FAQ about Backpacking Canada

Throughout the years I’ve received countless emails from readers, asking all sorts of questions. In order to save future readers some time I figured I’d put together a bit of a Frequently Asked Questions for those keen on backpacking Canada.

I’m not from Canada but plan on backpacking and traveling there this summer. I was also hoping to do some work, how easy is it to get a working visa?

Basically you’ve got a couple options. You can fly by the seat of your pants and show up in Canada and travel and worry about the work visa later, some hostels will even help you apply. But going this route you do potentially risk not getting a work visa by the time you actually need it. (ie job shows up, legally you can’t take it)

What I’d recommend you look into is a local “SWAP” type program. Here in Canada we have www.swap.ca – swap = students working abroad program (note: you don’t have to be a student, just under 30 I think).

A lot of universities in Canada help students plan these working holidays. I would imagine Australia may have the same type of programs. If not, I’d check out STA Travel. When I was in Australia they were a huge help while I was working and traveling. They can answer pretty much any of the questions you may have and can even help book the whole shin-dig.

Check out http://www.statravel.com.au/ or better yet check out their “Work in Canada” experiences section – http://www.statravel.com.au/working-in-canada.htm

STA Travel can even provide packets of information to better educate you what steps need to be taken in order to have the time of your life traveling and working and being as awesome as you humanly can be. :P

When I got my working holiday visa for Australia and New Zealand these packages STA Travel (or SWAP in Canada) sets up, made the whole process a piece of cake. Just a matter of saving up some money and following their steps.

Hope this was kind of useful. I wish I could help more! Let me know if there’s anything else I can do to help.

Best of luck in the travel planning!

Have you ever seen a bear?

Yep. Seen several. Camping in Saskatchewan I came across a Blackbear, in Alberta while mountain biking I came across a mother bear and 2 cubs, which scared the heck out of me, as I know how crazy moms gets around the little ones. Thankfully she didn’t chase. And lastly I saw a grizzly bear (those guys are HUGE) along the highway while I was on a Moose Travel bus with a group of other backpackers. Thankfully we got to watch from a safe distance but it was pretty wild! Beautiful and powerful creatures!

I’ve also seen two polar bears in the wild, while I was up in Churchill Manitoba. Thankfully I was seeing them from quite a distance.

Got any tips on packing with no cash? I plan to pack across the country, but im broke. This would be my first time going on a trip. Oh, also any tips on finding a packing buddy?

Definitely look into WWOOFing http://www.wwoof.ca/. Farmers and people from across Canada let people stay and live for free in exchange for a few hours of work per day. Most of them are farms of some sort and just need help here and there. Typically the hosts are awesome and will drive you to your next stop, which can cut down on time spent with your thumb out. I believe there is a sign up fee but once you pay for your year you have access to their entire database.
As for the packing buddy – start off in any backpacker friendly town and I’m sure you’ll come across another broke maverick such as yourself. Vancouver, Banff, Toronto, Montreal. If you can afford to stay there for a few days you’ll probably have some luck. Stick up a poster on the hostels bulletin board and I’m sure you can find somebody!

How much money do I need to backpack Canada

There’ll always be exceptions to this. Some people can live comfortably off less than others. Those who don’t require the luxuries of a hostel can clearly get away with substantially less, but lets budget on the high-end. Hostels are going to set you back on average $35.00 per night. You’ll also want to budget $5 – $10 for food. Then there’s the chance of meeting some new people and realizing you want to share a few beers with your new friends. A pint of beer typically will set you back around $5, so you’d better budget for $20. That all works out to a grand total of $60 – $65.00 per day. That doesn’t including budgeting for the occasional tour you might find yourself on. Of course if you can resist the temptation of a cold beer & a hostel bed you can definitely get away with less.
Consider spending some time WWOOFing, HelpXing or even camping. Even a couple weeks off the hostel/backpacker circuit can save you some hefty amounts of beer.

Is Canada as expensive as they say?

Mostly yes. Food, beer, and even hostel & hotel beds can be on the pricy end of budget travel. While that might scare you off, remember, it’s scared off countless others before you. Those that have made peace with the higher costs are there for a reason. To see the great outdoors, experience a different part of North America, and to find out how Canada ticks. There is no short supply of backpackers & travellers with stories to tell.

I want to my own “Into the Wild” type of adventure (minus the dying part). Can I get to the NWT, Yukon, or Nunavut for cheap?

Totally do-able. But I urge you to consider taking some survival training. There are countless hostels that are off the grid, chalk full of outdoorsy types. Find a local that has done what you plan on doing before. Pay for some training if need be, and ensure you have all the proper outdoor gear to keep you alive.
The Yukon is the cheapest territory to get to due to its easier accessibility. So I’d say start there!

If you need to ask a specific question and think I might be able to help, feel free to contact me!