The first-timer’s guide to Canada by RV motorhome

The first-timer's guide to Canada by RV motorhome

Two sisters, two weeks, 4500km, four provinces and three time zones – our leg of the ExploreCanada road trip across Canada by RV was epic in more ways than one. Especially considering neither or us had ever been inside an RV (motorhome) before. How would this self-confessed camping-phobe cope with life on the road?

Read more: A two-week Calgary to Toronto road trip itinerary

Kayaking at Killarney Provincial Park
The roadtripping sisters!

Exploring Canada by RV motorhome

Setting off from Calgary to Toronto felt like being thrown in at the deep end. But it turns out RVing is a world away from camping, and Canada’s the perfect place to try it out. Travelling by RV gives you all the benefits of camping – beautiful landscapes, nights round the campfire, the feeling of being back to nature – but without the actual tent.

But RVing was a new world with its special terminology (pull-throughs, shore lines, grey water). So I thought I’d put together a post for first-time RVers like me, or people who want to find out more about touring Canada by RV, where I ask the questions so you don’t have to!

Crossing time zones on a Canada by RV road trip
Crossing time zones

Do you have to rough it?

I’m more of a budget-luxury than five-star traveller, but there are a few things that are a must wherever I’m staying. Comfortable bed, decent toilets, hot showers, space to unpack and somewhere to keep the wine cold. But my nightmares of nights spent freezing and mornings spent sweltering at 5am in a tent quickly faded. RV life is a lot more like living in a mini mobile apartment. But it was surprising how much you could pack into a small space.

Our RV was a Cruise Canada ‘Standard’ model – 25′ long with two double beds, a toilet, shower and kitchen with gas cooker, fridge-freezer and sink. The kitchen’s well equipped so you don’t need to rely on campfire cooking; we whipped up steaks, risottos and stir fries.

Interior of the Cruise Canada Standard RV
Inside the RV

It’s a good tip to get a bigger RV than you think you need. Ours was listed as sleeping five but was perfect for two or three people. Any more than that and you’d be tripping over each other. Though you probably want to make sure you travel with someone you get on well with.

You’re going to be in pretty close confines and RVing requires lots of teamwork so there’s not much room for personal space. Luckily my sister and I have spent many family holidays to France in the back of a 1970s VW camper van so we’ve got plenty of experience.

Aaron Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada
Soaking up the views at Aaron Provincial Park

RVing in Canada is also a digital detox, getting you away from TVs, computers and phones. Internet addicts can get their fix with a portable wifi device that works off phone signal. But in large parks like Algonquin and Lake Superior the signal doesn’t stretch far into the park so you’ll have to have an enforced technology sabbatical. Leaving more time to spend outside.

The evening campfire was one of my favourite trip rituals. Getting the fire going, searching for the perfect marshmallow toasting stick, making s’mores, talking about what we’d seen that day and where we were off to next. And if it rained, like it did on one night in Killarney Provincial Park, we could stay snug inside the RV, watching Les Miserables on my laptop and toasting marshmallows on the hob – you can’t do that in a tent.

RV camspite campfire
Campfire time

Isn’t RVing just for retirees?

Canada and the US have a real RV culture. People retire, sell up, buy a big RV and drive south for winter and north for summer, travelling for as long as they can. So I was expecting that two British women in our 30s would be an unusual sight around the campsites. But in general the demographic of our fellow RV travellers was a lot more varied than I imagined.

There were a mix of couples, families and groups of friends, with international travellers as well as plenty of Canadians exploring their own country. Even the long-term RVers were a more mixed group than I expected. As well as retirees we also met families who were travelling with their kids before they started school, as well as people who work remotely so don’t need to have a full-time home base and can move around as they feel like.

Dusk at our campsite on Lake Superior
Dusk at our campsite on Lake Superior

The long-term RVers are easy to spot though – they’re the ones with doormats, potted plants and an array of collapsible gadgets. They’re also the ones who can help if you need a hand or don’t know how something works. When we arrived at Lake Superior and found we couldn’t park close enough to the electricity hookup to plug in, our neighbours lent us an extension lead. All the RVers we met were happy to share their expertise with us newbies.

One of the nicest things about RVing is it’s much more sociable than a hotel. Everyone spends their time outside so it’s easy to get chatting to your neighbours. We toasted Canada Day around the campfire with our neighbour in Regina Beach and were introduced to ‘hobo pies’ (a kind of toasted jam sandwich) by the lady next door in Aaron Provincial Park.

Celebrating Canada Day on RV site in Regina Beach
Celebrating Canada Day

How do I plan my Canada RV itinerary?

Where to start? Coastal drives, cross-country, mountains, National Parks – the choices are endless. It might be tempting to wing it and see where you end up, but the best campsites get booked up, especially at weekends, in popular areas like the Rockies and in summer in Canada. So it’s a good idea to plan your route and book your overnight stays in advance.

