Despite sharing their border with their American neighbour, they offer an entirely different experience, therefore, if you are travelling from the US or have visited the US before, don’t assume you know everything there is to know about Canada. So, Feet Do Travel have put together this helpful guide of 10 things to know before travelling to Canada, which is a must-read if you are considering a trip to the Great White North!
While Canadian weather is largely known for being very cold during the winter, it is important that you are prepared for all conditions. However, the weather you experience during your Canadian trip will largely depend on where and when you visit. During the summer you could experience a few sunny days, if you are up in the mountains, but it can still get very cold during the evenings.
If you are staying in Canada’s western coastline, you could expect slightly milder temperatures but generally, we would always recommend that you bring a warm coat and woolly hat. When it comes to packing weather appropriate clothing, the best tip is to ensure that you have lots of layers.
2. Tipping Etiquette
When visiting Canada, you are likely to spend a considerable amount of your visit eating out and socialising in some of the country’s well-known bars and restaurants. Therefore, it is important that you know about the Canadian tipping etiquette so you can tip your servers and bar staff accordingly. Tipping in Canada is fairly similar to tipping in the US, and although it isn’t mandatory for you to tip, the standard gratuity range is from 15 to 20 percent. You should consider tipping whenever you receive service from a cab driver, hairdresser, hotel staff, bar staff, and waiters.
3. You Can Get Internal Flights Across Canada
Canada is a huge country; in fact, it is the second-largest in the world after Russia, so as you can imagine, there are a lot of different places and things you will want to see while you are there. To give you an idea of just how huge the country is, it is home to six different time zones, so don’t expect to cover the entire country in just a few days or weeks, especially as many of the most popular Canadian cities are fairly spread out.
However, a great way to explore as much of the country as possible is to take internal flights across Canada with a company such as Porter Airlines. They have flights to Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa, to name but a few, so you can experience even more of Canada with this well-known and trusted regional airline.
Driving around Canada is pretty straightforward, but the speed limits are very different compared to the US, so it’s important to check out the different local speed limits before you set off. Also, be sure to expect sometimes difficult driving conditions during the winter.
5. Canadian Languages
The official language in Canada is English, and even though it is the first language for the majority of Canadians, French is the country’s second official language, with around 20% of the population speaking it regularly. However, with Canada being the modern-day melting pot of different nationalities, languages, and religions, you will hear many different accents during your trip. You will predominantly notice the French-Canadian heritage when visiting areas such as Quebec - this is slightly different to the French language that you learnt at school!
6. Canadians are Polite and Friendly
Wherever in the world you are visiting from, you can expect to feel a warm welcome from the friendly and polite Canadian population. Whether you are looking for directions after getting lost, or find yourself chatting to one of the locals, the Canadian people are known for being non-confrontational and tolerant. They frown upon any sort of behavior that could be deemed disruptive or offensive, and catcalling or being drunk in public is not acceptable in Canada!
Canada has a wealth of different activities and experiences to offer its tourists, but its natural beauty is one of the most popular aspects to the country. Despite the bright, vibrant, and bustling cities from Toronto, to Montreal, outside of the cities is where you will find the real heart of Canada. From hiking in the mountains, to canoeing through the lakes of Ontario, the outdoors that Canada has to offer is unlike anywhere else in the world. While you may be excited to experience the cultural settings in the cities, you shouldn’t underestimate the national parks and the endless outdoor fun to be had. You can also get a great view of Niagara Falls from Canada. Check out Niagara Falls Tours Canada if you're interested in visiting.
8. Health Insurance
Even though it is important that you cover yourself with a quality and detailed travel insurance policy before you embark upon any trip, this is especially important when visiting Canada. Although Canada is world-famous for its impressive healthcare system, unfortunately it is only available to Canadians, so as a tourist you will need your own travel insurance to protect you. Failure to do so could result in you being landed with considerable medical bills if you have an accident while you are away. Be sure to double check that your policy covers Canadian treatment.
9. Legal Drinking Age May Vary
The legal drinking age isn't always clear in Canada, and depending on which region you are visiting, it can either be 18 or 19 years old. These ages apply to both beer and liquor, and it is important to note that alcohol is largely sold in designated liquor stores, rather than in the grocery stores where you will find food items. When visiting the regions that have a lower drinking age, you may find some young people looking for a good party!
10. Travel Documents are Important
While travel documents are an essential part of every trip that you go on, you will need to make sure that you have all the essential paperwork to enable you to travel safely across the Canadian border. Unless you are a US citizen, you will most likely need an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) in order to enter the country, and you can apply for this online. However, be sure to complete all visa requirements before you travel and check that you meet all requirements before leaving home.
With all of these tips and advice in mind, you can be sure that you are fully prepared for your trip to Canada and have the experience of a lifetime.