I will be in Vancouver in November and plan to rent a car for a road trip. It will be a 7 day round-trip and I do not plan to go to the US. Idea is to visit several tourist spots there and do some hiking. The itinerary is not clear yet (and might depend on your answers). Possibly, I will go Vancouver Island.

What are possible hazards? Especially, considering the time in year, and that I'm traveling solo.

In particular, I'm concerned about

  • Road conditions
  • Wildlife

And, are there places that should be avoided?

  • 1
    Where are you from, and what is your winter driving experience? The climate is very different near the coast than inland. Commented Aug 31, 2022 at 9:07
  • I'm from Germany and have already been driving on snow-covered roads. However, only on familiar roads with my own car. Commented Aug 31, 2022 at 12:58
  • 1
    I found that BC ferries are very busy on a Friday and Sunday evening so avoid crossing to/from Vancouver Island at those times. Also, my rule when abroad is not to drive after dark unless absolutely necessary. Commented Aug 31, 2022 at 14:39

1 Answer 1


One of the things to watch out for is subconscious bias. For many Europeans it's hard to intuitively understand just how big and empty the country is once you get away from the population centers. Canada has low population density to start with and 90% of all Canadians live within 100 miles of the US border. Once you are north of that, it gets real empty real fast.

Simple example: In Germany you think about "where is the next gas station" once your needle is mostly down or the light turns on. In rural Canada you should think about this directly after you have filled up! Same goes for food & lodging.

You will also have large areas without cell phone reception or internet connection. Make sure you have an offline mapping program! If something goes sideways, you can't just call 911.

Depending on where you are going: you can certainly get snow and difficult road conditions in November. Wildlife is less of a problem. There are bear attacks in BC but they are quite rare.

Things to consider:

  1. Plan your route upfront or at least for the next step: check road conditions, gas, food and lodging before you depart.
  2. Get a navigation app that works without Internet, i.e. where you can download maps. I use HereWeGo but there are other choices as well.
  3. Carry one or two USB power banks and keep them charged.
  4. Let a friend know where you are planning to arrive and when. If you do get stuck in the middle of nowhere and are overdue by XXX hours, they can alert the authorities.
  5. Get a vehicle and the equipment that's suitable for where you going.
  6. Don't stretch and play it safe: if you are not sure you can handle a certain route, take an alternative or sit it out. Canada is beautiful almost everywhere
  7. Watch a quick video on how to handle bear encounters. It's highly unlikely that you would need that but it doesn't harm and builds confidence.
  8. Have fun! That sounds like a great adventure.

Adding more suggestions from the comments (just to have a comprehensive list)

  1. Personal Locator Beacon for those times where you are in trouble and there is no one else around and there is no cell service. You can rent PLBs from various places
  2. Bring paper maps
  3. There is also no harm in asking the locals (general store, gas station) about anything to know about the route ahead
  4. Watch out for Moose and Deer while driving. See https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/transportation/driving-and-cycling/traveller-information/routes-and-driving-conditions/wildlife
  • Given that the OP mentioned hiking, I'd add to that list a Personal Locator Beacon for those times where you are in trouble and there is no one else around and there is no cell service. You can rent PLBs from various places. (I own a PLB and the promise is they'll be coming after me within the hour if I trigger it.)
    – Peter M
    Commented Aug 31, 2022 at 14:38
  • 1
    Also take paper maps (and know how to use them) both for the hiking and for the roads, as they are less likely to fail when the batteries go flat or they get wet.
    – Willeke
    Commented Aug 31, 2022 at 14:49
  • 2
    Wildlife-wise, a collision with a deer can total your car. A collision with a 600kg moose can be fatal because the car hood will go under the beast and its body will go through your windshield. www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/transportation/driving-and-cycling/… Commented Aug 31, 2022 at 14:55
  • 2
    One possibility - whenever you stop, even if its just for gas, talk to the cashier and tell them where you're going, even if its just "oh, I'm heading to xxxx, do you have any advice?". Not only do you get advice, but if you go missing the authorities then have at least one extra source on where you're headed.
    – user25730
    Commented Aug 31, 2022 at 23:15

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