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Things Not To Do on Your Trip to Canada

Educate yourself on these common mistakes made when visiting Canada.

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Myths & Misconceptions | Top 10 Reasons to Visit Canada | 10 Classic Canada Vacations

After talking to hundreds of travelers to Canada, we've composed this list of the most common mistakes made when visiting.

Rack Up Cell Phone Charges

Photo © Scott McLean

This is a mistake no one makes twice.

Though many cell phones will work just fine in Canada, roaming charges and other data plan fees for using a cell phone that doesn't have a Canadian or international plan can easily add up to hundreds of dollars.

Before arriving in Canada, contact your local cell phone carrier to get information about special pricing plans for calls, text messaging and Internet usage outside your home country.

And remember, phone calls and data are two separate things. Be sure to adjust your cell phone's data settings if you don't have a plan that covers international emails, texting and such. You can always find hot spots and enable data use only at these times.

Read More: Roaming Charges Horror Stories

Misjudge Weather Conditions

Photo © EschCollection / Getty Images

Weather across Canada ranges dramatically. Whereas Vancouver has a moderate climate with not much snow in winter, Toronto and Montreal have hot, humid summers and freezing cold, snow-filled winters. In addition, evenings - even in the summer - can see temperatures drop significantly. Layered clothing seems to fit the bill for almost any Canadian destination, but be assured, if you are visiting some of the more northern spots of Canada between November and March, like Edmonton, Toronto, Montreal and Quebec, you will need proper winter clothing, including waterproof boots, parka, gloves and hat.

Read More: Weather in Canada, Seasons in Canada, Temperatures across Canada

Underestimate the Size of Canada

Map drawn and adapted by E Pluribus Anthony

When outlining your itinerary, be sure to factor in travel times, so you can actually enjoy the places you visit instead of rushing from one to the next.

Coast to coast, Canada covers five time zones and a whopping 7,403 kilometers (4601 miles) from the most easterly capital, St. John’s, Newfoundland to the most westerly BC capital of Victoria. Driving from Canada's most popular destination (Toronto) to the second most visited city (Vancouver) would take 40 hours non-stop - and the fastest route isn't even through Canada.

Just driving to the next province west from Toronto takes a full day.

Toronto to Montreal is a six hour drive and if you want to continue on to Tadoussac for whale watching, plan on staying in the car another four.

Read More: Canada Maps, Before You Go To Canada

Think the Border Guard Will Be Easygoing if You Don't Have the Right ID

Photo © Stockbyte / Getty Images

Canadians are a friendly, helpful lot, but the border guards take their jobs seriously and there's not a whole lot of gray area when it comes to the proper travel documents. Long gone are the days when just your driver's license gets you across the border. Today, necessary ID includes a passport - for everyone - and possibly additional papers, including a travel visa, custody documents or note of permission if traveling with a child or veterinary papers if your pet is in tow.

Get Dinged with Unnecesary Banking Costs

Medioimages/Photodisc

You can use your debit cards and credit cards in Canada but like travelling with your cell phone, educate yourself on what extra charges you may incur by your cards in a foreign country. For example, when you withdrawal money using your debit card, you may not only pay a transaction fee, but also an exchange rate fee.

Get the lowdown on using your bank cards in Canada.

Visit only Cities

Photo by ATHANASIOS M, Greece, July 2009 / Viator

As nice as the big cities like Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal are in Canada, much of what makes Canada such a special place is found outside city limits in small towns and the countryside. Historic towns, fishing villages, First Nations reserves, animal sanctuaries, lakes and protected back country, mountains and more are just some of the discoveries that are often less than an hour away from a big metropolis.

Slow down your pace and meet some fine people by adding at least a day trip out of the city to your Canada itinerary.

Read More: 10 Places in Canada You May Not Know, Vancouver Day Trips, Toronto Day Trips, Montreal Day Trips

Forget to Spend Your Coins

Photo of the Toonie
Those Toonies and Loonies (the Canadian two dollar and one dollar coins) can really add up, so scour your pockets and the bottom of your purse for them before you head home. Banks will only exchange bills, so they're worthless once you take them out of Canada. However, you may want to hang on to a Toonie as a souvenir for kids. Children seem to dig this bi-metallic coin with an image of a polar bear.

Forget You're in a Foreign Country

Photo © VisionsofAmerica /Joe Sohm / Getty Images

This one goes out especially to our U.S. friends and is just a gentle reminder that though the overall impression of Canada is very much like that of the U.S., we are indeed a separate country that has its own laws, currency, languages, foods, climate, customs and cell phone carriers.

Be sure to read up on laws that may be relevant to your visit, such as those regarding driving or hunting.

Read More: What Can I Bring to Canada, Before You Go To Canada

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