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Mom and 2 kids: road trip CA to AK via Canada?


Dec 30th, 2015, 07:24 PM
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Mom and 2 kids: road trip CA to AK via Canada?

I'm wondering a few things. I'm spending the majority of the next 6 months on a long term camping road trip/homeschooling trip with my 6 & 7 year old girls and our dog. Beyond how unconventional this is, I'm wondering how safe it would be for a single (as in, the only adult), resourceful female, accustomed to vehicle repair, bad driving conditions and backcountry camping, to make this trip in a Honda Pilot (AWD)? And if you agree that it is doable to drive from Northern CA to someplace in Alaska, through Canada, what route would you recommend? Time isn't an obstacle but I'd like to keep the cost to below what airfare for the 3 of us would cost ($1,200). Gas cost estimate at this point for my Pilot is around $250. Recommendations or thoughts? Thanks!
arwsgirl is offline  
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Dec 31st, 2015, 05:29 AM
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I can't help with your questions - but I do have a suggestion.

While you will partly be driving thought Canada, and this would seem the place to post, the US board is much busier than the Canada board.

Specifically there are a couple of fodorites who are very knowledgable about driving though western Canada and south east Alaska. But I don't think I've ever seen them post here.

You will likely get some good info here, but I'd suggest you also post on the US board, with a title something like 'road trip/camping from Pacific Northwest to Alaska'
janisj is online now  
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Dec 31st, 2015, 08:04 AM
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A couple of questions and comments...

First, I think there's no way that the cost will be even close to being under $1200 for three people. Camping will be at least $30 per night, gas is not going to be cheap ($250 is a ridiculous underestimate), food is much more expensive in Canada and you will need to deal with things like laundry, other essentials etc.

1) When would you be leaving? Depending on what part of Canada you would be driving through, winter can hang around until May (when the last ski resorts close). Snow tires (M + S at least) are required on inland BC roads until either the end of March or April (you'd need to check).

For this trip, I wouldn't want to leave until at least late April unless you spend a lot of time on the BC coast. April snowstorms are not unusual in inland BC/AB, and it will be cold and wintry longer the farther north you go. Our ski resorts are open as late as late May!

2) There is almost no free camping in Canada - i.e. you must camp in designated campsites/campgrounds, which are either private or parks (provincial/federal). You cannot just pull over to the side of the road for the night - doing that will almost certainly result in the police knocking on your window.

And, most campgrounds will not be open until mid May to mid June, especially farther north. Expect to pay anywhere from $20 to $75 per night for a campsite, depending on the amenities. In national parks, there's an additional charge for lighting a fire, which includes the the cost of firewood.

There is also a $20 per day per vehicle parks fee whenever you are in a national parks. Inland ferries tend to be free, but coastal ferries can be very expensive - the charges are per car and per passenger.

3) $250 for the whole trip on gas?? That seems WAY WAY unrealistic. BC has some of the most expensive gas prices in Canada, where it's more expensive to begin with than anywhere in the US. In AB where it's the cheapest in Canada, it starts around $3.20 per gallon or so, and it will be substantially more expensive the farther north you go. Plus if it's cold, you'll be spending money to heat the vehicle and mileage gets worse when you are going through the mountains.

4) Are you familiar with being bear safe? If you are camping, ALL scented items, food and drinks must be stored in the vehicle or in a bear box when you are asleep or away from the vehicle. No such items should ever go in a tent. The dog also must be with you at all times and on a leash at all times in any national or provincial parks.

Having a dog will also limit you a bit, as the dog can't be left in a cold or hot car lone, can't go in restaurants, patios and most shops, and can't be left tied up alone anywhere in bear/cougar country (i.e. all of BC and AB, other than in major cities).

5) The kids really should have passports, though birth certificates will likely do (check the regulations carefully). However, as you don't mention a partner, to cross the border, you will need either a notarized letter from the father(s) giving you permission to bring the girls across the border -if he has custody/is alive. If he is deceased or no longer has custody, you will need copies of legal documentation proving either situation, preferably notarized. They are getting very strict about checking documentation for minors to ensure kids aren't being taken across the border without permission of both parents.

Also you will need a rabies certificate (the tag alone is not sufficient) for the dog.

Additionally, Americans can certainly come to Canada for 6 months, but if you intend to stay in Canada for more than a few weeks, you will need to show proof that you can support yourself and the kids. That means showing bank account statements that prove you have enough to cover food and accommodation for your stay. I don't think they will accept $1200 as sufficient - if you consider that even a cheap campsite will be $30 per night, that would be $210 per week, plus probably at least $50-80 per day for food for three people. And other incidentals. I would think for a 6 month trip, they would be looking at $5000 plus minimum, probably far more for 3 people.

6) Food is much more expensive in Canada, and like gas it gets MUCH MUCH more expensive the farther north you go.

I think you need to do some serious research about costs. It could be a wonderful trip if you postpone your departure to a more realistic time (not winter), and come up with a realistic budget.
kgsneds is offline  
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Jan 16th, 2016, 09:10 PM
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as mentioned, there is no way your gas is going to be near $250. make sure you have one if not two spare tires. if you go to alaska in june, you are going to have the longest daylight hours, cooler nights and lots of mospquitos. you don't say how long you want to be in alaska. i would aim for 3 or more weeks around the end of july, start of august. bears are no joke. make sure your kids understand how important it is not to have any food items, toothpaste etc in the tent.
ltt is offline  
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Jan 17th, 2016, 11:26 AM
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A note on costs: the U.S$ is worth about $1.40 CDN at this point, so that should help a lot with expenses.
eliztravels2 is offline  
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Jan 17th, 2016, 01:27 PM
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The OP posted and never came back (a pattern: she's had a previous thread 18 months ago about traveling in the Alps where lots of Fodrorites offered advice and she never acknowledged any of them)

Either they aren't serious questions, or she hasn't figured out how to get back
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