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Travel Tips for First-time Travellers in Western Canada

So you’re planning a trip to Western Canada? We love to see it! Western Canada is filled with beautiful forests, mountains and lakes galore, which is why FML Adventures is headquartered here. If you’re coming to the west coast for the first time, here’s what you need to know about to make your trip the most memorable one yet.

Prepare for the Weather

Hiking in snow.

In true Canadian fashion, the West Coast is also cold. Even sometimes in the summer. Now we’re not saying bring a puffy winter jacket during the travels - unless you’re going during the winter - but consider a little something to bundle up because things do get chilly out here.

Thinking of heading to Alberta? Amazing choice! They’ve seen record high summers within the last couple of years so it can definitely be warm. However, even in the warmest weather, if you’re making your way up to the mountains, the further up you climb, the more snow you will find. Don’t let that scare you away though. Whether it’s Banff or Jasper National Park, the views are worth the weather.

Now in B.C. you’ll probably venture to Vancouver. Here are some of the city’s most popular nicknames: Rain City, Raincouver, and Wet Coast. Can you guess what Vancouver weather is famous for? Rain! Now it’s not all the time, but it is a lot of the time. It’s just one of the benefits of living oceanside and being bordered by the Rocky Mountains, so make sure to pack accordingly!

B.C. also has a wildfire season, 58% of which is caused by lightning strikes from storms. Whether you’re backpacking through the forests, staying in a local town or visiting the seaside, keeping track of wildfire activity is the best way to ensure you can stay safe during your adventure. FML Adventures highly recommends the B.C. Wildfire Service app if you’re planning to visit!

Get to know the Transit Systems

Vancouver SkyTrain transit.

Uber is the easy option when thinking of transit, but unfortunately it is not available everywhere. While Metro Vancouver has access, places like Victoria, Squamish, Whistler and Kelowna, B.C. don’t have those ride services. So, what are the alternatives?

The best ways around B.C. are by taxi or public transit (or FML Adventures). They’re all around and well connected. In Vancouver, the Translink system includes buses, the SeaBus ferry and the SkyTrain (light rail) so you can really get anywhere you need to go. The best part is, even if you’re headed to Squamish and Whistler, there are tons of shuttles and bus transfers to take you on a journey to the sea and mountain skies like Epic Rides, SkyLynx and Poparide.

Downtown Calgary is a tight-knit city perfect for walking around. But, the biggest and best views of Alberta are a couple of hours out of town in Banff. There are locations around the city and near the airport to rent a car to take you wherever you need to go and there are tons of alternatives to driving yourself.

The Airport Shuttle Express, Brewster Express, Banff Airporter and RTB Tours & Shuttles are all transit options to get to Banff and once you’re there, Roam Transit and Parks Canada Shuttles can take you to the picture-perfect spots from Johnston Canyon to Lake Minnewanka.

Another alternative - joining FML Adventures on Brent the Bus to take you on an experience of a lifetime.

Celebrate with the Locals: Summer Events in Western Canada

Calgary Stampede Rodeo.

Canada has all kinds of festivals year-round to experience. However, summer in Canada is like no other because everyone is out and about trying to take in as much sun as they can before winter comes around again. There are tons of events and festivals to visit, so plan your visits accordingly!

In Vancouver, the Celebration of Light festival in July is one of the longest-running offshore fireworks festivals in the world, and one of the best and biggest summer events. Around the English Bay and Burrard Inlet, the Celebration of Light festival hypes crowds up with live bands before choreographing fireworks to music for the finale. Truly going out with a bang!

When in Calgary, the biggest event of the year is the Calgary Stampede. In early July, the city welcomes cowboys and cowgirls of all ages to experience a wild wild west with rodeo events, chuckwagon races, Grandstand shows and concerts for 10 exciting summer days. So, put on your best Western costume and head down to the Stampede grounds to catch a glimpse of the historic Canadian West.

Don’t Forget your Park Pass

Yoho National Park canoeing

Whether it’s Jasper, Banff, Yoho or another national park in between (or all of the above with FML’s West Coast Best Coast), most Canadian National Parks require a park pass to get in. When visiting, you can pay entry fees as you come into the park, but everyday you spend in the park camping, hiking or kayaking is an additional admission charge.

The National Park Discovery Pass is the best way to avoid the Park Canada gatehouse. It gives you free entry into all National Parks/Reserves, Marine Conservation Areas and Parks Canada-run National Historic Sites and gives you faster entry into the parks. The best part is it only takes about seven visits to the parks to make the pass worth it.

Look out for Wildlife

Canadian Grizzly bear

B.C. and Alberta have some of the most diverse ecosystems in Canada with forests, mountains and lakes galore filled with animals of all kinds. But, not all of them are cute and friendly.

Some of the biggest animals to keep an eye out for while you're on your adventures include cougars, grizzly and black bears, wolves, coyotes and some poisonous snakes like the Northern Pacific Rattlesnake. Moose and Elk are also Canadian natives and some of the biggest mammals in the area, so beware while you’re driving.

On top of the relatively dangerous ones, we’ve also got whales, beavers, bighorn sheep, marmots and the oh-so-famous Canadian geese. There are so many amazing natural beauties to see while visiting good ol’ Canada.

So first-time travellers, are you ready for your trip to the Canadian West Coast? Get your bags packed and hop on the next plane over. Have fun out there adventurers!

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