How to Travel Across Canada on a Budget (Even Without a Car)

woman draped in a flag of canada

Last Updated on February 5, 2023 by Charmaine | The Canadian Wanderer

Travelling in Canada without a car can be difficult. However, it is not impossible. If you want to explore Canada and see different cities, you can travel across Canada by bus, train, air, or car.

In this post, I will share different methods and companies that allow you to see different parts of Canada at an affordable price.

Travelling Across Canada by Bus

Bus companies play a vital role in providing transportation to help people move from one city to another in Canada. Two of the major bus companies include Megabus (operated by Coach Canada) and the new Flixbus.

Megabus Canada

Megabus is a low-cost bus service that offers city-to-city travel for as low as $1 around North America. The company was founded in 2006 and operates primarily in Ontario in Canada. They have several departures daily in major cities and offer comfortable features on the bus such as air conditioning, free WiFi and power outlets.

If you are travelling to or from Toronto, there are many cities to choose from. Megabus routes from Toronto to other Ontario cities include Brockville, Cornwall, Grimsby, Kingston, London, Niagara Falls, Ottawa, and St. Catherine’s.

Megabus routes from Toronto to Quebec include Montreal and Kirkland.

Megabus also serves bus routes from Canada to the United States. Megabus routes from Toronto to New York state include Batavia, Binghamton, Buffalo, New York City, Rochester and Syracuse.

Flixbus Canada

Flixbus is another low-cost inter-city bus service similar to Megabus. Although it was founded in 2013 in Germany, Flixbus is a new company in Canada and was started in 2022. They pride themselves for unbeatable prices, comfortable seats and free wi-fi.

Flixbus currently has bus routes across Ontario for Brantford, Chatham, Hamilton, Kingston, Kitchener, London, Niagara Falls, Oshawa, Ottawa, St. Catherine’s, Toronto, Vancouver, and Windsor.

Since the company operates a dynamic pricing model, which means that fares can vary based on demand, time of day, and time of the year, you can find prices as low as $4.99!

In addition to its low fares, FlixBus allows customers to book their tickets online or through the FlixBus app. After booking a ticket, customers can easily manage their bookings on their own with the ability to modify or cancel.

Travel Across Canada by Train

VIA Rail Canada

VIA Rail Canada is a great way to see Canada especially if you have to travel long distances and don’t have a bigger budget for a plane ride.

Popular Destinations: Toronto to London, Ontario, Toronto to Ottawa, Montreal to Quebec City

If you do not want to spend so much money on buying a flight and want to get a chance to see Canadian landscapes, taking the train is a great option.

In addition, VIA Rail always have a lot of great sales and if you buy it enough, you can find an incredible deal!

Flying Domestic in Canada

In recent years, there has been an increase in domestic airline options in Canada. Besides flying with the monopolized giant Air Canada, ultra-low-cost carrier (known as ULCC) has been popping up everywhere. This allows people who want to fly light (without baggage) to buy cheap flight tickets and travel on a budget.

Although Flair, Swoop and Lynx operate with a similar ULCC business model, the airport locations and date availabilities may differ. It is important to compare prices and services to see which one fits your needs.

Flair Airlines

Flair Airlines is a low-cost Canadian airline that has made itself competitive in the airline industry by providing affordable options for travellers seeking budget-friendly flights.

While researching for this article, I found a one-way ticket for as low as $9 CDN. After declining all extra charges such as checked-in baggage and adding on taxes, my total came up to $20.30 CDN one-way from Thunder Bay to Toronto. That is equivalent to under $15 USD for a one-way flight ticket, which is insanely cheap!

Flair Airlines serves destinations across Canada, the United States and Mexico.

