RV To Canada This Summer

Your friendly neighbor speaks your language and knows your favorite sports team.

Dollar dollar bill y’all. Canada has its own dollar— nicknamed the loonie, slang for its $1 coin whose backside depicts a floating loon.

The Glacial Skywalk over the Athabasca Glacier (Jasper National Park, Alberta) lets you experience waterfalls,

The Glacial Skywalk over the Athabasca Glacier (Jasper National Park, Alberta) lets you experience waterfalls, wildlife, fossils, and more on an exciting cliff-edge walkway that leads to a platform where glass is all that separates you from a 918-foot drop. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How you’ll spend it: Canada surely seems to be having more fun these days—add the 25 percent currency discount and you’re off, eh? They’re like Americans, kinda. And Americans are kinda like Canadians, eh?

The Canada-United States border is the longest international border in the world. Eight Canadian provinces and 13 U.S. states are neighbors along the 5,525 miles of border that run from the Pacific to the Atlantic oceans. Of the 119 border crossings, the Ambassador Bridge, between Detroit, Michigan, and Windsor, Ontario, handles around 8,000 trucks and 68,000 travelers daily, making it one of the busiest land border crossings in North America.

In quiet contrast, the Hyder-Stewart border crossing, which connects the communities of Hyder, Alaska, and Stewart, British Columbia, has no U.S. customs station. The rough-and-tumble road is used predominantly as access to up-close bear watching in Hyder.

Nestled amongst the peaks of the Canadian Rockies, Banff is known as a traveler’s mecca for good reason. Whether by car, bicycle, hiking boots, skis, snowshoes or canoe, in Banff National. Respect the fact that mountain weather can change quickly and it can be severe. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Nestled amongst the peaks of the Canadian Rockies, Banff is known as a traveler’s mecca for good reason. Whether by car, bicycle, hiking boots, skis, snowshoes or canoe, in Banff National. Respect the fact that mountain weather can change quickly and it can be severe. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Sometimes the border officers ask only a few typical questions, but other times they ask many questions or even reword a question and ask it again to see whether you give the same answer. It is important to always answer questions honestly, politely, and succinctly and to keep your dialogue with customs officers as simple as possible. Always remove sunglasses. Only answer questions you are asked. And never argue or attempt to be funny. Customs officials have all the power.

If you are a full-time RVer, don’t share that fact unless officers ask. If you are asked, be prepared to prove your ties to the United States. Telling a customs officer you have no fixed address could delay your journey.

North of Jasper townsite the road ends (though the trails don’t) at Pyramid Lake, named after the triangle-shaped mountain that towers above it. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

North of Jasper townsite the road ends (though the trails don’t) at Pyramid Lake, named after the triangle-shaped mountain that towers above it. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Upon entering Canada you may be asked:

  • Where were you born?
  • What is the purpose of your trip?
  • Where are you going? What is the address of the place where you will be staying?
  • How long are you staying in Canada?
  • Do you have any alcohol or tobacco? If so, how much?
  • Do you have firearms, pepper spray, mace, or drugs?
  • Do you have gifts or goods that you will be leaving in Canada? What is their value?
  • Do you have any fruit, vegetables, or meat?
  • Do you have large sums of money with you? More than $10,000?

Travel with a passport, because you must present proof of citizenship. You will also require a passport when returning to the United States.

If children or grandchildren travel with you, they need proper identification. A notarized affidavit is required if you travel with minors and the adult does not have full legal custody.

Rocky Mountain Goat in the Canadian Rockies. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Rocky Mountain Goats in the Canadian Rockies. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Traveler’s medical insurance is highly recommended for U.S. citizens traveling to Canada, even for brief visits. No Canadian health-care provider accepts U.S. domestic health insurance, and Medicare coverage does not extend outside the United States.

Highway distances and speeds are posted in kilometers per hour; gasoline is sold in liters; and temperature is measured in Celsius. The easiest way to convert mileage to the U.S. system is to multiply the number of kilometers by 6 and move the decimal point one number to the left. And so, if the posted speed limit is 100 kilometers per hour, it converts to 60 mph. Because fuel is sold in liters, don’t be fooled by what appear to be bargain prices at the fuel pumps. There are 3.785 liters to the U.S. gallon. So, if gasoline costs $1 per liter, the price is $3.785 per gallon. As for temperature, 30 degrees Celsius is hot; the Fahrenheit equivalent is 86 degrees.

Though Canada and the United States share a North American lifestyle, subtle differences between the two countries have led to rules and regulations pertaining to those differences. By doing a little research ahead of time, you can get behind the wheel of your RV, turn the key, and enjoy a Canadian adventure.

West of Jasper National Park, Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies, towers over the lesser surrounding peaks. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

West of Jasper National Park, Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies, towers over the lesser surrounding peaks. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Go see your long-lost cousins.

Worth Pondering…

Geography has made us neighbors. History has made us friends. Economics has made us partners. And necessity has made us allies. Those whom nature hath so joined together, let no man put asunder.”
―John F. Kennedy

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