Alternative accommodations


Accommodation is not a one-size-fits-all proposition in Canada: you’ll find a range of alternatives to suit your particular travel style.

Here are some of the most popular options:

B&Bs:

Most of Canada’s bed and breakfasts are clustered in eastern Canada, although there are more opening in western Canada every year. There are several helpful online directories to help narrow your search, but I like BBCanada.com for ease of use.

The Regent B&B in Amherst, Nova Scotia

B&Bs offer excellent value for money when you consider that extras such as a full hot breakfast, parking and wifi are usually included in the room rate.

But not all B&Bs are created equal: some feature antique-filled rooms with feather beds and Egyptian cotton sheets, while others amount to no more than a guest bedroom in someone’s house. TripAdvisor reviews are a great resource when you’re considering an unfamiliar property.

Bonus: The people who run B&Bs are generally passionate advocates for their communities and are usually better than any guide book when it comes to planning a local itinerary.

Home exchanges:

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House swaps are growing in popularity around the world, and Canadians are leading the charge.

I have participated in two month-long home exchanges, swapping my former island home for apartments in central Paris and Berlin. (Read my tips for a successful home exchange.)

The beauty of home exchanges is that they allow you to immerse completely in local culture while still being budget-friendly: there are few additional expenses beyond the cost of the flights to your destination.

Home exchanges generally require more forward-planning than traditional travel arrangements; repeat exchangers start looking in December or January for summer exchanges.

There are many international companies offering legitimate home-matching services, but among the most trusted in Canada are HomeLinkIntervac and Sabbatical Homes.

When you register with an exchange company, you can choose a specific destination or open yourself up to offers. Many seasoned exchangers say their best travel experiences have come from corners of the world previously unknown to them.

Note: the more flexible you can be about your destination, the more quickly you will find an exchange. Think about narrowing your search to a region rather than a specific town or city.

University dorms:

Many Canadian universities rent out their dormitories to individuals and groups during the summer. Some, like Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, even have on-campus hotel facilities built to accommodate visiting professors, but available to the public as space allows.

Room rates tend to compare with budget hotels, but the rooms are often more spacious and include kitchen access. If you have family attending a certain campus, or you are a grad, you can often negotiate a discount.

Check out The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada‘s helpful map of Canadian campuses. When you find a campus near your destination, visit the university’s web site and search for terms such as “accommodation” “conference services” and “housing”.

>>Planning a trip to Canada? Use the search tool on this page to find cheap airfares and accommodation!