We planned to arrive into our campsites around 4pm while it was still light. That gave us time to set up the RV, light a campfire and stretch our legs with a walk around the site. It’s also recommended you don’t drive at dawn or dusk as moose and deer venture onto the roads.

RV on Highway 1 in Canada crossing over into Saskatchewan
Crossing over into Saskatchewan

When you’re planning how long journeys will take, Google Maps tends to underestimate the time it takes to travel in an RV. We downloaded the free Navmii Canada GPS app which we found was more accurate. It works offline if you don’t have phone data and you can also get it to show you the nearest fuel stations – helpful when you’re in the middle of nowhere. A good old-fashioned paper road map is useful too in case you can’t get a phone signal.

The quickest route from A to B is usually via the highway. But if you get off the main roads there’s more to see, so factor in plenty of time in case you spot something interesting along the way – the Roadtrippers website has some good ideas. The joy of RVing is you can just pull over and stop and make a cup of tea or rustle up some lunch when you feel like it.

Gorgeous views in the Muskoka Lakes
Gorgeous views in the Muskoka Lakes

What facilities do campsites have?

Canadian campsite facilities vary a lot depending on the location and size of the site – our experiences camping in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario ranged from simple forest pitches to full holiday complexes. The larger, privately run sites often have extra facilities like shops, cafés and swimming pools. You’re also likely to get a full hookup where you can connect your power, water and sewage lines directly from your pitch.

Most of the time we stayed in Provincial Park campgrounds which were more ‘back to nature’. There was usually a reception building where you check in and can stock up on ice and firewood. Then there were toilet and shower blocks with laundry facilities (keep a supply of ‘loonies’ – aka one dollar coins, the name comes from the birds which are pictured on them). Most had electrical hookups and filling/dumping stations for water and waste.

Drinks on the beach at Lake Superior Provincial Park
G&Ts by Lake Superior

The facilities might be simple but the location is what makes these campsites so special. We parked up next to lakes, waterfalls and forests. But my favourite spot was at Lake Superior Provincial Park. The campsite ran along the edge of the lakeshore with just two rows of RVs surrounded by tall pine trees. Within 10 metres of our pitch was a huge sandy beach and a lake which stretched as far as you can see, with a bench perfect for a sunset G&T.

You’ve also got wildlife all around you. We had gophers popping up in Regina Beach and a raccoon who raided next door’s cool box and was chomping on a cereal bar in Killarney Provincial Park. Though you need to be careful not to leave food out in areas where there are bears around (though we never saw one despite cooking steaks on the RV hob one evening).

Raccon in Killarney Provincial Park
Cheeky raccoon

Is it hard to drive an RV?

I delegated this question to my sister as she was the designated driver for the trip, but despite never having driven an RV before she had no trouble with it. Like any large vehicle it takes longer to get going and to stop, so leave plenty of space around you.

Canadian roads are generally fairly wide and straight, and outside the towns and cities it’s not too difficult to navigate (we pretty much got on the Trans-Canada Highway in Calgary and got off it two weeks later in Toronto).

Do make a note of the RV’s width and height just in case you have to go through a small space or low bridge. The gas tank takes a while to fill up (our record was $200 worth of fuel) and if you’re going faster, like on the long straight prairie roads, you get through fuel quicker.

Driving across Canada by RV
Following a Canada Pacific train

When you arrive into a campsite your pitch will either be ‘pull-through’ – where you can drive straight in – or you’ll have to reverse in. RVs aren’t the easiest things to reverse as visibility is limited in the mirrors, so we found it easier for me to get out of the vehicle and shout out directions (seasoned RVers recommend a walkie talkie if you’re doing this a lot).

It can be hard to find somewhere to park up if you’re stopping off in towns and cities. It’s a good idea to research parking lots in advance. Some have extra-large spaces designed for RVs or otherwise be prepared to practice your parallel parking skills if parking on the street.

Views of the road to Lake Superior
Views from the road

What about the dreaded RV waste disposal?

The one thing that strikes fear into prospective RVers is emptying the toilet tank. Not something you normally have to do when you’re on holiday! But it’s really not as bad as I imagined. The RV has two separate waste tanks – one for grey water (from the sinks and shower) and one for black water (from the toilet).

Some sites have a hookup for the sewage pipe where you can leave it connected. But on all of our campsites you had to empty the tank at the site’s dumping station. A control panel inside the RV tells you how full the tanks are. You can go for a few days without emptying them, but it does weigh you down and being heavier means you get through more fuel. So we went for the ‘little and often’ approach and dumped our waste every day or two.

