- About This Trip
- Minimum Requirements
- Minimum and Maximum numbers
- Local Laws
- Joining and Ending Your Trip
- Arrival Complications
- Passports and Visas
- Travel insurance
- Rooming & Solo Travellers
- Food and Dietary Requirements
- Camp Chores
- Sleeping bags and towels
- Included and Optional Activities
- Currency and Money
- Spending money
- Problems and Emergency Contact Information
- Police & Ambulance
- Safety Information
- Responsible Travel
- Weather-appropriate Clothing
About This Trip
This trip brings you the iconic landscapes and outdoor adventures that characterize Western North America, woven together with a little history and lots of geography. The tour is half in Canada and half in the United States. We travel the most scenic routes, visit the most iconic landscapes and get off the beaten path into the heart of the natural environment. We’ll visit all the major National parks of both countries and enjoy such exhilarating activities as white-water rafting, canoeing, hiking, horseback riding, cycling, a glacier adventure, a houseboat sailing trip and canyoneering, with many more optional activities. And we’ll touch the great cities of Las Vegas and San Francisco. Truly, an experience of a lifetime!
The main requirement for traveling with West Adventures is an adventurous spirit. We deliberately do not cater to specific demographics, believing that a shared wanderlust, an appreciation for our planet, and a commitment to a group experience are the most important ingredients in making a trip successful.
In order to get the most out of your trip, though, you should be reasonably fit and enjoy the outdoors. We also restrict our clients to a minimum of age 18, although we will accept clients as young as 14 if they are accompanied by a parent or designated adult.
Minimum and Maximum numbers
The minimum number of clients for this trip to go is five; when we reach that number, it will be “Guaranteed.” Please do not book flights prior to assurance that the departure is confirmed. Please see our Booking Terms and Conditions for our policies in the event that we have to cancel a departure.
The maximum number of clients on this trip is sixteen. We will indicate in the “Status” column of the “Trip Dates” when we are approaching maximum numbers.
All travellers with West Adventures Inc. or any trusted partners are expected to obey all laws and regulations of the countries and facilities visited. Any illegal drug use is unacceptable and will be cause for removal from the tour. Smoking bans have been implemented in Canada in enclosed public places such as restaurants, bars and shopping malls. Please note that the legal drinking age in BC is 19, in Alberta it is 18 and in the USA it is 21. Laws are strictly enforced in both countries and our tour guides are unable to help anyone under age obtain alcohol of any kind. It is mandatory to wear a seat belt at all times when driving.
Joining and Ending Your Trip
Vancouver is both the starting and ending point of the trip. We utilize several hotels within the City. Your final pre-trip documents will indicate which is the hotel for your departure and give instructions for getting there. The trip officially starts with the group meeting, normally at 6 pm on the first day of the trip. Look for a posted note or other information at the front desk of the joining hotel to confirm the time and place of the meeting and receive any last minute instructions or required information.
The trip ends mid afternoon on arrival at the ending hotel, which may or may not be the same one as your joining hotel.
This trip does not include sight-seeing or extra excursions in Vancouver and area. You will probably want to add a day or two before or after your trip to enjoy Vancouver or add some extra time in Whistler (or both). We will be happy to book hotel accommodations and excursions for you, subject to availability. It is in your interests to book these as early as possible, as hotels and excursions tend to get fully booked in this area in the summer. As most of our trips stop and start on Saturdays, you are able to easily book multiple trips back to back. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call from within North America at 1-877-230-9699 or internationally at 1-604-546-7580 if you need assistance in this regard.
Taxis are a quick and easy way to get to and from Vancouver International Airport. The approximate fare to downtown Vancouver is between CA$35-45.
You can also take the sky-train for a cost of $5.50 one way. Canada Line’s YVR-Airport station is centrally located between the International and Domestic Terminals. Specific details will be given with your final pre-trip documents.
Your final pre-trip documents will be emailed to you approximately 2 weeks prior to your departure.
If for any reason, you are unable to commence your trip as scheduled, please contact your trip leader at the contact provided on your final pre-trip documents as soon as possible so arrangements can be made to catch up with the group or let them know you will not be travelling.
