Canada is a vast country, the second largest in the world in fact! It is a land of open plains, of icy expanses, of soaring mountains and sweeping valleys, of glistening lakes and dense forests. It is full of wildlife and nature, from grizzly bears, moose and beavers, Canada geese, seals and beluga whales. It has a history that weaves native Inuit and other nomadic tribes living off what the land provides with Viking invaders, sailing across the Atlantic to settle. It has been shaped British and French influences, with the lands being at one time under colonial rule. Today, though heavily influenced by its neighbour to the south, the USA, Canada still retains a distinct identity. Most of the population lives in the bustling, cosmopolitan cities along the country’s seaboards - Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Quebec and Vancouver, whereas the immense interior is sparsely populated and largely unknown to visitors. Canada offers much to discover – one visit is not enough to make the most of this amazing country!
Many of our Canada tours also combine the USA. Please ensure you also check the entry requirements for the USA, as they differ to those for Canada.
Your passport should be valid for at least three months beyond the period of stay. Please be sure to fill out the "Emergency Next of Kin" section in your passport
If travelling to Canada by air, visa exempt travellers – which includes US, Australian and most European citizens, may enter Canada for up to six months for tourist purposes with an electronic travel authorisation (eTA). An eTA costs CAD $9 per person, is electronically linked your passport and is valid from issue for up to five years or until the passport expires, whichever comes first. It permits multiple entries into Canada within the validity of the eTA. However, an eTA does not guarantee entry to Canada and is at the discretion of the border services. The eTa must be applied for prior to travel and most airlines will not let you board without an eTa which will be verified at check-in. If travelling by land or sea, visa exempt travellers do not require an eTa. All other nationalities must check the visa entry requirements before your departure. You need sufficient funds and a return airline ticket.
• Consular Information
There are a number of major international embassies located in Ottawa, including those for the US, Australia, New Zealand and UK. There are also a number of consulates in Calgary, Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto. However, embassies for other countries, including are located in the USA, offering coverage to Canada. Please check with your relevant government for the relevant contact details.
N.B. Please note, visa and entry requirements, regulations and restrictions can vary on a regular basis. Please ensure you check in good time prior to travel the current requirements applicable to you.
HEALTH, INSURANCE AND SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS
• Travel Insurance
It is company policy that all passengers must have valid travel insurance prior to travelling, to include but not limited to health insurance and cancellation insurance. It is vital that ALL members of the travelling party are fully insured for the dates of travel. All pre-existing medical conditions must be declared to the insurer and the correct cover must be taken in regard to the specific type of holiday you are taking.
The details of your insurance must be advised to The Big Journey Company at least 6 weeks before your departure date. Please make sure to write down important information from your insurance policy, such as the company’s 24hr emergency telephone number (including dial code from abroad) and your policy number and take these with you on tour.
Canada and Alaska Tour – please advise your insurer you will be visiting both countries, as well as taking part in a cruise as not all policies for North America include both the US and Canada. Additionally, cruising often falls under a separate insurance category.
• General Health
Please talk to your doctor or travel health clinic in person at least eight weeks before you travel, where a health professional can provide you with the necessary health information for your personal needs. Health care facilities can be limited in remote areas, so please remember to bring sufficient medical supplies with you.
Wearing sunscreen, drinking plenty of water, washing your hands properly before eating and avoiding insect bites should keep you healthy on tour.
Temperatures in Canada can get very cold and exposure is often a risk for those who come ill-prepared for the cold. In remote wilderness areas, ticks are common and carry a range of diseases, including Lyme disease which is becoming more prevalent. Remember to use bug spray, cover up whilst walking and check upon your return for any signs of bites or ticks.
We recommend you carry a simple travellers’ first-aid kit containing any basic items that you feel may be required, including remedies for minor stomach complaints.
If you do need to see a doctor during the tour, please speak to your Big Journey Company tour escort.
• Passengers with Disabilities or Reduced Mobility
Our Canada Tours are an Activity Level 2 tour and will require moderate physical activity and include various forms of transport. Please check our Activity Levels description page to see if this level is suitable to you or contact us if you require further information on the activities involved in the tour.
If you or any member of your party has any medical problem or disability which may affect your holiday, please provide us with full details before we confirm your booking, or as soon as possible at the time they occur, so that we can try to advise on the suitability of your chosen arrangements. Please note, we may require you to produce a doctor’s certificate certifying that you are fit to participate in the tour.
• Medical Conditions and Personal Medication
Please advise us prior to travel if you have any medical conditions requiring special attention during your trip. If you have a specific medical condition, it is wise to carry the relevant doctor’s prescription with you. Due to the limited medical resources in rural areas, it is advisable to carry sufficient supplies with you!