Cruise Canada RV overlooking Lake Superior
Rocky the RV

An expandable pipe pulls out from the side of the RV and connects securely into a valve in the ground. Then you pull the handle to release the black water first and then the grey to wash it through. There are a couple of things you can do to make it all a bit less unpleasant.

First buy some heavy duty rubber gloves (we kept ours in a plastic bag in the storage compartment under the RV) and second get some tank cleaner/deodoriser tablets to make things smell a bit sweeter. You can also pay a supplement not to have to empty the tank when you return the RV to the depot, which is worth it if you’re in a hurry on the last day.

Hiking in Algonquin Provincial Park
Hiking in Algonquin Provincial Park

What do I need to pack?

One of the bonuses of exploring Canada by RV is having plenty of storage space, so you’ve got room to pack the RV or motorhome accessories to help make your trip easier. We had a wardrobe, two sets of drawers and cupboards above the bed and table. There’s also a storage area underneath the RV for a folding table and chairs plus firewood and suitcases. Once you’ve unpacked, you don’t need to pack up again until the end of your trip.

If you go out for the day and realise you should’ve worn an extra jumper or need a coat or suncream, it’s all there with you. But if you’re flying internationally you’re not going to want to carry pillows, towels, saucepans and crockery with you (the kitchen sink is included!).

Crossing the Manitoba provincial line in an RV
Manitoba provincial line

Cruise Canada offer a couple of different equipment kits. We had a provisioning kit ($100) with cutlery, crockery, pots and pans, kettle, knives and a chopping board, plus extras like a torch and broom. There’s also a personal kit ($55 per person) with towels, a pillow and duvet.

Nights can get cold so you might want to bring or buy a blanket and pack some thermal pyjamas – I kept a fleece and a pair of socks next to the bed so I could add extra layers if I got cold in the middle of the night. The RV does also have heating if things get really chilly.

Breakfast at Lake Superior
Breakfast at Lake Superior

Make sure you pack everything in tightly before you set off. Our last campsite in Algonquin Provincial Park could only be reached along a six-mile stretch of unsealed road. Within a couple of minutes of rattling along the road the wardrobe door had flown open, water bottles were shooting across the floor and the drawers had thrown half their contents out.

Even driving along an ordinary road any bumps and bends can send things flying, so make sure everything is stowed away before you set off. The RV’s crockery cupboard has dividers to keep plates and cups safe. But things do slide around the food cupboard above the dining table. So it’s a good idea to get a box to store your groceries securely so they don’t end up shaken up and you don’t get with a black eye from a falling pack of biscuits.

RV on an unsealed road in the Canadian Prairies
Getting a bit bumpy on an unsealed road

Being outside means you’re exposed to a few creepy crawlies. Canadian mosquitoes can be vicious, especially in the summer, so it’s a good idea to pack mosquito repellent* and bite cream, and pick up citronella candles or mosquito coils*. Cover up your arms and legs up at dusk and you can also get clothing impregnated with repellent to keep them away.

Other bits and pieces we found useful to have were a washing line and pegs* (to air towels and dry clothes if you’re doing any hand washing), a grill if you want to cook outside, matches and firelighters (you can buy these along with kindling and logs in most park shops if you need them) and plenty of marshmallows for toasting over the campfire.

Toasting marshmallows on the campfire on a RV trip across Canada
Campfire evenings

Where to next?

The thing with RVing is that it gets addictive. The freedom to go whenever you fancy, the convenience, the chance to dip your toes in the outdoor lifestyle without having to rough it. So the only question left is where to next? Maybe the Rockies, the Cabot Trail through Nova Scotia or the coast of Newfoundland – who knows where the road will take us?

Is there anything else you’d like to know about exploring Canada by RV?

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The first-timer's guide to exploring Canada by RV motorhome. All the tips and hints you need for an epic road trip adventure RVing in Canada | Explore Canada | Canada by RV | RVing in Canada | Canada by motorhome | RV travel guideCanada by RV motorhome: Everything you need to know to make the most of RVing in Canada | Explore Canada | Canada by RV | RVing in Canada | Canada by motorhome | RV travel guide

*This article contains affiliate links where I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I visited Canada as a guest of Destination Canada as part of a Travelator Media campaign.

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  • Reply
    October 26, 2016 at 12:39 pm

    Looks like you had a fab time and what a great way to see Canada. I imagine you drove through my home town of Medicine Hat, Alberta, about 3 hours south of Calgary. Some say the prairies are boring to drive through, but I think they have their own beauty as well. And it´s nice to have the highway to yourself at times!

    • Reply
      October 26, 2016 at 7:49 pm

      The prairie landscapes were beautiful – those amazing skies! We did do a quick stop in Medicine Hat (mainly to stock up at the supermarket though so unfortunately didn’t see too much). I actually wrote an article on the prairies for the Destination Canada website so will send you a link when it’s published.

