Tips for Planning Your Trip to Canada

Gorgeous mountain backdrops, crystal clean lakes and air fresher than anything you've ever breathed before. These are just three things you can expect on your visit to Canada, one of our planet's most scenic countries. The unspoiled beauty of Canada's wilderness has been the playground for adventurers and vacationers alike for generations. It's exactly the kind of natural majesty that continually has visitors returning north of the border. But, if this is your first trip to Canada, then there are some important things of which you should be aware. In an effort for your visit to be as exciting and fun as possible, here are some tips for planning your Canada vacation.

Canada Trip Planning -- Tip No. 1

Start the passport application process early. What, you weren't aware that you need a passport to visit Canada? Because we're neighbors, and friendly ones at that, many Americans can lose sight of the fact that Canada is still a foreign country and therefore requires a passport for entry. But that's understandable because it wasn't always that way. In fact, up until September 30, 2007, you can still enter Canada with a photo ID and proof of your passport application, rather than the passport itself. After that date, a regular passport will be required. This is all due to the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, which was put in place to secure America's border following 9/11, and thusly affects Canada travel.

If you're taking a family vacation to Canada, then your child will also need a passport if they are over 15 years of age. Children 15 and younger can gain entry with their birth certificate. Keep in mind that border security is always on the lookout for missing children; therefore, having the correct documents is very important when bringing a child into Canada.

Canada Trip Planning -- Tip No. 2

Canada uses different measuring systems than the United States and for visitors who are unaware, it can potentially be problematic. For example, if you're driving in Canada, the speed limit is designated in kilometers per hour rather than miles per hour. Likewise, the temperature is measured in Celsius instead of Fahrenheit. These are little differences, but ones that could have an impact on your visit. The best way to calculate the temperature from Celsius to Fahrenheit is to use this simple equation: Degrees Celsius x 1.8 + 32 = Degrees Fahrenheit. You don't want to get stuck in a cold arctic snap in your swimsuit simply because of a miscalculation!

Canada Trip Planning -- Tip No. 3

Speaking of cold arctic snaps, the weather in Canada is similar to that of the United States, meaning that they experience the four seasons as well, but winter comes earlier than what we're used to. The months from October to May are the coldest and you should pack accordingly. Of course, the farther north you travel, the colder it gets. Canada's coastal regions tend to receive plenty of rainfall and in the prairie lands, you should expect some stronger than normal winds.

Canada Trip Planning -- Tip No. 4

Canada's time zones are mirror images of those in the United States, with the exception of the island of Newfoundland, which has its own time zone. So, if your flight to Canada takes you from eastern United States to western Canada, you can expect a three hour time difference just as if you traveled to the American West Coast.

Canada Trip Planning -- Tip No. 5

The language of Canada is a mix of English and French, but you can usually get by with English in most of the tourist spots. If you head into more rural areas, it could help if you know a little French, or at least have a French-American dictionary handy, especially in cities like Quebec or Montreal, Canada.

Canada Trip Planning -- Tip No. 6

Canada commerce runs on the Canadian dollar, which is similar to the U.S. dollar, but visitors are usually better off converting their currency over to the Canadian version. This can be done in most major cities at a local currency exchange or at a nearby bank. In some of the popular tourist spots, the merchants will actually accept the American dollar for payment and deliver Canadian change back.

Enjoy Your Trip to Canada With Proper Planning

Planning before every vacation, whether it's out of the country or not, is critical before any trip. Use the wealth of information available on the Internet to gain a good idea of what to expect on your visit. Everything from the best Canada hotels to sleep in, to what Canada attractions must be seen in a certain area, can be found online to help you with your plans.

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