After a year of staying close to home, we’re all excited to explore beautiful BC again. With the high demand for travel this summer, and some communities working hard to respond to emergencies and evacuations due to wildfires, it’s extra important to prepare before you go and consider the destinations you are travelling to. Here’s our ultimate prep guide for BC adventuring, including tips on great BC road trips, trip organization, vehicle maintenance and route planning. Happy road tripping!
Part 1: Trip planning tips
Take more time to plan this summer. BC tourism businesses have re-opened, but it’s still not business as usual - many have adjusted their schedules and policies to ensure that you and their staff stay safe. Some may still be operating at a reduced capacity, with limited hours, or require advanced bookings.
Plan earlyMap out your next adventure and discover places to stay across BC. Some additional booking resources include:
- Get great hotel deals by booking with your BCAA Membership at select BCAA Rewards Partners.
- Find campgrounds through Discover Camping (BC Parks), BC’s seven national parks via Parks Canada, and rustic sites through Recreation Sites and Trails. You can also see the full list of campgrounds in BC on this map.
- Book RV rentals via CanaDream where BCAA Members save 5%.
...and be sure to check cancellation and refund policies before you book.
Get your vehicle road trip ready
- Take steps to avoid an unexpected breakdown with these 10 ways to get road trip ready.
- If your car has been sitting for a while or just needs some love, play it safe and book an appointment with one of our automotive experts at a BCAA Auto Service Centre. Until September 30th, BCAA Members save 10% off any service or repairs.
- Check your BCAA Membership plan to make sure you’ve got the right coverage in case of a breakdown. BCAA will help keep you moving, and with a Plus or Premier BCAA Membership, you’ll get up to 160/320km of towing distance. Be sure to upgrade or make any changes before you leave by calling us at 1.888.268.2222 or logging in to your BCAA Online Account.
- If you're travelling in an RV or recreational trailer, avoid common breakdowns with our RV road trip prep checklist and make sure you've added RV coverage to your BCAA Membership before you leave.
- Don't own a vehicle? Book an Evo for short trips around Vancouver, or adventures to places like Whistler, Chemainus and Manning Park. Exciting news: Evo is launching in Victoria this summer! Learn more here.
Plan your route and call ahead
- Stay safe and save time by checking road, ferry or weather conditions on your BCAA Mobile App before you go. Map out your route with our TripTik® road trip planner.
- Contact the local business(es) you plan on visiting. Call restaurants and attractions to confirm their hours of operation, understand capacity limits and make reservations in advance. Make sure you know the latest guidelines.
- Have a backup plan in case your first choice isn't possible. Travel in BC will be an adjustment for us all, and activities may take longer than usual, or places may be at capacity when you arrive.
- Speak with local Visitor Centre staff to get advice on local attractions and adventures, and to learn how to support local businesses.
Pack smart and be prepared for emergencies
- Bring an extra set of keys and keep them with you when you’re outside your car.
- Don't forget the essentials: bring lots of water, your phone charger and a backup battery pack - they’ll all be critical in the event of a breakdown.
- Keep an emergency kit in the car including a first aid kit, warm clothing and blankets, a flashlight, windshield fluid, pylons, a high vis vest, and a fully charged portable battery charger. You can also order an all-in-one F.A.S.T. emergency kit - BCAA Members save 20%.
Be respectfulRespect the people, businesses, and communities you visit this summer. Responsible tourism means that the experience positively impacts everyone involved–both residents and visitors alike. You may see new protocols and policies within communities to ensure everyone’s safety; ensure to respect the guidelines they’ve put in place.
Take us with you!A BCAA Membership comes with 24/7 Roadside Assistance, so we’re always here to help in case of the unexpected. With this summer’s travel boom, we expect an increase in calls, so be prepared for the possibility of longer than usual wait times. Reminder: you can request BCAA Roadside Assistance online or via the BCAA Mobile App for Android or iPhone to connect directly to our dispatch team. To support physical distancing, please be prepared to find yourself an alternate ride to your destination if your vehicle needs a tow.
Pro Tip: your BCAA Mobile App is the ultimate travel companion. In addition to helping you get faster Roadside Assistance, you can get real-time travel conditions and savings from BCAA Rewards Partners along the way. Learn more about how to get the most out of your BCAA Mobile App.
