Canada is a popular vacation destination. Canadian facilities are of international standard and include urban sophistication and the outdoors. Foreigners can expect efficient public transportation, excellent tourist information centers, and accommodations and restaurants of high quality. There is a safety and health section and important banking and currency-related questions. Furthermore, there are instructions on using Canadian telephone and postal services.
This article will cover some practical information that can help you plan your trip and stay safe on your travels.
When to go
Weather and geography dominate any visit to Canada. The country’s vastness means that most trips will be centered on one of the major cities, Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal. However, staying in remote areas such as the isolated Inuit settlements dotted around Hudson Bay is possible. It’s up to the individual to decide when the perfect time is to go. The best time will depend on the season and climate of the location.
Generally, there is mild and harsher weather in the country’s center, with long cold winters on either coast. In July and August, Northern Canada is at its most welcoming. With the land thawing, the temperature will likely climb above zero. The season in Eastern Canada ranges from snowy winters to hot summers, with mild springs and crisp falls. Quebec and Ontario are mainly cold, with snow lingering until late March, but spring and fall can be the most rewarding times to visit there.
In St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, there is over a 100-degree difference. When it’s 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit), it can be as low as -50 degrees Celsius (-41 degrees Fahrenheit) on a day in winter. For those who want to ski, this region also has the best time of year to do so. You should know that this place also usually has an unpredictable climate, with rain showers rolling in nearly every spring or fall.
All visitors to Canada must have a passport valid for longer than the intended period of stay. These regulations apply to US citizens, who must show passports when returning to the US. Travelers from the UK, US, EU, and all British Commonwealth countries do not require a special visa to visit.
Visitors can stay up to six months but must apply to Immigration Canada before their authorized visit is over. They will then be able to extend their allowed stay.
For those who wish to visit Canada, you should contact the nearest Canadian Consulate before your trip. Those under 18 and traveling without a parent or guardian need a consent letter from a parent or guardian.
Tourists can find information from Canadian tourist offices, including local maps and hotels, campgrounds, and B-and-B booking services. They offer special tours like wilderness camping, archaeological digs, and wildlife-watching. All the national and provincial parks have visitor centers that generally provide a map of the park’s hiking trails and canoe routes. There is a central organization, The Canadian Tourism Commission, for Canada, and each province has its tourism authority.
Some smaller towns have their own tourist offices, offering free maps and detailed information. You can also stay at a hotel or other accommodations in their area, which can usually be reserved with their different booths found in airports and regional offices.
Opening Hours and Admission Prices
Canada doesn’t have a cost for admission in many places. The cost of admission can significantly vary, and there are few discount packages throughout the country. Tourist offices often have discount coupons that are worth taking advantage of for savings. It’s essential to know about the free days, evenings, or even a free hour daily before closing time that museums and galleries offer for the public.
Some museums and galleries may close entirely during the winter, but others are open all year round. They may not be open on Mondays or Tuesdays and weekends, though.
Although many attractions are closed on major holidays such as Christmas and New Year’s Day, a surprising number are open all year round. Canadian school summer holidays are from June to Labor Day Weekend, which ends on the first Monday of September. Labor Day marks the end of summer. Retailers typically extend their hours before this holiday, the day after opening hours change for winter. Cities usually have more hours than rural locations year-round because fewer people live there.
Canada has six time zones, including four and a half hours between the west coast of Vancouver and Halifax. There are five zones between these two provinces, with a half-hour difference between Newfoundland and Atlantic Time. Every province except Saskatchewan uses Daylight Saving Time to give longer summer days from mid-March to October or November. Clocks go back an hour in October/ November, forward an hour in March.
In Canada, people over 60 are often called ‘seniors’. Seniors usually receive discounts to enjoy the benefits of a reduced movie ticket, public transportation, entrance fees, and more. VIA Rail offers a 10% discount to seniors. When applicable, reductions range from 10 percent to 50 percent for people aged 55, 60, or 65, depending on the province or attraction.
Ask about discounts before booking a trip for older adults, as there are many opportunities for accommodation at cheaper rates. Educational trips for seniors take place in university dorms, providing all-inclusive packages with included lectures and tours, making photography the only extra cost.
Traveling with Children
Canada has fewer theme parks than the US, but Canadian beaches and parks offer unique experiences for families. Most hotels are willing to accommodate children, and those often don’t charge extra. Restaurants and hotels now take the needs of parents and children seriously. They offer child-friendly menus, high chairs, and offer to warm up milk for babies. Even fast food restaurants are friendly to children with play areas.
To get discounts when traveling with children, it would be best to research plans in advance. International and domestic flights are often more affordable for children and babies under two who do not take a seat. Public transportation is free for children under five, and those between 12-17 have discounted fares on public transportation. You can reserve a car seat for your child through your rental service if you rent a car.
