Camping in Canada – Our Questions, Experiences & Tips

Categories: Travel reports, North America, Canada

Holidays with the camper or motorhome in Canada – for many probably quite normal, but for us it was actually the first time. We have never been on the road with a caravan, but we always wanted to try it out. But what if you don’t have any camping experience at all? When planning our trip, we had of course many questions: What do you have to pay attention to? What are you allowed to do, what are you not allowed to do? To help you plan your camping trip, we have collected our questions, answers and tips.

Canada Camper Round Trip Header Image

On the road with a camper for the first time? These were our questions!

We were absolute camper newbies. And especially when planning such a trip, you naturally ask yourself a lot of questions: What do we have to pay attention to? Will it be totally complicated or in the end everything will be completely simple? The following questions were the ones we asked ourselves before our round trip with the caravan. And we can reassure you – even as absolute camper newcomers, all this can be easily accomplished 🙂

What kind of camper do we take?

First, we did a little research on what the typical camper models for a round trip in North America are. And in the end, you will find the right vehicle for all needs. From smaller pick-ups, to motorhomes of different sizes to huge converted coaches. Above all, it was important to us that we have enough space for ourselves and our little one, that there is a toilet with us and, at best, our own shower.

After some research, there were most of the offers from the providers CanaDream, Cruise Canada, Four Seasons and Fraserway. In the end, we chose a “C30 Large Motorhome” from Cruise Canada. This is the provider’s largest model. Of course, a “C25 Standard Motorhome” would have been enough from the place. But on the one hand, the larger model was 200 EUR cheaper to rent in our period, it also has a generator, so that you can operate everything independently of an external power connection and we liked it a little better from the layout of the interior. In the vehicle width (2.54 meters) and in the vehicle height (3.72 meters) both models are completely identical – only in length they differ slightly. But whether the car is now 7.60 meters or 9.10 meters long, then no longer makes a huge difference when driving. 😉 A little further down in our post you will also find pictures of our C30 camper and in comparison pictures of the slightly smaller C25 model.

And once you are at a Canadian campsite, you will quickly realize that even with the C30 model you still have one of the “smaller caravans” – especially compared to the permanent campers. They have huge trailers, some with slide-out possibilities to all sides. Or you can see caravans the size of coaches.

Where to book a camper for Canada?

Ultimately, it’s like renting a car – there are countless providers where you can rent campers in Canada or the USA. We booked our camper through the German provider Drive Canada. For us, Drive Canada offered the best value for money at this time. Above all, unlimited kilometers, the full insurance package incl. a refund of the excess in case of damage, as well as free camping and household equipment (dishes, pots, cutlery, duvets, pillows, towels, etc.).

When booking, you should note that after a long-haul flight, the vehicle can only be taken over the following day. That’s the law in Canada.

How much does a camping holiday in Canada cost?

Especially in the high season, campers in Canada can be scarce and expensive. We were lucky as Labour Day was on 6 September 2021 and from then on the low season starts. This was perfect for our arrival on September 9, 2021. For 16 days from/to Montreal we have incl. unlimited kilometers, all insurances (Super-Unlimited-PLUS) and the full equipment (camping and household equipment) 2,613 EUR paid, so the equivalent of around 174 EUR per day. This is certainly not a bargain, but in the high season the same motorhome costs almost 60% more at 4,200 EUR. Smaller campers (C19 or C25) usually cost a little less.

Also the prices for the campsites can be very different – depending on the location, equipment and season. We paid here in September (low season) for a “Full Hook-up – 3 Services 30 Amps” pitch between 42 CAD and 72 CAD per night.

What you also have to take into account are the taxi costs for the round trip to the Cruise Canada rental station in Montreal (63 CAD and 85 CAD) as well as the trips from the campsites in Quebec City (52 CAD) and Ottawa (94 CAD) to the city center. In general, we have discovered UBER for us in Canada, as a ride here is a bit cheaper than a normal taxi. Although we would have liked to travel more by public transport, but the connection from the campsites was usually very poor. The bus connection from the campsite to the city was only ideal in Niagara Falls and in Toronto we took the caravan to a large Walmart parking lot on the outskirts of the city and from there continued by metro to Downtown. Nevertheless, taxi/UBER costs of about 200 EUR have come together again.

