Travel Tips

Everything you need to know before road-tripping across Canada

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Written by Publishing Team

How to plan, the best routes to take, and more information about driving around the country

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The question is not “Why do you want to drive through Canada?” As much as ‘why No you want to?”

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I think if you hate nature, great culture and good people, you should probably stay at home. But if you are ok with these and a lot of adventures, then you should totally consider taking this epic Canadian road trip.

For our purposes, we define “Cross Canada” a few different ways: from the Maritimes to Vancouver; From central Canada to Vancouver. We’ll also give some upvotes for a number of other classic Canadian road trip routes. Read on to find out what you need to know before driving through Canada.

What is the best route to drive through Canada?

If your goal is to get from hubs like Halifax on the East Coast or those in central Canada like Montreal or Toronto to Vancouver or vice versa as quickly as possible and don’t mind crossing an international border multiple times, many of you will actually be driven in the United States.

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The fastest routes from east to west all cross much of Ontario and all of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta, and cross into US territory at border stations along the way. It’s a five hour difference from central southern Ontario in Toronto to Vancouver in the west if you pass the US versus staying in Canada, and even less so in the north you’re traveling.

If you’d rather not fish for a passport, or if the border is closed by the time you’re reading this, you can keep it between the national lines by driving around the Lake Superior detour. “The best” is subjective in that sense, but we recommend getting the full Canuck experience if you’re able to. At the right time of year, driving around Lake Superior and across the prairie is amazingly beautiful and rewarding.

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How long does it take to travel through Canada by car?

Again, if you’re looking for the quickest route, diving in the US will save time. Google Maps times a flight from Halifax to Vancouver at 57 hours (5,793 km) regardless of whether you’re crossing the border into Maine or Michigan. This is boosted up to 60 hours (5,834 km) if you choose to stay in the country and pass through Thunder Bay.

The flight from Toronto to Vancouver takes 41 hours (4,173 km) across the United States; and 46 hours (4,410 km) to keep it national. From Quebec City to Vancouver, it takes 47 hours (4806 km) across the United States; and 50 hours (4,839 km) across Canada.

Keep in mind that these drive times are only “driving” times. Most people won’t set out for 1,000 kilometers a day, so plan to take a week or more to really enjoy the experience and not feel like you’re racing across the continent.

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How do I plan a road trip across Canada?

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This article is a good place to start. Also, Google Maps or other map apps like Waze, or paper maps if you’re old school. Online, simply connect your start and end points, including any stopping points you’d like to reach along the way, and let the software do its work. With the route and estimated driving time in mind, you can start planning stops at specific locations, and budget accordingly. For those looking to travel or camp off-road, accessing topographic maps is also a good idea.

If you plan to stay along the Trans-Canada Highway, you can visit TransCanadaHighway.com For information on locations, closures, speed traps, highway history, and more.

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Where should I go for a road trip in Canada?

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Crossing the country from coast to coast is an epic journey and almost a Canadian rite of passage, but it’s far from the only way to plan a vacation by car. World-class road trip options are available from nearly every Canadian hub, big or small. Check our list Famous road trip routes in Atlantic Canada are here or our popular list Road trips in British Columbia here .

How much does a road trip across Canada cost?

The cost all depends on the type of passenger you are in and the type of vehicle you are driving. If you drive a V8 thirsty, travel only a few hours a day, eat the best bistros, and stay at the finest Airbnbs, don’t expect to spend less than a few hundred dollars a day on a couple.

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On the other hand, if you’ve got a frugal hatchback full of granola and your camping gear, and an app like GasBuddy to tell you where the most economical place to fill it up, you can basically just get it. The cost of gas, which at the time of writing was $1.33/L on average in Canada, plus some extras. So, if you’re driving a base 2020 Honda CR-V with a combined city-highway fuel economy of 7.7l/100km, for example, traveling roughly 4,000km across Canada would cost about $410 in gas alone.

However, realistically, any type of travel in Canada is more expensive, and even budget travelers should expect to spend around $100 per day.

Can you rent a car to drive across Canada?

Yes, most car rental companies offer pick-up and drop-off options in many Canadian cities. Borrowing a compact sedan from the Enterprise for a trip from Vancouver to Toronto, will likely cost you about $1,200 plus taxes.

Other rental services such as Canada that lend recreational vehicles; And RVezy , an app that allows RV and other camper van owners to rent out their units to other app members online, and provides other options for Canadian road travelers.

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