Travel Guidance

Please ensure you have a valid passport with at least six months validity by the time you return home.  Many destinations do require a visa which must be in place before travelling. It is essential to have travel insurance in place from time of booking.

Canada

Lumberjacks, beavers, hockey fanatics, Mounties and maple syrup spring immediately to mind. While Canada certainly provides all of these traditional associations in abundance, this awe-inspiring country has so much more to offer than a slew of cliches. With its unrivalled outdoor adventure facilities, its unforgettable natural landscapes and its exceptionally cosmopolitan and progressive cities, Canada has plenty to offer those seeking cutting-edge culture as well as adventure junkies looking for a serious adrenaline kick. Popular tourist destinations include: the magnificent Rocky Mountains around Banff and Lake Louise, high-end luxury ski resorts such as Whistler and Blackcomb, the French-speaking cities of Montreal or Quebec, or the uber-cool and perpetually bustling urban centres of Vancouver or Toronto. Whether visiting an Inuit lodge in Nunavut, taking a dog-sled ride through the Yukon to view the spectacular northern lights blaze across the night sky, or indulging in some lovely high tea on Vancouver Island, you are bound to find plenty of activities to keep you blissfully engaged in this exceptionally diverse and incomprehensibly vast nation.


Banking and Currency

Currency

The Canadian dollar is the currency of Canada. It is abbreviated with the dollar sign $, or sometimes C$ to distinguish it from other dollar-denominated currencies. It is divided into 100 cents. Canada has both paper money and coins.  There are currently five coins in circulation –  nickel (5¢), dime (10¢), quarter (25¢), 'loonie' ($1 ) and 'toonie' ($2).  There is no longer a penny coin (1¢), so amounts are rounded up or down to the closest 5¢. Five bill denominations ($5, $10, $20, $50, $100) 

Banking

Regular banking hours in Canada are 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday, with extended hours including weekends at some locations.

Most merchants accept credit cards.  Visa and MasterCard are the most popular. American Express is not as widely accepted. Travellers' cheques are less popular — and may be subject to a fee. Although tempting and convenient to exchange funds at your hotel’s front desk, it’s always best to exchange currency at a bank or credit union.


Travel, Transport and Getting Around

Direct flights connect the major cities with the larger Canadian airports, and frequent connecting flights will help you get to any Canadian destination efficiently. Canada is well serviced by road and rail – take the train to sit back, relax and enjoy the sites, or hire a car and travel at your own pace. 

For the most economical mode of transport, jump on a bus – you’ll find that Canada’s system of intercity bus routes spans the entire country and is very efficient.  Some cities also offer flexible transit passes so you can enjoy unlimited all-day, multi-day or monthly travel within that city.

You could also catch a ferry to discover beautiful island retreats and coastal paradises, or just get from A to B on a convenient inland ferry service.


Food, Drink and Cuisine Advice

Tap water is safe to drink and food safety standards are high. If camping in the backcountry, you should be aware of the risks of giardia, where water in streams or lakes has been contaminated by animal waste. This can cause diarrhoea, vomiting and headaches. Ensure you boil, filter or purify water first; purification tablets are easy to buy in any outdoor equipment store. You should also be aware of the dangers of eating shellfish directly from the sea, which can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning, resulting in illness or death. Check locally before you travel.

An extensive variety of cuisine is available representing the multicultural flavour of Vancouver. Fine dining, casual or family friendly restaurants are easily accessible throughout Greater Vancouver.

Alcoholic beverages in bottles are sold in special 'Liquor' stores. However, alcoholic beverages including beer and wine may be purchased in "Licensed Premises" establishments, such as restaurants, hotel lounges, pubs, and nightclubs. Minors are not admitted into bars. In BC, minors are defined as anyone under 19 years of age.


Climate and Weather

Canada’s climate is not as cold all year round as you might think.  Winter temperatures fall below freezing in most of Canada but the South Western coast is relatively mild.  Along the Arctic Circle is where it is coldest, the temperatures fall below freezing for around seven months of the year.During the summer the Southern provinces often have temperatures of over 86oF and high levels of humidity. In terms of rainfall, Western and South-Eastern Canada has the most, while the Prairies are dry and only get 250 – 500 mm per year.

The bulk of Canada’s visitors turn up in winter with skis or snowboard in hand, ready to tackle the slopes.  The ski season runs from December until late March in the East, and extends to late May (and sometimes even June) in the ski hills of the West.  With temperatures throughout most of Canada falling below freezing, the best thing to do is to embrace winter and get yourself along to a winter festival or ice carnival, or you could show off your skills at the world's longest skating rink, the Rideau Canal.


If summer is more your style, then you’ll enjoy the hot weather from late May to late September. Summer starts officially in June and carries on through August, with July often being the hottest summer month.  Be at one with nature and go hiking or to the lakes for a spot of fishing.


Clothing and Dress Recommendations

Winter: warm coat/parka, fleece (pants, tops, etc.), undershirt and long johns (underpants), warm hat, gloves, and scarf, clothes you would wear in early spring or fall 

Spring: Sweaters (fleece, wool, cotton, etc.), hoodie, ponchos, leather jacket, long & short sleeved shirts, heavier jeans, rain jacket, umbrella, sun hat, sunglasses, etc. 

Summer: thin and light cottons, linens, and sport nylons, shorts, cropped pants, tank tops, skirts, sun hat, sun glasses, light jeans, khaki's, etc. in light colours (white, beige, etc.)

Fall: Sweaters (fleece, wool, cotton, heavy linen, etc.), hoodies, ponchos, long & short sleeved shirts, heavier jeans, etc..


Internet Availability

You'll rarely be out of touch by e-mail or without internet access while visiting Canada. Most Canadian cities have cybercafés and coffee shops that offer wireless internet access to their patrons. Hotels often have an internet terminal or wireless internet available for guests and public libraries offer free access to the internet for limited periods of time.


