We’re off on an amazing family adventure to Canada soon! We’ll be visiting Vancouver, Whistler and Tofino for a total of just over two weeks. Our mini-explorers will be 2.5 years old and 8 months old.
I thought I’d share how much it’s costing us as I always like to read that sort of thing. If you’re planning your own trip there I hope it helps and if you’re not, well I hope you enjoy reading about my spending!
**Update: We’re back and this is what we got up to!**
This isn’t a cheap trip, but we knew that it wouldn’t be. Although we plan to be out most of the time we shunned budget accommodation because if I’m honest, it wasn’t pretty or stylish and as shallow as that sounds I can’t bear ugly rooms!
This time round we also know that pokey rooms just don’t work for us. They didn’t when we just had Nova and definitely don’t now that we’re travelling with two kids. Our two go to bed around 7pm so we didn’t want to spend our evenings holed up in an uncomfortable, outdated room.
That said we definitely could have spent waaaay more. Our first choice accommodation in all three locations was just too pricey. I definitely recommend booking your hotel/apartment as early as possible, especially if you’re travelling with children. Loads of the family suites has already been booked up over six months in advance of our trip.
We decided we would splash the cash on the experiences. We treat each trip like it might be our only one to that particular destination. Who knows what might happen in the future, so we always prefer to treat it like a holiday of a lifetime – money permitting of course! We were lucky in that Jay worked his socks off to get some pretty good bonuses at work. Sure, we could have saved the money for a rainy day or our house move but that’s just boring.
How Much Did It Cost?
Our trip cost us around £5,000 broken down as follows:
We emailed in advance to check that they’d be happy for us to do this trip with two young kids and that our car seats would fit in the jeeps, to which they agreed. Sure, Kit will probably fall asleep (the magic of car journeys!) and Nova might at some point too, but we’ll love it and Nova will be beside himself if we spot a bear like we did in Jasper National Park!
The trip spans two hours and covers quite a bit, so we felt like it’d be a good way to see some Whistler highlights.
Breakfast with the Bears in Vancouver: £83
This only happens on select weekends up on Grouse Mountain and to be honest the timings aren’t great for our trip. We either had to do it on our first or last day. We land at 7pm, so the thought of getting up a mountain for 8am with two jetlagged kids didn’t fill us with joy. On our last day we’re actually up in Whistler, so we’ll have to head back to Grouse Mountain at around 6am.
It should be worth it though. Nova is obsessed with bears (well all animals to be fair), so he’ll love being able to see them up close (like we did in Jasper National Park) and to throw some food to them. We boycott zoos, horse riding and things like that so I wasn’t too sure if I wanted to do it. There doesn’t seem to be much info out there, but from what I’ve read I’m cool with it and actually rather excited.
It includes a buffet breakfast that has rave reviews. At two years old Nova received a really reduced rate, but little do they know that he will eat an adult’s amount of food. That boy can eat!
This experience also includes our Alpine Experience ticket which means we can enjoy all the other things up the mountain; lumberjack show, birds of prey, gondola ride etc.
Cycling Round Stanley Park: £63
There are a few bicycle hire companies, but some of the baby/children’s equipment differs. Stanley Park is pretty iconic and we’re keen to see as much as possible so we know that we have to hire bikes. Toddler walking pace just isn’t going to cut it!
Sure we could go to the cheaper Lynn Valley Bridge instead, but when we read the comparison reviews we thought it was worth paying the £46. There’s a treetop walk and a cool treehouse, and at weekends they have bird of prey activities. Kids under the age of six are free, so we only need to pay for our adult tickets.
Tofino Cycle Hire: £60
We’re hiring bikes in Tofino too because we want to see as much of the island as possible.
I’m not sure if we’ll definitely do this, but it’s on the list! It’s a gondola that goes from, you guessed it, peak to peak. It’s a record breaking lift and the views are said to be incredible. There’s even a glass-bottom gondola for seriously impressive views!
