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How To Plan a Trip to Canada

Before you go to Canada, you should plan and do a little research. Avoid the most common mistakes when traveling, such as having too many things on the to-do list or overspending money. 

Although Canada is neighboring and friendly to the USA, it is a separate country with its secure border, currency, and laws. Do not think that what applies in one country is good in another.

Photo by Edward Koorey

Best Time To Travel To Canada

Since the country is so diverse and vast there is no time of year that would be unsuitable for a trip to Canada. Depending on what you desire to do, you should choose the month of your trip accordingly.

The best time to travel to Canada is in the summer months when sunny days and pleasant temperatures are the norm. Despite Canada’s size, weather conditions are generally the same throughout the country, and certain seasons are similar to those in Europe. 

Coastal areas are usually more temperate than the prairies, and the mountainous regions have more rainfall and snow than others. However, winter is cold everywhere, and summer is warm in most areas.

Spring, which begins from late April to early June, can also be a delightful time of year. Gradual snow melting reveals forests and wildflowers, while Canadian wildlife returns from their long hibernation in the winter.

September is referred to as the peak of the salmon race, attracting large numbers of bears. It also marks the beginning of autumn. Autumn foliage continues until October.

Determine Your Eligibility 

To visit Canada, you must meet some requirements from the Government of Canada, immigration, and citizenship. These include conditions such as having a valid travel document, good health, willingness, and desire to leave Canada at the end of the trip, enough money, and no criminal record

Photo by Rafa Prada

Visitors Visa

A Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) is a document that allows foreign nationals to enter and stay in Canada. If you are not a citizen of an exempt country, you will need a visitors visa to come into Canada, whether you are coming as a student, temporary worker, or to visit.

A single-entry visa allows foreign nationals to enter Canada only once. A multi-entry visa allows foreign nationals to enter and leave Canada as many times as they want, provided that the visitor visa to Canada is valid. 

You do not have to choose which type of visa to apply for, applicants are automatically considered for a multiple entry visa, and single-entry visas are only granted under particular circumstances.

Multiple-entry visas allow the holder to travel to Canada for six months at a time as many times as they desire, provided that the visa is valid. It can be valid for up to 10 years. However, the exact validity period is at the discretion of the visa officer who issues them. 

Visa-Exempt Countries

The only people who do not require a visa for entry are Canadian citizens and permanent residents. However, Canada has agreements with several countries that exempt nationals of these countries from needing a visa to visit Canada for up to six months. 

If foreign nationals from visa-exempt countries want to visit Canada by air, they need a valid electronic entry permit (eTA). If they prefer to visit Canada by land or sea, they only need a valid passport from a visa-exempt country. The only exceptions are United States citizens. 

Get Your ETA Visa In Advance

Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) is a new requirement for visitors to Canada. It is now mandatory for all visa-free citizens, except Americans. It has been the case since November 2016. 

Depending on where you are coming from, you may need ETA permission before boarding a flight to Canada. Obtaining an eTA Canadian visa is a simple online process that only takes a few minutes. 

You will need a credit card, passport, and email address, and you will need to answer a few basic questions and enter your details. You will also need to pay a small commission of $7. 

In most cases, an eTA will be provided within a few minutes of your application. Once approved, your eTA will be valid for five years or after your passport expires. It is essential that when you travel to Canada, you travel on the same passport that you used when you applied for eTA approval.

How To Apply

Applicants who require a visitor visa to enter Canada can apply online, with a paper application, or in person at the Visa Application Centre (VAC). If you travel as a family, each family member, including dependent children, must complete their application. However, you can submit all applications together. 

Applicants may be required to include biometrics in their application depending on their country of nationality. If biometrics is required, the applicant will be required to submit his or her fingerprints and photo at the biometrics collection point. 

Biometrics may be collected after you have applied for a visitors visa when asked to do so, or at the same time as applying if you are applying in person at the Visa Application Centre (VAC).

Airplane Travel

There are about 20 major international airports in Canada. It makes flying to Canada the fastest and most convenient way to enter the country.

The largest and busiest airport is Toronto Pearson International Airport. Direct flights to Toronto are available from many cities of the world.

However, you may also find international flights to and from most major cities throughout the country.

It is best to buy tickets a couple of months in advance so that you can find the cheapest options. However, no matter whether you spend a lot of time planning your trip or decide to visit Canada at the last minute, there are almost always reasonable flight options.

Try to buy airline tickets in opposite seasons, if you can. For a summer flight, book a flight ticket in winter. If you plan to enjoy Canada in winter, you should try to take advantage of the winter holidays in July.

