Canada road trip costs – money saving tips

Are you planning your canada road trip right now?? In this blog post we have tested our canada road trip costs and also give you tips on how you can save a penny or two during your trip.

We have spent a total of nine months in canada with our working holiday visa. During this time we worked almost seven months in the canadian winter in banff (alberta). if you would like to know more about our work in canada, please have a look here. in the middle of june we left our job in banff and drove across the rocky mountains to vancouver island. the most beautiful sights along the icefield parkway you can find in this article.

canada road trip costs - money saving tips

Our route through the west of canada

canada is the second largest country on earth and certainly has a lot more to offer, but in this blog post we refer to the western part of the country, from victoria and british columbia to alberta.

Full of anticipation for the big road trip

canada road trip costs – two months with the camper

We present you the costs for the road trip in different points:

  • Grocery
  • Gasoline prices
  • camping costs

1. groceries

We have been traveling around the world for almost five years now. At the beginning of the journey, at that time still in Australia, our food consisted largely of toast and noodles with tomato sauce. The fact that our food in germany is very diverse and, above all, cheap, is something you only really notice when you visit other countries such as australia, new zealand, the uSA and, of course, canada.

In the meantime, we have raised our food expectations a bit and therefore spend slightly more than the possible minimum and try to eat a healthy and balanced diet.

on average our food expenses for two people were 20$ per day.

the cheapest supermarket in canada

The real canadian superstore was the cheapest place to buy. these supermarkets are mostly found in big cities like calgary, vancouver or victoria and the prices are much cheaper than at IGA and saveonfoods. so it is often worthwhile to stock up in the cities before heading into the canadian wilderness. by the way, the most expensive supermarket on our trip was in jasper in alberta. Sometimes you just have to buy a carton of milk or a loaf of bread here and there.

Between the states of british columbia and alberta we could not find any significant price differences for food.

membership cards

a great tip for saving money at the supermarkets are membership cards! In every supermarket you will be asked for your membership card at the cash desk. These should always go to the checkout at his first visit to get! At saveonfoods it is the "more rewards" card, at IGA it is the "airmiles" and at the real canadian superstore it is the "PC-optimum card".


for every purchase at IGA or safeway you get airmiles. On certain items in the offer even double the number. Collect 90 points (as of 11.2019) you get 10$ refund on the whole purchase.

More rewards

With the more rewards card you can get certain offers, especially at saveonfoods, like a pack of eggs for a special price or a certain coffee. If you don’t have this card, you have to pay the normal price, which is only written very small on the price tag in the corner. So with the more rewards card you can save 15$ on your total purchase. at the real canadian superstore the same principle applies only with the PC-optimum card.

The exception: COSTCO

The wholesale costco can be compared with the metro in germany. Here you can find rather big packs, but at a quite reasonable price. The big disadvantage here in Canada and the USA is that you can only enter the store with a valid membership card. This must be purchased in advance and costs on the internet for example 60$.

Cost of a costco membership

Paying a $60 fee just to go shopping at the supermarket sounded crazy to us in the beginning and that’s why we never decided to join. Over the course of a year, however, the potential savings may make it worth your while. For a few weeks or months probably not.

A big advantage of costco are the gas stations and this brings us to the next point!

2. gasoline prices

During our trip around the world we have driven over 80.000 kilometers ridden in over four countries. But none of our previous campervans had such a high fuel consumption as our camper van in canada. A whopping 25 liters per 100 kilometers on average!

Since every traveler in canada drives different amounts per day and the cars consume different amounts, it makes no sense to indicate the expenditure for gasoline per day. Therefore we list now the gasoline prices of different places for you.

a very helpful cell phone app for us was "gas buddy. Here you can always see the cheapest gas station in the area. In addition, you can see on a map view all gas stations, as well as the prices in real time. the app also works in the USA, which was helpful for our later trip.

Prices vary on average from $1.50 per liter in vancouver, BC to $0.75 per liter in edmonton, AB.

Also in British Columbia: 1.50$ per liter in vancouver, 1,45$ per liter on vancouver island and kamloops with 1,20$ per liter.

Alberta: $1.10 per liter in canmore, calgary averages $0.90 per liter and edmonton at an incredible $0.75 per liter!

It should be noted that gasoline prices in alberta are significantly lower than in british columbia. reason for this seems to be the increased taxes. because alberta is one of the major oil producers in the country.

3. camping

Apps as a tool

to keep our canada road trip costs as low as possible, we often wild camped. to find free and paid campgrounds we used the mobile apps ioverlander as well as wikicamps. Here you can see all campsites on an interactive map including prices, pictures and ratings from other travelers.

with the help of the apps it is possible to find a free place to sleep for the night almost every night. In the national parks you can not avoid paying for a camping site. but in return you are in beautiful nature.

canada road trip costs - money saving tips

campground prices

Prices for campgrounds range from an average of $15.70 for a nice site in the rocky mountains (government campground), to $35 for a private campground near tofino on vancouver island. especially on vancouver island prices rise rapidly in summer. state campgrounds are not found as often as in the rocky mountains and so only private campgrounds remain, especially around tofino. Wild camping is forbidden in the national parks as always, but still possible here and there, if you are well informed beforehand.

If you have already planned your road trip completely, it is advisable to reserve the campsites in advance as well. Our plans usually changed daily and we often didn’t know where we would be the next day. Therefore, we could not reserve our sleeping places in advance and often had to take what was left over.

On average we paid 7,5$ per night for two persons with a mixture of wildcamping, paid state campgrounds and one or two private campgrounds during our road trip. The coolest place to sleep we found on vancouver island right next to a waterfall on a cliff in the forest on ioverlander.

canada road trip costs - money saving tips

We always find our camps with wikicamps or ioverlander

national park pass

To visit the canadian national parks you need an entrance ticket; a national park pass. There are two options, either a day ticket or an annual pass. The discovery pass is available as an individual, senior or family/group ticket. Prices vary for one-way tickets in the parks. If you don’t know if an annual ticket is worth it or if you can get away cheaper with a day ticket, you have to do a little math. a day pass costs on average $10 per person. very important for all who travel with children: since 01.01.2018 canadian national parks are free for children and youth up to 18 years of age!

This is how much the discovery pass costs for one year*:

  • Adult: $69.19
  • Seniors: $59.17
  • family/group: $139.40

(*prices: as of january 2020)

We bought the group card and were thus able to take friends with us in our car from time to time. you can buy your discovery pass online here or with cash or card at any canadian national park.

conclusion to our canada road trip costs

We hope that this article has given you some insight into the canada road trip costs give you. On the whole, we would classify canada as a rather inexpensive country compared to our other travelled countries such as australia, new zealand and the united states. Above all, the state campsites are affordable and do not always have to be reserved in advance. food is more expensive than in germany and comparable to australia or new zealand. If you have any questions about the costs or about canada in general, please feel free to leave a comment below.

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Christina Cherry
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