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Five things to know before you visit Canada

18th August, 2020

Holidays to Canada are a must for anyone looking for adventure - whether that’s exploring one of the country’s major cities, or getting out and about amongst the glaciers, mountains and lakes.

As with many countries, there are some tips and tricks that it’s worth knowing ahead of time if you want to really make the most out of your holiday. With so much going on in Canada, doing some planning before you head off on your adventure is never a bad idea. Here, we run through five of our top things it’s good to know before you jet off on your Canadian adventure.

Canada is a BIG country

While this probably won’t come as a surprise to any of you, it’s worth keeping Canada’s size in mind when it comes to planning your break. Made up of 10 provinces and three territories, it’s a vast country - which means that hopping from place to place can take longer than you may expect. This means that if you don’t allow enough time, you could find yourself dashing around and not really getting to make the most of anywhere.

You could easily fill weeks on end exploring all that Canada has to offer, so if you’re on a limited timeframe, consider picking an area of the country and really deep-diving into what it has to offer. From the Rocky Mountains to the eastern cities like Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa, focusing your trip will give you more time to explore and really get under the surface of what Canada has to offer.

Layers are your friend

When it comes to packing for your holidays in Canada, layers are definitely your friend. Even if you visit in the summer months, the temperatures in some of the more remote areas can get quite chilly in the evenings. Don’t forget a light waterproof jacket too, in case you get caught in any summer rains.

If you’re planning a wintery visit to Canada, then layers become even more important. In British Columbia, the weather is semi-regulated by the Pacific Ocean, so things are a little less bitter when it comes to coldness.

Temperatures across the centre and east of Canada however can be incredibly cold, with plenty of snow to contend with, so make sure you have warm, thermal clothing and all of the essentials - like a hat, scarf and gloves. You want to keep those extremities warm!

Check for your paperwork

Before you set off on your trip to Canada, you want to make sure that you have all of the necessary paperwork. Holidaymakers from the UK don’t usually need a visa to visit Canada for short periods of time, but you will need to arrange an eTA - or an Electronic Travel Authorisation - if you’re arriving by air.

The eTA process isn’t necessary if you’re travelling by land or sea, although you will still need to make sure that you travel with appropriate travel documents and identification - including a passport that is valid for the entire duration of your stay.

Getting an eTA is a simple online process, with a small fee of $7 Canadian Dollars attached. You can find out more about travelling to Canada, and apply for an eTA, through the official website of the Canadian government.

Know what you’re going for

As we’ve already mentioned, Canada is a big country - and it has a lot to offer. That means that whether you like to explore a big, bustling metropolis, or lose yourself in the wilderness, Canada is the place you want to be.

Because of all of the options available to you, have a think before you travel about what exactly it is that you want to experience during your holidays in Canada. If you want to explore some of the cities, then the East Coast is a good place to start. From vibrant Montreal to modern Toronto, and the capital city of Ottawa, Canada’s cities have tons of things to keep you busy. Plus, you don’t have to sacrifice the natural splendour - why not check out Niagara Falls? Or find out more about our Highlights of Eastern Canada holiday, and let us take care of the details.

For more of a back to nature adventure, lose yourself in the magic of Canada’s western coast. From beautiful Banff to Jasper National Park, and, of course, the Rocky Mountains, the west of the country is a truly breathtaking place to explore.

Vast uninhabited plains, lakes, icefields, mountains, forests - you name it, and you can find it in Western Canada. If you like to spend time outdoors, then this is a true adventurers paradise. Check out our Road to the Rockies holiday, which even includes a cruise along the Inside Passage.

Live like a local

Before you head to a new country it’s a good idea to brush up on some of their customs, to help you fit in like a local. To start, the currency in Canada is the Canadian Dollar, with $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 Canadian bills (paper money) and $1 and $2 coins. Tipping is customary, with 10-20% of the total cost being a rough standard for many services - including eating out.

In an emergency, the number to contact to reach emergency services is the same as in the US. Calling 911 will put you in contact with police, medical services, and firefighters, but naturally this should only be dialled in an emergency.

English is the most commonly spoken language in Canada, making it a breeze to communicate with people. Depending on where you visit, you may find people speaking French - the country’s other official language.

Time to plan your Canadian adventure

Feel ready to jet off on your Canadian holidays in 2021? If there’s anything else you want to know about travelling to Canada before you go, get in touch with one of our helpful team members, or check out more of our upcoming holidays to Canada.

We’ve even got a whole section on Canada in our brochure dedicated to The Americas - don’t forget to check that out!

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.