To go to Canada, no need for a big preparation, but it’s necessary to think about a few things for everything to work well!
No matter why or how long you are staying in Canada, you will always need a visa.
For 0-6 months trips, you have to ask for a visitor visa or ETA (electronic travel authorisation). You get get it within a few minutes on the Canadian immigration’s official website for the cheap cost of $7CAD (about £4,1). Be careful to other website offering it for a much more expensive cost!
If you wish to stay longer, it’s possible. You will have to ask for a Work and Travel programme to be able to stay up to 2 years (1 year for Belgian people) on the Canadian territory. However, it’s not as easy to get it as the visitor visa: you will have to wait to be drawn by lot (or not) throughout the multiple sessions taking place every year. One of the advantages of this status is to be able to work.
For the French-speaking people deciding to go to Quebec, good news: the official language is French (for once!). For the English-speaking people, don’t panic: a large part of the Quebec people are bilingual! There are a few language habits to get used to though.
Unfortunately, the opposite isn’t necessarily true: in the other states of Canada, the official language is English, and French is rarely spoken by the inhabitants.
Currency, taxes and tips
The currency is the $CAD or Canadian dollar. As we’re writing this article, 1CAD = €0,68 = £0,58. It’s therefore in our favour, us Europeans. But be careful, there are 2 things to take into account which we are not used to in Europe: taxes and tips. Here are a few explanations:
- The displayed prices are 90% of the time excluding tax. Therefore, think about inflating the price by 5% because of the goods and services tax and to add a second tax which varies depending on the states of Canada (9,975% for Quebec, 8% in Ontario…).
- In a few situations, there is also the tip to add. For some services like restaurant, bar/café, taxi, guided visits... It’s asked, when paying, to add a tip of usually 15% (you can give more if you feel like it). Why is this practice normal in Canada? Because this kind of staff is badly paid, perhaps only paid thanks to tips; it’s therefore poorly looked upon to “play tourist” who didn’t know!
To sum up, if you’re traveling to Quebec, you have to add 15% taxes and 15% tips to the indicated price in some cases, which kind of goes back to $1CAD = €1 = £1.
Among this big country that is Canada, there are different time zones, even in the same state! If you travel on the West coast (Vancouver), count minus 9h, whereas on the East coast it’s only minus 5h. A quick search on Google will give you what time it is where you’re heading.
They are not the same as in Europe. Think about getting an adapter.
When traveling out of the European zone, it’s potentially inconvenient regarding the phone contract. Why potentially? Because I (Juliette) have the €19,99/month contract at Free (French contractor) allowing to make phone calls, texting and use 25Go of internet in Canada… So, yes, this contractor doesn’t always work perfectly in France, but abroad, it’s great!
Otherwise, you will have to add an option to your contract for the duration of your trip. It’s often expensive. Or you can buy a prepaid card at one of the Canadian contractors like Bell, Rogers, or Telus.
Here is a topic that’s important to talk about because the distances are long and the zones to explore numerous!
At first, because I wanted to save money, I considered traveling by coach. The Orleans Express company serves Quebec pretty well. But when I looked closer, I realised that going from a city to the national park was often complicated and inconvenient. I therefore quickly gave up this option.
Rent a car seemed to be the most comfortable way of traveling, but a 1 month rental was more expensive than the plane tickets! Eventually, I’ve been recommended to go on Turo, a car rental website between individuals… Great, I was able to rent a car for 500€ the month with unlimited kilometres (still be careful to mileage when renting).
I was more than satisfied by the services of Turo. They were very serious and reliable: they compensated for the costs incurred by a puncture (with almost 6000km, it had to happen!). I hope this website will arrive in more countries!
What’s surprising is that the price of a litre of petrol is paltry : count between $1,15 and $1,4 according to the region (less than €1/£1!).
Only in Quebec, there are tens of them, but there are different sorts of parks:
- The SEPAQ parks (Société des Etablissements de Plein Air du Québec), representing the majority of parks. I encourage you to calculate approximately the number of times you’re going to enter the parks because the entrance is a bit more than $7 a day, it’s sometimes more worth to buy a year card for $79! You can make someone happy and give it to someone or sell it when leaving.
- The Canada Parks: there are only 3 on the Quebec territory (Forillon National park, Mauricie, Archipel of Mingan). The entrance is $7,80 (cheaper when out of season). It’s therefore useless to get the $67,70 year pass if your trip is only in Quebec.
- The can’t-be-classified, like the Saint Anne Canyon and the Hell Gates Canyon, which are independent parks where you have to pay for an entrance at every visit (about $15).
Now that you know all these informations, your trip can only go right!
Let’s go for my 1 month road trip in Quebec!
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