Recently I went on a trip to Canada and probably like most Americans, I though it would be exactly like the United States, just with a few differences. However, I was very wrong about this!! Canada is very much an international destination, even if you live only a few hours away or are planning a road trip through the country; there are a few things you should know before crossing the border and enjoying the sights!!
The very first thing an American traveling to Canada should know is that credit cards and cell phones will not work unless you call your providers ahead. Ok so this might seem like common sense to some people but I made this mistake!! As I do not live far from the Canadian border I though I would be fine just taking a spur of the moment road trip. Do Not do this!! As soon as you cross the border you will lose cell phone coverage and your cards will not work. Take the extra few minutes to make a call and buy a phone plan for peace of mind!!
It is beautiful, keep it that way. Ok, so littering is not acceptable anywhere in the world but in Canada it is just offensive. This country is breath-taking beautiful and very, very clean! Everywhere I went seemed perfectly manicured, even the roadways seemed to be free of trash. This is a country that takes pride in its appearance and it is just rude to litter while you are here.
You will not be able to exchange American money. This one actually surprised me and made me look a little arrogant (Sorry Canada!!). I had stopped at a Wal-Mart to buy some food for the night and upon checkout pulled out my American cash. The girl seemed slightly embarrassed as she informed me that they could not give me any change. While Canadians will accept American money for goods remember that they can’t give you change back. As the American dollar holds a little more value than the Canadian one this can end up being a very pricy mistake as well as embarrassing. Save yourself the trouble and get a few hundred dollars in Canadian currency before traveling.
England is apparent in a lot of the culture and its pretty awesome!! At some points while on my trip I forgot that I was in Canada and felt more like I was in England. It is a very cool feeling!! Canada clearly respects the Crown and it shows, roads are named after London and Queen Elizabeth, road signs show tea cups as signs for food, and the currency proudly displays prominent Monarch figures. It is an incredible feeling to drive through such a different place even though it is so close to home!!
Everything is in Kilometers and Liters. This one will probably be the most difficult for Americans to understand but if traveling by car it is important to remember! No, that road sign does not say 100 miles an hour! 100 kilometers is actually roughly 60 miles an hour. The gas is also in liters which can be slightly confusing as well. Your best option is simply pull out a calculator and do some quick math to make sure you are doing things right!
Be prepared to see some amazing things!! Canada is beautiful, it is extremely environmental conscious with windmills and recycling bins in abundance. The people are very friendly and the prices are not terrible. It will amaze you how simply crossing a border will change everything and make you feel like you are in a different world. Remember to be respectful, don’t expect your currency or language to be universal especially as you travel further into Canada and French becomes more common. You will meet very interesting people and see very cool things!! Go to Canada, you will not regret it!!