Overall, we had the following costs for our camper in the 16 days:

Rental price for campers: 2.613 EUR
Fuel costs for 3,272 kilometers: 860.66 EUR (1240.93 CAD)
Propane gas: 20,93 EUR (29,30 CAD)
UBER/taxi cost: 203,90 EUR (294 CAD)
Campsites: 445,25 EUR (642,04 CAD)
——————————————————–
Total cost of camping: 4.143,74 EUR

In addition, of course, there are the costs for food, activities or admission to the national parks. For comparison with the camping we also had the prices for a rental car (small SUV) incl. of all insurance companies selected from billiger-mietwagen.de. This would have cost 1,600 EUR for the 16 days in our time. If you include the fuel costs of maybe 400 EUR, then we would have had 143 EUR per night for a hotel or a holiday apartment available for the 15 nights. With that you could have found nice offers. We don’t know what it’s like in other countries, but camping in Canada is by no means cheap.

Is it easy to drive such a large car?

In fact, we have never driven a car over 9 meters long before. Therefore, this point was certainly one of the most exciting moments on holiday 🙂 But we can reassure you: the first kilometers you drive very carefully, everything feels unfamiliar, every corner is driven gaaaaaanz slowly. But after just a few hours on the road, you feel safer and safer and in the end, driving was no longer a big problem, even in cities. And the streets and parking lots in Canada are usually a bit bigger than you are used to from home.

Where you have to be most careful from our point of view is the behavior of such a large caravan in a curve. Because here the radius is simply a completely different one than with a normal car. Not only the huge turning circle is important, but above all the swivelling of the rear when turning. How the caravan behaves in a curve can best be seen in this video about the Motorhome C30 on YouTube. From minute 7:52 you can see quite well how the rear swings out when turning. The video really helped us because it is one of the most important points to keep in mind while driving.

Another point is reversing. Unfortunately, the C30 from Cruise Canada does not have a rear view camera! We absolutely can´t understand this with a model from 2019. This should have long been part of the standard equipment – especially because of the safety. Other models from other rental providers have already integrated a rear camera. There are beeping parking sensors when reversing, but they are not really helpful. Therefore, when parking, you have to drive a lot over the exterior mirrors or – as we have often done – someone has to get out and instruct you.

Overall, however, we drove the more than 3,200 kilometers safely and accident-free through Canada.

Where is the best place to stay with a motorhome?

Our idea of camping has always been that you are quite independent and can spend the night wherever you are. So somewhere in a parking lot on the street or, if necessary, in a large supermarket parking lot. But unfortunately this is not the case. In national parks and large cities, wild camping is generally prohibited in Canada and can result in severe fines. Especially in public parking lots you will often find a sign with “No camping or overnight parking”. There are occasional exceptions if you are e.B. in a National Forest.

At first it was planned that we would stay at least 2 nights in Ottawa in a Walmart parking lot (location in Google Maps) because this is usually doused by Walmart. But also here you should always inform yourself in advance and if necessary. also ask at the respective Walmart. Since all this was too uncertain for us and the pitch on the road would probably have been much too noisy for us, we finally decided to always stay at official campsites. In retrospect, this was also a very good decision, because we had an electricity and fresh water connection every day and also the possibility to drain the service and dirty water (dumping).

How does it work with the wastewater in the camper?

Of course, this is also a point that you think about as a camping newcomer. Is it very complicated? Does it smell unpleasant? Does it make you dirty? But here, too, we can reassure you. This is all totally easy and clean. It is ideal if you have your own sewage connection (sewer) directly at the camping site. Otherwise, you simply drive with the caravan to the dumping station on the campground. You pull a long hose out of the corresponding device in the camper, insert one end into the sewage hole, connect the other end to the sewage connections and open the valves. That’s it. We had bought some disposable gloves in advance, as the hose can get dirty and wet due to rain or mud. But otherwise it’s all a pretty clean and quick affair.

An explanatory video can be found from minute 16:42 on YouTube.

What do you pack, what do you buy locally?

Especially as a camping newcomer, you have no idea what to take with you for your camping holiday. Of course, this is also a question of space and weight in the suitcase. Since we had already been in the Dominican Republic for 9 days before, our suitcase was generally quite full for 4 weeks, so we did not take so much from home. But here are a few little things that we have packed in our suitcase:

Packsafe travel bag for storing valuables
– Rechargeable USB flashlight
Universal travel adapter with USB port
3 socket strip
– Slippers
– Bath towels
– a vegetable peeler
– a good knife
– Food storage boxes and cling bags
Freshness clips
– Disposable gloves
– our own pillows 🙂

In addition to the things mentioned here, we were the first to equip ourselves with other things for the trip after the vehicle takeover in Walmart and DollarTree:

– Wipe Mop
– Sweeping shovel and baffle
– Dish soap, shower gel, shampoo
– Garbage bags
– Organic additives for the toilet (available in the Walmart Supercenter in the camping department, similar to this one here on Amazon)
– and of course a whole lot of food

What about the child seat for the caravan in Canada?

