United States and Canada: everything you need to know before preparing your trip

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Are you considering to go to North America on vacation this summer, but not very sure if this is a good destination for you? Here is all the information you need to know about these beautiful countries in order to help you decide if you want to go across the pond.

Some considerations about the United States

United States is one of the widest countries in the world, with a rich and diverse variety of landscapes which makes it very attractive to tourists. The range of options is also wide: you can choose among the maritime landscapes of the west coast or the tropical climate almost of Florida and Hawaii; the frozen cold Alaska or the deserts and canyons in the center of the country.

Everything is surprising in the States: the beautiful cities, the New York skyline, the streets of San Francisco, the bustle of Las Vegas, the monumental Washington, the cheerful and musical New Orleans; the National Parks, the Grand Canyon, the children’s theme parks, the Californian surfer atmosphere, the luxurious and cinematographic Hollywood …  It doesn’t really matter where you go to. You’ll end up speechless anyway. 

Documents and Visa

If you are traveling from the United Kingdom -and not staying more than 90 days, you do not need to get a Visa thanks to the Visa Waiver Program. But, despite of being exempt to ask for a visa, you need to have this authorization issued prior to your departure in order to be allowed to enter the United States. You can apply for it online at visa ESTA. You will also need a valid Passport.

Climate and clothes

The climate in the United States is generally temperate, but it has notable exceptions. Alaska has arctic tundra climate, while Hawaii and southern Florida are tropical. The area of ​​the great plain is dry, becoming desert in the far west and Mediterranean climate by the coast of California, warmer in Florida, where it is almost semi tropical.

Things you need to know about Canada

Canada is the 2nd largest country in the world. Thanks to this, its geographical variety is immense and very attractive for tourism. Full of contrasts, Canada allows the visitor to enjoy both the Rocky Mountains and the beautiful Pacific coast; the rural,cowboy life of the towns and the hustle and bustle of the skyscrapers. Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Ottawa are the main cities to visit. In addition, Canada is home of some of the best ski resorts in the world: Whistler- Blackcomb, Revelstoke, Banff Lake Louise-Sunshine or Kicking Horse.

Documents required

Along with a valid Passport, all visitors must get their Electronic Travel Authorisation to Canada prior to traveling. You can get it online in visa ETA. This entry requirement for visa-exempt foreign nationals traveling to Canada allows them to travel freely within the country.

Climate and clothes

Climate and landscape in Canada change depending on where you go. There are permanently frozen ice sheets up north the 70th parallel, while you can find lush spring vegetation on the west coast of British Columbia. In general, Canada has four well-defined stations. Temperatures in summer can reach up to 35 °C and in winter they can drop to -20 ° C. Spring and autumn are the best times to visit, since the temperature is more moderate.

It is recommended to bring cotton summer clothes during the months of June to the end of August. From September to November and from April to May it is advisable to wear jumpers and jackets. And, if you are brave enough to face a really cold winter, get a really good coat, gloves and boots from December to the end of March.

Language

There are two official languages in Canada: English and French.

English is the mother tongue of most Canadians, except in the province of Quebec, where more than 80% of the population considers French as their mother tongue. Other languages are also spoken, due to the high percentage of immigration and the existence of native groups that still preserve their native languages.

Currency

The legal currency of Canada is the Canadian dollar (CAN $). Although in Canada there are exchange offices and banks, it is highly recommended to arrive with some local currency, as you might need it for initial expenses, such as Taxi or tips. It is also very convenient to carry traveler’s checks, although you must make sure they are Canadian dollars. Also, you must know that the change will always have to add 10-15% taxes. Credit cards are accepted almost everywhere.

Health insurance

Healthcare is private and rather expensive in Canada, so it is advisable to get a good travel insurance – and make sure it has full health coverage, just in case.

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