Must-Do Things Before Your 5-Day Canada Tour
Canada is a truly vast country, the second largest in the word to be precise. Planning a trip to Canada requires a great deal of planning, and narrowing down a travel location can be difficult due to the fact the country covers nearly 10 million square kilometers.
Canada is home to fascinating multicultural cities which act as gateways to exploring the nation’s natural beauty. The nation is home to immense stretches of untamed wilderness, its ecosystems and wildlife protected in many national parks. There are over two million lakes to explore and the country features the world’s longest coastline.
The key to any successful trip to Canada is to not bite off more than you can chew. Because of the country’s grand size, it is better to focus on a single region for shorter holidays like a 5-day itinerary. While planning for your Canadian trip will be a bit different depending on where you travel, there are a few valuable tips to consider for any Canadian holiday.
Whether you’re planning a trip to Canada’s Atlantic Coast, Pacific Coast, Arctic, or interior, check out these helpful tips for planning a successful Canadian experience.
What You’ll Need to Enter Canada
Foreign nationals looking to travel to Canada will need to obtain a temporary resident visa from one of the Canadian diplomatic missions. There are, however, around 50 countries that can enter Canada visa-free. These countries include Australia, the United States, Japan, Mexico, and all countries within the European Union.
While you don’t need to obtain a Canadian visa if you hold a passport from one of these visa exempt countries, you are required to obtain an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) when arriving by air. This can be done by going online and applying through the website of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). An eTA is mandatory for nationals of all visa-exempt nationals except for U.S. citizens. If entering via one of the land border crossings with the U.S. or if arriving by sea, you aren’t required to obtain an eTA.
In order to obtain a visa or eTA, you will need to be in good health, show ties to your native country which proves you aren’t trying to live in Canada permanently, and that you are of good character. You will have to answer a number of questions when you apply for your visa or eTA. The application will ask you for your personal details, criminal history, and immigration history.
Getting Ready for your Canadian Trip
Before heading out on your Canadian tour, make sure you have all of your affairs in order at home. It’s always a good idea to arrange a house sitter to look after your home while you’re away, especially if you don’t have a home monitoring system installed. You’ll want to be sure to lock up or hide your valuables and if your house will be left vacant while you’re away you may want to close the blinds so potential thieves can’t easily view the contents of your home.
Hold your personal mail and maybe leave at least one interior light on so as to not advertise the fact you are away. You also want to avoid posting travel pics on your social media accounts while you’re away as this will also alert potential thieves that your house is vacant. Installing outdoor sensor lights is another deterrent for both thieves and property vandals. And just in case your home is broken into, get home and contents insurance to cover any damages to your home or stolen belongings.
If you’re taking a taxi to the airport, be sure to secure your vehicle in a garage at home if possible and hide your car keys in a secure spot in case of a home break-in. If you plan on driving your own vehicle to the airport, you’ll want compare and pre-book an affordable and secure airport parking spot. Researching airport car parking ahead of time can save you a lot of time and money, especially since there are many times much more affordable options are available such as those found at fort lauderdale economy parking for those travelling to Canada in order to escape the intense Florida summer heat.
You’ll also want to pack efficiently, so as to avoid unnecessary excess baggage fees. Be sure to pack all your necessary medications and your most valuable and breakable items in your carry-on.
Get Travel Insurance
One of the most important things when visiting any foreign country is getting travel insurance. Travel insurance protects you financially both during your trip and before your trip even begins. We often book trips well in advance, meaning events can happen before our travel is due to begin. If you need to cancel your trip for a covered reason such as a death in the family, travel insurance will help you recover the money you invested in flights, accommodation, and tours.
There are also a number of things that can happen during a trip which can force unexpected expenses on you. Natural disasters and travel delays may force you to cancel or miss flights and other bookings, but travel insurance can help cover the cost of rebooking flights and additional accommodation when it’s required.
One of the most important reasons to obtain travel insurance is because most policies cover you for unlimited overseas medical expenses. Canada is a big outdoor playground where many travelers go to for outdoor adventure. If you get injured while hiking or get attacked by a wild animal, having travel insurance means that most of your medical expenses will usually be covered, potentially saving you a lot of money. Travel insurance can also provide coverage for lost luggage and personal belongings during your trip.
There are many different policies available, with each varying in terms of coverage level, premium, and excess. The key is to select a policy that is right for you, making sure your destination and planned activities are covered under your policy. If arriving in Canada by cruise ship, you will need to obtain specific cruise travel insurance.
Canadian Weather and Wildlife
Because Canada is so large and contains many different climates, the weather can vary dramatically depending on both the region and season. Winter temperatures in inland areas can regularly reach frigid temperature well below zero along with dangerous wind chills. Deep snowfall may cover the ground in some areas for half the year. The coldest temperature ever recorded in Canada was experienced in the Yukon which reached -81.4 degrees Fahrenheit!
During the summer months, some areas can be humid and reach temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Traveling to Canada’s coastal areas can help you avoid these extremes, with Coastal British Columbia offering a temperate climate with mild winters and summers.
Driving in winter can be dangerous and you may require snow tires or snow chains on certain roads. Always carry blankets for warmth and plenty of water in case of a breakdown. During summer, you should always be aware of wildlife crossing signs, as some animals are quite large and can cause serious injury to drivers if struck. Read up on all local road rules and research safety tips for driving in mountains and remote areas.
Canada is also home to many natural disasters and severe weather to be aware of. Forest fires, avalanches, landslides, tornadoes, earthquakes, and blizzards can all occur depending on where you travel. Always stay informed with local weather reports and follow the advice of local authorities.
In addition to dangerous weather, Canada is of course home to an abundance of wildlife. While many animals are cute and harmless, others can inflict serious injury and even death. Although rare, bears, mountain lions, and giant moose have all been known to inure and kill people. To avoid dangerous encounters with wildlife, never feed wild animals and always maintain a safe distance. Keep your campsite clean and securely store all food if camping and always hike with a companion or in a group.
Animals are most active around dawn and dusk, so planning your activities away from these times will reduce the chances of encountering wildlife. Stay on designated trails and follow all park signs on self-guided journeys and always choose reputable tour operators when going the guided route. You may want to consider carrying bear spray which can help you avoid a serious attack. It is important to remember, however, that it is commonly the actions of humans which lead to animal attacks.
Plan Your Route
Considering the sheer size of Canada, it would take months if not years to see it all. For a smaller journey lasting less than a week, it is advised to limit your travel to a small area in order to really appreciate it.
Canada is home to 10 provinces and 3 territories, covering five time zones. Its main cities include Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Quebec, and the nation’s capital Ottawa. You could easily spend a week or two in any of these cities or use one as a base before exploring the country’s rugged wilderness areas like Algonquin Provincial Park or Banff National Park. You also have incredible ski resort such as Whistler, beautiful Vancouver Island, and the mighty Niagara Falls to witness. Other popular destinations to consider include Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and Prince Edward Island.
Road trips across the country can be long and arduous. Travel by plane or rail is a much better option if you want to see a number of regions in a short amount of time. The key is making a plan before your trip and sticking to it. This will help you organize the places and activities you want to experience without having to waste time contemplating your options while traveling.