Friday, 18 October 2019

Oh Canada! Rockies, eTA's, Maples, and Mounties


Travelling to new places is something both Jon and I love, and there are several countries we have discussed visiting, with one or two cropping up regularly during these conversations. One country in particular that keeps cropping up, but I have yet to travel to, is Canada. Jon has visited Canada a number of times in the past with an ex of his and has informed me we need an eTA for Canada before we go. So why visit Canada, what do we need to do, whats an eTA, and why is it so important?

Having spoken to several other people who have been to the land of Mounties and Maples, it sounds like a truly wonderful place. If we do decide to take the plunge and visit however, there are a few things we need to ensure we have in order before we go, and on that note I'm going to hand this post over to partner Jon as a guest writer!

Jon here. Well, I didn't expect to be writing on Hayleys blog anytime soon, but here goes...



As Hayley stated, I have been to Canada many times in the past, and it really is somewhere I'd encourage others to visit, but there are a few practical things you may need to know before setting off. The most important thing you need apart from a valid passport, change of clothes to suit all weathers and a camera, is an eTA for Canada.

If you're wondering what is the meaning of an eTA, basically put an eTA is an electronic travel authorization. This authorization system acts as a visa for travel to Canada. Whether travelling for holidays, business, to study or visit family, an eTA is required.

The eTA is valid for up to 5 years and can be used for multiple visits. If you do not possess dual citizenship for Canada, or a US or Canadian Passport, then an eTA is required before you even check in for flights to Canada. Make sure you have yours!



In case you didn't know, Canada is big. It's bigger than big. It's approximately 41 times larger than the UK. In short Canada is vast. It is also a  truly varied country with outstanding natural beauty, exciting modern cities and everything in between. It has forests the size of small countries and lakes the size of inland seas, stunning mountain ranges and a massively varying climate. With these in mind you need a firm travel plan before you embark, but must remember to be flexible with your plans should the need arise.

Whether you're staying with friends and family or going cross country, you need to be prepared. Check weather forecasts, local and national transport details, and plan accordingly. Even though it has a very reliable network of flights, trains, and buses allowing tourists a relatively easy time navigating the interior, it's also easy to be caught out by the weather even in the middle of Summer. As such you can easily find yourself subject to an unexpected layover for a few days. Canada may be used to extreme conditions especially in the North and Pacific Northwest, but extreme weather can soon throw a spanner in your well laid travel plans no matter where you are. Fly drive, backpack or public transport, remember a contingency plan never hurt anyone.

Naturally, this will be a big trip so consider where you would like to visit and when you will be travelling. The Rockies, Hudson Bay, Niagara are all worthy of a visit, but even a modern cities like Toronto and Winnipeg can be subject to extremes. Do some homework or check reviews from fellow explorers and locals, pack accordingly and don't be alarmed if you have to change travel plans last minute.



One thing I would also mention is that unless you have unlimited time and resources, you shouldn't be disappointed if you miss somewhere you'd like to visit. The shear geological size of this great country and time needed to traverse it mean you really have to prioritize where you would like to go.
If you manage to fit in any of your second choices of sights to see and places to visit, then that's just an extra bonus. There'll always be more to see in Canada, so a second or third trip may be in order!

Another serious consideration to take in to account before setting off is health care insurance.
Whilst tourists can get access to the Canadian Health Care system, they do not qualify for the free health care that residents of Canada enjoy. Better to be safe than sorry should the unexpected happen!

Even the biggest city slicker could not help but feel in awe of the Great Lakes, Canadian Rockies, Happy Valley Forest, or stunning coastal vistas. The wildlife; Moose, Elk, Bear and Beaver to name but a few are incredible to view in their natural habitat, so a good camera (with a water proof bag) is highly recommended. It seems obvious but how many times have you said 'I wish I'd brought a camera'? Believe me when I say your phone camera, no matter how good it may be cannot capture the beauty of the natural flora and fauna of Canada. Tours to see these sights are plentiful and relatively low cost, but it is still worth shopping around whilst there to get the tour to suit your needs. Miss the natural beauty and you really will be missing out.

For what it's worth, in my opinion Canada is one of this planets most beautiful places.



From the far North to the border of Niagara with it's cousin to the South, it is a breath of fresh air in an often overly busy world. It's a great place to visit to get away from the rat race and center yourself again and get back to nature. This being said, it has thriving cities such as Vancouver with a huge variation in cultures and styles that will delight even the most weary and jaded of travelers. It's a vibrant place people should make the effort to see and somewhere that will stay in your memories long after you have left.


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