Passports and Visas
In order to travel in Canada and the USA, you must have a valid passport that is good for six months beyond the duration of your trip. The exception is US citizens who can enter Canada with an “enhanced driver’s license.”
Canada does not require visas from most countries but there are some exceptions. Please check in advance to be sure that your documents are in order so that you will not be denied boarding and miss the trip you’ve been anticipating. However, Canada has adopted an Electronic Travel Authorization system. Travellers need this authorization before they can board a flight to Canada. If you are crossing into Canada on a land border the ETA is not required. You apply for the authorization online; details on applying for an ETA can be found at http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/eta.asp.
If you hold dual citizenship with Canada, you cannot apply for an ETA but must use your Canadian passport. If you do not have one, you must apply and receive one in advance of your trip.
There are several citizenships that require a visa or a visa-waiver when travelling into the USA. Please check the government website for the most up to date information about what is required. https://www.usa.gov/visas
When crossing a boarder with a minor child, either both parents need to be traveling with the child, or a witnessed or notarized letter must be carried, giving the traveling parent approval to cross the border with the minor, from the absent parent.
Medical insurance is mandatory for all clients travelling with West Adventures Inc. Clients, together with their personal property, including baggage, are at all times solely at their own risk. Clients are wholly responsible for arranging their own insurance. A suitable insurance policy should provide adequate cover for medical expenses arising through illness or accident prior to or during the trip and the cost of the trip through cancellation prior to or during the trip, for insurable reasons, as well as emergency repatriation. Clients should ensure that there are no exclusion clauses, limiting protection for the type of activities available during their trip whether included in the course of the tour provided by West Adventures Inc. or otherwise. Proof of adequate insurance will be requested at the start of your trip and failure to provide this may result in you being prevented from joining the trip or portions of it, without refund.
You will be responsible for your own luggage at all times. We recommend travelling light. A small suitcase or backpack (preferred) and a day pack are probably all you need. There are laundry facilities along the way so that you can reuse your clothing, to keep the packing lighter. If you plan to do a lot of hiking, you may want to bring along hiking poles. We recommend the collapsible kind, for easy packing and storage and for the safety of fellow passengers.
Although Canada has two official languages, English and French, Western Canada is almost strictly English. You will not need any other language to get by in this area, though you may find a variety of colourful accents because Canada is a multi-cultural country with many ethnic backgrounds represented. English is always spoken in the USA.
We advertise some of our departures as bilingual for the benefit of our clients only. This means that on those designated departures there will be someone assisting the tour leaders to translate in the designated language.
Electrical current is 110 volts, 60Hz. American-style flat two-pin plugs and a plug with a third round grounding pin are standard.
Accommodations on this trip are split nearly evenly between camping and hotels. Other than one night in a wilderness camp, our campsites have full amenities, including, in most cases, showers. Our hotels are not five-star but they are clean and comfortable, convenient and provide all the basic needs for this type of travel.
Rooming & Solo Travellers
Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation. All travellers will be matched up with another traveller of the same gender. If you would prefer a guaranteed room/tent to yourself there will be a single supplement charged and single rooms are subject to availability.
If you prefer to have a room/tent to yourself, you must select “Single Supplement” when making your booking. If you wish to room with someone specific who has made a separate booking, please advise us of your roommate’s name in the special requests box or by email at email@example.com .
We use several types of transportation for our trips, including two sizes of minibuses. We do not use vans. Should we have ten or fewer clients on a trip, we may use the smaller of our vehicles, which is a little more comfortable.
Your comfort and safety is important to us. We don’t want you to be worn out from cramped conditions when you get to your destination, so we provide individual seating, not bench seats. The vehicles are also equipped with air conditioning.
On this trip, you will also be transported by houseboat, canoe, river raft and, at your discretion, bicycle.
No vaccinations are necessary for travel to Canada or the USA.
It is important that you bring along with you any medications you may require on the trip; as you will not likely be able to fill foreign prescriptions at Canadian pharmacies. Also, you should advise your tour leader of medications you are on, in case an emergency situation arises while on your tour.
Should any medical emergencies arise, on this tour there are medical facilities in Vancouver, Osoyoos, Salmon Arm, Banff, Whistler, Yellowstone, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City and near Bryce, Zion and Yosemite National Parks.