Several low-cost airlines offer low-cost tickets to/from some European destinations. For example, a one-way ticket from London or Paris with WOW Air can only cost $170! Sometimes it is cheaper to fly to the USA and then to go to Canada. Therefore, consider this option.

The Distances Are Enormous

Do not think that during a short visit, you will be able to cover most of Canada. It is a huge country, and the journey from one city to another involves traveling long distances. Many people do not plan enough time to travel to Canada and rush from one city to another.

If your time is limited, think about choosing one of the sections of Canada, such as the Rocky Mountains in Alberta, the West Coast of British Columbia, or Maritimes. By focusing on one region, you can spend more time and have fun. 

Are you looking for any ideas to start planning your trip? This post by Brooke from World of Wanderlust has a tremendous Canadian Bucket List with things to see and do.

Photo by Kalen Emsley

Personal Or Rental Vehicle

In many places, it is effortless to drive between the Canadian and American borders to visit nearby places in both countries. Favorite places are Seattle/ Vancouver, Niagara Falls, and Montreal/Vermont. The roads between the USA and Canada are generally in excellent condition. They are also well marked so that navigation between them should not be difficult.

Depending on your country of origin, time of stay, and the purpose of your visit, passing the border controls by transport is often less difficult than arriving by plane. If you cross the border into Canada from the United States, contact a car rental company to ensure you can do so without breaking your agreement.

You will also want to make sure that the vehicle is insured in both countries.

Consider The Weather

The three things that you should remember when packing for your trip to Canada are layers, layers, and layers. 

Even if you come to Canada in summer, there can be thunderstorms on the prairies, and in the mountains, the temperature drops at night. 

It gets extremely cold in the winter. If you are not on the mild coast of British Columbia, where the weather slows down in the Pacific Ocean, you can count on Siberian temperatures. 

It is not uncommon for temperatures to be as low as -20 or -30 degrees Celsius or lower in winter. Given the wind factor, it feels even cooler. Bring a warm woolen hat (the Canadians call it “current”), gloves, and a scarf to wrap your face to prevent numbness in your limbs.

Use Couchsurfing To Stay For Free

Living in Canada is not cheap. Although there are currently hostels in some major cities and tourist places, they are still quite expensive. If you stay in a hotel, it can eat up most of your budget. 

Why don’t you consider Couch Surfing? If you have never heard of this before, it is a website that allows travelers to contact locals who are willing to let them stay in their spare bedroom or on their couch for free. 

The value of couch surfing is not only free accommodation but also that you end up staying with someone who is local and knows the area. Locals can give you better advice and information than most tour guides can provide you.

Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is often recommended when you travel, especially in Canada. If you are not a citizen, but you get sick or hurt yourself when you travel to Canada, it can cost you a lot of money. 

When choosing a health insurance policy, be sure to read the fine print and make sure that it covers all the activities that you plan to do while in Canada, such as skiing, snowboarding, or white water rafting.

Get Out Into The Great Outdoors

Canadian cities are awesome. Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Halifax, and all the other major cities in Canada have great food, a lot of culture and lots to do. However, the real joy of visiting Canada is to get out of the city and into Canada’s vast wilderness areas. 

Canada has a population of a bit less than 36 million people, but the area of Canada is almost equal to the whole of Europe. It means that most of Canada is wild and uninhabited. Vast areas of pristine, untouched wildlife await their time. 

Whether it’s glacier wandering in the Rocky Mountains, hiking in the coastal rainforests of Vancouver Island, or canoeing in the lakes of Ontario, Canada’s outdoor scenery is an ideal playground. 

If you like hiking, canoeing, camping, fishing, bird watching, and other outdoor sports, you’ll find yourself in the right place. 

If you enjoy winter sports, skiing and snowboarding is a world-famous and truly superb sport. You should get safety instructions from the locals before you leave – so you know how to avoid bears, frostbite, delusions, and other dangers.

To Sum Up

Canada is a country that is as diverse as it is vast, and many travelers in this region underestimate the clear land of the Great White North.

It has grizzly bears, skiing, northern lights, French influence, spectacular wilderness, maple syrup, hockey, cosmopolitan cities, ice tundras, Canadian rocks, Niagara Falls, Whistler, friendly locals, polar bears, and surfing.

If you plan a trip and are ready and know everything you need to know before you travel, you are guaranteed to have the time of your life. Get coupons for your travel on CouponKirin to save big!