      • Peter
        November 1, 2020 at 7:04 pm

        Where did you refill LP tank?
        It seems that not many truck stops provide this service in Canada

      • Lucy Dodsworth
        November 2, 2020 at 5:42 pm

        Hi, we refilled the tank at the depot where we picked up the RV so we didn’t have to do it along the route at all.

  • Reply
    October 26, 2016 at 1:08 pm

    Absolutely spot on, Lucy! We were lucky on our leg to have full hook-up at each site. Like everyone else on the road trip, we enjoyed the RV experience much more than we expected!

    • Reply
      October 26, 2016 at 7:54 pm

      Ah what luxury to have a full hook up 😉 Actually it wasn’t too much trouble and the whole experience was so fantastic, I’d love to do another RV trip now.

  • Reply
    October 26, 2016 at 2:44 pm

    You forgot the important thing for Canada. RVs are, (I hope) bear-proof!

    • Reply
      October 26, 2016 at 7:54 pm

      That’s very true – I’m not sure I’d want to risk bear country in a tent!

      • Stu Neilson
        March 22, 2021 at 1:08 am

        Actually, Lucy, most RV’s have only a few different locks. Bears have been at this for quite a while and most have a complete set of keys. LOL
        We are planning our second Atlantic to Pacific trip, this time through Canada, for fall of 2021 and found your blog entertaining and informative. Calgary and Banff are high on the list, but have now added Lake Superior National Park as a must see.
        Thank you

      • Lucy Dodsworth
        March 24, 2021 at 8:52 pm

        You’re very welcome, enjoy Lake Superior, have such good memories of my visit!

  • Reply
    Browsing the Atlas
    October 26, 2016 at 3:54 pm

    Great post. This is what I have planned for my future: I’ll retire and be a full-time RVer. Oddly, I didn’t even think about all the places I can visit in Canada. I was stuck on the U.S. 🙂 It’s gonna be great.

    • Reply
      October 26, 2016 at 7:56 pm

      Full-time RV retirement sounds like a very good plan – so many places to see though, better make it early retirement!

  • Reply
    October 26, 2016 at 4:27 pm

    Love this Lucy! As a full timer it’s always fascinating to hear people’s rving experiences. Your trip looks fantastic, we’d love to take the truck over to Canada, Chris has a deep love for the country.

    • Reply
      October 26, 2016 at 7:57 pm

      Glad to hear it gets a pro’s seal of approval! We did feel a bit clueless to start with but really enjoyed it – I can see why you’ve got the van life bug.

      • Frank Duchon
        May 1, 2019 at 12:03 pm

        We are planning a 3 week trip 8/1- 8/21 Entering Ontario from NW Minnesota ending in Niagra Falls …. Provincial Parks in our Airstream. We are experienced RVr’s but do not know Canada… from our research there are so many great places to see and experience. We love to hike, bike, kayak, swim and explore. Any suggestions how we should route our trip thru Ontario? We have 3 weeks and can go as far north as we like. Do you know of any services that help plan your route??
        Thank you in advance for any suggestions
        Frank and Connie

      • Lucy
        May 14, 2019 at 4:22 pm

        Hi Frank and Connie, this post might be useful for Ontario, it has some of the parks I visited which were great for hiking, kayaking and swimming – – this was part of a route from Calgary to Toronto but you could easily spend longer in Ontario or head on into Quebec.

  • Reply
    October 26, 2016 at 6:49 pm

    It looks like such a wonderful trip, and so many great tips. I was wondering what the cost of the campsites are with hook up and everything? I’m doing a little mental comparison to New Zealand prices 🙂
    Maria @

    • Reply
      October 26, 2016 at 7:46 pm

      Hi Maria, we mostly stayed in Provincial Parks where the sites with electric hook up are CAN $35–$51 a night and the private sites were around $35–45 (as the parks include the entrance fees).

  • Reply
    Kathryn Burrington
    October 27, 2016 at 8:35 am

    That’s a fabulous guide Lucy. I wish I could have read it before we went!

    • Reply
      October 27, 2016 at 5:35 pm

      I tried to do the post I’d have liked to have read before I went too!

  • Reply
    Zoe Dawes
    October 27, 2016 at 9:41 am

    Really excellent tips for an RV trip Lucy. Hopefully it will persuade more people to try this kind of holiday as it is a really great way to see more of Canada.

    • Reply
      October 27, 2016 at 5:37 pm

      Hope so Zoe, it’s such a great way to explore an amazing country!

  • Reply
    October 27, 2016 at 1:20 pm

    Great insights and tips. Fascinating and very detailed about how the whole RV thing works – and what is good (and less good!) about the experience….. Thanks

    • Reply
      October 27, 2016 at 5:38 pm

      It was a bit of a learning curve to start with, but so much easier than I thought it might be!