Food and Dietary Requirements
Food while camping. On our trips the group typically cooks together under the guidance of the tour leader, who also serves as head cook. Your tour leader has Foodsafe certification, which means he/she has been trained to provide meals in a safe, healthy manner. Your leader will divide you into cooking groups to assist with food preparation on a rotating basis. Meals are simple but nutritious and will include a good balance of protein, fruits and vegetables and starches. Gluten-free and vegetarian requirements will be accommodated; however, we need to know these requirements in advance of departure.
While your equipment includes coolers to keep food fresh and safe, extra care is taken to ensure food remains fresh. It will not be kept long, which means there will be some grocery-shopping trips. Your tour leader may designate one or more of the clients to assist in grocery shopping and to act as assistant cook.
Food in restaurants. You will find North American restaurants are quite accommodating to special dietary needs, especially gluten-free and vegetarian requirements. It is best to ask your server in advance for their menu items that meet your needs.
Except in extraordinary circumstances, tap water in Canada and the USA is treated and safe to drink. However, taste varies considerably and some may not want to imbibe water treated with chemicals. If you prefer bottled water, that is your option, but you will have to supply that yourself. The tour does not supply bottled water at the campsites, but relies on the water supply at the site. When drinking from rivers or lakes, it is advisable to boil or treat the water before drinking. We encourage you to bring your own re-usable water bottle to help protect the environment.
One reason we include camping on many of our trips is to facilitate group bonding and teamwork. We all have to work together to make that a happy experience. Each client will be expected to contribute to camp duties. Your tour leader may divide you into groups for camp chores and/or assign you specific duties. Clients will be expected to set up their own tents and arrange their sleeping quarters according to their own (or shared) preferences.
It is required that you be punctual at all times. This is a courtesy to other travellers and can negatively impact the operations of a trip if punctuality is not adhered to.
Sleeping bags and towels
You will need good, warm sleeping bags for the camping and houseboat nights of your trip. Although Western Canada & USA are warm in summer, some of our camping is at quite high elevations which can get cool at night. You will likely want to bring along your own sleeping bags. If you prefer not to bring sleeping bags on your flight, you will find them widely available for purchase in every price range in Vancouver. Alternatively, you may rent sleeping bags from West Adventures for the duration of the trip.
You need to supply your own towels for those nights when we are not in a hotel. We suggest keeping them light, utilizing the quick-dry towels that you can purchase at outdoor supply stores. Again, there are numerous outlets available for this in Vancouver. West Adventures does not rent towels.
Included and Optional Activities
We include quite a few activities in our trips and expect that you have joined our trips because you want to participate in these types of activities. Included on this trip are whitewater rafting, a houseboat adventure, hot springs soak, excursions to Moraine Lake, Mt. Edith Cavell, Maligne Lake and Takakkaw Falls, glacier expereince, canoe trip, horseback trail ride, national park tours, a visit to Mesa Verde, Monument Valley tour with First Nations expereince, Hoover Dam tour, Napa Valley wine tour, all park fees, and overnight houseboat experience.
You have the right to refrain from these included activities; however, in this case, you will not be refunded for the activities you choose not to participate in. When appropriate or necessary, the trip leader will attempt to arrange an alternative, but that will be at your additional expense.
There are plenty of opportunities, too, for optional activities. Your trip leader will brief you on the various options on arrival at any destination.
Currency and Money
Our pricing is based on Canadian currency rates. If you are using a non-Canadian credit card for payment of your trip, your credit card company will apply the exchange rate of the day to your purchase. On arrival in Canada, though, prices will always be quoted in Canadian dollars but US cash is accepted almost everywhere. Any other currency, though, will not likely be accepted when you shop in Western Canada. You should also be aware that paying with any currency besides Canadian dollars will likely be at exchange rates considerably worse than you will get when you change your money at a bank or currency exchange.
Canadian prices are normally quoted before taxes. There are usually two taxes added, the federal 5% GST and the provincial tax, which varies by province. Some items have only the GST and some, such as food to be prepared, are exempt from all taxes. In British Columbia the provincial tax (PST) is 7%. In Alberta, there is no provincial tax. California sales tax is 7.5%, Utah sales tax is 3.95%, Nevada sales tax is 6.85%, Washington sales tax is 9%, Montana has no sales tax.
