I’ve put off travelling to Canada for so many years due to the simple fact that I knew I would love it too much and never want to leave. Well, it certainly didn’t disappoint. I’m writing this post from the sky, on the plane home, jet-lagged, dirty but oh so happy.
For the past twelve days I have been exploring the West Coast of Canada with eleven other travellers from all over the world – all camping, trekking, eating, drinking and laughing along the way. Let me introduce you to Trek America, and my tour guide Jen, a super relaxed, surf chick who knew more about her country than I could ever tell you about my hometown.
I haven’t camped since I was young but luckily it didn’t matter, our two-man tents took under four minutes to set up and dismantled even quicker, even when your eyes were puffy and heavy from last nights sleep. On the first day, we quickly learnt the ropes, ALWAYS go to the toilet when there’s a toilet stop, a flushing toilet is much nicer than a motorway bush, try to avoid the giant sized chocolate bars unless you want to go home looking like you ate Canada and bring as many charged batteries as you can if you hate to be without technology or social media.
Canada is breathtaking, the scenery is so vast and changing that your eyes can’t take it all in. If you’re able to stay awake for longer than 30 minutes while on the road (that bus seriously rocks you to sleep) remember to look out of the window, we saw Bears, Eagles, Goats, Elk, Deer, Waterfalls, not to mention some funny tourists. The scenery changes every day from lakes and rivers to deserts and mountains, so try not to miss it.
Food, you’ll be asked to pop $120 into the kitty for food, provided your group is sensible it should last you the trip. You’ll be split into groups of four and each has a cook, clean or chill-out evening. Food was something I was most nervous about, being more on the healthy side I worried that it would be pizza or chips every night. Luckily Jen insisted that there always had to be vegetables and everyone was incredibly creative, from sweet potato curry to meatballs and stir-frys the food was delicious and a fantastic way to bond as a group. Don’t panic if you have special requirements, one member of our group had a nut allergy and four were vegetarian, Trek America have you covered.
Packing, oh how I wish I had done my research – pack for all weather conditions! Although Canada was beautifully sunny and warm during the day the evenings were always much cooler, combined with feeling tired I found myself longing for a big hoodie, blanket and fluffy socks. A waterproof jacket is essential, especially when you’re travelling the Rockies as the skies can change very quickly. Trainers yes but walking boots are a must if you want to trek any longer than an hour. Also, the darkness comes as a shock. Living in the city I had completely forgotten how dark it gets at night, I know, idiot, pack a torch, yes your iPhone has a torch but it will be useless once it’s battery has died. A small torch will seriously help you when you need to find your way to the toilet at 1 am in the rain.
Don’t worry you won’t look like you’ve been dragged out of a bush every morning, the amenities at all of the campsites we stayed at were beautiful, however, I do have some tips. Take some flip-flops for the shower, my only regret is that every-time I showered I would have to step out of the shower and onto a dirty wet floor, my feet never felt clean. Also, bring a wash bag that has compartments and can hang up, there is NEVER enough space, let alone dry space next to the sink. I was so envious of other campers being able to hang up their toiletries and makeup whilst mine got drenched on the side.
For those of you who worry about leaving bigger than you left or simply can’t go two weeks without working out, don’t worry. My boyfriend and I went for runs on the evenings when we weren’t cooking, took a skipping rope and resistance band and made our own little HIIT sessions in the wilderness. Although there is a lot of bum-on-minibus time there is always a lot of time to walk around, go swimming, jog or hike, you’d be surprised at how many kilometres you’ll clock up.
The evenings were always my favourite, it’s where you fall in love with the people around you. Late night alcohol chats around the fire melting marshmallows is something I will miss the most. Even if you’re tired try to stay up and join your peers, swapping life stories, watching the stars or playing heads up will make your trip even more memorable. If you can think up some epic games or bring something with you you’re group will adore you even more, failing that Chinese whispers is always a winner.
Tipping, something that rarely happens in the UK however in Canada you tip and it usually sits around 20%. So be prepared to need a little extra coinage or cash on you for the guides that assist you, restaurants, coffee shops and don’t forget your tour guide at the end of the trip, a thank you card or letter is always a kind way to say goodbye.
Wanderlust, it’s what I live for, I feel so lucky to be able to explore the world, I would like to thank Explore Canada, Air Canada and Trek America for such an incredible experience. If you could travel to any destination tomorrow, where would you pick?