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RV trip - family of 4 - Vancouver -> Banff/Jasper/Prince George loop

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  1. #1

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    RV trip - family of 4 - Vancouver -> Banff/Jasper/Prince George loop

    Thought I'd share a trip experience that's not Macau or China or Japan

    Starting from the beginning, I'll mention the experience I had with the now mandatory ETA for travel to Canada for HKers.
    My wife and I hold Canadian passports and our 4 year old and a 10 months old are born in HK with Canadian citizenship. However because of the wait for the Canadian citizenship certificate (not a complaint, I don't pay Canadian taxes and treat any services rendered by the Canadian government to me as a favor instead of an entitlement) before we can apply for the kids' passports, we got HKSAR passports for them for the purpose of the trip as HKSAR is visa free for Canadian travels.

    The problem that came up was when I applied for the ETA online, at first I got an approved email within 30mins but then the next morning I got an email saying that the one for the 4 year old is cancelled due to the fact that according to government records, he is already a Canadian citizen and does not require ETA. HOWEVER, he doesn't have a Canadian passport yet so if we go to airlines check in with his HKSAR passport, the agent have the right to refuse boarding. The unique thing about the situation was the fact that the 4 year old's citizenship cert was mailed back to Ottawa for amendment two months ago while the 10 months old's one hasn't been issued to us yet. They are citizens of Canada but I have nothing in my hands other than amendment request letters and applications.

    The solution finally came when I found there's a section on the ETA website that allows for Canadians who are dual citizens that somehow doesn't have access to their Canadian passports while abroad and can apply for a ETA for their alternate travel documents. Guess they thought of people in our circumstances! And all this happened within 5 days before travel (yes I procrastinated my fault) so was pretty stressful wondering if the whole trip would be cancelled after flight and RV was paid LOL

    We chose to fly Hong Kong Airlines for the first time and have to say was very pleased with the value. Cost was much cheaper than Cathay and the economy class seats seemed wider too (it was a smaller plane rather than the Cathay's 777s). Meals were edible, the only thing was the selection of movies was smaller. You can notice too the attendants seems like they're fresh grads on their first job in the way they carry themselves. But then at the end of the day they just hand us our meals so no big deal for me I don't require trained butler service and the thing that matters if they have positive attitudes which they did.

    The other thing of note for choosing HK Airlines was that their flight arrives in Vancouver at 10am. This is important if you want to pick up your RV on the same day of arrival; the RV depots usually close by 5pm and they require you to arrive at least 2-3 hours before they close to go through the hand over process. Cathay's flights arrive at 1pm or later so you'd have to stay at a hotel for the first night.

    For the trip, we drove from Vancouver to Agassiz to Osoyoos to Creston to Fairmont Hotsprings to Banff to Jasper to Prince George to 70 Mile House to Peachland to Spences Bridge to Whistler to Port Moody and back to the RV depot in Delta. Rental cost was 1800 CAD inclusive of tax (2 children car seats, convenience package and a GPS). Gasoline was about 100-150 CAD per day depending how much elevation we were climbing.

    The RV itself was 32' long and for me I didn't have problems with the size even driving down Vancouver streets on the last day to drop stuff off at my parent's in the Arbutus area before heading to Port Moody for the last night.

    Throughout the trip, we stayed at RV campsites that, with the exception of the ones ran by Parks Canada in Banff and Jasper, all had full 30amp electric and fresh water hook ups. The government ones had water but no electricity. The RV has a battery bank system that charges when you're driving and by solar; it's enough to run the interior lights and water pump but not enough to run the mircrowave or air conditioner (have to be plugged into 30amp). The campsites prices ranged from 27 CAD up to 60 CAD per night.

    For cooking, we stopped at a Save On Foods the first day and then every now and again to get cheap quality steaks and veggies. The RV's propane stove was powerful enough to cook but not the best one like a high powered one at home. Speaking of which so the RV has a propane tank that supplies the generator for the fridge and also the furnace for hot water and heater (we used the heater through out the trip as one place was cold enough that it froze the water supply line over night). With the furnace on all night and cooking, we filled the propane tank at gas stations every other day for about 10 CAD each time. If you want to access the microwave or air conditioner without electrical hook up, you have to start the generator which the RV company charges flat rate 150CAD if you turn it on and then it consumes about 4 liters of gasoline from the truck's tank every hour; we never saw the need for it.

    The kids loved it, though for most of the driving parts they just slept in their car seats LOL

    Some photos:
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  2. #2

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    Also the RV has a queen sized bed at back, the cabin table and seats can convert to a double bed each plus two single beds over the driver compartment.

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  3. #3

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  4. #4

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    Very cool trip report.

    How do RVs work with seating whilst in motion- the kids have proper seats in the cab somewhere, proper seats in the trailer part, or they are wandering around freely somehow in the trailer? (I am guessing it's not the last one).

    Had you driven anything big before this trip?


  5. #5

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  6. #6

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  7. #7

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    Love your work, Titus

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  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by jgl:
    Very cool trip report.

    How do RVs work with seating whilst in motion- the kids have proper seats in the cab somewhere, proper seats in the trailer part, or they are wandering around freely somehow in the trailer? (I am guessing it's not the last one).

    Had you driven anything big before this trip?
    Yea I highly recommend it, I mean for the cost of some fancy Bali or Japan trip we had a blast.

    For RVs, like taxis, in Canada they are actually exempt from the child car seats rule. But safety first... and our 10 months old would be flying around without a car seat. While in motion, the seats at the dining table as well as the bench seat across from it all have seat belts and you can install the child car seats on any of them. I'm not entirely sure but I think it would be illegal to stay on the bed without a seat belt? Then again like the school or tour buses, one can technically move around legally while the vehicle is in motion? My wife did do me a favor a few times by going to the fridge to grab a bite for me on the trip LOL just made sure we were driving on a long stretch of straight road.

    I had driven something that size more than a decade ago like a moving truck but not since then. The only thing I found that I had to adjust was the constant steering input needed to keep the thing in the lane; side winds affects it a lot as do worn grooves since it rides on a dualie axle in the back. If you can manage to drive in HK a regular sized sedan I think one would be ok to drive it on a road trip. Patience is the key, when in doubt just slow down in tight turns

    Oh yes and so I had applied for an international driving license at the HK Transport Dept before this trip (I have a BC license but it's since expired and was told that I can't renew it until I've moved back and technically a local resident).
    Skyhook, shri, jgl and 1 others like this.

  9. #9

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    (Sorry for the train of thought updates) oh and whatever Google Maps or the GPS says for the estimated travel time, add another 30-40% onto it when you're driving an RV especially if you're in the mountains In general we drove about 4-5 hours each day covering about 300-400kms. I didn't do any driving at night on this trip but suspect there'd be more wildlife so drive slower if you are. The RV didn't have even fog lights so you'd be out driving the headlights at night if you do above 80kph, IMO.


  10. #10

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    Looks awesome and thanks for sharing! How many days did you take for it?


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