  • Reply
    October 27, 2016 at 4:39 pm

    Now you need to do it in New Zealand Lucy! Just to compare the experience 🙂 I always fancied doing the RV thing but am nervous about driving such a big beast.

    • Reply
      October 27, 2016 at 5:39 pm

      Would love to give it a try in New Zealand someday! I didn’t drive but apparently these ‘Class C’ type RVs are designed to be as easy as possible to drive so it’s not too much harder than driving a car.

  • Reply
    October 27, 2016 at 9:44 pm

    Spectacular post, Lucy! So glad you chose Canada. Hope you make it back again soon. Great pic of hiking Algonquin and I think your rubber glove tip is an excellent one. :- ) PS BTW Your sis rocks. That was one big RV for roadtripping!

    • Reply
      October 30, 2016 at 9:05 am

      She certainly does – couldn’t have had a better driver! Loved the whole experience and can’t wait to get back and see more of Canada.

  • Reply
    Suzanne Jones
    October 27, 2016 at 10:40 pm

    I’ve always wondered what these looked like inside – now I know! I’d love to spend an extended amount of time RVing and exploring Canada or the US. Or both! I just need to convince Mr Jones…

    • Reply
      October 30, 2016 at 9:31 am

      I would love to go and do a longer trip too – though my problem would be deciding where to go!

  • Reply
    October 29, 2016 at 9:18 pm

    GREAT post!! Thanks for all the detail! We’re moving to the US soon, and a road trip across the border is something we have on our North America bucket list 🙂

    • Reply
      October 30, 2016 at 9:43 am

      You’re very welcome – glad it was useful and hope you love RVing as much as we did!

  • Reply
    Heather Cowper
    October 31, 2016 at 4:02 pm

    Great tips Lucy – we found the RV a lot easier than we imagined and felt like old pros by our second week

    • Reply
      October 31, 2016 at 11:06 pm

      It doesn’t take long to feel like home does it!

  • Reply
    Jaillan Yehia
    October 31, 2016 at 6:58 pm

    I am MAJORLY jealous of your RV adventure! Having just come back from a few years being based in Canada I know what a huge part of Canadian culture the landscapes and provincial parks are and even though I went camping quite a lot I never got round to renting an RV.

    Even more so though when you drive south in the winter with the ‘snowbirds’ in search of the Mexico sun you realise that every 2nd RV on the road down there is from Canada so I think if you want to get under the skin of Canada this kind of experience is essential!

    • Reply
      October 31, 2016 at 11:12 pm

      It was so interesting to see the whole RV culture and the elaborate set-ups the long-term RVers have. I can see why it gets addictive and people want to sell up and hit the road (and avoid those Canadian winters!).

  • Reply
    October 31, 2016 at 8:18 pm

    I’d love to do this, we once had a little look at doing it down in Cali, but still haven’t got there! Good hints, thank you!

    • Reply
      October 31, 2016 at 11:13 pm

      I nearly did an RV trip in Australia but glad we waited to Canada to try it out, it was such a great place for it!

  • Reply
    November 2, 2016 at 9:46 pm

    I look forward to seeing the article. Medicine Hat is often a pit stop for fuel and groceries! Now you know where I grew up.

  • Reply
    Tyler Meredith
    November 23, 2016 at 2:05 am

    It’s interesting to read about some of the things that first-time RVers encounter. It makes sense that some people might think an RV is hard to drive or they might pack too much. I’ll have to remember to practice driving bigger cars and trucks to ensure that the RV is safe for me to drive. Thanks for the post!

  • Reply
    June 6, 2017 at 3:46 pm

    Hi Lucy, my family, 2 girls and my husband are planning on flying into toronto for a month this august. I know, your high season. We would like to hire a RV but I keep hearing it is so expensive and better to stay in hotels and hire a car. What do you think? Do campsites not have public toilets? is it not cheaper or is it possible to hire without a toilet, as I imagine we would use public toilets, as you need public showers dont you? I would be very interested in your opinions thanks natalie

    • Reply
      June 7, 2017 at 1:06 am

      Hi Natalie, our RV had a toilet and shower (though we did use the public showers in campsites mainly as it meant we didn’t have to fill up the water tank so often) and I think most do. The campgrounds all have toilet and shower blocks but it was good to have the bathroom on board if we needed to stop during the day as some of the drives were long without a lot of facilities on the roadside! I’ve done a few road trips and loved the freedom of the RV – you only have to unpack once, it’s easy to transport food as you have a fridge/freezer on board and you get to be outdoors around the campfire every evening so there are definitely some bonuses over a hotel/car hire.

