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From Vancouver to Halifax - how best to travel

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May 8th, 2015, 08:29 AM
  #1
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From Vancouver to Halifax - how best to travel

I posted earlier about our upcoming trip to Canada and part of the US for 26 days in early July this year. Last night, we thought of adding Halifax to our itenerary for 2-3 days as an additional stop.

Our major stops where we will spend at least 1 night each will be Vancouver, Bannf, Jasper, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, Quebec City, Halifax and finally NYC where we will depart for home.

The first part will be spent in BC (Vancouver -Bannf- Jasper - Calgary) for 8 days. We will then catch a plane to either Toronto or Halifax from Calgary. What would be better option for us?

1. Fly from Calgary to Halifax. From Halifax (spend 2-3 days), rent a car and drive to Quebec City. (one-two days) From Quebec City go by bus to Montreal (1-2 days) then Ottawa (1-2 days) and Toronto (1-2 days). From Toronto, take a train, bus or rent a car to drive to NYC.
2. Fly from Calgary to Toronto. From Toronto (1-2 days) go by bus to Ottawa (1-2 days) then to Montreal (1-2 days) then Quebec City (1-2 days). From Quebec City rent a car to drive to Halifax (two-three days) and drop off the car. From Halifax take a bus to Digby then board a ferry to St. John then take a bus to Maine border and then rent a car to drive to NYC.
Do the above plans make sense? I think option 1 will save us more time at the expense of higher plane ticket price. But is there a better option for the travel that cover the above places ? What can be modified to make it more efficient ? Or should we drop Halifax from our travel schedule due to it being out of the way a bit ? We'd like to save travelling expense as much as possible but are willing to pay extra for added efficiency (time) if it makes better sense for us. I am retiring in June and am rewarding myself with this trip after working for 35 years. We welcome all suggestions. Thanks in advance.
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May 8th, 2015, 10:50 AM
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Just to add some background to the above post. This is our first trip to Canada but not the US. We are coming from SE Asia. I and the wife were in the US some 30 years ago attending college and havn't been back since. That was a long time ago before we met each other.

In our British Columbia part of the journey (8 days), we hope to spend the night at B&B or motel near touristy places. We cannot book a room in advance because we are not sure where we will end up each day. Hopefully, there will be vacancy some place somewhere at the end of our daily drive. That's how we traveled when we visited Europe and UK - we had quite a bit of luck as we could always find a place to stay in the towns that we visited. This time I am not so sure as this being the high season. Are accomodations in this part of the country hard to come by during high season? We will have a car so can look around if necessary.

Hopefully, for big cities like Toronto, Montreal, Halifax and Quebec City, accomodation are easier to find.
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May 8th, 2015, 05:35 PM
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I have not done any research on either option but I recall reading that the bus service from Halifax to Digby is discontinued. Maybe option #1 is your best bet.
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May 9th, 2015, 09:11 AM
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I sense that such a trip sounds way too rushed.

IF you fly to Halifax at all it should be for the sole purpose of affording yourself the chance to drive around the Maritime provinces for scenery.

Your whole itinerary sounds so filled with targets that you won't take the time to stop and smell the roses in each spot.

Going to Halifax just to do little more than see the city is crazy, if/when you're coming from far away. Time would be better spent taking a deep breath in Quebec, Toronto, or even BC.

But if you DO add Halifax, you fly there as fast as you can and then optimize your time so as to afford the chance to go to Cape Breton and/or Hopewell Cape, New Brunswick... seeing the area along the way.

Hope this makes sense!
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May 9th, 2015, 12:40 PM
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I'd skip Halifax. While I can't speak for the other cities, I've been to both Toronto and Vancouver and I think spending only one night in both is not enough time at all.
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May 9th, 2015, 08:25 PM
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I haven't been to Banff or Lake Louise in decades but I keep coming back to Jasper because that is where the ViaRail
Canadian stops. The train only runs 3 days/week out of Vancouver (and Toronto).
Banff is an easy day trip from Jasper. You could take the next or second train east from Jasper to Edmonton and fly to Toronto or Montreal from there.
There are several car rentals within walking distance of the Jasper ViaRail station. The desk for Brewster bus tours is in the east half of the station.
It has also been decades since I was in Nova Scotia but I remember that I liked Peggy's Cove a lot more than Halifax.
If I ever go back to eastern Canada I'll take the new bridge to PEI.
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May 9th, 2015, 10:48 PM
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In terms of efficiency (if you keep Halifax, at least): I think I would choose whichever version of the trip that has the fewest "legs" or transportation connections. Simplification would be the key. Of two you've got listed, #1 seems the most efficient. I'd either fly or take a train from Toronto to New York, depending on what is which option you'd like more. Flying: 1.5 hours. Maple Leaf Amtrak train: 12.5 hours with no delays. I would not care to spend that long on a train, but if the train is part of your adventure, then maybe it's time well spent. In #2, even if that bus hasn't been discontinued, there seems to be several more connections- if you miss just one, that could be a costly delay.