Our little one was 13 months old on the trip. Of course, a child seat is mandatory! Unfortunately, a child seat cannot be rented through Cruise Canada. So there is only the possibility to bring your own child seat from Germany or to buy one locally. However, since the EU child seats do not necessarily fit into every camper in North America, we decided to buy a seat directly on site. Here, too, you will find a fairly large selection in the Walmart Supercenter. Prices range from 100 CAD to 400 CAD.

We opted for a model from Evenflo for 100 CAD (+ VAT), so around 75 EUR. A really good price! This child seat was perfectly ok for us in terms of size and value for money. Unfortunately, there is neither an ISO-Fix device on the seat nor in the camper. The seat must therefore be attached to the bench with the help of the belts. With a little fiddling we placed the seat quite safely on the bench and our little one sat in it great. By the way, Walmart offers a 90-day return and exchange right for all child seats in case you are not satisfied with your selected model.

Walmart does accept returns of used and unboxed car seats within 90 days of purchase in 2021. If for whatever reason you are unhappy with the car seat, whether it is the quality, size, durability, etc, you can receive a full refund when a receipt is provided. Without a receipt, you may receive an exchange or store credit.

What is the best prepaid SIM card for Canada?

On a 3,000-kilometer journey through Canada, it was extremely important for us to always be mobile connected. Whether for researching, booking or even for the current navigation. Therefore, we have previously equipped ourselves with a corresponding prepaid SIM card for North America (USA, Canada and Mexico). As always, we ordered these directly from Amazon and received them the next day.

Finding the right card was not so easy, because most prepaid cards (such as this one ) have a large data volume for the USA (50GB), but only very little for Canada (5GB). Our card had 22GB LTE data in Canada plus unlimited local calls and SMS for 21 days and cost 39.99 EUR. We stayed in Canada for a total of 19 days so this was a perfect fit. The reception was excellent everywhere. In the beginning we had problems with the activation of the card and the mobile data in our phone. &then sent us a text message with the note:

We ́re sorry, but the phone you recently tried to use will not work on our network. Don’t worry, make a call now to any number and it will be redirected to an&representative to help you.

We then called the&service and the customer service then manually unlocked the prepaid card for our Samsung S21 phone. After a restart, it ran without any problems. We were mostly on the network of “Rogers”, which is the roaming partner of AT&T in Canada. Please note that tethering/hotspot for another mobile phone with this card is unfortunately not possible.

Our caravan for the round trip through the east of Canada

The rental station of “Cruise Canada” in Montreal

Cruise Canada’s rental station in Montreal is located just outside the city center in the Sainte-Rose district (198 Bd du Curé-Labelle, Sainte-Rose, QC H7L 3A1, Canada – location in Google Maps). From Montreal Airport this is 25 kilometers and we paid 60 CAD for the taxi ride from our Hotel Quality Inn & Suites Montreal Airport near the airport to the rental station, so the equivalent of around 42 EUR. When we finally returned our motorhome, we took the taxi from the rental station to our hotel AC Hotel by Marriott Montreal in Downtown Montreal for 85 CAD (59 EUR).

Our Camper “C30 Large Motorhome”

The “C30” is Cruise Canada’s largest motorhome and can accommodate up to 7 people. Our model was built in 2019 and had almost 100,000 kilometers on the speedometer. The caravan has a total length of 9.10 meters, a width of 2.54 meters and a vehicle height of 3.72 meters. The fresh water tank holds 151 liters, the service water tank (shower & flush and sink) 83 liters and the dirty water tank (toilet) 94 liters. The petrol tank holds 208 litres and is refuelled with normal petrol, i.e. no diesel.

For the gas stove and for the operation of the refrigerator while driving, a propane tank with a capacity of 46 liters is available. Although we cooked almost every night, we only used about half in our 2 weeks. But it’s also not quite as easy to refill the propane tank. You can’t do that yourself and are therefore dependent on an appropriate service station. And we didn’t find them so easily. If your propane gas is running out, it is best to ask for a refill station nearby at the campsites. Either the campsites offer the refill service themselves or at least know which dealer in the area offers the opportunity to do so.

You can get the best insight into the C30 Camper from Cruise Canada in the video tour on YouTube. There everything is also explained in detail, starting with the cruise control, the tow/hall assistant, how to fill the caravan with fresh water or connect it to the water supply of the campsite, how to dispose of the wastewater or how to supply the camper with electricity.