  • Reply
    June 14, 2017 at 4:16 am

    I love this, thank you for sharing!

    • Reply
      June 16, 2017 at 11:11 pm

      Thanks so much, glad you liked it!

  • Reply
    June 15, 2017 at 6:05 pm

    Excellent article for those considering a first time RV trip in Canada. It’s a perfect way to see the country at your own leisure. We love camping and traveling in our RV and are fortunate enough to live in Canada as well. Great post and photos 🙂 Found you on Pinterest!

    • Reply
      June 16, 2017 at 11:10 pm

      Thank you! It’s such a great way to explore, and you’re spoilt for choice in places to go in Canada (writing this from the lovely Niagara-on-the-Lake!).

  • Reply
    Rubens Germano
    December 19, 2017 at 12:52 am

    Hi Lucy,
    Outstanding article for those like me and my wife who are considering a first time RV trip in Canada. Are you still active on this blog?
    We are Brazilians but we currently live in Mexico. We are planning to start our journey in Toronto in late April/18, saving two months to discover the best of Canada. Sort of clueless first time mariners 🙂 We would love to exchange thoughts, hints and must see spots with you.
    Kudos for the great pics and posts.

    • Reply
      December 20, 2017 at 11:09 pm

      Hi there, so glad it was useful – and sounds like you have a great trip planned. Any questions do drop me a message (email is

  • Reply
    Ellie Birch
    March 21, 2018 at 12:47 pm

    This has been the most positive read. My husband and I are coming from the UK and doing a week-long RV trip through bits of Ontario as part of our holiday in early April and I was starting to get anxious that we wouldn’t be able to do it but your blog has been so helpful and has re-ignited my confidence and cemented we have made the right decision! Thank you 🙂

    • Reply
      March 23, 2018 at 7:54 pm

      That’s great to hear! I so loved exploring Canada by RV and sure you’ll have an amazing time out there too.

  • Reply
    March 31, 2018 at 1:37 am

    Lucy, great post. We have actually RV’d twice in the US and have found the experience from west to east coast very different in terms of access to tourist attractions, so this has become a concern for me now planning our first RV trip to Canada. From your experience what is parking like to visit attractions and tourist destinations to hike or whatever. I like to try to do this when moving from place to place as much as possible but I am happy to use the RV for day trips and return to the same site at night if that’s the best option.

    • Reply
      April 2, 2018 at 7:47 pm

      Hi, we visited most attractions on our driving days and didn’t have any problems with parking, but we were mostly visiting parks where there’s loads of space or smaller cities. The other bloggers who did the trip in different parts of Canada did visit some larger cities and found it useful to check in advance as to which parking lots could accommodate the RV. Lots of big vehicles in Canada though so they are used to it! Hope you have a great trip.

  • Reply
    June 5, 2018 at 8:36 am

    Hi Lucy,

    I enjoyed reading your very informative story. My husband and I will travel through Canada (we’re Aussies) from July through October and are considering an RV trip (or perhaps car/motel) from Calgary to Toronto over 2 weeks in September. I wasn’t sure if it would work because people have told us it is a long and boring trip but that’s not the impression I get from your experiences. We’ve done heaps of very long road trips here in Oz and the distances don’t bother us. We’ve never driven an RV but very able and willing to give it a go. I will have a dig around your website for other gems. Cheers, Sue

    • Reply
      June 6, 2018 at 11:22 am

      Hi Sue, that route is definitely possible in two weeks – the first few days through the prairies I will admit there’s a lot of long straight roads but there are some good stop offs along the way, and the scenery is so unique (plus it’s a good way to get used to the RV). I’m going to try and put together an itinerary of my trip but I do have a post about some of the highlights along the way:

  • Reply
    Susan reade
    July 14, 2018 at 8:07 pm

    Hi Lucy, we are planning a trip to Canada in August 2019. We are thinking of renting an RV to do the Rockies and Vancouver Island and then spending a week in a hotel in Vancouver at the end. We have 6-7 weeks to do the trip. However we are hesitant about which RV company to use, we plan to fly from UK direct to Vancouver, do a circular trip around the Rockies and Vancouver Island and end up in Vancouver to fly back to the UK. We have seen some very negative reviews of Cruise Canada, vans being Old, dirty, unreliable and unsafe. There only seems to be Canadream, Fraserway and Cruise Canada as a choice for RV rentals. Do you have any advice you could help with our decision.

    Best regards


    • Reply
      July 17, 2018 at 11:56 am

      Hi Susan, I’ve only tried Cruise Canada from those that you mentioned and we didn’t have any trouble with them other than they forgot our bedding kit so we had to buy our own! I would make sure you double check everything is there that you order and also make sure that they give you a good tour of the vehicle and how to use it (this seems to vary in different locations and some staff are more thorough than others). Generally though we were happy with Cruise Canada and I’d use them again. Hope you have a fantastic trip!