In plan 1, MAYBE, depending on the bus schedule and hotel parking fees, you should keep the car rented in Halifax until you arrive in Toronto. That way, you won't be at the mercy of the bus schedules, and you'll spend less time shifting your luggage around. I prefer public transportation myself, but when I do an itinerary like yours, I take a car, because it really does make life easier, in terms of flexibility and efficiency!

I also think with the itinerary you have planned out, you should really reserve rooms. If you provide a little more information about what you want to do in each city, perhaps people here can help you plan your route so you have the security of certain lodging?

You mention saving money on the airfare, so I assume that budget is a factor. In Vancouver I haven't experienced a visit where there are literally no rooms in town, but I've definitely had the experience of having limited (very expensive) options- those times were all on weekends in July and August. I didn't mind spending the money, because the trips were both on a whim and I knew it could happen, but I think any money you save on transport could easily be lost two or three times over if you leave lodging up to chance. Affordable, convenient, pleasant accommodations sell out first in high season.

Also- I've done the driving around looking for lodging thing and that is NOT my idea of fun on vacation. It could work out, but if it takes longer than expected, that just creates stress and takes time away from the fun things you could be doing in each destination
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May 10th, 2015, 09:07 AM
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Thank you for all the comments. I hate to remove any of the above cities from our itenerary but it looks like we may need to, considering the limited time that we have. Halifax is a bit out of the way compare to other cities (Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City) so that will most likely be the one that we drop. In that case we may add 1-2 more days to the B.C. part of the travel instead.

If I were to spend 10 days (9 nights) covering Vancouver, Banff, Jasper and other nice places in between them, where should we spend the 9 nights at? (so we can look for accomodation in such places). We plan to spend 3 nights in Vancouver including the night we arrive at the city from home. That leaves 6 nights in other places in B.C. part of the trip. Is 10 days sufficient? We plan to drive .

We hope to spend another 12 days covering Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City - this time by bus. Then 3 days in NYC and New England states before going back.
We may also rent a car for this leg too but traveling by bus is preferred.

As suggested, we will try to make hotel bookings before starting the trip. Thanks again.
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May 10th, 2015, 10:12 AM
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Since you want to see New England as well as New York City, end your Eastern Canada section of the trip at Montreal and board the Amtrak Adirondack in the morning and take it to Schnectady New York (7 hours). There is an Enterprise car rental that can pick you up unless the train is late.
See the parts of New England that you want to see and then return the car to Schnectady and take one of several trains into New York Penn Station.
I wish you luck with the buses in Canada. You can get something to eat on a train while you are moving. On a bus you are at the mercy of the driver and there is only one small bathroom which can be horrible.
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May 10th, 2015, 10:19 AM
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3 nights would be good for Vancouver. How far do you want to drive in one day? I would stop for an overnight somewhere along the way, but some people would choose to do the whole drive in a day. If you stop 1 night, that leaves 5 nights/four days in Banff/Jasper. Depending on what you want to do/see, that's probably enough. If there's nothing that really interests you between Vancouver and Banff, I'd do 4 nights in Vancouver and 5 in Banff/Jasper; you could easily fill up three full days in BC. On the other hand, if you are really into outdoor activities like hiking, you could keep Vancouver as it is, and do 6 nights in Banff/Jasper. There's so much in In that area you could see/do and driving from place to place is probably going to take more time than you expect.
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May 13th, 2015, 09:05 AM
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Towards the final leg of our trip to Canada and the US, we would like to head to New Hampshire from Quebec City. The wife would like to do some shopping at New Hampshire which has no sales tax. Is there a bus service between these two places? Greyhound? Actually we would like to rent a car but the drop-off charge would make it expensive to do so. Thank you.
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