Canada is a multicultural nation that honors and respects everyone regardless of origin. They do not refer to Canadians as “Indians”. Canadians are referred to as “First Nations,” or you can use the term “natives” instead. The Eskimo population is always referred to with the term Inuit.
In Quebec, French will be spoken first. It is also appreciated if visitors show that they have tried to learn a few common phrases in French. Canada’s dress code guidelines are relaxed and informal because of the climate.
Canadians dress consistently to add or take clothes off themselves for the changing weather. They wear jeans and sweaters, and in larger cities, where more formal clothing is expected, people are more likely to have formal outfits in their wardrobe as well as casual clothes. Restaurants often post a sign that says “no shoes, no shirt, no service” to enforce the idea that you must be appropriately dressed to enter.
It is illegal to drink in public places in Canada, as well as smoke in public places. Topless sunbathing at beaches is frowned upon, and the general rule is that people should wear swimsuits when there’s a lake or ocean. Smoking rules vary depending on which town you are in.
Service charges are not the norm, so Canadians are used to tipping 15% for satisfactory service. People who serve you should receive a tip. Taxi drivers expect 10%, barbers, hairdressers, cloakroom attendants, bellhops, doorkeepers, and hotel porters. Tipping bar staff in bars and nightclubs is also expected.
Through an international student identity card, students can benefit from discounts on travel and admission prices at museums and tourist attractions. The ISIC card can be purchased in your home country at the nearest Student Travel Association (STA) office. There are also discounts on buses and trains, such as “Go Canada” Accommodation and Coach Passes. These offer both reduced-cost travel and stays in youth hostels across the country. VIA Rail has a pass called Canrail (Canrail Pass), which allows unlimited travel on all VIA Rail routes. You can book university accommodations in the city when the local college is on break. There are also comfortable hostels throughout the country, most of which are affiliated with the International Youth Hostelling Federation (IYHF). Eating out is inexpensive, so students can easily find great food on a budget.
Canadian electricity is 110 volts and 60-cycles. You need a plug adaptor if you are visiting from outside North America (electrical appliances come with either a two-prong or three-prong plug, and most sockets will accept either). Batteries are universal, so that they can be bought here and used elsewhere.
If you travel to Canada and don’t want to purchase data on your phone, you can get Wi-Fi at nearly all hotels, libraries, restaurants, and major libraries.
Before going on a trip, make sure you buy the necessary travel insurance. Different policies will have different things excluded or included, so it’s best to contact a specialist for more information. If you want to claim anything, keep all receipts for medicines and medical treatments so that your expenses are accounted for when you file a claim. If something is stolen from your person (such as a phone), call the authorities to get the proper crime report statement or number.
Travelers with Disabilities
One can expect some of the best facilities in Canada for travelers with physical disabilities. New buildings and public transportation offer room to those who require wheelchair access. All buses in Vancouver have low platforms, and trains in VIA Rail can accommodate wheelchairs.
To learn more about disabled driving laws in your area, visit the Canadian Paraplegic Association website. This Ottawa-based association also details companies that rent specially adapted cars and RV vehicles.
You can get parking permits in advance through the CPA, but you will need to provide a letter from your doctor and pay a small processing fee.
There is a wide choice of hotels with disabled facilities in Canada. Most big chains, such as Best Western and Holiday Inn, are easily accessible, as are some luxury hotels and youth hostels. The CPA also has details on the most disabled-friendly attractions.
Many public parks are accessible for people with disabilities, as well. These parks have boardwalks that allow oversight, short nature trails, and interpretive centers with information about the park’s natural history.
The metric system is the primary measurement form in Canada, though many people still use the imperial system. The distance scale is measured in kilometers, their temperature scales are Celsius, they use grams and kilograms, and they also measure distances in kilometers.
Imperial to Metric
1 inch = 2.54 centimeters
1 foot = 30 centimeters
1 mile = 1.6 kilometers
1 ounce = 28 grams
1 pound = 454 grams
1 pint = 0.6 liters
1 gallon = 4.6 liters
Metric to Imperial
1 centimeter = 0.4 inches
1 meter = 3 feet, 3 inches
1 kilometer = 0.6 miles
1 gram = 0.04 ounces
1 kilogram = 2.2 pounds
1 liter = 1.8 pints
If you’re planning on traveling to Canada, you should keep a few things in mind. First and foremost, be aware of the different time zones that exist in the country. Although most of the country uses Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), there are a few notable exceptions, including Toronto and Montreal, which use Eastern Standard Time (EST) and Western Standard Time (WST), respectively.
Secondly, make sure to familiarize yourself with the currency situation in Canada. Canadian dollars are worth approximately $0.78 US dollars, but the exchange rate can fluctuate depending on international events and market conditions.
Finally, be aware of border crossing procedures – even if you aren’t traveling with any personal belongings or items that could be construed as contraband, it is always advisable to carry identification and proof of your destination address just in case customs agents ask for it during the inspection at the border.
With these tips in mind, preparing for your trip to Canada will be much easier!