Alright so you’ve just arrived in Canada and need a place to crash. And that place needs to be as inexpensive as possible. Who wants to spend all that money on a bed when there’s so much to see.
Hostels & budget backpackers are few and far between in Canada. Unfortunately the backpacking industry here has hardly taken off compared to other places, such as Europe and Australia, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It just means there is that much more to explore for yourself. There are countless resources out there which can help you find your next hostel / budget accommodation.
The first thing worth mentioning is that Hostels will normally only be found in major city centres. If there’s a relatively good population, chances are they’ll have at least one. Keep in mind however, the standards of hostels here compared to say Australia (Where finding a hostel with a pool can be found on almost every corner) are very different. They provide you with a single bed (normally bunk-bed style, unless you go for a private-double), a pillow, and occasionally sheets. Almost all of them will have a self-catering kitchen for you to cook up those two-minute noodles we’ve all grown to love. The bare necessities of budget travel, if you will. Depending on the location some hostels will provide you with a cheap meal, normally only hostels that are found above or beside a pub/bar.
Hostel costs vary, so I don’t think I’ll even bother going too much into this. I suggest you budget for $25-30 dollars for a single bed, and $50-70 for a private double bed. Seasons will affect prices, as will demand. I recommend you check out these two websites. Hostels.com primarily revolves around private hostels/backpackers, a great website with reviews, costs, photos, locations, etc. Where HI Hostels (Hostelling International Canada) will show you every hostel on their network throughout Canada, including pictures, reviews, discounts, costs, activities, etc. Both are valuable resources and I highly suggest you bookmark these.
Now, if doing the hostel scene isn’t your thing then there are a coupe alternatives. If you came to see nature at its finest, and the thought of roughing it outdoors makes you salivate at the mouth, then camping might be for you. And what better place to do it than the Canadian wilderness.
There are hundreds of campgrounds across Canada. Finding them is extremely easy. Camping signs (like the one to the left) can be seen on just about any highway. If you have a copy of Lonely Planet Canada, many of the campgrounds can be found in them. For those who can’t be bothered to carry a two pound book around, you can always check out CampCanada.com – This website is more than able to help you find your next campground.
I spent last summer camping across western Canada. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. First off, you can’t beat the price. $10-25 for a campsite, split between two or three people and you have yourself some of the cheapest accommodation around. Second, almost every campground is located near some form of water. Whether that’s a rushing river, a calm lake or a gentle stream, the scenery in and around camping areas is next to none. There’s always things to do and people to meet. Most campgrounds will have full bathroom facilities (toilet, shower, sink, etc), but keep in mind there are still quite a few campgrounds without electricity, water, nor full facilities. The campgrounds without tend to be a lot cheaper. Just keep that in mind when you pull into the nearest campgrounds.
Almost all campgrounds will allow you have to have a fire lit, which is great, because campfire songs just don’t seem to work without the fire. There are however the occasional restrictions, the campgrounds will explain upon your arrival.
You may or may not have heard about this fantastic program. It’s called Couch Surfing. The concept is that you contact people through this website who have a couch (or bed, piece of floor, cot, etc) available, and you stay with them for a pre-determined amount of time, all for free! You may be smacking yourself in the face right now, asking how!? What’s the catch!? Stop the abuse, and I’ll explain. Couchsurfing is a community, all they expect is that when you have a couch available, you’ll allow others to stay through their website. It’s kind of a combination of “Pay it Forward” and being part of a student exchange. The people gladly take you in, will show you life in their town, through a locals eyes. It’s a superb way to meet people with a passion for life and travel. And best of all, there are couches available all over the world. Including Canada! So sign up and check it out!
Each of the options I’ve informed you about are great ways to meet people. Whether you’re looking for a party, a sunset, or a friend, Canadians are more than happy to help. Canada is a friendly nation, don’t be surprised when you get taken under someone’s wing.