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Travel in Canada: Breaking Down Barriers so You Can Explore the Great North

Did you know that just over a quarter of Canadians have travelled this massive country we call home? Read on to find out why we dismiss our home and native land for more ‘exotic’ vacation destinations, and why Canada just might be the latest travel destination worth exploring in 2019.

See More Canada in 2019

We get it—how can Canada possibly compete with the white sandy beaches of Cuba, the historic streets of Europe or the beauty of the Icelandic night sky. But you’d be surprised!

Skyscanner Canada recently sponsored a survey of both Canadian and American travellers and discovered a host of interesting information, including why Canadians don’t choose Canada as a vacation destination despite the fact that they really do want to travel the country, why Americans have Canada on their travel bucket list and some great Canadian vacation destinations.

So, let’s take a look at that survey and see if we can convince you to choose Canada as your next travel destination!

colourful houses by the shores in newfoundland, Canada
Travel in Canada: Newfoundland

Canada Is Becoming a “Cooler” Travel Destination, According to 40% of Canadians

Canadians are not big on exploring their own country. Even though most of us want to explore more, we’ve got a pretty low turnout rate. Most of us believe that international travellers have seen more of our beautiful country than we have.

The most adventurous population of Canadians are in the Atlantic provinces where 3% of respondents had visited all of the provinces and territories (the national average was 1%). Also in Atlantic Canada, 21% visited 9 to 10 provinces, 17% visited 7 to 8 and 24% visited 5 to 6.

Quebec respondents also have a higher Canadian travel rate, where 41% said they have visited two Canadian provinces in addition to Quebec itself. But 13% have never been out of the province, and they were the most #sorrynotsorry about travelling more with only 36% regretting not doing more travelling within Canada.

Overall, 55% of survey respondents felt that visiting Canada during their travels is not a priority. Though 40% say that Canada is becoming a “cooler” destination for international visitors, in part due to our new marijuana legalization rules.

woman with winter coat and hat in snowy Lake Louise, Alberta
Travel in Canada: Alberta

73% of Canadians Regret Not Exploring More of Canada

Do you find yourself silently regretting the fact that you haven’t explored more of our own backyards? You’re not alone. Most of us wish we’ve seen more of Canada (which makes sense, because Canada is awesome).

Our research found that even though 73% of us regret not exploring more of Canada and we simply don’t prioritize it. Seriously, when’s the last time you heard someone say they’re headed on an exciting vacation to Winnipeg? Probably never.  

So what’s stopping us? Here’s what we discovered.

We think we’ll get there, eventually

Most of us don’t plan to travel around Canada because we assume we’ll get there. We take for granted the fact that we live in such a beautiful country. We’ll travel to Iceland for the Northern Lights when we have them in our own backyard! Or we’ll head to a resort on the beach in the Dominican Republic or Cuba, but there are sandy beaches on our east and west coasts just waiting to be explored.

In fact, 77% of us think we’ll eventually travel within Canada, but we prioritize travel to more ‘exotic’, international destinations. But, if we don’t plan it, we’ll never go!

Destination Spotlight for Families: Itching to take your family to Europe for the beautiful old-world look and feel, but don’t exactly have the budget? Head to Quebec City! A whopping 88% of Americans surveyed expressed interest in visiting this beautiful historic city.

canoe on a lake at sunset with life jacket inside
Canoe in Canada

It’s too expensive

Travel within Canada ain’t always cheap, or at least that’s what 70% of us think. And if you’re an Albertan, you’re probably particularly put off by domestic travel costs.

However, the influx of new budget airlines like Air Canada Rouge, Flair, and Swoop, domestic travel costs are decreasing. You can now get a flight from Calgary to Vancouver for about $100 return. Seriously, that’s a pretty good deal!

Tips and ways to save money on travel in Canada:

  • Road trip instead of fly
  • Use ride share apps to reduce and split costs, or post on travel groups to find like-minded travellers to road trip with, so you can split car rental and gas costs.
  • Travel urban centres via public transit—most major Canadian cities have reliable and easy-to-use public transit options.
  • Ditch the hotel for a tent—Canada has some of the most amazing camping destinations.