  • Reply
    Paul Oliver
    July 18, 2018 at 10:59 pm

    Great article on the adventures of RVing!!!
    First time my wife and I RVed was in New Zealand. Both Island top to bottom and back. Never drove a motor home before, never drove on the “wrong” side of the road before and in a “foreign” country. Had a blast!!!
    It’s an adventure everyone should try. You’ll be absolutely surprised at how much you’ll love it!
    Roll On. Paul

    • Reply
      July 19, 2018 at 2:00 pm

      It certainly is! Hope to get back out in the RV soon, I had such a great trip.

  • Reply
    Lock N Store
    July 19, 2018 at 3:24 am

    Thanks for this amazing and helpful post! It makes sense that some people might think an RV is hard to drive or they might pack too much. I’ll have to remember to practice driving bigger cars and trucks to ensure that the RV is safe for me to drive.

    • Reply
      July 19, 2018 at 2:02 pm

      It does help to have a bit of practice, but my sister found that it didn’t take too long to get used to – and being on all those long straight roads was a good warm up!

  • Reply
    Albert Joe
    October 17, 2018 at 8:47 am

    First time my wife and I RVed was in New Zealand. Both Island top to bottom and back. Never drove a motor home before, never drove on the “wrong” side of the road before and in a “foreign” country. Had a blast!!!

    • Reply
      October 25, 2018 at 7:29 am

      It’s a great way to travel!

  • Reply
    December 4, 2018 at 6:13 am

    Hi Lucy,
    For very long time I am planning to go on a RV trip in Canada. My son is studying in Vancouver and my daughter will join him next year. So during August we plan to start from Vancouver and go up to Sasketchwan. I was hesitant to take this trip untill I read your article. Your detailed article not only gives almost perfect guide for first timers, but also encourages to take the trip. Really appreciate your article.
    Do you think 10 days are enough for Vancouver Sasketchwan round trip.

    Thanks and appreciation

    • Reply
      December 5, 2018 at 11:41 am

      Sounds like a great trip! 10 days should be possible – there’s a lot to see in the Rockies so you’ll probably want around a week for that section then it’s not too long a drive on to Saskatchewan.

  • Reply
    Daniel Harre
    January 14, 2019 at 7:03 am

    I have a question. Me and my Mother are thinking about doing a trip like this. The thing is, she can only walk short distances on her own and the rest of the time she’ll need to go by wheelchair. How are the terrain around the sites where you stay with the RV? Where you visited would it be possible to push a wheelchair around? Bear in mind we pushed our way threw many adventures before including massive cobblestreets in old Havanna 😉

    Thanks in advance,

    • Reply
      January 14, 2019 at 8:48 pm

      Hi Daniel, it will depend very much on where you want to go – we stayed in a lot of Provincial Park campgrounds and they varied a lot, the larger ones had better access and more paved pathways but some of the smaller ones were gravel so would be quite rough. The park websites are good at sharing info though about Barrier Free access – places like Lake Superior and Algonquin would be no problem, and the RV makes it easy to move between sites.

  • Reply
    February 22, 2019 at 9:40 pm

    RV generate less carbon dioxide than when traveling by plane, renting a car, or even staying in a hotel!

    • Reply
      February 25, 2019 at 2:12 pm

      That’s really interesting – I checked out our your post and have shared it on my sustainable tourism page too.

  • Reply
    May 13, 2019 at 10:29 pm

    Hi Lucy, Great article. I am looking for more information on building an itinerary, for a short trip, couple of nights, kid-friendly, starting location Ottawa. Found quite helpful, but wondering if there are other good resources or off-the-shelf itineraries I could look into, or other suggestions? Sorry, first timer questions 🙂

    • Reply
      May 14, 2019 at 12:58 pm

      Thanks – Roadtrippers is really useful and there are also quite a few RV sites which have itineraries and ideas for places to stay. It’s a brilliant way to travel though!

  • Reply
    September 24, 2019 at 4:36 pm

    Hi Lucy!

    Great article, me and my boyfriend are both from the UK and hoping to make the trip to Canada in August 2020. We were thinking two weeks and hiring an RV
    Can you provide rough idea of costs – ie to hire, camp sites and how much daily spend you had (food etc)

    Many Thanks

    • Reply
      September 26, 2019 at 4:28 pm

      Hi, the campsites we stayed in were mostly Provincial Parks and cost $35-$50 a night with electricity hookup. We did bulk shopping at grocery stores and mainly cooked for ourselves (say $20 a day each) and gas is cheap in Canada.

