How to get your RV to Vancouver Island || Booking with BC Ferries

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As a seasoned RV traveler, I have to say that traveling to Vancouver Island on a ferry with your RV can be a bit daunting for first-time travelers, but with proper preparation and knowledge, it can be a stress-free and comfortable voyage.

The first step is to book your ferry online. Fortunately, booking the ferry online for an RV is pretty easy. To begin, simply visit the front page of and select whether you want a one-way or return trip. Choose your departure and destination ports, and pick your departure and return dates.

BC ferries connects Vancouver to Vancouver Island by way of ferry between Horseshoe Bay and Nanaimo, Tsawwassen and Schwartz Bay or Tsawwassen and Nanaimo.

When it comes to departure ports, there are two main options: Horseshoe Bay, just north of the city of Vancouver, and Tawassen, which is well south on the island. There are also three main arrival ports: Departure Bay in Nanaimo, which connects to Horseshoe Bay, Duke Point in Nanaimo, which connects to Tawasan, and Schwartz Bay near Victoria, which also connects to Tawasan.

Once you've chosen the ports, indicate how many passengers you'll have and select "traveling with a vehicle." Most RVs will be taller than seven feet, so be sure to select that option and enter your vehicle height, including any roof racks, air conditioners, solar panels, etc. Then, select your vehicle length. If you're towing, this is the length of your tow vehicle plus whatever you're towing all hitched up, including the length of the hitch itself.

Just a quick tip: When making your booking, make sure you get the length right! I made the mistake of not verifying the length fully hitched up, and I had to change our departure point and sailing, which can be a hassle.

The next screen will show you all the different sailings available on that day. If you're looking to save money, try traveling at off-peak times. Once you select a sailing, you'll have the option to either pre-pay for the entire fare or just pay the reservation fee and pay the remainder just before boarding.

One tip: the food on the ferry can be expensive, so bring some snacks along if you don't want to spend a lot of money.

After you check in, you'll get a little slip that tells you which lane to drive into. All RVs are parked on the lower decks during the sailing, but unfortunately, you can't stay in your RV while they're sailing. You'll need to exit your vehicle and look for the nearest stairway to go up to the main deck. If you're traveling with pets, be aware that they're not allowed on the main deck of the ferry. You can keep them in your RV or choose to use the pet zone, but make sure they're comfortable and secure during the sailing.

Mel looking at the pet area on a BC ferry. There is a metal kennel, poo bags, and water available.

The ship captains are usually really great and will call out or make an announcement if they see any fun wildlife. Some of the wildlife that call BC waters their home include humpback whales, orcas, sea lions, and various porpoises.

While every ship is laid out differently, they all generally have a cafe or various restaurants, coffee shops, and gift shops. They also typically have indoor and outdoor seating on the sun deck, so if it's nice out, you can go up there and enjoy the view. As for voyage time, our sailing today was one hour and 35 minutes, but it's usually between one and a half hours and two hours.

Mel enjoying the view from the outdoor deck

All in all, traveling to Vancouver Island on a ferry with your RV can be an unforgettable experience. So pack your bags, book your ferry, and get ready for a stress-free and comfortable voyage.

When it comes to travel, few things provide more freedom and flexibility than traveling with an RV. Not only do you have the ability to take your home with you wherever you go, but you also have the flexibility to set your own itinerary and stop wherever you like along the way. And when it comes to RV destinations, few places can match the natural beauty and tranquility of Vancouver Island.

Located just off the coast of British Columbia, Vancouver Island offers a unique combination of rugged coastal landscapes, pristine beaches, wilderness areas, and vibrant cultural scene. Whether you are an outdoor enthusiast, an art lover, a foodie, or a history buff, there is something for everyone on Vancouver Island. The island also features a wide range of RV camping options, from rustic campsites to full-service RV parks.

A BC ferry sailing between Vancouver and Vancouver Island.

If you are planning to travel with an RV to Vancouver Island, here are some tips to help you get there and make the most of your trip.

Choosing an RV

The first step in any RV trip is choosing the right vehicle. There are many different types of RVs available, from small campervans to large motorhomes. The type of RV you choose will depend on your budget, your group size, and your travel style. Here are some of the most common types of RVs:

- Class A Motorhomes: These are the largest and most luxurious type of RVs, often featuring multiple bedrooms, full kitchens, and large living areas. They are usually built on large truck or bus chassis.

