If you are thinking of travelling to Canada, one of the first things you have to do is apply for the ESTA (Electronic Systemof Travel Authorization), you normally get confirmation in no longer than 24 hours and the price is CAD$7. This authorization to visit the country as a tourist lasts two years.
Canada is a country that offers activities for the visitor in all seasons, but if you are travelling there in the cold months, you must not forget to pack good snow boots and a coat resistant to low temperatures. There is a nice and warm atmosphere in shopping centres, homes, buses, etc., but the lowest temperatures outside may reach -40ºC!
Electric current in Canada is 110 V, which means you may not be able to use electric appliances such as hairdryers or hair irons, unless we use a power transformer. However, mobile phones and laptops work and charge perfectly well, you only need an adapter for the plug, as they are different to ours.
The use of our Spanish mobile phone card may turn out to be very expensive if we want to make phone calls, send messages or use data. It might be recommendable to buy a SIM card there. However, there are available open WIFI networks all around the city, this is why in my case I did not need to buy a new card.
Something we have to keep in mind is that, apart from the common restrictions we are used to with regard to baggage when we travel by plane, there are certain products you must not take into this North American country. It is important to check the possible restrictions when we are packing our bags. During the flight we will have to fill in a form in which we declare what we are taking into the country. Who would know you had to declare carrying cheese in your checked in suitcase?
Another important aspect is travel insurance. Hospital care is not free for foreigners and it is better to be covered in case something happens during our stay. The organising agency did this for PIALE teachers, and luckily I didn’t even need it.
Tipping is something you are expected to do in restaurants, cafeterias, etc., it is obligatory. It is normally not included in the bill, and it usually ranges from 10% to 15% of the total amount. You also have to be careful at the supermarket and many shops, prices are shown without tax, you will only see the price with taxes at the cashier point, this may be a little confusing when you are going to pay your receipt and the total is higher than you expected.
Besides all this, like in any other experience, you must go there with an open mind, willing to learn. Clearly, many things are done differently in other places (routines, timetables...) which are not better nor worse than what we are used to. It is important to keep this in mind and enjoy such an experience as travelling to Canada.