The interior of our camper

We generally liked the equipment of our camper very much, even if the interior looks a bit old-fashioned. You have a table with space for 4 people, a small kitchen with gas stove and microwave, a large refrigerator incl. separate freezer, a toilet with sink, a separate shower, air conditioning and heating, a large bed in the rear area (152×188) and a sleeping area above the driver’s cab (145×244). You can also convert the sitting area and the couch to other sleeping possibilities, but we did not use that.

Due to our additional packages included in the booking, we were equipped with everything necessary in the kitchen. We had a pan, 2 pots, plates, bowls, cups, cutlery and various cooking utensils. The camping equipment also included includes a large sleeping blanket, a pillow, covers, a washcloth, a tea towel and a small and large towel per person.

The toilet works normally like at home, which means that you can also flush down paper in it normally. To avoid odors in the waste water tank, you can still add chemicals during the rinse cycle. We had bought something like this (similar to this product here) in the camping department in the Walmart Superstore. To shower you have to turn on the heater beforehand, then you have enough warm water. The shower is large enough, it somehow only lacks a window for ventilation.

What we still lacked in the camper was e.B. an oven in the kitchen. This is usually available with other providers and that would have been practical. A rear view camera was also missing. There was also no TV, but we didn’t miss it at all. 😉

What we did first, however, is a thorough cleaning. Especially the floors were very dirty, which is not so great when our little daughter runs around or crawls everywhere. From then on, we always took off our shoes before entering the camper and slipped into our slippers. Somewhat impractical we found that there is no real trash can or similar. Therefore, we always had to take loose garbage bags and usually stowed them on the stairs.

For comparison: The smaller camper “C25 Standard”

We also had the opportunity to take some pictures of the slightly smaller model C25 for comparison in the parking lot of Cruise Canada. Overall, this model is about 1.50 meters shorter than the C30 and differs mainly in a slightly different arrangement of bed and bath / shower and a slightly smaller couch. In addition, the C25 has no generator.

Our itinerary through Eastern Canada

Starting from the city of Montreal, we have deliberately designed our 16-day itinerary through eastern Canada so that we can connect all major cities such as Toronto, Ottawa and Quebec City, and also see some of the many national parks and natural wonders such as Niagara Falls. The distances in Canada are of course huge. But nevertheless, we tried to divide our route in such a way that we had to drive a maximum of 300-400 kilometers per route. We had also considered whether it would be possible to start in Toronto and then return the caravan to Quebec City “One Way”. But the one-way rentals for a camper in Canada can probably be up to 1,000 CAD depending on the distance as well as the travel time as well as the popularity of the route. That was a bit too much for us. But even so we managed to put together a beautiful round trip with many well-known sights. The result is the following 3,000-kilometer route:

Stage 1: Montreal > La Mauricie National Park > Quebec City > Tadoussac (560 kilometers)

The starting and ending point of our round trip was the city of Montreal. From here we went with our camper first to the La Mauricie National Park and then on to the city of Quebec. The north-easternmost point of our route was then the small coastal town of Tadoussac, which is considered an ideal starting point for whale watching in the St. Lawrence River.

Stage 2: Tadoussac > Ottawa > Algonquin Provincial Park (960 kilometers)

From Tadoussac it went in a long drive 660 kilometers southeast to Ottawa, the capital of Canada. Here we spent 2 nights and then drove further west towards “Algonquin Provincial Park”.

Stage 3: Algonquin Provincial Park > Bruce Peninsula National Park > Niagara Falls (760 kilometers)

From our campsite at the western exit of the national park it was 360 kilometers to the Bruce Peninsula and the “Bruce Peninsula National Park”. Again, we spent 2 nights at a beautiful campsite and drove from there further south to the town of Niagara Falls, where the world-famous waterfalls of the same name are located.

Stage 4: Niagara Falls > Toronto > Thousand Islands National Park > Montreal (670 kilometers)

The last part of our round trip through Canada took us from Niagara Falls first to the metropolis of Toronto. After 2 nights we continued along the St. Lawrence River upstream to Gananoque, the gateway to the “Thousand Islands”. From there we went another 260 kilometers north-east back to Montreal, the starting point of our round trip.

Canada Round Trip East, 2021, Route, Camper, Caravan

Our route by caravan through the east of Canada

In total, we drove almost 3,300 kilometers with our motorhome and explored beautiful regions and cities in eastern Canada. The hoped-for Indian Summer has shown itself in mid/ end of September unfortunately only very sporadically, but mostly the colors of the trees were still rich green. But in the 3 weeks we had almost exclusively nice weather with temperatures well over 20 degrees, which is not self-evident for Canada at this time of year 🙂

We found this route perfect to combine all the major cities and some of the most famous national parks. Certainly we would have liked to stay a little longer at one or the other place, but at least we got a very good insight into the beautiful east of Canada.

