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You’ve booked your holiday, you’ve got your currency and the excitement is ramping up! While it’s easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of a holiday, there are some boring ‘need to know’s’ before you go. For any long-haul holiday, there are always going to be some important documents or differences that it’s essential you know about. We’ve put together a handy check-list to ensure that once they’re all ticked off, all that’s left to do is pack and head for the airport for your dream Canada holiday!
1. Don’t Forget to Apply for an eTA!
Now, if there is one thing you must do before your trip to Canada, it’s applying for your eTA. There are no exceptions. No eTA, no Canada; rule. These new regulations mean that those with a British passport require an electronic Travel Authorization to enter the country. It is very quick and easy to apply for an eTA, and costs $7 CAD. Please ensure that you’re on the official Government website as there are unfortunately scam sites around. You don’t need to print your confirmation email as a reference; an eTA is electronically linked with your passport and is valid for five years or until your passport expires, whichever is sooner.
2. Parlez-vous Français?
Taking you back to your history lessons, it important to remember that due to the French settlement in the 17th century, French is the mother tongue of approximately 7.3 million Canadians, with the most native speakers living in Quebec. Canada is officially bi-lingual meaning that both French and English are held in equal regard, so you don’t need to sign up for that intensive French speaking class before you go! But, if you are visiting Quebec, including the cities of Montreal and Quebec City, locals will appreciate you making an effort with a little bit of French. A bonjour and a smile can go a long way.
3. Alcohol isn’t available in all supermarkets
For those of us who enjoy a cold drink in the evening, you might be surprised to learn that alcohol isn’t readily available in all supermarkets, or grocery stores as they’re called in Canada. Alcohol sales have a lot more rules and regulations than they do in the UK, and every province in Canada has different rules to follow. In British Columbia, alcohol can only be purchased in provincially-owned and private liquor stores, whereas in Quebec beer and wine are sold in grocery stores and corner stores.
4. Get covered for your healthcare
You may already know that Canada is famed for having a free universal healthcare system, but it is not to be forgotten that this universal healthcare only applies to Canadian citizens, not tourists. Although no one wants to think about becoming unwell on holiday, it is important you are covered with health and travel insurance because if something happens, you will end up extremely out of pocket. Even a trip to a doctor can set you back a few hundred dollars!
5. Have a plan, but don’t stick to it!
Of course, there are some obvious must-sees in Canada; seeing Niagara Falls is almost undoubtedly worth the price of your plane ticket alone. Check out Niagara Falls Live for all the details you are going to need to plan your trip to see one of the most magnificent sights in the world. There certainly lots of other tourist highlights that should go on your list such as the Canadian Rockies and the impossibly sapphire Moraine Lake for starters. But equally, don’t get too wrapped up in your plan; make time to explore and discover things for yourself. Find those local eateries downtown or stop-off to try ice-wine on your way to see all the sights. If you want to truly appreciate Canada, that means indulging in its little specialities, as well as its big ones. Oh, and don’t forget to indulge in poutine, butter tart and endless amounts of pancakes smothered in maple syrup.
We hope our checklist of the five ‘must know before you go’ will get you off to a flying start as you continue to look forward to your Canadian adventure.
Cover photo credit: Pedro Szekely (Creative Commons)