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First visit to Canada

Level Contributor
122 posts
33 reviews
First visit to Canada

We know it's quite a while away, but have to get budgeting!!!

We are planning our first trip to Canada for 2015 and have come up with an itinerary. There will be four of us travelling, myself and husband in our mid 40’s and my parents 69/70. My husband is a keen photographer so it’s all about the scenery. Perhaps some gentle walks, though nothing too strenuous. Would be grateful for any thoughts/suggestions regarding our itinerary. Have we missed any “must sees”. If anyone has any recommendations for accommodation in any of the places listed, would be good to hear. With regards to when we visit, exact dates will be determined by availability of cruise dates for our third week (Vancouver-Alaska inside passage), but are debating whether to visit June and perhaps avoid the worst of the crowds or July when perhaps the weather would be better?

Day One

Fly into Vancouver, overnight stay.

Day Two

Collect hire car, overnight stay in Clinton. Visiting Whistler en route.

Day Three

Drive from Clinton to Clearwater for overnight stay. Visit Wells Gray National Park.

Day Four

Drive from Clearwater to Jasper for two night stay. Visit Athabasca falls, Miette Hot Springs, Columbia Icefield.

Day Six

Drive from Jasper to Banff/Canmore for a week’s stay. Looking for self catering apartment that we can use as a base to explore the surrounding areas. Perhaps visit Lake Louise, Johnsons Canyon, Mistanya Canyon, Lakefields Parkway, Banff Gondola, Calgary.

Day Thirteen

Drive to Revelstoke.for overnight stay

Day Fourteen

Drive to Kamloops for overnight stay

Day Fifteen

Drive to Vancouver

Any help would be appreciated. Many thanks.

Vancouver, Canada
Level Contributor
22,131 posts
59 reviews
1. Re: First visit to Canada

I realize that condo's typically rent a week at a time, but i wonder if, on balance, spending a full week in Banff is leaving you without enough time to enjoy some of the other places you are going.

From Vancouver to Clinton via Whistler is about 5 hours of driving. You are going to need a bit of time in the morning to check out of your hotel and collect the car, so probably won't get to Whistler much before 11 am, plus you'll have to skip some of the really stunning stops along that route, like Shannon Falls and Joffre Lakes. You'll probably only have time for one stop, and I would assume that would be in Whistler which would need a couple of hours at least, maybe more if you factor in time for a sit down lunch.

Clinton to Clearwater is only a couple of hours, so you'd have the afternoon to drive up to Wells Grey (which is a Provincial Park, not a National Park), but its still an 85 km round trip into the park as far as Helmken Falls and back from Clearwater and again with plenty of stops to make enroute.

Two nights in Jasper is a minimum and not uncommon, but does seem out of balance with a full week in Banff.

Revelstoke is a cute little town and worth a couple of nights, but driving from there to Kamloops makes no sense. Revelstoke back to Vancouver is only a 7 hr drive (we left Revy at about 3 pm on the last day of our vacation and got home before 11). Given the trade offs you are making elsewhere in the plan, I'd put that day somewhere else.

Level Contributor
532 posts
29 reviews
2. Re: First visit to Canada

JulieDI - If you're looking for self-catering facilities in Banff, I suggest you take a look at Banff Beaver Cabins. They are a truly unique experience, right in the middle of Banff. They are about half a dozen historical cottages in the back yard of a house. They have a full-size refrigerator, toaster, kettle, coffee-maker but no stove (cooker). You have access to two barbeque grills in the yard for cooking meat and vegetables.

Level Contributor
122 posts
33 reviews
3. Re: First visit to Canada

Thanks so much to both of you for your replies. I'll definintely look into your suggestions.

Edited: 1:39 am, June 12, 2013
Level Contributor
773 posts
2 reviews
4. Re: First visit to Canada

Hi Julie,

You, not unnaturally are considering your total budget. That in itself is good because it is a big ticket holiday and mistakes can't be rectified when you are there.

My 2 cents is that you should not include a cruise simply because it is normally a part of the heavily promoted tours sold in the UK. you acknowledge that it will govern the other part of your holiday and that might be the crucial mistake. Decide if a cruise really is for you all; scenery from a ship is somewhat different from the stunning area around Banff which you seem to have locked onto- correctly IMO.

If this is in doubt, you could consider the ferry between Vancouver and Prince Rupert which takes in the Inside Passage over 15 hours. There is a very easy rail link from PR to Jasper over 2 days and is vastly cheaper, and less luxurious than the Rocky Mountaineer. It would suit your parents I suggest, and cuts down the considerable driving you are planning.

We can go into details if you are taken with this suggestion. I did the PR Jasper rail trip a few years ago and it works very well, again IMO.

Level Contributor
3,064 posts
5 reviews
5. Re: First visit to Canada

If you want more time in the Rockies, I would suggest flying into Calgary and then home from Vancouver. This would incur a drop off fee for your vehicle, however sometimes you can find a good deal. You might consider dropping Whistler too as most people who visit the Rockies and then Whistler, say that Whistler pales in comparison. Just another thing to consider.

