peak seasons (Jun – Sep).
- Where can I park up to camp?
Many bookings we receive are accompanied by customer’s campground preferences. We believe that more communication about expectations is better, and we are therefore presenting 4 campground type options.
All 4 options represent a mix of public and private campgrounds, and options can be combined for further fine-tuning (for instance Comfortable + Family for clients who prefer kids friendly with amenities, or Standard + Rustic for clients who like a bit more nature in the standard mix).
Standard – A balanced mix of public and private campgrounds
• Experience both cities/towns and parks
• After a few nights without amenities it is nice to have some more luxury, like Wi-Fi, cell phone reception, laundry facilities, pool, store, full hook-up, etc.
Rustic – Public campgrounds that are located in parks and nature
• Large sites, privacy, in nature
• Not close to town
• Often no amenities like flush toilets, showers, hook-ups, etc
Comfortable – Private campgrounds with amenities
• Often full hook up
• Amenities like Wi-Fi, cell phone reception, laundry facilities, pool, store etc.
• Located close to city/town and attractions
• Smaller sites, less privacy
Family – A balanced mix of public and private campgrounds
• Focuses on location type, like close to beach or lake and on amenities like pool and playground
- What’s it like to drive in Canada?
In Canada you can drive with a full UK driving license and always remember to carry this with you. Most motorhomes come with full insurance but make sure that you also have adequate travel insurance, so you know you’re covered in any scenario, and keep it with you throughout your holiday.
Canada is a vast country and you may be travelling long distances in your motorhome (RV), so schedule in regular rest stops, and always carry some food and water for pit stops. Some roads can be isolated so be sure to take a mobile phone and warm clothing in your RV). Please keep in mind that some roads will stretch for long distances without a gas station, so be sure to keep your fuel topped up and checking locations of pit stops ahead of travel.
- What about toll roads?
There are several toll roads in Canada, which usually operate a cash or card system. As long as you are clued up as to where the toll roads on your journey may be, then they do make the driving experience in Canada a pleasurable one, as the highways are very well maintained and accessible.
- Should I take road maps?
Maps are always useful, though Sat Nav is often included with your vehicle or can be rented. On most Canadian itineraries you will receive a personalised road book with travel tips and day to day driving itinerary with local area information.
- Do I need to tip?
Customary in Canada, the average tip is 15-20% in a restaurant, bar and to taxi drivers, tour guides, hotel staff and beauticians. For doormen or porters, a recommended amount is a minimum of $1 per item.
- When are the Summer School Holidays?
Summer break in Canada typically falls during July and August with students generally returning to school in late August or early September.
- Any suggestions for further information?
- Are Park Passes required?
Parks Canada Discovery Pass
Enjoy unlimited admission to over 80 parks with Parks Canada Discovery Pass. Benefit from the saving of paying a daily admission into several parks and quicker access.
Kananaskis Conservation Pass
All visitors to Kananaskis Country are required to purchase a Kananaskis Conservation Pass. The conservation pass area includes provincial parks, public land in Kananaskis, provincial campgrounds and day-use areas in the Bow Valley corridor. If you are not planning on stopping in the Kananaskis, or visiting the town of Canmore only, a pass is not required.
As the pass is registered to the vehicle's licence plate, this can only be purchased once the RV has been collected. The pass can be purchased at alberta.ca or at Kananaskis visitor information centres on the day of visiting Kananaskis.