Canada is a very large and diverse country. It is the second-largest country in the world, after Russia. From large cities to an abundance of nature and lakes. It is surrounded by three different oceans, the Arctic, Atlantic, and Pacific. There are plenty of things to do depending on your interests. The two official languages of Canada are English and French, however, English is the most commonly spoken. People are known to be polite and friendly and will make you feel at ease on your trip abroad. Here are a few things you should know before setting off on your trip to Canada.
Documents and visas
People travelling to Canada are required by law to have a valid passport. However in some cases, a visitor visa or an electronic travel authorization (eTA) can be needed, but not both. If you are going there to visit, study or work, there are different fees, all payable in Canadian dollars. An eTA can be cheaper and it can be easy to search online as to which suits your requirements. Checking if your country has an embassy or consulate in Canada, in the unfortunate case of encountering problems while you are there, may also be a smart idea.
Canada is well known for having an efficient health care system, known as “Medicare”. It is publicly funded and offers health services that are mostly free to citizens of Canada. However, if you are not a citizen, these services can be quite expensive. If you are a visitor, and you neglect to get travel insurance, this can become a financial burden on yourself, family or friends. Travel insurance is highly recommended going to any destination. With Canada’s choice of outdoor sports, you may want to look into it a little further. Activities such as skiing, snowboarding or mountain climbing may be seen as dangerous and thus increase the price. Yet the policy will be seen as a vital backup if an accident does occur, both financially and also emotionally. It is reassuring that help is at hand in a foreign country.
Beware of the weather
The enduring image of Canada is being an alluring, rugged snow-covered nation. Vancouver in the winter is a perfect example of this. If you like skiing, a trip to Whistler Blackcomb is constantly rated as one of the top things to do in Vancouver according to Strawhomes.com by Richard Morrison. Canada has four seasons so you will need to check carefully what time of the year you would like to visit and to which parts of the country. Variations such as snowfall, heavy rain, blistering temperatures to smothering humidity can be experienced. It is best to pack accordingly, in some areas in winter the temperatures can hit very high minus figures.
Transactions and currency
Using Canadian currency, the Canadian dollar can be quite easy for first-time visitors. All of the notes, which come in $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 denominations, are all different colors. This makes it simple for people to recognize which note they need. There are also coins in circulation, from $2 downwards to 5 Cent. Production of the 1 Cent coin stopped in 2012 as it became practically useless. Bills are now rounded up or down to the nearest 5 Cent. However, many vendors will also accept American dollars. The currency exchange rate is also not that strong against some currencies, making it feel like a cheap holiday to some. Credit cards and debit cards can be used everywhere in Canada, no matter how trivial the purchase if you feel uncomfortable carrying around your cash.
Tipping in Canada can be a step into the unknown for first-time visitors. While it is not mandatory, it is usually expected as a boost to earnings because of generally poor pay rates. A tip of between 15% to 20% depending on your sense of satisfaction with the service is seen as normal.
Where to stay?
Accommodation in Canada is not cheap. There is a range of accommodation types available suited to you or your traveling companions. Airbnb is extremely popular and could be a better value than hotels if traveling in a group. Another bonus of using Airbnb is the possibility of a kitchen being available on the property, thus removing the costs of eating out. If skiing is your thing, it is often possible to get low cost to free accommodation along with free ski lift passes if you are working at a resort.
Nightlife in Canada
As to be expected for such a large modern country, the nightlife scene is pretty vibrant. Strangely, while the majority of the country has a legal age for consuming alcohol, which is 19, there are three provinces that have it set at 18. They are Quebec, Alberta and Manitoba. This is very strictly enforced so it is another issue to keep in mind if you are young and like to party.