With more Canadians poised to RV in Canada for the first time, we thought it would be a good idea to create a travel guide to help you make the best of it. After all, road trips in Canada are one of the best ways to explore the world’s second-largest country.
So whether you’re looking for certain tips, laws, or regulations, or just looking for ideas of where to park your RV in Canada, this travel guide will help you make the best decision.
Table of Contents
Best Time for an RV trip in Canada
Like most travel in Canada, the best time to enjoy RV travel is during the summer months. However, spring and fall can be wonderful as well. The main season where RV travel is not ideal would be the winter months when snow and extreme cold blanket much of Canada. However, it’s not just the weather that makes the warmer months the best time for RV travel. Many tourist attractions and campsites are also closed outside of the busy travel period of mid-May to mid-October. Peak season, as you may have guessed by now, is from July to August.
Another thing you may have guessed by now is that July and August are also the busiest time to try and rent an RV in Canada. For this reason, we recommend booking your RV at least six months in advance. In fact, many RV rentals offer discounts to those who book before December 31st.
If peak season travel is not for you, you’ll want to consider late May to June for the spring or September and October for the fall. These months typically see fewer travellers and the weather is milder but still quite nice. If you happen to be RV’ing in Canada in the fall, you may want to consider Eastern Canada, which is the best place to see the fall foliage. Popular destinations include Ontario, Nova Scotia, Quebec, and Newfoundland.
Renting an RV in Canada
Whether you’re looking to RV in Canada for the first time or perhaps considering the purchase of an RV, renting an RV is a great thing to do. After all, RV’s are very expensive, take up a lot of space, and require some intensive maintenance. Many major RV rental companies have locations all across Canada, making it easy to pick up or drop off in different destinations.
In Canada, there are several places to rent an RV from. Some of the most popular places to rent an RV are the major national brands such as GoRVing and Canadream, both of which offer fleets of vehicles for rentals and for purchase. Canadream offers pickup-truck-mounted campers, van campers, and motorhomes of multiple sizes with pickup and drop-off options including Toronto, Montreal, Halifax, Whitehorse, Edmonton, Calgary, and Vancouver.
However, the major RV rental companies are no longer the only players in town. Thanks to the boom in technology, there are other apps like RVezy and Outdoorsy that act as the “Airbnb” of RV rentals. On these sites, RV owners rent out their own RV’s and campervans, all safely done via the app. This creates a lot more options for people like yourself, as well as access to different styles and typically cheaper prices. Even further, there are niche rental companies that offer specialized rentals such as Westfalia campers, Eurovans, and Sprinter vans. These companies include Honest Camper in Coquitlam BC and Just Go Vans on Vancouver Island. There are also Wicked Campers and Escape Campervans.
RV Rentals in Canada
- Cruise Canada
- Fraserway RV
- Wicked Campers
- Escape Campers
- Honest Camper
- Just Go Vans
Who Are The Major RV Manufacturers?
If you’re curious about RV brands, some of the biggest names include Winnebago, Jayco, Airstream, Leisure Travel Vans, Forest River, Thor, and many others. Check out the list of RV manufacturer members of the Canadian Recreational Vehicle Association (CRVA) as a guide for quality, safety and excellence.
What Do You Need to Rent an RV in Canada?
When it comes to renting an RV in Canada, there are two main things you need: a driver’s license and insurance. Most rental companies require the driver to be 21 years of age or older and to have held their full license for one-year minimum. This is not always the case, however, as the minimum age will vary, so it’s important to check with the company of your choice before making a booking.
Depending on your primary vehicle insurance and province of residence, you may also need to buy additional coverage to safely drive the RV. However, RV rental companies will be able to provide you with coverage options. Although credit card insurance typically covers rental cars, it will not cover RV’s.
As mentioned above, the minimum age varies from one supplier to another and is typically between 21 and 25.
Some examples include:
Cité Caravane: 25 years
Fraserway: 21 years
Four Seasons: 21 years
Canadream: 21 years
Cruise Canada: 21 years
Best Time RV: 21 years
Happy Holidays: 21 years
Type of License Needed to Rent an RV in Canada
If you’re new to renting an RV in Canada, you’re probably wondering what type of license you need to operate such a big vehicle. Well, you may be surprised to find out that you don’t actually need a special license at all. As long as you have a normal driver’s license, you’re likely good to go when it comes to renting an RV in Canada.
If you’re Canadian and have a driver’s license, you’re likely good to go. If you’re not Canadian, your license must meet both the following conditions:
- It must use the Latin alphabet.
- Principal and extra drivers must have had their driver’s license for at least 12 months.
For European Driver’s Licenses, a Class B license is required to rent an RV in Canada. Swiss residents must have a pink license.
If you decide to use an international license, don’t forget that you must also have the original license from your country in your possession AT ALL TIMES. Your international license will not be accepted without your original license, and you will not be able to pick up your vehicle. Talk about a bummer of a vacation!
It’s also important to note that the client MUST provide a credit card in the name of the principal driver. That means that, when picking up your RV, you must present a driver’s license and a credit card IN THE SAME NAME.
In general, rental agencies will pre-authorize an amount on your credit card corresponding to the deductible to be paid in the event of an accident.
