I visited Canada for the first time last week. For six days. Naturally this now makes me an expert on traveling the Canadian Rockies.
Here are some vital Canadian travel do’s and don’ts for the uninitiated.
10. Do not visit Canada in winter. Ever. It’s like visiting Texas in August. Or July. Or June. Do visit in summer, especially if you’re going to the mountains. Early fall might be okay too.
9. Do not go camping in “the valley”. It’s beautiful and green, with pools of standing water. The swarms of mosquitoes are straight out of an Alfred Hitchcock movie. Do enjoy the hilarity of ten rafts of people tearing off their wet suits and stripping down to their bathing suits as they swat away the swarms and smack each other – every last drop of modesty tossed to the wind in desperation to get onto the bus. Forget the rafting part. Nothing says bonding like saving a random stranger from a mosquito.
8. Do not take a picture of the moose grazing on the side of the road while you are still driving. I know, it seems so obvious, but in the five minutes we were pulled over, some idiot did this precise thing and nearly caused an accident. Do pull over, but keep your distance. Moose are not known for their friendly dispositions.
7. Do not believe because it is only 65 degrees (18.3 Celsius) outside, you will not burn if out in the sun. Canadians can make this mistake too, so unused to the shiny ball of flame in the sky they can get sun poisoning. Do slather on the sunscreen even if only outside for an hour – your skin will be much happier.
6. Do not expect to be amazed by spectacular wait staff of any restaurant in a tourist town. It can take two hours to have lunch. Do learn to speak Kiwi. You will not believe how many New Zealanders travel to the Canadian Rockies on work visas for the summer. Enjoy their accents, but remember, they don’t tip down under…
5. Do not interpret the “100” you see on the speed limit sign as “miles per hour”. This is the one time the third grade lesson in the metric system comes in handy. Do drive a vehicle that actually has a kilometers mark so you don’t have to perform the conversion in your head every time.
4. Do not choose the rafting guide who is only twenty and wears the full wet suit gear – he believes he will get dumped into the river. Do pray you get the older, cute guide named Scotty who wears shorts and a t-shirt. Not only has he rafted your river for longer than the other one has been alive, but this is a guy who does not plan on falling in the river. And if he does, the cold ensures he gets himself and you back into the boat at record speed.
3. Do not believe the Canadians who tell you the lake water is warm. Lakes are glacier fed and are freezing during the melting season. They aren’t trying to trick you – to them, it is warm. Do wear a wet suit. Or swim later in the day. Especially if you live in The South where lakes are warmer than Canadian “hot springs”.
2. Do not use the Rest Stop with a View. In Canada, a rest stop = an outhouse. A view means many people pull over. A rest stop with a view = a very fragrant outhouse. Do stock up on hand sanitizer, because there aren’t any sinks either.
1. Do not pretend to lose your passport because you don’t want to leave and thus must jump through a thousand hoops to get an emergency one. Even if it is tempting, it will just piss everyone off. And probably be expensive. Do plan to stay longer the next time. If your friends, family, or bank account allow it.
*Most of these I experienced first hand….
What travel do’s and don’ts did I miss???