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RV or car rental?

Ghent, Belgium
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RV or car rental?

We're planning a trip in British Columbia in June 2014. We're thinking to rent a car but a RV seems much more adventurous. Does anyone have experiences? Which one is the cheapest? Is it a must to book hotels or campgrounds in advance or can we book the day before we arrive?

Vancouver, Canada
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1. Re: RV or car rental?

Hi Timheleen and welcome to the forum ~

What is your general itinerary? How much time in cities? How many nights or weeks? Are you thinking about flying in/out of the same city or maybe a one way is something you are thinking about? Don't worry if you don't yet have hard answers as you are just beginning your planning. But in the end, this info will help bring you information that will help you.

Either style, you would want to book ahead to some degree, perhaps less so for camping than hotels.

I will assume you are interested in visiting the Rockies (Banff, Jasper, Lake Louise). Here is a link to an article from the Canadian Rockies Forum about renting an RV.

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g659487-c104900/Canad…

I think it is fair to say that an RV can be equally or more expensive than car/hotel travel, if only due to the fuel costs. As well RVs don't do cities well, so sometimes, it is advisable to visit the city, i.e. Vancouver, then rent the RV when ready to leave the city.

Which one is the cheapest? Well, they are very competitive in their pricing, but much more important will be what are the Terms and Conditions of each company compared to what kind of use you will be wanting from an RV.

Edited: 01 December 2013, 19:13
Toronto, Canada
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2. Re: RV or car rental?

Rv's can get quite pricey, they usually have a limit on km's per day and then often $0.25 per km after that, so you really need to know where and how long you are going to see if an RV is for you...

Vancouver, Canada
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3. Re: RV or car rental?

Camping in the Canadian wilderness is a special experience that you can't get from a hotel, but its not about saving money or improving flexibility. Campgrounds fill up as quickly as hotels do and it is advisable to make your arrangements in advance.

The article Mufti links above is a good one and deals specifically with your question, comparing the costs and benefits of renting an RV to staying in fixed-roof accommodations. This article provides a general overview of camping in BC with some useful links.

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g154922-c201141/Briti…

Depending on how much time you have, you might even look at a combination, where you rent an RV for a portion of your trip in order to have that wilderness experience, but then switch to a car for the advantages that mode of transport provides.

Ghent, Belgium
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4. Re: RV or car rental?

Thanks for the replies!

We're flying in/out of vancouver. We're staying for 20 nights. The most important for us is the nature (mountains, see some wildlife especially orca's).

After visiting manning PP we go to banff/lakelouise/jasper. After jasper we don't know exactly. We thought to go to prince rupert and via the inside passage to vancouver island. Because of the high ferriecosts we are thinking to visit wells grey PP and back to vancouver. Our last days we'd like to stay on the island. Any recommendations?

Jasper, Canada
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5. Re: RV or car rental?

Here'a link to a Traveller's Article about RVing in western Canada, which will have lots of good information for

you: tripadvisor.ca/ShowForum-g659487-i11598-Cana…

Vancouver, Canada
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6. Re: RV or car rental?

20 days is great. The Rockies will have warmed up a bit by the first week of June, no further ice on the lakes, no further snow in the trails. Vancouver Island is much bigger than people think. The country of Wales will fit into 2/3 of Vancouver Island. Does it have to be done last? Summer arrives on the coast before it arrives in the Rockies, so there may be some wisdom in going to Alberta after the coast. You know, I can't help but say that you will have so much more flexibility and freedom with a car.

1 night Vancouver

2 nights across the province

3 nights Banff area

Full day on the Icefields Parkway

3 nights Jasper area, back down the Icefields Parkway for a bonus day to

1 night Golden, and

2-3 further nights by a different route to Vancouver Island

5-6 nights VI

3 nights Vancouver

TOTAL: 20-22 nights.

Orcas can be seen regularly out of Victoria on VI. I usually suggest doing the IP in both directions. The area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site but Hwy 5 going past Wells Gray to Kamloops is not. Hwy 16 is a long way, lined with big trees, is wilderness for periods of driving time, can feel isolated. Smithers has done a good job of developing their tourist attractions. The ferry ride down to Port Hardy is beautifully scenic, subject to weather in the form of low cloud cover, fog, high seas, but also beautiful sunny, clear skies days. I usually also suggest a stay in Kamloops, even though it is the most logical half way point between Vancouver and Banff, might be surrendered to more forested towns further east.

To the right of this page, you will find the Top Questions for popular questions. Have a look at them, including the Trip Report Collection.

Also have a look at the GyPSy Guide, which provides a location triggered commentary for attractions upon arrival at them. There is an app available, which costs peanuts compared to the rental.

Reviews from the Banff Forum: tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g154911-d1…

GyPSy guide with the app link across the top edge: http://www.gypsyguide.com/canada/

Vancouver Island. You will find wilderness, trails, beaches, water activities (kayaking), wildlife, whale watching, Ucluelet Aquarium, food and drink in Tofino and Ucluelet, the book end towns to the Pacific Rim National Park. Try to spend 3 nights here. Telegraph Cove and Port McNeill would provide you with grizzly tours and whale watching, respectively. U'Mista Cultural Centre. 3 nights would do it. Parksville area provides wide sand beaches, and nearby there are Cathredral Grove, North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre, Coombs Farm market, Strathcona PP. 2 nights. Victoria has the orca tours and is an attractive city with a number of appealing activities and attractions. Royal BC Museum, Butchart Gardens. 2 nights.

4 hours drive/ferry from Vancouver to either of the entry cities of Victoria or Nanaimo, 3 hours across to PRNP from Nanaimo. 2 hours Nanaimo to Victoria. 4 hours Nanaimo to Port Hardy.

Oh my, well off topic now for a 'to RV or not to RV, that is the question' question! Hope it helps anyway.

Edit: I don't think the link in post 5 will take you to the RV article, you will get that link in post 1.

Edited: 01 December 2013, 21:45
Toronto, Canada
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7. Re: RV or car rental?

Excellent post Mufti.....

Vancouver, Canada
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8. Re: RV or car rental?

I would suggest you start with 7 to 10 days on Vancouver Island, and this would be a great area to do your RV travel. You might just do the RV on the island, and then switch to a car for travel to the Rockies, to allow you to travel faster and more efficiently over those longer distances. By traveling to the Rockies later in June, you will have the best access to some of the areas that could be still closed due to snow pack over the parking lot earlier in the month.

Ghent, Belgium
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9. Re: RV or car rental?

Thanks a lot for the information. Probably we will hear each other soon :)

Canada
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for Vancouver Island
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10. Re: RV or car rental?

We managed a BC provincial campground last summer and were surprized at the number of foreign tourists we accomodated. This was a first come first serve campground. We not only had many tourists with rental RVs but a large number with a rental car who were tenting. Most reservable campgrounds have spaces that are for first come as well.