How Much Does it Cost to Rent an RV in Canada?
The cost of renting an RV in Canada depends on a few variables, like how far you’re planning on travelling and the size of the RV you want to book. On average, you can expect to pay between $75 and $150 per night to rent most small trailers and campervans. Larger trailers and motorhomes could cost anywhere from $100 to $250 per night. Like many rentals, you’ll get cheaper rates the longer you rent it for and the shorter the distance travelled. Unlike cars, RV’s do not typically include unlimited miles.
According to GoRVing Canada, a national resource for all things related to motorhome travel, a 25-foot Class C RV (which is the most popular model) costs about $1,500 to $2,000 per week on average. Something smaller, like a camper van (Class B), often costs between $1,000 to $1,500 per week.
Most RVs come stocked with cookware, bedding, and towels as well as kitchen essentials like cutlery and glassware. However, this is something you should clarify at the time of booking.
Price of Gas in Canada
When planning a road trip in Canada, you’ll need to calculate the cost of fuel. This is often one of the biggest expenses, especially when you’re driving a minibus. Back when we did our 150-day road trip across Canada, we spent about $5,000 in fuel. This was a massive 12 province 27,000-kilometre journey but it was also in a 6-cylinder Honda Pilot and not a massive RV.
Gas prices in Canada always rise in the summer and tend to cost more on the coasts, such as in Vancouver and in Newfoundland. It can also be quite expensive the further north you go. Generally, gas costs about half as much in Canada as in Europe but is about 25-50% more than in the USA.
Want to calculate your gas budget?
- Visit the Natural Resources Canada website, which provides the latest retail fuel prices in Canada by province. (For example “124.3” means that the price is $1.24/litre.)
- Calculate your total distance by using Google Maps or another map-planning tool. We also recommend adding in an additional 20% as it’s impossible to accurately map all the little stops and detours you may make, as well as hills and obstacles that require more fuel.
- Find your RV’s fuel consumption on its technical specifications sheet or by asking the RV rental company. You can also ask them for a fuel estimation, which they might be able to provide.
TIP: Fuel prices tend to be higher from Thursday to Sunday, so you may want to fuel up early in the week to save a few bucks. At least until Tesla makes an RV.
RV Parking in Canada – Where to Stay
Once you have your RV, you’ll need a place to park it! The obvious place would be at RV-included campgrounds, which we’re assuming is the reason you want an RV in the first place. However, this is not always the case. Below are some of the options for parking your RV in Canada.
First off, if you’re someone thinking about living in an RV full-time, there are additional factors to consider. Although it is perfectly legal to do so, you will need to find an RV park that has hookups. If you’re looking for “free camping”, it gets a little tougher as you’ll need to find an unowned piece of land and figure out how to hook up sewer, water, and electrical. In addition, you also need and you’ll also need a physical mailing address. It must be a physical address where you can register a vehicle and driver’s license.
Parking in Canadian Cities
If you plan on visiting Canadian cities, you’ll need to understand the rules and regulations for each province and each city. RV parking is prohibited in some cities, such as Montreal and Ottawa, parking your RV is illegal. Therefore, you would need to visit nearby towns and cities, park there, and then travel into the major city by some other mode of transportation. It is also prohibited to park an RV in a shopping centre parking lot (with the exception of Walmart store lots).
In terms of overnight parking, campgrounds are the only places you can legally park your RV for the night. Spending the night at rest stops and shopping malls is strictly prohibited. The exception to this rule is Walmart, which permits RV parking on its store lots where possible. Be sure to ask the store manager’s permission before settling in for the night.
There are thousands of campgrounds across Canada. To book a camping site, you will need to know the length of your vehicle and the number of passengers. It’s also important to make sure that the campgrounds you choose accept RVs. Campsites generally will cost you $40 to $90 per night, depending on the season, the destination and the number of services.
Canadian campgrounds are classified according to the number of services available:
1 service = electricity
2 services = electricity and water
3 services = electricity, water and sewer
The following websites will help you find campgrounds by province:
When cruising the Canadian highways, you’ll notice rest stops all along the way. They are identified by the sign on the right and are to be used when you need a rest. However, the maximum stay permitted is four hours and it is strictly prohibited to spend the night at a rest stop. If you decide to risk it, there is a good chance that you’ll be woken in the middle of the night and asked to leave the premises.
RVing in the Winter
Considering how cold the winters in Canada can be, most people who want to RV in the winter travel to places like southern BC or Vancouver Island, which are much milder. Ideally, you’ll want to find a spot to park your RV that has full services (Power, water, sewer). That could be an RV park, a friend’s or family’s place, or even a piece of property somewhere. These services should also be properly installed to withstand winter. That means ensuring water lines are buried below the frost level, amongst many other things. Aside from making sure the hookups and RV are winterized, you may also want a good amount of supplies, extra propane tanks, and electric heaters. Your RV should also be insulated for winter. This is not always the case.
RV’ing in Canada
We hope this travel guide will help you RV in Canada. Once you’re prepared, you’re bound to have an incredible trip. After all, Canada is home to some of the best wilderness left on Earth. If you have any questions, tips, or concerns, please let us know in the comments.