Returning from one of the most memorable and enjoyable holidays we have ever had, a month long trip to Alaska, British Columbia and Alberta, I wanted to share some of the highlights. From the start, Kenn and I wanted more time than an organised tour would allow, to do our own thing and soak in the magic. But, early in the planning phase, I discovered that there was very little explicit information about possible routes and itineraries for couples like us who wanted to drive themselves through this beautiful region of the world and didn’t want to break the bank in the process.
Although we would be travelling at a popular time, late May and early June, I knew it couldn’t be that hard. After all, Canada is like Australia only with more snow and much higher mountains. Alright, they drive on the wrong side of the road, but my daughter Melissa assured me that the roads were excellent and that if she could co-drive an old Camry from Whistler to Alaska without getting eaten by bears, then her father would have no problems whatsoever sedately driving from Vancouver
to Whistler along the Sea to Sky highway
and onto Jasper taking the back road through Lillooet and Kamloops
and then along the Icefields Parkway to lovely Lake Louise ,
and back to Vancouver. A mere 3000 kilometres give or take a kilometre or two!
The outline of the route decided, I perused the map to pinpoint other wonderful places to visit and explore along the way. Some of the names of the lesser-known towns were seductive such as Lillooet, Clearwater, Field, Revelstoke and Golden. Yoho and Glacier National Parks as well as the Wells Grey Provincial Park seemed well worth visiting and for anyone who loves driving, the thrill of driving one of the great scenic roads in the world, the Icefields Parkway, cannot be underestimated.
Car hire from Thrify was very affordable. We booked it through our travel agents, Narelle and Amanda at www.dynamictravel.com.au and it worked out to be about $60 a day for a VW Jetta. We organised to pick it up from Vancouver Airport following our stay in Vancouver itself.
One interesting thing we found out when we picked up the car was that we could have taken our car over to Vancouver Island on the ferry. We had been informed in Australia that if we did, we would not be insured. This is apparently not the case. Next time, I would check directly with the relevant car hire company by phone and email, as being able to take the ferry would save time and money.
Once, the route had been decided it was time to book accommodation. I decided on a combination of hotels, motels, cabins, apartments and BnB’s mostly sourced through Booking.com or through recommendations on Trip Adviser. I restricted my search to mostly 4 stars. I’m not really a hostel or yurt person! I love a few creature comforts like fluffy bath robes and the occasional hot tub. Although we didn’t get to stay at the Fairmont, I was really happy with all my choices and found that booking early ( four or five months in advance) saved a significant amount of money. The accommodation bill for three weeks totalled approximately $3ooo. One thing that I hadn’t factored in was the number of daylight hours at this time of the year in Canada. I’ve never been anywhere where it’s still light at ten o’clock in the evening and had worked out travel times so as to arrive at about four o’clock in the afternoon.
We had a fabulous time, helped by great weather. I am looking forward to sharing details of each stage of the road trip in later posts and hope you will join me. I would also love to hear about your adventures in Canada if you would like to share.