Everything You Need to Know Before You Visit Canada

Think Canada is “not far enough” to be an international destination? Think again! You will have the best of both worlds here–familiar, yet unique. Want to get the feel of Europe? Visit Quebec. Need some dramatic landscapes in your life? Check out Newfoundland and Labrador! Need to see a polar bear? Head to Manitoba! Here are some things you need to know before you go.

They’re on the Canadian Dollar

It may seem like things are kind of expensive in Canada, but once you remember that the Canadian dollar (CAD) is not as strong as the American dollar (USD), you’ll realize it’s not expensive at all! The USD to CAD rate fluctuates, but generally, you’ll be saving 10-20% on your USD. So, if something is $10 CAD, that’ll be closer to $8-$9 USD. Need to know how much something costs without doing the math in your head? Use the XE app like I do! Plus, it’s FREE!

Get ready to spend that Canadian cash!
Also helpful: The Ultimate Guide to Travel and Your Money

You’ll Need to Convert to Kilometers, Liters, and Celsius

Yep! Canada switched from the Imperial System to the Metric System in the 1970s. If you’re talking to people who went to school in the ’70s or earlier, they’ll easily know what you’re talking about if you refer to miles, gallons, or Fahrenheit, but it’s best to just download a conversion app. I like the FREE app called Units, but there are many options to choose from!

Kilometers are shorter than miles, so you’ll cover a LOT of them on the roads in Canada!
The essentials: The Best Apps for All Your Travels

French and English are Both Official Languages

You will definitely get familiar with a little French, whether or not you’re visiting “French Canada” and whether or not you mean to! All signage is in both French and English, and you’ll hear French spoken quite a bit, even outside of Quebec. There is also a French influence in much of the food.

Why go all the way to France for French pastries when you could head up to Canada?!
More here: Words to Learn in the Local Language

There are Six Time Zones

One thing you need to know: Canada is BIG! Stretching for 3000 miles from sea to sea, Canada uses Pacific, Mountain, Central, and Eastern Time like the United States, but it also goes farther to include Atlantic Time (1 hour ahead of Eastern Time) and Newfoundland Time (1 hour and 30 minutes ahead of Eastern Time).

Yes! That half hour is quite unique to Newfoundland. I thought only a handful of countries in the Middle East used half hours or quarter hours in their time zones, but I was wrong! Read this handy article to learn more.

Newfoundland is truly the edge of the continent. Even their time zone reaches extra far!
More here: How to Use Jet Lag to Your Advantage

You Need to Eat the Poutine

You didn’t come here for food you can get back home, right? Poutine is a delightful and savory Canadian treat. It’s a pile of French fries, smothered in gravy, and then topped with melted cheese curds. I know, unless you’re from the upper-midwest, you’re probably not familiar with cheese curds, but trust me, you’ll want them.

Poutine puts nachos to shame!
Keep eating: What to Eat in Canada

Canadians are So Nice!

It’s a stereotype for a reason! Canadians truly are some of the nicest, most helpful people around. Being in Canada feels very much like being in the American South as far as kindness and hospitality go, just with a different accent!

Anne of Green Gables would be so proud of her future Canadian counterparts!
More here: What to Do on Prince Edward Island

You Can Go Through U.S. Customs at Canadian Airports

This is one of the best parts of traveling in Canada. Once you’ve enjoyed your trip and you’re getting ready to go to the U.S., you’ll be able to clear customs and immigration at your Canadian airport of departure. No waiting in long lines back home!

So long, Canada!
In case you’ll be road tripping: Tips for Driving in Canada

Need more? Get everything you want to know on my dedicated Canada Page!

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