Part 2: Three fantastic BC road trips
Looking for some travel inspiration to get you dreaming of your next trip? Discover (or rediscover!) BC with these road trip ideas:
A humpback whale near Campbell River by Destination BC/Boomer Jerritt
Road Trip #1: Visit the East Coast of Vancouver Island
5-7 days, 500 km one way from Victoria
Make the most of summer by visiting some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, forests and waterfalls. Heading north out of Victoria, you’ll travel through Duncan, Nanaimo, Port Hardy, Parksville, the Comox Valley, Campbell River and Telegraph Cove. Highlights include:
- In Victoria, take in the historic sights and delicious offerings with this guide.
- As you pass through Duncan, the “City of Totems,” stop to appreciate the beautifully carved totems of the Cowichan First Nation, who have called the area home for thousands of years. In Chemainus, explore the 40+ giant murals.
- Sip your way along the Vancouver Island Ale Trail (as long as you have a designated driver) or snack your way along the Nanaimo Bar Trail.
- Walk the Elk Falls Suspension Bridge in Campbell River.
- Get to know the wildlife that call BC home with a tour from Homalco Wildlife & Cultural Tours or Campbell River Whale Watching & Adventure.
- Continue north to immerse yourself in rugged landscapes, explore Indigenous culture and view wildlife along the way. Explore Telegraph Cove’s boardwalk village (it’s all on stilts) and check out Eco-adventures in Port Hardy like a kayak, seaplane or wildlife tour.
- Spend the night at the Kwa’lilas Hotel, an Indigenous-owned and operated hotel that uses local cedar designed to resemble a traditional big house with a smoke hole at the top of the building.
Horseback Riding above Tatlayoko Lake by Destination BC/Kari Medig
Road Trip #2: Explore the Vast Wilderness of the Interior Plateau
1-5 days, 318km one way from Williams Lake
Vast, wild and sparsely populated, this trip shows off BC’s beautifully rugged Chilcotin Plateau, taking you through 100 Mile House to Riske Creek, Alexis Creek, Tatla Lake, Anahim Lake and Tweedsmuir Provincial Park. Explore the scenic wilderness of the Interior Plateau along Highway 20 west of Williams Lake, a true Land Without Limits. Highlights include:
- Visit historic Chilcotin Lodge, a great base for a side trip to see the hoodoos and bighorn sheep of Farwell Canyon.
- Bull Canyon Provincial Park is an absolute must-stop for a picnic and walk along the bank of the turquoise Chilcotin River.
- At Tatla Lake, check out White Saddle Country Inn (and B&B) and their self-contained cabins, hand-built cedar log lodge and a Finnish sauna next to Mosley Creek. Take a scenic drive along the stunning Tatlyoko Road.
- On your way north towards Nimpo Lake, stop in at Terra Nostra Guest Ranch and book and trail ride to explore the area on horseback.
- Arrive at Tweedsmuir Provincial Park where you can camp, go fishing, or hike 16 km into the Rainbow Range (one of the best day hikes ever).
Road conditions can vary in this sparsely populated part of BC. Before you go, check the latest road conditions.
Paddling in Fernie by Destination BC/Kari Medig
Road Trip #3: Explore Rugged Parks, Culinary Bounty & Mountain Towns
4-10 days, 247 km from Vancouver
For this epic road trip, travel the Crowsnest Highway through Manning Park, historic railway trails, the heart of wine country and some beloved BC mountain towns. Highlights include:
- Heading east from the Lower Mainland, make a relaxing detour to Harrison Hot Springs.
- Camp (drive-in or backcountry) and explore the wilderness in E.C. Manning Park Provincial Park.
- Spend a sunny afternoon floating down the Similkameen River (you can pick up a rubber tube from Hedley Country Market) or having a river-side picnic with goodies from Doug’s Homestead or one of the many local fruit stands.
- Enjoy wine tastings in the Similkameen Valley and Keremeos.
- Take a dip in Christina Lake, which gets its reputation as Canada’s warmest thanks to hot springs deep in the lake.
- See the Sculpturewalk in Castlegar, the ‘sculpture capital of Canada.’
- Looking for a unique place to spend the night? Sleep in a railcar in Cranbrook.
- Enjoy adventure at your own pace in Fernie: take a guided rafting tour, go hiking or biking, or take in scenic mountaintop views via the chairlift at Fernie Alpine Resort.
Follow BCAA's Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as we share updates and trip ideas for your summer and beyond. And don’t forget to enter our Vancouver Island Road Trip Giveaway to snag the ultimate BC summer experience.
Not a BCAA Member yet? Join today and get BC’s Best Roadside Assistance for less than $7 a month. Plus, subscribe to our BCAA Member Rewards e-news to learn about exclusive BCAA offers, contests, deals and news.
Have a great summer in beautiful BC!