Travel on the Cheap: FAQ and Review of Renting an RV to tour the Canadian Rockies
When we started brainstorming options for our Honeymoon, Rachael and I were both unaware of how much adventure we could cram into two weeks by renting an RV and road-tripping through the Canadian Rockies.
Why Cruise America (Canada)?
We researched a few other RV rental companies (Canada Dream mostly) and they were more expensive and not nearly as flexible with dates and costs. We got a seasonal deal with Cruise Canada (same company as Cruise America) and it cost us almost half as much with CC as it would have with Canada Dream.
Why an RV?
Cost. One alternative is to camp, but campsites are around $12-20/night not to mention the cost of renting camping equipment that could withstand the cold of October in Alberta which ranged anywhere from $20-100/night which isn’t any cheaper than the RV. The RV cost us just under $1000 CAD after renting pots and pans for the 8 nights. Hotels in Banff and Jasper averaged around $150/night not to mention the cost of a rental car or shuttle to drive us to cool places. In the RV it was one cost for the whole trip and we only had to worry about one reservation.
Convenience. Everything was in the RV! Just like when we travel in the bus, all of the things that we needed were tucked away in the RV, ready for any hike or adventure that arose. We could go from sleeping to hiking in a couple of minutes and the RV was secure and safe anywhere that we visited in Alberta and British Columbia. All we had to pack was a sleeping bag and we were set!
How terrible was living in an RV for over a week?
You are asking a couple who want to live full-time in a school bus, but past that, the RV was great! Everything worked and was clean when we picked up the unit. We used the propane stove and heater throughout the whole time we were in the rig and it worked flawlessly. The refrigerator ran off of electric and propane and we only refilled the propane tank once to the effect of about $25CAD.
The RV only had 100k miles on it and appeared to be basically new. It drove fine for as large of a vehicle as it was and we only had to put air in 1 tire on one occasion. We literally just drove it, slept in it, and took it back.
How brutal was dealing with Cruise Canada (America)?
I too have read some of the reviews online about Cruise Canada and I was initially very skeptic. I had planned to walk around the whole rig with a GoPro filming all of the little problems and blemishes, similar to the experience of renting a cheap apartment in a college town. However, our experience with CC was very good. Customer service was right on and we spent a total of about 20 minutes at their location, total. The check-in was fast and painless. Below are a couple of tips to help your process go smoothly:
- Don’t plan on starting your rental on a weekend. We started and ended our rental on a weekday and we hardly saw anyone else at the location.
- Have all of your paperwork in order. Make sure that you watch the safety video that they send to you ahead of time. And provide all of the needed licenses and agreements when you get to the counter.
- Be familiar with the general operation of a Recreation Vehicle before you rent someone else’s $60,000+ rig. Understand how propane, electric, and water systems work. It’s simple.
Do you have to stay in Campgrounds?
Yes and no. To use the 110V appliances like the AC unit and the microwave, you must be connected to shore power in a campground or driveway. The rest of the appliances/lights/etc are 2-way, meaning they can run on the “house” battery for a short period of time. We only paid for camping 2 nights out of the 9 that we stayed in the RV.
Look for highway turnoffs, abandoned parking lots, and free RV parking signs and eat your heart out. One of our favorite nights of the trip was in a “Free RV Parking” area at the Crossing Gas Station/Motel/Pub.
Where did you poop?
This is a super common question that we often get with the bus life and the answer is the same, public restrooms and the woods are everywhere, especially in Canada. We did not use the RV washroom for #2 once. We utilized the always present forest or public restrooms when were near a city or town. Just think of how many trailhead, coffee shop, visitor center bathrooms that you see every day of a trip. Now just plan your day a little bit ahead of time and you too will not let the poo control your adventures.
Bonus tip: Always bring TP. An extra roll of toilet paper can save the day. We bought a small 4 pack when we landed and donated what was left to our AirBnB host in Calgary before we flew out…A small price to pay for comfortable BM’s.
If you have ever rented an RV and had a hack or suggestion that could help us the next time we rent, please drop a comment or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, keep up to date with our adventures on Instagram and YouTube @okienomads.
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