Destination Spotlight for the Budget Traveller: Skip the expensive trip to this year’s Calgary Stampede, instead pack your tent and head to Alberta’s Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. Because it’s a provincial park, the rates are already set (and they’re totally reasonable), but make sure you reserve your spot because these beautiful sites get booked up!

The weather isn’t ideal

Finally, the last reason why we don’t explore Canada as much as we’d like is because we think the weather to be less-than-desirable for a vacation. Most of us are looking for a hotter destination than Niagara Falls. But if you plan your Canadian travel for the right time of year and the right place, you can find some pretty nice weather.

Warm Canadian winter destinations include places like Victoria, Vancouver, and Kelowna, BC—all of which see little snow, and Halifax, NS. And in the summer, some balmy Canadian destinations include Kamloops, BC, Medicine Hat, AB, and even Yellowknife, NWT (which stays bright and sunny for most of the day!).

Destination Spotlight for the Sun Seeker: Whale watching in Victoria, BC. The summer months in this laid-back island city are bustling with tourists, feature a warm sun and has great activities for nature lovers like whale watching. Of the Americans surveyed, 86% of them expressed interest in heading to BC for some whale watching, so get on it!

mountain biker holding his bike while hiking near a waterfall
Canada is filled with bucket list outdoor experiences

51% See Canada Is a Great Adventure and Bucket-List Worthy Destination

Everyone else thinks Canada is a bucket-list travel destination, except for Canadians themselves. When asked, 23% of Canadians surveyed said Canada is not a “sexy” travel destination—despite the fact that 11% of Americans surveyed head over to our parts because we’ve got some good-looking people on-hand (and they included our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the mix, as 55% of the male respondents and 53% female respondents between the ages of 18-34 agreed that he’s attractive).

But Canada really does have some amazing things to offer travellers besides our friendly and good-looking population. And 59% of the American survey respondents said that travel to Canada was on their bucket list.

So what makes Canada a hot destination to travel? According to American survey respondents:

  • 51% are interested in Canada’s adventure and outdoor activities offerings
  • 50% liked the reduced travel time to get to the destination
  • 30% enjoy the idea of our peaceful political climate
  • 24% are interested in the fact that they can communicate effectively due to the lack of language barriers
  • 15% cite the legalization of marijuana as a positive travel asset
  • 11% think Canadians are hot, and why would you not want to visit a bunch of good looking Canadians?

Beyond the above reasons, 26% of Americans cited the favourable exchange rate as a positive to travelling to Canada. While that’s not immediately applicable to Canadians, because we already use the Canadian dollar, the simple fact that we don’t have to exchange money to travel is a big plus!

Other reasons for Americans visiting Canada include visiting family and friends (21%) and the simple fact that they’ve always wanted to visit Canada (30%), sound familiar?

Canada flag blowing in the wind with Rocky Mountains in the distance
Travel in Canada: Rocky Mountains

Where Should You Go?

We asked our friends down south for some of the Canadian destinations that they most wanted to check out, and they gave us some pretty good ideas. If you’re looking for somewhere to visit in Canada this year, this is where Americans are itching to visit.

Northern Lights for magical nights

The Northern Lights are truly wonderful to see, and Whitehorse would make the perfect summer vacation destination for you. A whopping 95% of Americans surveyed said that they were interested in visiting the Northern Lights in Canada.

Toronto for foodies

Toronto has culture and culinary delights, and 86% of American’s surveyed expressed a desire to visit the city for those reasons.

Niagara Falls for iconic sights

Join 93% of survey respondents and add the iconic Niagara Falls in Ontario to your bucket list. Sure, you could go to the American side and see them but they wouldn’t be nearly as good, eh?

Atlantic Provinces for a unique setting

If you’re looking for a unique spring destination, try visiting Atlantic Canada to watch the giant icebergs float away—85% of American respondents expressed an interest in watching the oceanic wonder of the yearly iceberg migration.

Poutine: Canada’s favourite dish

Ready to Travel to Canada?

If you’re one of the 73% of Canadians wishing you could see more of Canada, get on it by checking out some of these awesome Canadian destinations:

Plan Your Next Vacation in Canada

Let’s keep these #WeTheNorth vibes going strong and get exploring our own big and beautiful backyards this summer, Canada! Start your planning with our hotel search below and find deals on hotel stays across Canada.