Electricity and Plug Standards

Canadian appliances operate on 110 volts and the cycle is 60Hz, which is identical to the US voltage. Main wall sockets and plugs are two parallel flat prongs, making a universal adaptor necessary for overseas electrical devices. 


United States of America

The sheer size of the US prevents any kind of all encompassing statement about the typical American experience. From the state-of-the-art skyscrapers of New York City to the scenic country lanes of New England, the United States of America is a place of astonishing beauty and extraordinary diversity. Nothing can remotely prepare you for your first glimpse of the glorious Golden Gate bridge, the glistening Empire State building, the neon lights of Las Vegas or the iconic Statue of Liberty. Not to mention the natural treasures on offer - the country’s beautiful national parks are home to some of the world’s most treasured wildlife and landscapes; the west and east coasts are strewn with spectacular beaches, and the Rockies provide endless opportunities for outdoor adventures. In fact, it is a country of such epic proportions that you could easily spend a lifetime in the US and still feel like you have barely scratched the surface.


Banking and Currency

Currency

The US Dollar is the currency of United States. The currency code for Dollars is USD, and the currency symbol is $. Notes come in $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 denominations and coins come in 1¢, 5¢, 10¢, 25¢, 50¢, and $1 denominations. 

Banking

Most major credit cards are accepted throughout the USA, including American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa. Visitors are advised to carry at least one major credit card, as it is common to request pre-payment or a credit card imprint for hotel rooms and car hire, even when the final payment is not by credit card. Be sure to check with your card issuer for current surcharge rates imposed for use of the card outside your home country. You should also inform your issuer that you are travelling for a specified period so your card is not flagged or temporarily suspended.

Travellers' cheques are widely accepted in US Dollar cheques; Pound Sterling traveller's cheques are rarely accepted and few banks will honour them. Change is issued in US Dollars. One or two items of identification (passport, credit card, driving licence) will be required.


Travel, Transport and Getting Around

Road

Americans drive on the right hand side of the road. Driving is a great way to see the USA but distances can be huge eg 4,716km (2,930 miles) between San Francisco and New York City. Nevertheless, for those visitors with ample time, travelling by road is an ideal way to get a sense of both the vastness and the diversity of the country. Besides, road tripping is a favourite method of travel for Americans, and some of its great roads are iconic, such as the famous Route 66.

Taxi service varies considerably from one city to another, and is often not available in rural areas at all. In big cities, taxis are readily identifiable and can be found easily. In smaller cities and towns with taxi service, you may need to call a company to request a taxi.

Car Hire

Major international companies have offices at all gateway airports and in most cities.

Rail

Nearly all the long-distance trains are operated by Amtrak, which serves more than 500 communities in 46 states and three Canadian provinces over a 35,000km (21,000 mile) route system. Rail is not considered the best way to travel within the USA, as trains can be slow, infrequent and expensive.


Food, Drink and Cuisine Advice

Frequent eating out is a relative novelty for many Americans, particularly in suburban areas, and is just one of many consequences of the popularization of television shows that feature celebrity chefs and a focus on culinary history and popular culture.In large cities, restaurants are mostly modern and very clean, offering a vast range of cuisines, prices and facilities. Restaurants come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from fast-food, self-service and counter service, to drive-thru and table service. There are numerous options for casual and fine dining alike. 

There are also many types of bars, cocktail lounges, café-style bars and English-style pubs. Generally speaking, waiter/waitress service costs more than self-service or take-out. Drinking laws are set by the individual states, counties, municipalities and towns; on average, closing time in bars is between midnight and 03h00.

Tipping is widely practised, as service charges are not usually included in the bill. Waiters generally expect 15 to 20% gratuity. Often, service charges are included for larger parties; if the restaurant's policy is not clearly stated on its menu, ask the server. It should be noted that a cover charge is for admission to an establishment, not a tip for service.


Climate and Weather

The overall climate in the United States of America (USA) is temperate, with notable exceptions. Alaska has an Arctic tundra climate, while Hawaii and South Florida have a tropical climate. The Great Plains are dry, flat and grassy, turning into arid desert in the far West. The climate is Mediterranean along the Californian coast.


Clothing and Dress Recommendations

It really is casual in America. Outside of the main cities, it is advisable not to be bothered with dressy clothes. However if you plan to visit city restaurants then you may feel more comfortable in smart casual wear.

Clothes in natural fibers will work better in the heat and it is worth popping in a lightweight sweater, cardigan or pashmina wrap for cooler weather or overly fierce air conditioning.

Travel light and buy your toiletries there. Must haves include sunglasses and wear plenty of high factor sunscreen.

If you are planning to visit very hot areas then we would recommend that you pack a shirt with long sleeves and a higher neckline to prevent burning. A sunhat is also very useful in the intense sunshine and our packable one is just perfect for travelling.


Internet Availability

The United States has generally good internet access in most tourist destination. When you’re booking accommodation it’s easy enough to scan the room descriptions with increasing numbers of properties offering Wi-Fi.


Electricity and Plug Standards

Electrical sockets in the United States of America are one of two electrical socket types: The 'Type A’ and ‘Type B’. If your appliance's plug doesn't match the shape of these sockets, you will need a travel plug adapter in order to plug in. Travel plug adapters simply change the shape of your appliance's plug to match whatever type of socket you need to plug into. If it's crucial to be able to plug in no matter what, bring an adapter for all types.

Electrical sockets in the United States of America usually supply electricity at 120 volts AC. If you're appliance is is compatible with multiple voltages, then an adapter is all you need. If your appliance isn’t compatible with 120 volts, a voltage converter will be necessary.


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