The Best Tips for Driving in Canada

Planning a trip to Canada? You’re going to love it! And you will most likely be doing a road trip, too. Driving in Canada is very similar to driving in the United States: They drive on the right, big pick-up trucks are common, and the makes and models of cars you see are the same. But there are a few important differences to note. Here are the most important things to know about driving in and around Canada!

You Will Most Likely Want a Car

Unless you’re planning to stay in the city center of places like Toronto, Montreal, St. John’s, Vancouver, Quebec City, etc., you will most likely want to have a car handy. And even if you are planning to stay in the city, you still might find you need a car to get around to all the things you want to do and see! Canada is similar to the United States in that way—there is a lot of space, and not everything you’ll want to do will be within walking distance!

We knew we would definitely need a car for Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and a later trip to Newfoundland!
More here: 10 Things to Do on Prince Edward Island

Check Your Distances in Advance

It may look close on a map, but you really need to look up distances in a mapping app so you can see just how far the journey is, and how long the drive will take you. Will you want to break it up and stop somewhere overnight along the way? Do you want to try and knock it out in one day? Can you take a day trip there and back in a reasonable timeframe? Check your distances using Google Maps or the Map app on your phone. 

Did someone say road trip?
More here: The Ultimate List of Road Trip Tips

You Can Drive or Take a Ferry to Many Maritime Islands

Hoping to visit some islands while you’re in the country, but think you’ll have to leave your car behind? No worries! Several large islands are connected to mainland Canada by bridge, like the Confederation Bridge connecting Nova Scotia to Prince Edward Island. 

If no bridge is available, you can have a fun experience by taking a car ferry! Canadians are a driving people, so there are definitely options to bring your own car along when traveling, even to a Canadian island!

You can take a car ferry or drive across a bridge between PEI and Nova Scotia!
Also helpful: What to Know Before You Visit Prince Edward Island

Bring Snacks and Water

Rest stops can be few and far between. Make sure you bring snacks and water, even if you think you won’t need them. Take advantage of the rest stops and gas stations that you do find along the way. Take plenty of breaks, too, so you won’t burn out before you arrive at your destination. 

You will certainly find yourself pretty far from civilization on a road trip in Canada!
Read next: My Honest Reviews of Restaurants in St. John’s

Remember You’re in Kilometers

If you happen to be driving across the border from the United States to Canada, remember that your speed limit signs in Canada will refer to kilometers! Canadian cars are already set up for kilometers to be the main unit of distance and display kilometers per hour in larger numbers. American cars, however, have the miles per hour listed in the larger numbers. Just know which numbers you need to go by!

It was super fun driving 100! (kilometers per hour)
Read next: What to Know Before You Visit Canada

Stay to the Right Unless Passing

This is something that surprises Americans sometimes. Canadians actually only use the left lane to pass, not to drive their entire route. No one is sitting in the left lane going below the speed limit. It’s amazing! Remember to pass on the left like you should back home, and then keep to the right lane once you pass. 

This is one rule you will need to follow!
Read next: 5 Trips for Positive Vibes

There Will Be Potholes on Smaller Roads

Be on the lookout, and get out of their way! Some of the potholes we saw on the Bonavista Peninsula were large, deep, and needed to be repaired! As you might imagine, there are a lot of long roads in Canada, so not every pothole is a priority. Remember to be self-aware.

You won’t get here without navigating some potholes!
Read next: 7 Travel Rules You Don’t Know Until Someone Tells You

Get Cozy with Your Cruise Control

Give your leg a break and get cozy with the cruise control on long drives. Because people really do keep right except when passing, you won’t need to do a lot of crafty speeding up and slowing down to keep up with the flow of traffic. You can just pass at speed! 

Use your cruise so you can enjoy the scenery a little more!

For everything you need to plan your Canadian getaway, take a look at my dedicated Canada Page!

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