Meg, Ellison and John at Lonsdale Quay

After deliberating for some time we decided to take a holiday in Western Canada so, in
early June, we set about planning the trip and began gathering the multitude of travel
brochures, newspaper articles, internet pages and newsgroup mailings.

An initial plan evolved which entailed flying into Vancouver, driving a circuitous route
(which had to include the Rockies) and then returning to Vancouver for the flight
home. Working on the rest of the itinerary involved making very difficult decisions, not
on what we would see, but which of the attractions we would have to bypass.

We were suffering from Information Overload and it eventually became obvious that in
the three weeks we had available we would be spending most of the time on the road
and only enjoying a small part of all that British Columbia and Alberta have to offer.
Resigned to this fact we drafted the first plan and began looking at accommodations.
Travel books supply a wealth of general information but to get at the details there’s no
better way than talking with the locals. With this in mind, and from past experience,
we decided that we would be hosted at B & Bs or small inns.

Whilst browsing Alberta and BC websites we found (Canada-West
Accommodations) and an invitation to forward a general travel plan which would be
reviewed and commented upon with suggestions for adjustments. Time to seek advice
from someone on the spot, so we e-mailed our first thoughts to .

We quickly received a response in which all but one of the places we had thought to
visit were still included but with the suggestion that we flew into Calgary and returned
from Vancouver. This would of course allow for a much more leisurely itinerary but
we had read that there could be a drop-off fee if the car was not returned to Calgary -
more on this later.

Now for the best way to get there. We’d already taken cursory looks at flight operators and fares which varied enormously. We decided against the cheapest which were indirect flights via the US (a fortunate decision in view of the tragic events of 11th September), and concentrated on direct flights. The Canadian company chosen became the favourite for two reasons. The fares were very competitive and car hire can be arranged with no drop-off fee and, as was later confirmed, no hidden charges to be paid on collection of the car. (This latter point is important as many travellers, including ourselves, can testify)

We therefore made provisional bookings with the Canadian airline company for the flights, car hire and seat reservations and conditionally accepted Canada-West’s services subject to details of the recommended accommodations being forwarded to us for approval.

Addresses of all eleven suggested stop-overs were e-mailed to us and most had websites
with photographs and detailed information. They varied from small and medium B&B’s to a western style ranch.

One or two further e-mails were exchanged with Canada-West regarding flight arrival
and departure times, and queries regarding the country’s various taxes. (The latter
proved to be a complex subject deserving of it’s own chapter and is perhaps best taken
on trust!). Finally we asked that all eleven accommodation addresses and dates be

Without going into details of the holiday itself we are extremely happy to put on record
that the accommodations selected for us by Canada-West proved to be all and more
than we could have wished. In total we covered about 2,400 miles from the Rockies to
the West Coast during which time we met and made many new friends, more than a
few with whom, to our incredulity, we were repeatedly discovering mutually common

As a postscript - we flew out of the UK just over one week after the terrible events of
11th September. Flights were not quite back to normal and ours was re-scheduled for
take-off first five, but eventually nine hours later. This resulted in a 3.15am
touch-down at Calgary. We were then advised to take a taxi immediately and our
arrival at the first B & B was at 4.30 am! Fortunately, we had been able to make last
minute contact with Canada-West re the delay and the information was duly forwarded
to our first host. Not only were we welcomed at that unearthly hour but our host kindly
re-arranged and then drove us to collect our hire car later in the day, and from a local
depot instead of making the long trip back to the airport as originally contracted.

- Northampton, UK

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