Budget Car Rentals in Canada + RV Rentals & Ride Share Options

Road tripping is by far the most convenient and cost effective way to travel within Canada. In this blog post I’ll tell you everything you need to know about budget car rentals in Canada, the best RV rentals in Canada, and tips for finding cheap car rentals in Canada.

Public transportation exists in Canada, however it’s extremely limited meaning travelling sans-car can be difficult or impossible. I’m Canadian and I’ve travelled to/lived in many provinces here. Based on my personal experiences in the country, I can guarantee you’ll see more and do more on your Canadian travels if you rent a car.

This is especially true if you’re planning to visit more “outdoorsy” regions of Canada like the Canadian Rockies, British Columbia, or cottage country in Ontario.

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As you read this post, please consider clicking the links throughout. These are affiliate links which means when you book a hotel or purchase a product, I make a small commission at no additional cost to you (full disclosure). These commissions fund The Holistic Backpacker and helps me write more blog posts.

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~ Taylor ♡


Travel Insurance: ALWAYS purchase reliable travel insurance before your trip. This insurance is trusted by backpackers and adventure sport enthusiasts around the world. You can also use my link to receive 5% off SafetyWing policies. Here’s a blog post with more trustworthy travel insurance options you can compare.

Public transit is not common in North America, however every big city has their own local transit system. If you want to venture out of big cities or to any natural spot, plan to rent a car – here are the best budget car rental options in Canada. Trains (Via Rail) are not well connected within the country and are expensive. Hitchhiking is relatively uncommon here, however Poparide is becoming more popular for ride sharing.

Phone: popular providers are Rogers, Telus, and Koodoo. SIM cards can be purchased at the airport, phone stands, or provider storefronts. Canada has some of the most globally expensive phone rates.

Language: English & French (in Quebec).

Currency: Canadian dollars – displayed as “$” or “CAD”. Both cash and card are accepted everywhere.

Visas are typically not needed for stays up to 6 months in Canada.

Tipping culture: You are expected to tip 15-20% minimum on every meal. You are also expected to tip drivers, hair dressers, or anyone providing a “service” to you.

Tax: is not included in the price you see. Each province has their own tax bracket – Alberta 5%, Ontario 13%, British Columbia 12%, etc.



Budget Car Rentals in Canada – Summarized

If you don’t have time to read this entire blog post, here’s a brief overview of budget car rentals in Canada, the best RV rentals in Canada, and the ride share programs used in Canada.


For budget car rentals in Canada I recommend Discover Car Hire. It’s the biggest global car rental comparison tool and features vehicles from all the big car rental companies so you dont have to filter through multiple sites.

The best RV rental in Canada is Canadream.

Carpooling, hitchhiking, and ride shares in Canada – hitchhiking isn’t overly common in Canada, but Poparide is becoming a popular ride share platform. You can use my Poparide link to save $5 off your first trip.



About Public Transportation in Canada

Public transportation in Canada varies widely across the country with significant differences in availability, quality, and coverage depending on the region and city. Some areas have intercity bus routes, go-trains, subways, or a metro. Others have absolutely zero form of public transport.

Country-wide transportation sources include trains, flying, and driving.

The Canadian passenger train is called VIA Rail. It’s slow moving, expensive, and has minimal coverage throughout the country. Taking the train from one side of Canada to the other can take upwards of 2 weeks and cost you hundreds – if not thousands – of dollars.

Flying domestically is typically very expensive and since the country is so big, other forms of transport are usually necessary to reach your final destination. There are many airports scattered throughout the country and most large cities have international airports.

Driving is the most common form of transportation in Canada as there are intricate road and highway systems everywhere. Most Canadians own vehicles and do not rely on public transportation at all, unless they live in a major city.

If you’re planning to visit rural, remote, or suburban areas you will need to rent a car. Otherwise you will not be able to facilitate your own transportation within Canada.



Budget Car Rental Companies in Canada

The best way to find budget car rentals in Canada is to use a car rental comparison tool. The best car rental comparison tools in Canada are Discover Car Hire and Rentalcars.com.

Both Discover Car Hire and Rentalcars.com compare available rental vehicles from all the big brands like National, Alamo, Hertz, Avis, Budget, etc. Using a tool like this allows you to see all the available rental vehicles in one spot without having to scroll through multiple websites.


Discover Car Hire

My go-to is Discover Car Hire as they are currently the biggest car rental platform on the market. They operate in more than 145 countries and 10K+ locations globally so you can be sure they’ll showcase every available vehicle in the area you’re looking at.

The best thing about Discover Car Hire is that their quotes include fees, taxes, and extras so you know exactly what you’re paying before the checkout screen.


Rentalcars.com

Rentalcars.com is similar to Discover Car Hire as it compares multiple big car rental companies in addition to smaller local brands.

I always suggest using both Discover Car Hire and Rentalcars.com simultaneously just to make sure one site is not showcasing a better deal than the other.


Turo

Turo is like airbnb for vehicles. Individuals opt to rent out their personal vehicles at decent prices.



Best RV Rentals in Canada

Renting an RV is a great way to travel Canada as it gives you access to a mobile home on wheels – accommodations, transportation, and cooking facilities all included. This is a great way to budget travel Canada as purchasing these individually can add up quickly.

Currently, the best RV rentals in Canada are Canadream and Karma Campers. Book well in advance as these companies are very busy and can book out entirely during peak summer.

There’s also the Outdoorsy platform and RVezy which are a peer-to-peer marketplaces where RV owners rent out their trailers and campers to other travellers.



Carpooling, Hitchhiking & Ride Shares in Canada:

If public transportation lets you down and car rentals seem a bit too pricey for your Canada travel budget, you can always consider carpooling, hitchhiking, or ride share programs.

Hitchhiking in Canada isn’t overly common, but it isn’t unheard of. Canada is a generally safe country, however as the years progress the country is seeing more and more shady behaviour. I personally would be weary of carpooling in Canada unless you’re in popular tourist areas.

Carpooling and ride shares in Canada are typically done via the Poparide platform. Poparide is a platform where individuals can post their driving routes online for others to join. Typically the fees to join a Poparide trip are substantially lower than driving solo or using public transportation.

ps- you can use my Poparide link to save $5 off your first trip.



Happy adventuring!

Taylor ♡


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About The Author

HI, I’m Taylor – the voice behind The Holistic Backpacker.

After moving to Banff National Park in 2020 I became an outdoor adventure enthusiast and vowed to never stop exploring.

I now spend my days travelling the world, climbing mountains, and spending nights under the stars in the Canadian Rockies backcountry.

I created The Holistic Backpacker so I could share my adventures and help connect people like you with the same amazing experiences.

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