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Can't decide whether to self drive and rail or self drive on

Melbourne, Australia
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Can't decide whether to self drive and rail or self drive on

Family of 4 (youngest 14 yrs) planning to go to the Rockies starting in Calgary an ending up in Vancouver in early July 2014. I have had some quotes for going via the Rocky Mountaineer tour for the 5 days, but costs are expensive. Over $2,500 to $3,300 each person.

Can i self drive the whole journey and is there a lot we would be missing out on, by not going by train?

I imagine that the driving would be significantly cheaper!!

Can anyone provide advice here?

Vancouver, Canada
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11. Re: Can't decide whether to self drive and rail or self drive on

So you have 9 days for the trip now? That's much better, although still going to be a bit rushed if you need to have a couple of days in Vancouver as well at the end of it.

You've probably read this elsewhere, but while people often try to avoid backtracking along the same route and drive one-way up to Jasper and then head to Vancouver via Clearwater, this is one case where backtracking along the spectacular Icefields Parkway to the junction with highway 1 and then heading west through Revelstoke is the way to go. The IP is worth seeing twice, and its different in each direction anyway, and then highway 1 through Rogers Pass is the most scenic route to the coast. I would stick with highway 1 rather than taking the faster highway 5 through Merritt. Its slower, but the scenery down the canyon is also very beautiful.

Vancouver, Canada
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12. Re: Can't decide whether to self drive and rail or self drive on

Have you booked your flights yet? I am seeing that you have upped your travel dates to early June from early July. In this case, it would be good to travel from Vancouver to Calgary. Saving the Rockies for last will allow it to warm up. Melt the ice from the last of the lakes and the snow from the last of the trails. It's not an absolutely big deal, but a better deal, IMO.

Although you have less time to research and plan, you will now be coming in a less busy time. School will still be in, as indicated. So perhaps the best thing you can do now is research as much as you can, figure things out a bit, then start a new thread on this forum to post a provisional itinerary. That will give us all something to work with, which makes a big difference in getting to a final edition. Please do include in your post what are the interests and priorities for the 4 of you. i.e. Hiking, kayaking, wildlife, history, culture, cycling, First Nations, etc. It is this that will help us streamline your itinerary to get the most out of your time and preferred activities.

Melbourne, Australia
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13. Re: Can't decide whether to self drive and rail or self drive on

Hi Guys

There maybe some confusion with the dates and i apologize if i caused this.

Okay here goes.

We are arriving in Canada on the 26 June and working our way from East to West.

First 3 days in Old Montreal

Leaving Montreal on the 29th June and plan to drive to Niagara Falls via Toronto (7 hr+drive) or should we fly

We were advised that we should go to Niagara Falls and stay a couple of days in lake Niagara leaving there on the 1st July. Is this a wise thing to do or should we plan to be somewhere else on Canada Day?

Is Toronto worthwhile spending time in?

Then Flying from Toronto to the Rockies. Where should we land to pick up our car? This could be around the 3rd July if we hang out in Toronto

We are then working our way towards Vancouver and are leaving there on the 12th July!!

Many thanx

Newmarket, Canada
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14. Re: Can't decide whether to self drive and rail or self drive on

You would be best to post a new topic in the Ontario forums regarding your questions about Toronto and Niagara.

I would not bother flying from Montreal to Toronto, as with a family of 4, that will be expensive, and you really don't save much time. By the time you go through the formalities at the airport at each end, driving doesn't take that much longer. But, if you wanted to spend some time on a train during your trip, why not take the train from Montreal to Toronto? Takes about 4 hours. That will probably only be about $60 per person, and would save you the one-way drop off fee on taking your rental car from Montreal to Toronto. The train has the advantage of going from downtown Montreal to downtown Toronto, instead of from from Dorval to Mississauga if you were flying. If you did spend some time in Toronto, you're probably not going to want a rental car there anyway.

Why not explore Montreal. Then train to Toronto. Spend whatever amount of time in Toronto you want. Rent a car for a side trip to Niagara and then back to Toronto airport. Fly to Calgary and rent another car. Explore Rockies and drop off car in Vancouver.

Oh, and I assume you mean "Niagara-on-the-Lake", and not "Lake Niagara". Niagara-on-the-Lake is a town on Lake Ontario at the mouth of the Niagara River. It's a very nice place. Lots of great history, cultural attractions and wineries. It's a great place, but perhaps limit it to a single night. Your kids may not enjoy it as much as you do.

calgary
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15. Re: Can't decide whether to self drive and rail or self drive on

Fly from Toronto to Calgary and then drive west to Vancouver. This advice has been given to you on replies on this thread; read through it and also read all the other threads on this board as there is lots of great information available.

Melbourne, Australia
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16. Re: Can't decide whether to self drive and rail or self drive on

We are now thinking to fly from Toronto to Vancouver, get a car and start the Rockies tour from there on 4th July. Based on what you have said, we're thinking Vancouver to Whistler to Clearwater to Jasper to Icefields Pkway to Lake Louise to Banff to Rogers Pass to Revelstoke and back to Vancouver. we are leaving Vancouver on 13th July.

We would love your feedback and advice on this route, hikes and accommodation.

Thanks again

Cheers from downunder distant traveller

Vancouver, Canada
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17. Re: Can't decide whether to self drive and rail or self drive on

Hi ~

Gosh, 9 nights is really tight to do a round trip. We usually suggest 14 nights for this.

My suggestion is to fly into Calgary, spend a luscious amount of time in the Rockies and then head for Vancouver. Look into Canadian Affair, a UK company that rents to Aussies and Kiwis with no one way drop fee. See the informarion here:

http://www.canadianaffair.ca/en/car-hire/

Here's an itinerary for your consideration:

4th July arrive YYC and drive 2 hours to ...

3 nights Banff

One full day on the Icefields Parkway, boxed lunch for flexibility and freedom

3 nights Jasper

One bonus full day on the IP, lunch again

1 night Golden - this would allow you to take your time down the IP and then in the late afternoon get into Yoho NP to visit Takakkaw Falls and Emerald Lake before nightfall.

1 night Kelowna

1 night Vancouver before your flight out. If you wanted 2 nights Vancouver, take from Jasper. Banff has enough nights to take a day trip to Lake Louise, 45 min away from Banff.

It is the Rockies you want to focus on. Doing the IP in both directions is a plus. Here are the attractions and points of interest along that spectacular highway. Open the PDF link below the map you see for a more legible version.

pc.gc.ca/eng/…Parkway.aspx

Greater Sydney...
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18. Re: Can't decide whether to self drive and rail or self drive on

G'day DT2014,

I agree with Mufti. The time you are allowing is too short for a round trip incl Whistler, particularly as you want to do some hiking. I do like the suggested itinerary which is not far off what we did some time ago.

19. Re: Can't decide whether to self drive and rail or self drive on

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