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West Canadian Experts - come and critique our planned trip please

(21 Posts)
rookietherednosedreindeer Thu 18-Dec-14 11:34:44

Ok so we scrapped the RV idea (haven't quite broken the news to DS yet but I'm sure he'll live) and are going for car & accommodation.

Our flights are fixed and we fly in to Vancouver and then 26 days later fly out of Calgary. This is what we have come up with as a plan and I'd really welcome any thoughts/suggestions as there are a couple of very long days of travelling, but if the scenery is worth it then we don't mind:

Day 1 - Arrive vancouver, hire car, take ferry over to Sechelt - 3 nights
Day 4 - Get from Sunshine coast to Tofino ( v long day of travelling). 3 nights Tofino
Day 7 - Get from Tofino to Whistler (v long day of travelling) 3 nights
Day 8 - Drive from Whistler to Clearwater (5hrs) 2 nights
Day 10 - Clearwater to Jasper 4 nights
Day 15 - Jasper to Lake Louise 2 nights
Day 17 - Lake Louise to Banff 3 nights then fly home

Couple of things are that we don't like big cities and have done Vancouver before so we're really not bothered about spending any time in Vancouver or Calgary ( everyone keeps telling us that we must go and see the Calgary stampede, sadly wink it doesn't coincide with our travel plans).

DS will be 9 and enjoys outdoor things such as canoeing and junior body boarding, however his ideal holiday would involve him staying at him with his x-box grin.

The Vancouver island part is the bit that seems to be making it all a bit troublesome at the start, but we've been to Tofino before and really loved the beaches and the laid back vibe ( we've no great desire to see Victoria - see above about cities). We've amended the itinery to include the Sunshine coast based on recommendations from another mumsnetter, but I'm wondering if the two are similar and we could maybe just do Sunshine coast ?

All thoughts welcome thanks - we can't change the flights.

rookietherednosedreindeer Thu 18-Dec-14 11:35:20

Oops sorry we aren't there for 26 days its a day short of 3 weeks so 20 days blush

Eatscones Mon 29-Dec-14 20:32:40

What time of year are you travelling? If it is summer and you enjoy outdoor things, I would recommend whitewater rafting. We did a half day with Reo Rafting that was brilliant. Great scenery, great staff, great memories and pictures. For hot springs Radium is lovely. There is a lot of driving but as long as it isn't winter the roads are good and it doesn't feel that long. A site you could check out is
Btw I'm from Alberta but currently living in the UK.

nooka Tue 30-Dec-14 03:51:04

White water rafting is indeed fabulous! I took my two children and my niece for a half day in Clearwater this summer. Great fun!

I've not been to the Sunshine coast, but imagine it will be pretty sheltered, so very different to the Island coastline, which has big Pacific surf. An alternative is to go up to Parksville on the Island and then on to Tofino as that would be a much easier journey. Or visit one of the gulf islands perhaps?

Generally driving in BC is a pleasure, so long as it's not the peak summertime and you get stuck behind loads of RVs (actually even if you are it's pretty relaxed driving).

I'm sure you'll have a fabulous time!

rookietherednosedreindeer Tue 30-Dec-14 23:00:38

Thanks, we'll definitely try to fit in some rafting eatscones and nooka anything to keep DS happy - plus zip wiring at Whistler.

I posted on tripadvisor and we revised our plans accordingly so we're skipping the Sunshine coast now which cuts down on quite a lot of travelling and means we have longer in the other destinations

mummymeister Thu 01-Jan-15 10:39:10

This is very similar to the trip that we did - 21 days in total - summer 2014. to be honest I think it is just too much to go over to Van Island. either go there and miss out Sechelt or stay longer in Sechelt and miss Van island. it is a drive to the ferry (about 2 hours) then a wait, then the ferry then a 4 -5 drive the other side. you can get a small plane over directly to tofino and that in my opinion would be the only way to do this trip and not be completely driven out!

rookietherednosedreindeer Thu 01-Jan-15 16:37:56

Thanks mummymesiter.

I got similar comments on Tripadvisor and as a result we have dropped Sechelt, so we're going to stay our first night in vancouver then straight over to Tofino for 4 nights, then go from there to Whistler. We've checked the routes and its a 3 hour ish drive from the ferry harbour to Tofino so a lot less driving than previous route.

Am very excited about it, we've booked most of our accomodation already grin.

JennyWren Thu 01-Jan-15 18:26:46

I was very interested to see your post - we are doing a very similar trip this summer, although we're looking at doing a different route. We're also flying into Vancouver and making our way over to Calgary over two weeks, then my DH has to fly home but I'm taking my DD and DS to stay with my DSis and her family in Calgary for another 10 days.

Days 1-3: We've decided not to do Vancouver Island this time, but instead we're going to stay in Vancouver for three nights - the day after we fly in we plan a quiet-ish day around downtown and Stanley Park, then we're booking a whale watching trip for the next day.
Days 4-7: Driving to Kelowna and the next two days cycling part of the Kettle Valley Rail Trail, followed by a rest day around Kelowna.
Days 8-9: A big driving day, all the way over to Golden, but then we have a gentle day in the Yoho National Park to recover.
Day 10 Another big driving day, though, up to the Icefields and then back down to Banff. It will be a big detour, but I really want to take the DC onto the glacier.
Days 11-12: Banff - a canoeing/picnic day on the Bow River, I think, and horseriding and the hot springs on day 2.

And then over to Calgary, where we plan a very low-key time with our nieces - we generally only get to meet up once a year if we're lucky, so this time we're aiming for quantity time rather than high-stress 'enforced quality time'. Hopefully we'll be able to borrow some camping gear and take an overnight trip into the Badlands so that DC can see the dinosaur museum - the last time we went to Canada they were really young so they don't remember it at all. But other than that it is just Calgary. Maybe trips to Heritage Park, Fort Calgary and the Skyline luge, but we'll see how we feel. Just walks to their local lake and playing in the garden will be good for much of the time.