- Pack a sufficient supply of any medications you are taking, copies of the prescriptions and the telephone/fax numbers of your doctor.
- Please note, some countries require that prescription drugs be carried in their original container, with the label clearly visible. In the event of you losing your medication, a qualified pharmacist should be able to source a replacement.
There are currently no vaccination requirements for international travellers, but please consult your doctor before travelling for the latest immunisation information as well as advice according to your unique medical needs.
• Travelling with CPAP or other Medical Machines
Please inform The Big Journey Company that you are travelling with such a device as early as possible, and well before you travel. This is especially important in places where there may be issues with power supply, such as on safari or smaller cruise ships. Also,
- Check that you have the correct electrical and voltage adapters for the country and accommodation you are visiting;
- Check with your airline that they allow your device to be carried as additional hand luggage and ensure that your device is easily accessible and properly labelled as medical machinery;
- Always carry a letter from your medical practitioner prescribing its use for you;
- Ensure you have details of your machine separately in case of the need to secure repairs/replacements whilst you are travelling;
- Check with your medical practitioner about the use of tap or bottled water in the event that distilled water cannot be sourced in the country you are travelling to.
Please note, if you require distilled or ionised water, you must inform The Big Journey Company of this at least two weeks ahead of travel, so we are able to make preparations with our ground agents. There will be an additional charge for this.
• Special Dietary Requirements
Please let us know in good time prior to travel if you have any special dietary requirements (e.g., vegetarian, vegan, diabetic, gluten-free, etc.). We will make every effort to accommodate your request with the resources available to us.
• What to Pack and Wear
Depending on the tour to Canada and the period in which you travel, what to pack will vary greatly. For those travelling on the Grizzly Bear adventure, please see our video suggesting what to bring with you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dySBNha6GQw
However, those travelling to Alaska and Canada will require clothes for cooler weather, as well as a few smarter outfits for the days on the cruise.
• Luggage Allowances
International airlines are often strict about the size and weight of checked in baggage and carry-on luggage. Prior to your departure, please contact your airline or visit their website for specific luggage requirements, as size and weight limitations may vary according to the airline and destination.
Canadian Wilderness Tour – This tour includes an internal flight in Canada from Vancouver to Bella Coola. This flight carries a luggage restriction of 1 checked bag per person with a maximum weight of 23kg/50lb and maximum linear dimensions of 62 inches (158cm). Linear dimension is calculated by adding together the bag’s outside height, width and length, including wheels and handles. Additional luggage may be left at the hotel in Vancouver to be collected on return.
Luggage handling is not included in our Canada tour. It may be available at the hotel for a local charge.
Laundry services are available in some hotels on the tour.
The main language of Canada is English. French is also an official language but mainly spoken in the Quebec region.
Canada has 6 different time zones due to its vast size. Newfoundland on the western coast is GMT-3.5, 3.5 hours behind London GMT, Montreal, Ottawa and Quebec are GMT-5, Calgary GMT-7 and Vancouver on the western seaboard is GMT-8, 8hrs behind London.
Due to its vast size and varying geography, it is difficult to generalise on the weather in Canada - apart from the fact that winters are cold and long! Its southern-most latitude is the same as northern California, whilst the county stretches far beyond the Arctic Circle to the north. Most of the main cities, which lie to the south of the country close to the US border have four distinct seasons, where spring and autumn are pleasant, summers nice but winters cold. In the interior, the weather can vary greatly. The further north you travel, the longer the winter and shorter the other seasons. Temperatures in winter can drop very cold and snow in expected. It is best to check on local weather reports for the area you will be visiting prior to departure.
In Canada, the standard voltage is 120V and the frequency is 60Hz. You will need a North American plug adapter, and/or converter depending on which electrical appliances you bring with you.
MOBILES & INTERNET COMMUNICATION
Canada has a well-developed communications infrastructure in the cities. A number of cellphone/mobile phone providers offer national coverage and there are well-established landline phone networks. In populated urban areas, there should be good mobile signal but as we head into rural areas, signal may fluctuate or be non-existent due to the vast size of the country and mountainous areas. Internet and Wi-Fi are easily accessible in most urban areas and most hotels and restaurants provide free WIFI. Please check data roaming charges for Canada with your service provider before leaving home as these can quickly become very expensive.
The currency of Canada is the Canadian Dollar $ (CAD). Credit cards are widely accepted at, but it is advisable to carry money in cash with you as well. Cash is still the main payment method in rural areas. ATMs are widely available in cities, but not so in smaller villages or rural areas.
