So you want to take a campervan road trip in Western Canada! Surprise, surprise – I (Jenn) love traveling by van and highly recommend it 😉 That said, over the years, several trips have happened ranging from 3 days to 3 weeks in competitors’ vans as well as our own. All of these adventures have highlighted some things to consider when traveling by van as well as things we would like to ensure our customers think of when deciding to travel with us. Grab a coffee and let’s talk roadtripping.
First off – three points that are more budget focused! While traveling by campervan is usually more budget friendly than by rental car/hotel – it still isn’t cheap. Having a budget, and ensuring you don’t get hit with unexpected costs will help.
1. Do you know what is included in your campervan rental?
- What is the allotted mileage and how much is it going to cost you if you go over.
- What is the insurance cost? Do you actually need to purchase the rental company’s insurance or does your own insurance cover the rental of a converted vehicle? What is the deductible on the insurance if something does happen.
Different companies share the information at different points in the booking process – to ensure you are doing an accurate comparison you’ll want to have a clear understanding of what is included in the price.
2. How well equipped is your kitchen? I personally love checking out different restaurants and cafes but cooking some of your own meals by far is one of the simplest ways of keeping costs down. Having a well equipped kitchen (fridge over cooler, multiple pots/pans etc) makes this more likely to happen.
3. What is the gas mileage of your van? This can be a game changer especially around here where on average our customers usually do at least 1200kms of driving through their trip. My very first camper van trip in the States was 3 weeks – with 1.5 weeks in a minivan and 1.5 weeks in a bigger van. The bigger van was fun – but in the end we really didn’t find that the extra space was a benefit to us and the gas cost for driving it was exponentially higher than the minivan.
Secondly, I can’t recommend this enough – slow down! I realize that this isn’t for everyone and that its really hard not to give in to “the Fear of Missing Out” – but on the 3 week trip through the States we really did. It was an awesome trip, but the trying not to miss anything resulted in often each place having enough time for us to know we wanted to come back – but not enough time to actually really explore and enjoy it. When I got home, a friend who travels by RV every winter shared their rule with me. Each location gets at least 3 days and every time you go to move to a new spot you drive at least 3 hours if you have a larger distance to cover over a specific time period. Of course if a spot isn’t for you – you can just cut it short – but I still really feel like the 3 days at least in each spot is ideal for me personally. This also helps cut down on mileage and gas costs.
Third, Weather! Yes we have our four seasons. But expect to be able to encounter any of them during your trip – July and August included. Fingers crossed if its summer it’ll be acting like it – but especially at night and in the morning in the mountains you’re going to want layers. My puffy jacket, gloves and toque get used year round in the mountains. That said the summer of 2021 we were above +30 for a good chunk of the summer so…. Come prepared to be surprised :p Considering this then – when you’re traveling in a compact setup – it’s good to have some ideas on how you can manage poor/cool weather. Layers, ideas of things to do if its raining and being ok with just setting up the bed and reading a book or playing a game are all helpful. Or if you’re wanting more of your creature comforts this could be where you consider increasing your budget and going with a larger van/RV.
Lastly, when deciding when you should book your trip for – consider – what’s more important to you – the ability to have less crowds and make plans as you go? Or to see some of the more famous sights in their peak season? The National Parks and more famous locations in the high season will be busy and campsites book up quickly – so planning well in advance is wise. Alternatively, you can also use first come first serve campsites but you’ll want to be prepared for some extra driving and having to adjust plans a bit as needed. If you really don’t want crowds – but you really want to see some of the mountain lakes show off their colors – September/October are the better bet as May/beginning of June will see many of them still frozen. May on the other hand can be really lovely and crowd free – but it could be more of a fit for someone who is wanting to hike, bike, see snow or visit different spots that are at a lower elevation. On the other hand, if you’re wanting to get more off the beaten track – lucky for you there’s plenty of space to do this and really any season is your season.
Hope these thoughts help a bit in making your campervan roadtrip perfect for you! Any questions feel free to get in touch – always glad to talk adventures! Happy Travels 🙂