Visiting Canada

Is this your first time visiting Canada? Here are a few tips to help you prepare for your upcoming vacation!

Currency

Canada deals in Canadian dollars.

Voltage

120 volts and 60HZ.

Language

English and French

Customs and Immigration

Check out the Government of Canada website.

Driving

We drive on the right hand side of the road. Pedestrians have right of way at all times. Please make sure you stop at all intersections so they can cross.

From the end of May to the end of September we use all season tires on our cars. From October to May we use winter tires on our cars. If you plan on visiting from October to May and want to rent a car, we suggest requesting winter tires. It is not always always included when renting a car and they make a quite a difference.

Canadian Etiquette and Tipping

Ever heard of the Canadian stand off? Its when two Canadians approach a door and offer the other person to go first, it can go on for quite a while. It can also happen at 4 way stop signs, in shops and when passing each other on the sidewalk.  Canadians have pretty outstanding manners and are generally polite. It is common courtesy to open the door for one another, to help and assist one another and to take your shoes off before entering someone’s home. For more details on Canadian Etiquette and tipping check out this article.

Preparing for Cold Weather

So Canada gets pretty cold eh? Have you ever experienced -20 C or colder? If not, no stress! We have some handy hints on how to dress and prepare. Canada is well equipped for cold and snow. Dressing for the cold is quite subjective, you will see some people in down jackets at +15 C and others in shorts at -20 C.

All homes and buildings are well heated and insulated. Normally its around 18 degrees or warmer indoors.  Outside, well, that’s up to mother nature.  When it gets down to – 20 C or colder covering up bare skin is always a good idea. It is a good idea to keep your ears, hands a feet covered and warm as they are normally the first to get cold.

There is a whole range of winter boots available in Canada. Have a look at the ratings on the tags, some can be rated down to -50 C. Waterproof, insulated boots with a good tread make for happy feet. Forget high heels and stilettos. Sidewalks and pavement gets icy, a good tread will stop you from slipping. For those more prone to having cold feet you can buy little heat packs ‘Hot Hands’ for feet and hands. They last at least 5 hours and go in your boots and gloves. They are a great idea when skiing. You can get them from gas stations, ski hills and convenience stores. You can also buy insulated insoles ‘T-max’ for around $30 from Mark’s in Canadian Tire.

When looking for a winter coat there are many down and synthetic options available. I would suggest getting a coat that covers your bum, has tight cuffs, a insulated hood and zips up to your chin. A water resistant or water proof coat will stop snow melting through.

When looking at the weather forecast always look at the windchill, its a game changer. If it is -20 C but the windchill is -30 C then it will feel like its – 30 C. The wind and the sun really make a big difference at low temperatures.

Frostbite is a scary word. Frostbite is most common on the fingers, toes, nose, ears, cheeks and chin.

Frostbite can be prevented. Here are tips to help you stay safe and warm.

  • Limit time you’re outdoors in cold, wet or windy weather. Pay attention to weather forecasts and wind chill readings. In very cold, windy weather, exposed skin can develop frostbite in a matter of minutes.
  • Dress in several layers of loose, warm clothing. Air trapped between the layers of clothing acts as insulation against the cold. Wear windproof and waterproof outer garments to protect against wind, snow and rain. Choose undergarments that wick moisture away from your skin. Change out of wet clothing — particularly gloves, hats and socks — as soon as possible.
  • Wear a hat or headband that fully covers your ears. Heavy woolen, fleece lined or windproof materials make the best head wear for cold protection.
  • Wear mittens rather than gloves. Mittens provide better protection. Or try a thin pair of glove liners made of a wicking material (like polypropylene) under a pair of heavier gloves or mittens.
  • Wear socks and sock liners that fit well, wick moisture and provide insulation.You might also try hand and foot warmers. Be sure the foot warmers don’t make your boots too tight, restricting blood flow. Always choose woolen socks or moisture wicking socks. You will find that your feet with sweat in cars and in shops. Woolen socks and moisture wicking socks stop your feet from getting cold after they have sweated. Cotton socks are a bad idea, your feet will sweat and will get cold as soon as you step outside.
  • Watch for signs of frostbite. Early signs of frostbite include red or pale skin, prickling, and numbness.
  • Plan to protect yourself. When traveling in cold weather, carry emergency supplies and warm clothing in case you become stranded. If you’ll be in remote territory, tell others your route and expected return date.
  • Don’t drink alcohol if you plan to be outdoors in cold weather. Alcoholic beverages cause your body to lose heat faster.
  • Eat well-balanced meals and stay hydrated. Doing this even before you go out in the cold will help you stay warm. And if you do become cold, drinking warm, sweet beverages, such as hot chocolate, will help you warm up.
  • Keep moving. Exercise can get the blood flowing and help you stay warm, but don’t do it to the point of exhaustion.

All of this sounds pretty scary but people have been successfully living and enjoying the outdoors in cold climates for a long time. If you prepare, dress appropriately and know your limits then you will have a wonderful and memorable vacation.