  • Reply
    October 18, 2019 at 10:41 am

    Thanks for sharing such a fantastic blog and awesome pictures.Great post! I’m definitely going to bookmark this. I really appreciate your article, you have given a good insight and a clear picture.

    • Reply
      November 11, 2019 at 6:26 pm

      Thanks so much!

  • Reply
    December 5, 2019 at 11:57 pm

    Great article, thank you.
    Are there any rental companies you’d recommend for rv rentals? Googling brings hundreds of results and it’s hard to know which are reputable companies (apart from the standard avis/budget etc).

    • Reply
      December 12, 2019 at 9:36 am

      Hi, ours was rented through Cruise Canada who specialise in RVs and have a good selection of models and pick up locations, would definitely recommend them.

  • Reply
    Renecia Benjamin
    January 26, 2020 at 11:09 am

    Hi Lucy
    My partner and I are planning a holiday in Canada in July / August this year.and we need to travel from Kincardine to Calgary. We were thinking of taking a road trip as we would like to see more of Canada.We are from South Africa and have never driven an RV before.
    Your article has given some great incite on what to expect ,Thank you!t
    Do you have any tips on what to expect and anything else we should know about when travelling that time of the year ?
    Any information would be most welcome
    Thanks in advance
    Renecia and Bradley ,
    Cape Town,
    South Africa

    • Reply
      January 27, 2020 at 3:05 pm

      Hi Renecia and Bradley, July/August is likely to be quite busy so you may need to reserve some of your campsite spots in advance as it’s the main holiday period in Canada. It can get quite hot so if you can get an RV with air con that would be a good idea, and maybe factor in some places with lakes of pools to cool off in! I’m going to be putting together a Calgary > Toronto itinerary post in mid-Feb so there might be some useful tips in there too.

      • Lee L
        August 19, 2020 at 11:02 pm

        If you are putting an itinerary together let me recommend Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta. It’s a major bonebed and if you try at all you will personally find dinosaur bones. The people that work there and offer guided tours are quite knowledgeable and I recommend going out with them at least once.
        Nearby is the Royal Tyrell Museum where much of hte scientific work on the bonebed is launched from.; The park itself is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

        And if you are travelling the area anyway don’t miss Head-Smashed-In for a look at the native peoples’ stories. There’s a great museum there ans well as performances.

      • Lucy Dodsworth
        August 27, 2020 at 5:41 pm

        Thanks for the tip, sounds like a really interesting place!

  • Reply
    February 8, 2020 at 8:44 am

    Beautiful article with great pictures. Hace always dreamed of traveling by RV

    • Reply
      February 10, 2020 at 3:48 pm

      Thanks, yes it’s a great way to explore Canada!

  • Reply
    Dennis Pratt
    February 18, 2020 at 1:41 am

    We just spent a month in Newfoundland over and back via Port Aux Basques because ti was the shortest (least expensive) ferry trip. On retrospect next time I will take the longer route to Placentia and cross the island once only. The cost in extra fuel would have matched the extra cost of the longer ferry ride but would have allowed extra time along the way.
    We had the greatest time ever people and places were outstanding. Saw iceburgs, whales, moose right up to the side of the truck. Sat in sunny Dildo at the Dildo brewery drinking Dildo beer. Next time the wife and I would like to spend a summer traveling around the island with a cross over to Labrador and then the Trans Labrador Highway.
    Keep on going and take your time, see the sights.
    The wife and I travel in an F250 with an Artic Fox 811 truck camper towing a 12 ft enclosed trailer with all the toys.

    • Reply
      February 25, 2020 at 4:49 pm

      Sounds fabulous, Newfoundland is one part of Canada I’ve been longing to visit.

  • Reply
    Marcel Gassner
    July 8, 2020 at 9:39 pm

    Awesome story and pictures, Lucy!

    Thank you so much for doing all that work and then sharing it with us.

    I know how much work it is as I just did the same at a blog I just published.

    My blog isn’t nearly as polished as yours but I would love it if you could check it out.

  • Reply
    March 12, 2021 at 12:23 pm

    This is such a wonderful read!! Lot’s of great advice! My Fiance and I are planning on doing a cross-Canada RVing trip for our Honeymoon in October. We’ll have about 4 weeks to plan for! And you answered all of our questions we’ve been worrying about! We feel much more confident in our decision to go for it!

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      March 24, 2021 at 8:51 pm

      That’s great to hear – hope you have a fantastic honeymoon!

  • Reply
    May 25, 2021 at 8:59 am

    Hi Lucy, this is all very useful, thank you. We’re looking at having a couple of weeks around Canada in an RV next summer, mostly on the east coast. What sort of distances would you say are realistic? I’m trying to come up with an itinerary that balances getting round as much as possible with having time to stop and enjoy places, rather than just driving 12 hours a day.

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