  • In Canada, Flair operates in: Abbotsford, Calgary, Charlottetown, Deer Lake, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Halifax, Kelowna, Kitchener-Waterloo, London, Montreal, Ottawa, Prince George, Quebec City, Saint John, Saskatoon, Thunder Bay, Toronto, Vancouver, Victoria, Windsor, Winnipeg
  • In USA, Flair operates in: Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Nashville, New York, Orlando Sanford, Palm Springs, Phoenix Mesa, San Francisco, Tuscon
  • In Mexico, Flair operates in: Cancun, Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta

Swoop Airlines

Swoop is another Canadian ultra-low-cost carrier that aims to keep flight prices low. The company is owned by WestJet and headquartered in Calgary. Swoop ensures that the price is low as the base price starts with just a seat, and anything additional will be an extra cost. For example, if you wanted to add a snack, checked baggage or in-flight Wi-Fi, you have the option to pay for those services, making it super flexible and customizable.

Swoop Airlines is offered in Canada, the United States, Mexico and the Caribbean.

  • In Canada, Swoop operates in: Abbotsford, Charlottetown, Edmonton, Hamilton, Halifax, Kelowna, London, Moncton, St. John’s, Toronto, Victoria, Winnipeg
  • In USA, Swoop operates in: Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, Orlando Sanford, St. Pete-Clearwater, Phoenix
  • In Mexico, Swoop operates in: Cancun, Los Cabos, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta
  • In the Caribbean, Swoop operates in: Kingston, Montego Bay, Punta Canta, and Varadero

Carpooling Websites


Kangaride is the English version of Amigoexpress, a site that was originally created for French travelers in Quebec. 

I used to use this site all the time when I went from Alma (a small city where I lived) to Quebec City and Montreal for the weekend.

For a six-hour trip, I only paid $30 to my driver and another $5 for the service of the website! (This was also in 2012-2013 so these are not reflective of today).

Since they have expanded to English, I suppose that you can get to a lot more places across Canada (and not just Quebec).

Popular Destinations: Montreal –> Quebec City

How to Purchase Kangaride Credits:

In order to use the site, you have to join with an annual membership and then buy travel credits.

Travel credits start from $5 per trip, and decrease when you purchase in a bulk (ex. four or five travel credits in a package).

These would be used to reserve your spot when you find a rideshare that fits your schedule. One credit = one ride.

When you meet the driver in person on the day of the trip, you would pay the driver in cash.

Each driver charges differently, however, most prices are pretty much the same with $5-10 difference. You would know how much they are charging on the site.

Kangaride Credit Prices:

The prices are super reasonable and it is a win-win for both the passenger and driver! On one hand, the driver can use the cash to pay for gas, and the passenger gets a ride! Plus, you can meet a new friend or two in the car!

They are also very safe. You won’t be released the information of the driver until you complete the booking and they have it everyone’s information on the system.

Student Rideshare

So perhaps you have heard about this famous university you want to check out or you have a friend who invited you to a house party at their university.

You might not even be going to the university but just want to check out the town!

The only problem is… how are you going to get there without a car?

Well, tag along with students and meet new friends!

How Does Student Carpool work?

On Facebook, try to find a Facebook group for rideshare for a specific university.

If you wanted to go to Queens University, type in “Queens University Rideshare” and see what you come up with. I tested it out and you can almost find one for major universities in Canada.

Popular Facebook groups:

Rideshare Queen’s University

University of Toronto Rideshare 

Rideshare / Ottawa / Gatineau/ Montreal / Toronto/ 2018

Montreal – Toronto Rideshare

Renting a Car

Renting a car is a great option to travel further!

If you are flying into a city, you might think that booking at the airport is the easiest and most convenient way. However, from booking a rental car myself, I found out that you can save hundreds of dollars if you do not book from the airport. During the pandemic, there is a car shortage and so, supply and demand is very high. So I would advise you to book outside of the airport and take the taxi instead to get to your car rental.

You can use the search engine provided by Expedia below to find the best deals.

Have you tried any other services that you would highly recommend for travelling across Canada and the USA? I’ll love to know!

How to Travel Across Canada on a Budget (Even Without a Car)

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