We have some back up stuff (Science World, kid’s market at Granville Island, Maple Farm etc) on our list in case the weather is rubbish, something is closed etc so those costs haven’t been factored in.
BA Flights: £1583 for 2 adults, 1 child (2 years old so own seat) and 1 infant (8 months old)
We got these flights on sale with British Airways. Air Canada had originally looked to be the cheaper option and is the airline some of you recommended, but with luggage and other add ons they actually worked out slightly more expensive.
We booked direct return flights from London to Vancouver. We wanted to fly in premium economy like we did when we flew to Canada when Nova was six months old but we couldn’t justify the extra money – it was a LOT more.
Airport parking: £112 (for just over two weeks)
We booked through Holiday Extras as per usual. We could get this cheaper by parking further away, but as I’ve said before, we’re happy to pay a bit extra for convenience. Walking two minutes into the departures area definitely beats trying to lug two children and a million cases on a cramped transfer bus!
Car hire: £462 for a SUV for 2 weeks
We booked through the site we always use; Holiday Autos. I find car hire such a tricky thing to book as there always seems to be hidden costs, mixed reviews, misleading descriptions etc so we tend to stick to Holidays Autos as they’ve worked out so far and to pick a rental brand we recognise, in this case, Thrifty.
Anyway, we wanted a big car as we knew we’d be clocking up a few miles and again, prefer to pay a bit more to make family life easier. We couldn’t be bothered to play Tetris with the bags and kids over and over again, so went for more space.
We booked a SUV and didn’t hire any car seats as we prefer to take our own.
Ferry from Vancouver (Horseshoe Bay) to Vancouver Island (Nanaimo): £111 return
We booked direct through BC Ferries. We’ll be taking our hire car with us as we then have a three hour drive to Tofino. It’s supposed to be a pretty impressive boat ride and drive, with lots of picture stops along the way.
Vancouver: £997 for 7 nights
We wanted an apartment so that we could kid ourselves that we are locals! We also wanted somewhere with a kitchen and separate bedrooms so that we could get settled quickly. We know this will be our first stop so anticipate a few rough nights of jetlag with the kids, so figured an apartment would save us disturbing other hotel guests or feeling confined to one room.
Tofino: £673 for 4 nights
We were a little downhearted when we first went to book our accommodation in Tofino as everything just seemed so expensive. Originally we reluctantly booked a hotel room – it was our style, but we only had the option to all share one room.
We then cancelled that and decided to pay a bit more for a better experience. We chose an adorable two-bedroom cabin at Ocean Village Tofino. We love that it’s on the beach so we can watch the sun go down, have campfires with s’mores and really enjoy island life.
Whistler: £481 for 4 nights
If I’m honest we struggled with finding somewhere in Whistler. Most of the blog posts I read are centred on Whistler in winter and it’s hard to know which area is best. Price was also a factor. In the end we went for Evolution Whistler as it has free parking, seems quite central and looks nice enough.
Food and Drink
If you’re any good at maths you’ll have realised by now that the £5,000 doesn’t include food or drink. I have no idea how much we’ll spend on that to be honest because it totally depends on the kids as to whether we’ll eat out all day every day or cook at home. We’ll probably do a mixture and don’t tend to go to mega fancy places.
We’ve earmarked Lebanese at Nuba, juices at Buddha-Full and waffles at Medina, all in Vancouver. In Tofino we want to try legendary Tacofino and possibly dinner outside at Weigh West Marine Resort because we’ve heard we might spot some wildlife. Oh and in Whistler, Raven’s Nest because we hear they have good veggie options and nice views.
We had to get Kit an eTA (Electronic Travel Authorisation) which cost about £3.50. The rest of us still have ours from when we previously visited Canada – they last for five years.
Our tablet has just died so we’ve also just bought a new iPad to entertain Nova during long bouts of travel and for us to use in the evenings. We’ve got a super sturdy case to protect it from Nova’s rough and tumble!
I’ll be sharing my itinerary when we’re back, but obviously if you have any recommendations please free to let me know!