How to live your best van life in Canada with Global Traveller Suz.
Hi my name is Suz (sue-z), I was born in Scotland then moved to Australia when I realised that something was missing in my picket white fence life and I needed to travel. But soon enough, my need to travel outweighed my basic lifestyle and I was on one of the first planes out to Canada thanks to the guidance of Global Work & Travel.
One of the prerequisites of my Canadian Visa was that I needed to have a job to enter the country. Ideally, I would have loved to have landed in April, travelled around Canada during the summer then worked the dark cold winter to save up enough money to travel again the next summer. But what company is going to hire you 6 months before your start date to secure you entry to the country. I will tell you who, nobody. So, I sucked it up and jumped straight into working as soon as I finished my compulsory isolation. I honestly can't complain. I made some amazing friends, spent every rostered day off exploring my backyard and have memories that will last a lifetime. But now was my time to get out there and see Canada. I didn’t care how cold and miserable it was going to get, I was ready.
The van life chooses you.
I was lucky enough to meet a couple from Calgary while working in Jasper who were kind enough to go view a car/van for me. It was a dodge grand caravan, very popular with backpackers in Canada and highly recommended if you decided to do van life. It's fuel efficient, small enough to drive with ease but big enough to have a bed and kitchen area. They gave it the green light, so me and my friend took a road trip down from Jasper to go pick up Deide (posh way of saying DD which stands for dodgy digs fittingly named by my Mum).
I spent the next few months deep cleaning her, giving her some TLC in the mechanical maintenance department and making her homely as this was to be my house for the foreseeable future. So, with my saw and screw driver and some help from the lovely people of Jasper that offered help through a facebook page, (a must join if you are heading to Jasper) I got to work.
I reduced the bed width by an inch and made the bed collapsible so that I can have seats for passengers, or have space for a couch table during rainy days. In the back kitchen area, I lowered the stove shelf to utilise the space and make it look tidier. But my favourite change was flipping the way the cupboard door opened so I could extend counter space.
After adding some nice bedding, frames and lights she was good to go. I was on my way. Travelling round Alberta first, one of the quirkiest stops was Drumheller, the Dinosaur capital of the world. I even managed to collect more photos with the red chairs of Canada (you will find them in some really nice places all round the country).
I’d treat myself to breakfast at Tim Hortons or Starbucks most mornings which also gave me a chance to use their washroom and WIFI. Some people get a gym membership to a big chain that's all round the country so they can use their showers, but I was quite lucky to have friends I could stay with at some places along the way so I could shower and socialise. If not, I'd book myself into a hostel as needed. My favourite part of sleeping in my van is finding the perfect spot to park up at night, it’s like a game sneaking in and out with nobody knowing. But once it hit –14degrees I knew it was time to head to warmer weather in BC.
5 days into my BC leg of the trip, the rain hit and wouldn’t subside. I spent 2 days in hope debating whether to write off my plans there and keep going or wait another day till the rain stopped. I decided to leave. I don’t do well with prolonged bad weather days and man am I glad I did. Not even 24 hours later, floods and landslides devastated the area. My thoughts and prayers go out to the people affected by this.
Now currently sitting in the Global Work & Travel office (with my Christmas prezzies my mum sent) I am planning my next step. I'm thinking of heading to Vancouver Island for a few months till it gets warmer then start my drive across country to the East Coast but who knows, that may change. The great thing about van life is you are free to up and go whenever, stay longer if you’d like or go off course if you get a great tip (I recommend visiting tourist information centres, they are great for local knowledge and to find hidden gems you probably won't find online).
Dreaming of driving around Canada in your own little van? Start planning your Working Holiday today!