When are you going? We're going in August - the peak of the summer, but we have to fit around school. I am very exited, though - we last say our nieces in May, so it will be over a year and they grow so fast sad

rookietherednosedreindeer Thu 01-Jan-15 18:31:21

Hi Jennywren, we're going in July as in Scotland which is when school holidays fall. I'm amazed as some of the accomodation is looking quite booked up already - have you booked yours?

We have a bit of a gap in the middle as we've decided to play it by ear and that's the two nights in between Whistler and Jasper. We might drive to Kamloops and do the two nights there to give it a half way feel and also just veg and do some child friendly things like go to the cinema, as I suspect DS may be underwhelmed by the amazing scenery quite quickly.

I've tried to make sure we're staying at least 3 nights in most places to avoid that forever travelling feeling - hope it all works out grin.

Chewbecca Thu 01-Jan-15 18:31:46

We stayed in Kelowna for a few days last August, was lovely, especially if you like wine. Was extremely hot so would recommend staying somewhere with a pool if possible. Would not recommend the KV railway itself but apparently the cycling is good but we didn't do it ourselves too busy quaffing wine

rookietherednosedreindeer Thu 01-Jan-15 18:49:50

Oh gosh I don't know if we are going to make Kelowna, as it detours us a bit from Whistler to Jasper. There are just too many amazing places in Canada to see ( but generally have booked allaccommodation with a hot tub and/or pool).

MsCoconut Thu 01-Jan-15 18:52:46

I agree with skipping sechelt. There are other places on Vancouver Island to see for coastal living. Make sure you book ferries in advance too as the queues on BC ferries will be busy especially if you are there on July 1 when there is the public holiday.

If you are not planning this already, take the route north from Whistler rather than driving via Vancouver. It might take longer, but you go through some lovely countryside. I'd break it up by staying a night or two by lake okanagan (kelowna, but also kamloops, vernon or somewhere on the lake itself), especially if you like wine.

rookietherednosedreindeer Thu 01-Jan-15 19:26:37

Thanks MsCoconut, that's useful advice about the ferries - we won't be there on July 1st as it's the week after that we start our trip, but don't want to be stranded.
We are planning to do the Northern route from Whistler and as I say living dangerously and not pre booking accomodation for that bit !

JennyWren Thu 01-Jan-15 19:30:50

Not yet, although that is my plan for the next couple of days. We're likely to stay at the Hilton in Vancouver (as we can use some Hilton points to cover the cost) and then look for B&Bs.

rookietherednosedreindeer Thu 01-Jan-15 19:42:53

We're doing the Sylvia Hotel at Vancouver - it's where we stayed pre DS so a bit of a trip down memory lane as most of the other places - Tofino Tin Wis, Fairmont Lake Louise ( heavily discounted) won't work so well with a DC so have booked alternative, but fabulous looking accommodation.

nooka Thu 01-Jan-15 20:40:19

We live in Kamloops smile It's not a pretty town! But it's a great area. When we did our big trip per-emigration we drove the other way, so we drove from Yoho (stayed in a cabin there) through Revelstoke and Kamloops, stayed the night on Kamloops lake in Savona and then the next day drove through to Whistler, and down to the ferry and then over to Nainamo. A bit nuts on the driving really!

The drive to Whistler was beautiful (most of the drives were to be honest). Our children were six and seven I think and did get a bit jaded by all of our 'look, isn't that beautiful' exclamations grin

Kamloops has two cinemas but nothing much to shout about for a nine year old. Maybe stay nearby and do some cowboy type stuff? We have a very different landscape here as it's semi desert. If he's into mountain biking then a stop up at Sun Peaks might work for you guys (on your way up north) it's a ski resort, but they run some of the lifts in the summer for mountain bikers, so that's pretty cool. Otherwise I'd go on up to Clearwater and either rent canoes and explore the lakes up there (there are some cool camps you can only get to by canoe) or do a one or two day rafting trip. The only caveat is that sometimes they have terrible mosquitos.

rookietherednosedreindeer Thu 01-Jan-15 20:56:07

Thanks nooka - so many choices ! I'll look at Clearwater again for an overnight stop, DH and DS do like canoeing.

SwedeDreams Fri 02-Jan-15 14:03:22

Just planning this exact same trip, so bumping for more ideas!

I don't have any yet but watching with interest!

Rookie when are you going? We are planning for July and DS will be 10, so sounds a familiar set up?

JennyWren Fri 02-Jan-15 20:22:55

I'm starting to put together a budget schedule for each element of the trip - mostly to make sure I don't get carried away booking gorgeous accommodation! I haven't been able to figure out how much to set aside for fuel - can anyone give me a ball-park figure?

rookietherednosedreindeer Fri 02-Jan-15 23:03:12

Swededreams we are away from 8th - 28th July and DS will be 9 - do those dates coincide? We could arrange a mumsnet get together and freak out DH grin

Jenny for the accommodation I got a nasty shock as there is 11% tax on top of any quoted price, unless I guess you are renting privately - as we are going to so many locations I went for condos/groups of cottages rather than privately as thought it would be too much hassle.

nooka Fri 02-Jan-15 23:22:32

Yes tax isn't shown on anything so you have to add GST (5%) and PST (usually 7% but 8% for accommodation, plus sometimes there is a local tax too). Can make quite a difference.

Fuel is currently fairly cheap at about 95c a liter but it varies depending on location (sometimes this is because of extra taxes, sometimes because of transport costs) and can fluctuate a lot from day to day. Plus North American cars tend not to be very fuel efficient.

Here's a handy site:

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