- Class B Camper Vans: These are small RVs designed for maximum mobility. They are usually built on a van chassis and can be easy to drive and maneuver. They are ideal for couples or small families.

- Class C Motorhomes: These are mid-sized RVs that combine the best features of Class A and Class B vehicles. They are built on a truck or van chassis and often feature a sleeping area over the cab. They are a good choice for families or small groups.

- Travel Trailers: These are RVs that are towed behind a vehicle. They come in a variety of sizes and layouts, and can often be more affordable than motorhomes. They require a vehicle with sufficient towing capacity.

- Fifth-Wheel Trailers: These are similar to travel trailers but require a special hitch that is mounted in the bed of a truck. They often offer more living space than a travel trailer and are ideal for long-term RV trips.

- Pop-Up Campers: These are small RVs that are designed to be lightweight and easy to tow. They have collapsible walls and roofs, allowing them to be stored in a small space. They are a good choice for couples or small families on a budget.

Whether you choose a motorhome, a trailer, or a camper van, you will need to pay attention to the size and weight of your vehicle. Many RV parks and campsites have size restrictions, and you will need to ensure that your RV is within these limits. BC ferries also charge by length, so the shorter your camper, the less you have to pay transporting it to Vancouver Island.

Planning Your Route

Once you have chosen your RV, it's time to plan your route to Vancouver Island. There are several ways to get there, depending on where you are coming from. If you are coming from mainland Canada or the United States, you can take a ferry from several locations in British Columbia, including Tsawwassen, Horseshoe Bay, and Port McNeill. If you are coming from Washington State, you can take a ferry from Anacortes to Sidney.

Ferry reservations are recommended, especially during peak travel times. You can make reservations online or by phone. Once you arrive on Vancouver Island, you can start exploring the island's many attractions.

RV Camping on Vancouver Island

Vancouver Island has a wide range of RV camping options, from rustic campsites to full-service RV parks. Here are some of the most popular options:

- Provincial Parks: There are several provincial parks on Vancouver Island that offer RV camping. These parks offer a range of amenities, from basic campsites to full-service RV sites. Some popular provincial parks include Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park, Miracle Beach Provincial Park, and Goldstream Provincial Park.

The sign at the entrance of Little Qualicum Falls Park

- Private Campgrounds: There are several private campgrounds on Vancouver Island that offer RV camping. These campgrounds often have more amenities than provincial parks, such as swimming pools, hot tubs, and laundry facilities.

- National Parks: Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is located on the west coast of Vancouver Island and offers two RV-friendly campgrounds: Green Point Campground and Long Beach Campground. These campgrounds offer access to some of the most spectacular coastal scenery on the island.

Things to Do on Vancouver Island

Once you have settled into your RV campground, it's time to start exploring Vancouver Island. Here are some of the top things to do on the island:

Long beach on a sunny day in Tofino. Lots of people enjoying the water, waves, and sun.

- Explore the Beaches: Vancouver Island has some of the most beautiful beaches in Canada, with miles of sand, surf, and rocky shores to explore. Some of the most popular beaches include Long Beach, Chesterman Beach, and Parksville Beach.

Enjoying a cinnamon bun on a hiking trail on Vancouver Island.

- Hike the Trails: Vancouver Island is a hiker's paradise, with a wide range of trails to suit every skill level and interest. Some of the most popular hiking destinations include Tofino's Wild Pacific Trail, the West Coast Trail, and Juan de Fuca Provincial Park.

The waterfront and marina in Courtenay, BC.

- Visit the Towns and Villages: Vancouver Island has a rich cultural heritage, with many charming towns and villages to explore. Some popular destinations include Victoria, Tofino, Ucluelet, and Nanaimo.

- Enjoy the Local Cuisine: Vancouver Island has a thriving food scene, with plenty of local restaurants and artisanal food producers to discover. Some popular culinary highlights include fresh seafood, artisanal cheeses, and craft beer.

In Conclusion...

Traveling with an RV is one of the best ways to explore Vancouver Island, with its rugged coastal landscapes, pristine beaches, and vibrant cultural scene. With a wide range of RV camping options and plenty of things to see and do on the island, a Vancouver Island RV trip is sure to be a memorable experience. So pack your bags, hit the road, and get ready for an adventure you will never forget!

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