Vancouver, Canada
Level Contributor
22,131 posts
59 reviews
6. Re: First visit to Canada

When you factor in the cost of food, which is extra on the ferry, there's not much in the difference in cost between the ferry and a cruise, and you get so much more for the money on a cruise. You can get a week long cruise for under $600, and the ferry day trip is $200. Yes, total is less, but I guess it just depends on what you are trying to do. I do agree with the overall advice to not let the cruise drive your plan, unless the cruise is the absolute priority.

Flying in and/or out of Calgary is also another great suggestion.

Level Contributor
122 posts
33 reviews
7. Re: First visit to Canada

I did look at the flying into Calgary and out of Vancouver option but the single flights were coming up as much as a return, therefore doubling cost! I haven't found a cruise as cheap as $600, wish I had, I'll have to keep looking!! We have always fancied doing a cruise, it just seemed that whilst visiting Vancouver it made sense to do the Alaskan one - something totally different to the usual beach orientated ones! A nice way to wind down after two weeks of sight seeing. Appreciate everyone's comments.

Vancouver, Canada
Destination Expert
for Vancouver
Level Contributor
49,190 posts
58 reviews
8. Re: First visit to Canada

I think looking for airfares this far out from your trip is not particularly useful. Did you look for airfares under multi cities. You should be able to find a round trip using the multi city feature on the airline website. LHR > YYC then YVR > LHR. The fare right now for July 2013 is quite high at $2400. It's way too early for 2015 at the mo. That price will come down.

I'm not an airfare whiz, but the folks on the Air Travel Forum are. Again, it's way too early to be looking at schedules, let alone booking anything for 2015, but at some point Air Canada and other airlines will be publishing their 2015 flights. It's all about timing. At first the fares can be quite high - those ones are for the eager beavers. Then they drop their prices - these are for the people who wait and lurk on the websites regularly, waiting for the seat sales and the price dorps. Then there are the late comers - these higher prices are for those whose demand exceeds supply and the airline can up the prices. Along the way, they have seat sales so lurking is a good idea. In fact you can sign up on the website to be notified of seat sales and promotions to be emailed to you. It's free. So for you, it's early days to be thinking you can't fly into Calgary and out of Vancouver.

The good folks over on the Air Travel Forum know airlines policies, routes and connections, airports, when to purchase, inside and out. At some point, you would benefit by heading over there, if only to read some of the questions being asked by others and the replies given. Then about a year+ from now in September 2014, you can start to get serious about flights to Canada and maybe ask your own question on the AT Forum. Here is the link to the Air Travel Forum.


The following article from the Alaska Forum about choosing a cruise is well worth a read:


Greater Sydney...
Level Contributor
13,374 posts
72 reviews
9. Re: First visit to Canada

G'day Julie,

So far I have stayed out of this, but now that you are starting to talk cruise I though I might pop in. Thanks Mufti for posting that link to the Top Question on the Alaska forum re cruises. Julie, that link will provide you with a LOT of information on Alaska cruises - I should know; I co-wrote it. :)

IMO there is nothing wrong with June to visit the Rockies as that is when we did a few years ago. With the restrictions of your party you would not be into hiking anyway, so it does not matter if the high trails are still closed, and the mountains are spectacular with the snow caps still in place. We were in the Rockies first week of June, but I would probably recommend mid June as the high lakes would be clear of ice by then. They were still partially iced over when we visited but I note that they were completely thawed before the end of May this year.

Are you in Rushden UK? I see that no one has yet mentioned the ability to rent a car through the UK company Canadian Affair (presently at least) with no one-way drop-off fee. I totally agree with the advice of Mufti that it is far too early to worry about air fares. You could experiment and in a few months start to monitor the air fares for 2014, or even start now to look at fares for say Aug and Sep compared to May Jun next year. One of the favourite sayings on the Air Travel forum, when the question is asked "When is the best time to buy ....", is to pay what you are comfortable with and never look at the prices again.

The same goes for cruise prices. I would HIGHLY recommend you do combine an Alaska cruise with your trip to the Rockies, which is also what we did, all self planned. You will have travelled a long way to get to western Canada, and in three weeks you DO have the time to do both. An Alaska cruise is a wonderful opportunity to visit some otherwise difficult to access regions of SE Alaska. Both Juneau (the Capital) and Ketchikan are only accessible by land or sea. The scenery and things to do from the ports are wonderful, and quite different to the Rockies, yet equally enjoyable. We did not worry about the cruise experience as such and regarded the ship to be a very comfortable floating hotel which took us to a different location each day. To experience this region you need to get out of the port towns though, and excursions can be a bit expensive.

Personally I think that you are over-planning this trip far, far too early. By all means research the regions and get a broad picture of what the party would like to do. With the assistance of contributors to these forums we can help you plan an unforgeable trip. I can assist with some questions regarding the Rockies, but others who have already posted, many of whom are on-line friends of mine, and other who may yet post in the future generally are more knowledgeable than I. When it comes to the Alaska cruise question I can provide much more assistance, as can posters on the Alaska forum where I am also a regular contributor.

To give you a taste of both experiences, these are links to my TripWOW's which are short slideshows I have created from our trip.



I hope the above is of some assistance. I now need a long rest after a lengthy squawk like a Norwegian Blue. :)


10. Re: First visit to Canada

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