How to plan and enjoy three epic BC summer road trips
Given the high demand for travel this summer and the surging cost of living (including rising costs of gas, food and more), it’s important to prepare before your next trip. Here’s our ultimate prep guide for BC adventuring and beyond, including tips on how to save money with your BCAA Membership. Happy road tripping!
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:
- Save up to 25% by booking with your BCAA Membership at various BCAA Rewards Partner hotels.
- 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
- 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. BCAA Members save 10% off the labour on brake repair, steering & chassis, suspension, wheel alignments and fluid flushes.
- 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 logging in to your BCAA Online Account.
- Make sure your car insurance is renewed and your documents are in your vehicle. Consider getting a quick quote for BCAA Optional Car Insurance to see how much you could save on your collision, comprehensive and extended third party liability coverage.
- 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 and Victoria, or adventures to places like Whistler, Chemainus and Manning Park. Evo's per minute rate covers the gas, insurance, parking and unlimited kilometres. Bonus: BCAA Members get free Evo Membership, 60 free minutes and save 10%.
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. Watch for any new health advisories, and map out your route with our online TripTik® road trip planner.
- If you drive a gas-powered car, BCAA Members can now save 3¢/litre on fuel and more at participating Shell stations*. You’ll also get 10% off car washes and products in-store! If you're driving an electric vehicle, plan your route by finding charging stations across BC at ChargeHub.com.
- 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.
- Have a backup plan in case your first choice isn't possible. With so many travellers around BC this summer, 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 where BCAA Members save 20%.
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.
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.
Three fantastic BC road trips
Want some travel inspiration? Discover (or rediscover!) BC with these three amazing road trip ideas:
Road Trip #1: Visit the beautiful towns and coasts 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 and see the Victoria Butterfly Gardens where BCAA Members save 10% on admission and the incredibly immersive IMAX® movie experience where BCAA Members save 15% on single admission 2D films.
- 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.
- Hit the incredible beaches between Ucluelet and Tofino.
- Gorge on delicious meals at these 10+ restaurants and food experiences including Pluvio in Ucluelet.
- 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.
Road Trip #2: The Great Northern Circle Route
9+ days, 3,000+ km from Prince George
This epic, rugged, beautiful tour takes you northeast from Prince George up to Chetwynd, Tumbler Ridge, Dawson Creek, Fort St. John, Fort Nelson, Jade City, Smithers and Fort St. James. You’ll experience ancient forests, volcano-formed mountains and incredible waterfalls, fishing, mountain biking and camping.
- In Prince George, you’ve got to check out The Exploration Place Museum & Science Centre for its dinosaur models, interactive exhibits and steam engine train ride.
- An hour east of Prince George, you’ll find the Ancient Forest/Chun T’oh Whudujut Provincial Park, the only inland temperate rainforest in the world and home to western redcedars that are 1,000+ years old.
- In Chetwynd, check out the famous chainsaw carvings along the streets.
- At Tumbler Ridge, go on a Dinosaur Trackway Tour where you’ll hike to see dinosaur footprints at the Tumbler Ridge UNESCO Global Geopark.
- Love to fish? Head to Charlie Lake outside Fort St. John, to angle for trout, walleye, Arctic grayling and northern pike.
- Heading north out of Fort Nelson, watch for bison and Stone’s sheep, then camp at beautiful jade green lakes in the mountains at Stone Mountain Provincial Park and Muncho Lake Provincial Park.
- From Tatogga Lake near Stewart, see the geologically unique Mount Edziza, a spectacular volcanic landscape that includes lava flows, basalt plateaus, cinder fields and cinder cones.
- South of Smithers, visit Burns Lake and the Lakes District which offers 300+ wilderness fishing lakes and world class mountain bike trails.
Road Trip #3: Explore Highway 3’s 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 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.
You can map out your road trips with our online TripTik® road trip planner, and for even more great BC road trip ideas, visit HelloBC.com.
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Have a great summer exploring beautiful BC & beyond!