Started to research what we intend to do, and where we should go in Canada. We’ll be flying into Vancouver early August (when the whole place will be heeeeeaaaaaaving with visitors). Although we’ve found lots of information about travelling around Canada, we’ve found little that gives hints or good ideas for Canada with children. Anyway, what we have found is….

Authentic Indian TipiGulf Islands – off the coast from Vancouver, there’s Victoria Island (big), and lots of other little islands which collectively make up the Gulf Islands. They’re served by a network of ferries drifting back and forth, and from some travel writing we’ve read over time, it seems that they are a great place to relax and get away from urban hustle and bustle. One of the hostels that we like the look of is on Salt Spring Island, called (amazingly not) Salt Spring Island Hostel. In addition to the normal hostel accommodation, there’s a couple of tree houses, plus a genuine Tipi (but sadly, not for children under 14).

Although it’s closed for the winter, it will re-open shortly for bookings. I think we may well make this the first stop in Canada – perhaps stay for a few days after we arrive, so that there’s time to relax and wind down, and the children can adjust to travelling, without too much hassle around them. I guess the last couple of weeks before we leave will be hectic, with all the last minute preparation and packing (how many times can you repack three rucksacks!) plus all the last chance visits with friends and family to get in.

Other hostel sites that look interesting include:

– the SameSun Hostels, who promote the idea of family accommodation (pretty important to not end up in too many hostels full of gap year, late night drinkers – something that we’ll use our judgement on, but always useful to have pointers about!)

– Central Station Hostel in Vancouver, which has got rooms that would be ideal for us – C$35 a night for the whole family, and right in the centre of the city. (There’s also a link here to lots of other links!)

– this Shaughnessy Village accommodation seemed really curious. Seemingly good value rooms, but reading it makes me think it’s attached to a hospital or something similar – now why would I want to stay in a lifeless hostel that smells of disinfectant? Anybody know anything better?

This Vancouver and Whistler website was really useful, with lots of links and handy hints. Run by an individual who is an experienced traveller, it contains the kind of info that will help us make the most of our time (and it’s always great to find an unofficial website where you can get a feel for who’s opinions are expressed!). Sadly, no specific family section, but hey, travelling the way we will be is a puts us a bit outside the mainstream!