Our campsites

Along our route through eastern Canada we were at a total of 9 different campsites.

Campsites, East, Canada, Round Trip

Our 9 campsites in Eastern Canada

(1) La Mauricie National Park: Camping Bivouak
(2) Quebec City: Camping Saint-Esprit
(3) Tadoussac: Camping Tadoussac
(4) Ottawa: Camping Ange-Gardien
(5) Algonquin Provincial Park: Algonquin Pines
(6) Bruce Peninsula National Park: Tobermory Village Campground
(7) Niagara Falls: Scott’s Campground
(8) Toronto: Bronte Creek Provincial Park
(9) Thousand Islands National Park: Ivy Lea Campground

In general, it can be said that all campsites were good. In some, such as .B in Niagara Falls or in the Thousand Islands National Park, you stand more or less close to each other without any special demarcation between the pitches. Others, such as .B the campsite in Bruce Peninsula National Park or toronto, are individual, spatially demarcated parking spaces.

There are other differences, especially in the type of service offered. So we had parking spaces with a “Full Service Hook-Up”, which means a separate connection for electricity, fresh water and sewage directly at the parking space. Some, in turn, only had an electricity and fresh water connection and the wastewater had to be discharged at a central collection point (dumping station). Another distinction is a campsite with “pull-through sites”. With the pull-through parking space, you can drive your vehicle forward in and then forward again. With all others you have to park the camper backwards. Overall, however, this was quite easy on every campsite. A good glossary of the terms related to camping in Canada can be found here.

What bothered us the most was that the Wi-Fi at most campsites on the pitch worked very poorly or not at all. If anything, there was only a good connection at the entrance. We would have expected that differently in Canada, especially since you pay a lot for the pitch. This is especially annoying if you wanted to do the Instagram Stories in the evening in peace and quiet, e.B. or plan your route for the next few days. Fortunately, we always had reception – as described above – at least on a mobile phone thanks to our prepaid SIM card . Only the campsites in Quebec City and Tadoussac really had a great Wi-Fi reception everywhere on the site.

The prices for the pitch were usually between 40 EUR and 55 EUR per night. Especially in the high season, on holidays and on weekends, it is definitely worthwhile to reserve the campsite in good time – especially the sought-after campsites in the national parks.

The cost of fuel for our caravan in Canada

Such a caravan swallows a lot of gasoline. Our tank fit a total of 208 liters and you should expect an average of around 30 liters per 100 kilometers! The cost of gasoline in Canada during our trip was between 1.25 CAD and 1.39 CAD per liter, depending on the region, i.e. just under one euro. A tank of fuel cost us about 180 EUR.

In total, we drove 3,272 kilometers and had fuel costs of 860 EUR. This is the equivalent of costs per kilometer of 0.26 EUR.

Canada, Campers, Caravans, Fuel Costs

The cost of fuel for our camper in Canada

Food prices in Canada

We love shopping in North America. Especially the supermarkets are always extremely exciting. You just see different products than at home. On our previous trips to the USA, we have always been amazed that especially foods such as fruits, vegetables, salad or meat are extremely expensive. Therefore, we were quite positively surprised that the prices in Canada are actually relatively similar to those in Germany. Some things were even cheaper here, some a bit more expensive. At the current rate, you pay only 0.53 EUR for a fresh baguette, 0.46 EUR per pound for bananas or 0.67 EUR for 5 litres of water. Unlike in Germany, however, the prices in Canada are awarded in net. Depending on the state, different taxes such as the GST (Goods and Services Tax, 5%) and the PST (Provincial Sales Tax, 5% to 10%) are added.

Our conclusion on camping holidays in Canada

In general, it was a very nice experience to drive through Canada with the camper. We also felt really comfortable in our caravan. You don’t have to unpack and repack your suitcases every day and can make yourself comfortable for a longer period of time “in your own 4 walls”. For us it was also ideal that we could cook our little ones something fresh every day thanks to our own kitchen in the camper. And the fact that you always have the toilet and shower with you during the trip is also a very big plus.

However, we will not become real campers. Life at the campsite is simply not our thing. In addition, camping is also more expensive than we had suspected at the beginning. As described above, we have for the 16 days incl. Rental price, petrol and campsites over 4,200 EUR spent. In addition, we find it a big disadvantage that you are simply not so mobile with a camper. You can’t even just drive to the big city to do sightseeing there. So you are almost always dependent on taxis or public transport. A rental car – or a caravan with its own car (Travel Trailers) – is much more practical.

Nevertheless, we had a wonderful holiday with our camper, in which we were able to experience breathtaking landscapes, beautiful cities and the great wildlife of Canada.