Credit cards and cash are virtually equally accepted in Canada and the USA, and there is no additional charge for the use of credit cards. Please be sure to make whatever arrangements are necessary with your financial institution back home, though, to ensure that your credit card or bank card is not denied by your provider. Automatic Teller Machines (ATM’s) are widely available at any bank or financial institution and at many other convenience stops.
Tipping is deeply engrained in the tourism industry and is a pretty standard practice in Canada and the USA for services rendered. It is in most cases, entirely optional, though, and should reflect your level of satisfaction with the service. Occasionally, though, a “service fee” or “gratuity” may be added to the bill, especially at higher end restaurants or when a group is being served. You should check your bill carefully before deciding on your tip. Typical tips vary. At restaurants, it is typical to tip 15 – 20% directly to your server or added to your payment. For bars, $1 per drink is appropriate.
Tipping is also anticipated in the wage structure for those who supply tourism services. You should anticipate tipping your guides for local excursions, both included and optional ones, 10 – 20% of the value of the trip you purchased. As for your tour leaders, it is entirely up to you but if you feel they have done a good job, it is appropriate to tip $5 – $10 per day per leader.
Everyone’s spending pattern is different, and depends on your culinary preferences, the amount you drink, the optional activities you choose to participate in and the souvenirs you purchase. Make sure you have access to sufficient funds to cover your trip spending patterns. Experience suggests that it’s easy to underestimate the amount you will need.
To help you with budgeting, though, we can say is that modest meals in fast-food outlets usually run at $8.00 – $12.00, while restaurant meals typically start at about $15.00. You could easily spend double that, though. Again, these prices are before taxes and tips. Make sure you check in advance so that you are aware of which meals are included in your package and which ones you will need to pay for.
Problems and Emergency Contact Information
While we always endeavor to provide the best possible experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit, sometimes things can go wrong. Should any problems occur while you are on your trip, you must discuss this with your trip leader right away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
We recognize that there may be times when your trip leader may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction – if this is the case, please contact our operations office at 1-877-230-9699 (toll-free in the USA and Canada) or +1-604-546-7580 (office hours).
Keep in mind that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
Police & Ambulance
In case of an emergency, local authorities can be contacted by calling 911 – this is the toll-free phone number for the police, fire department and the ambulance in Canada and the USA.
Most visits to Canada and the USA are trouble-free. Even though most of the areas we visit are safe, travellers are advised to take sensible precautions to safeguard their belongings, as they would anywhere; including using a safety deposit box when in a hotel and using a money belt. Additional vigilance is required in the larger cities especially when going out in the evening or if you choose to use any public transit. It is advisable to go out with a companion instead of alone.
We try to minimize any negative aspects of tourism on the local area and its environment, so that the beauty will be enjoyed for generations to come. Whenever possible we will recycle glass, metal and plastics. Bring a reusable water drinking container with you to reduce waste.
The world and its people are diverse and add to the experience of travel. It is extremely important to show respect to those local customs and traditions when we travel, just as we would expect travellers to show us when visiting our home country.
At the end of your trip the trip leader will offer you an opportunity to complete a trip evaluation. We appreciate any and all feedback about your trip.
- Credit/debit card, Cash (see Currency & Money)
- Passport (with photocopies)
- Travel insurance (with photocopies)
- Airline e-tickets (with photocopies)
- Any entry visas
- 4 season sleeping bag
- Small pillow
- Insect repellent
- Hand sanitizers/ antibacterial wipes
- Rain Cover or plastic bags for daypacks
- Small travel towel and wash cloth
- Swim wear
- Sun hat
- Toiletries (biodegradable when possible)
- Reusable water bottle
- Watch or alarm clock
- Moisturizer/Lip balm
- Day pack
- Camera & extra memory cards and batteries
- A little dry laundry detergent
- Long pants/jeans
- Hiking pants
- Long-sleeved shirts or sweater
- Fleece top or long sleeves
- Comfortable clothing for sleeping
- Nicer outfit for an evening out
- Under garments
- Rain jacket or poncho
- Hiking boots/Sturdy walking shoes
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Waterproof sport sandals