Visa and Mastercard are the most widely accepted credit cards and many places accept cards such as Diners Club or American Express. If you intend to use any of your debit or credit cards whilst away, please make sure that you contact your bank before you leave to inform them that you will be travelling in order not to cause any problems using your cards or whilst on the trip. Travellers cheques may be exchangeable in cities but are becoming obsolete nowadays and will be difficult to exchange in rural areas.
Prices in Canada are similar to those in the USA, though some items are differently priced, but for European travellers it can be quite an expensive destination due to the exchange rates.
• Bank Opening
Bank opening hours are short, especially in summer. Banks in Canada are usually open 10am – 4pm Monday to Friday.
After feedback from previous guests, we offer a group tipping package for this tour. Look out for more information in your pre-tour emails.
Canadian food is a mixture of the influences the country has had from its varied rulers and influences over the years. Naturally sharing a lot of dishes with America, you will also find a strong French influence, as well as hybrid dishes. Poutine, a dish of chips with gravy and cheese is a firm favourite. Seafood and fish are a plenty thanks to the expansive coastline and numerous lakes and rivers. Game meats are frequently on offer. The food scene is going back to making dishes using fresh, seasonable and locally sourced ingredients.
Some meals are included as part of your tour – please check your individual departure for the relevant meal inclusions.
The tap water in the cities in Canada is generally of good quality. Unless otherwise advised, you can drink the local tap water. However, in remote areas it is advisable to check if the water is safe to drink and you may prefer bottled water. Bottled water can be bought at supermarkets, kiosks and many shops.
Canada offers lots for visitors to buy. You will find many chain stores in the big cities, but in the countryside, you will be able to find many clothing items made from local animal hides. Moose and maples leaves feature on many things are always a good souvenir.
• Opening Hours
In the cities and towns, most shopping malls are open from 10am – 9pm Monday–Friday, and most of Saturday. However, times vary locally, and smaller and independent traders will close earlier. Most shops are open on Sundays, with reduced hours.
• VAT/Tax Refund:
Numerous shops in Canada offer a VAT refund when leaving the country. Please ask the salesperson whether tax-free shopping applies to the shop in question.
SAFETY & SECURITY
Crime levels in Canada are generally low. However, there’s a risk of petty theft, particularly in airports, in popular tourist attractions and on public transport. Please take sensible precautions to protect your belongings, particularly your passport, money and credit cards. Canada has sadly been the target of a number of terrorist attacks in recent years. When in large crowds or major tourist destinations, you should remain vigilant and follow the advice of local authorities.
Most visits to nature reserves are trouble-free. However, as you can imagine, with wildlife, there is always an inherent risk associated. Always take your rubbish with you, follow park regulations and wardens’ advice. Furthermore, in wilderness areas, care should be taken with the weather and nature – dressing for the cold, staying to marked paths and checking for ticks.
Smoking is banned in most indoor public places and a number of outdoor public spaces, but there are usually designated outdoor areas where people can smoke. Smoking is prohibited on all means of public transport.
Although over 60% of the population declare as of Christian faith, many Canadians declare religion a personal practice and there is no official state religion.
Canada offers photo opportunities one after another. You will return with many photos that can never be repeated. Remember to pack your camera, along with the charger, spare batteries and a spare memory card!
ARRIVAL IN CANADA
Please note, standard hotel check-in is around 3pm, so should you arrive earlier than this, your room may not be available upon arrival. For those arriving early morning, we will do everything we can to work with the hotel to get you an earlier check-in subject to availability.
TOUR HOTEL INFORMATION
Please check your tour paperwork for hotel information attaining to your tour departure.
OTHER COUNTRIES ON TOUR ITINERARY
For those continuing their stay in the USA, please check the relevant Travel Tip pages for information on this country as entry requirements differ.
FLYING & TRAVEL HINTS
• Photocopy the personal information pages of your passport; leave one copy at home with a friend or family member, and take a copy with you, but pack it separately from the passport itself.
• It is advisable to carry all your travel documentation as well as valuables and essential items in your hand luggage, such as camera, toiletries, reading material etc.
• Duty-Free shopping is always tempting, but please check the current Duty-Free limits applicable in the country of your destination.
• Longer flights can be made a little more enjoyable by wearing loose clothing and good, comfortable shoes. Walking in the aisles regularly, eating sensibly and drinking plenty of fluids (not alcohol) is also advised.
• Where possible, try to get some sleep during the flight and upon arrival at your destination, most people adjust better to the local time if they wait until the evening before sleeping – this should relieve some of the effects of jet lag.
If you have any other questions that we have not covered here; then please send us an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note, the above information is provided as a guideline only. Although every effort has been made to provide complete and accurate information, The Big Journey Company makes no warranties, express or implied, or representations as to the accuracy of content on this website. The Big Journey Company assumes no liability or responsibility for any error or omissions in the information contained in the website.
Updated December 2019