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User Content => Road Trips => Topic started by: tdindy88 on May 12, 2016, 10:24:44 PM

Title: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: tdindy88 on May 12, 2016, 10:24:44 PM
I'm going to try to ask the audience here foro a little advice for those who may know the area better. I am planning on taking a trip from Indianapolis up to Ontario this summer, perhaps timing in with Canada Day in Toronto. Right now my plan is for a four-day trip that has me enter the country from Windsor and travel north to Toronto. One day trip would take me to Niagara Falls and the other two days would be in Toronto. On roughly the 2nd of July I would head west back through Sarnia to reenter the U.S. and go home. I am also interested in seeing the nation's capital of Ottawa and thought about adding a couple of days to the beginning of the trip to travel up there from Toronto and back making it possibly six days long. I don't have to time it to the end of June and may try for sometime in July if possible.

So for a trip of this nature, I would like to ask those who have made international trips a few things. First, I'm traveling by myself in my car, I kind of have to, the only other person I could travel to Canada with is inadmissible and no one else is traveling there. Second, what can I expect from customs of this trip idea (including possibly Ottawa) and what should I budget for the trip. I'm thinking no more than $1,000 for the whole thing, I'm wondering if that is enough and if I'll get any questioning about how much I should have from customs. I hope that I'm not asking much, just some advise on how realistic my goals are. That's why I may just do the original four-day idea. I have not taken a road trip to this country since Labor Day weekend in 1997 when I was a kid so beyond one failed attempt a few years ago (thanks to the aforementioned inadmissible thing that the other person traveling with me was unaware of) I haven't gone again, but I want to. Thank you for any help.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: jwolfer on May 12, 2016, 10:44:49 PM
If you go to Ottawa cross over to Hull, QC.. Get another province
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: oscar on May 12, 2016, 11:14:26 PM
Customs on both sides of the border should not look at you cross-eyed at your rather touristy itinerary. An itinerary that looks roadgeeky or otherwise odd would be a whole other story. Just try to not get into why you're entering Canada in Windsor and leaving through Sarnia. With the extra crowds in Toronto for Canada Day, you might be asked about your lodging reservations in the area, just for reassurance that you have a place lined up.

There are several threads on this board about how to navigate the border clearance process. One standard line of questioning is "what are you bringing with you across the border?". The best response seems to be to start your list with really boring stuff, leave the really interesting stuff like your smartphone and/or laptop toward the end, and hope that the customs agent will get bored midway through your list and impatiently cut you off to ask about guns and other weapons. (They seem to think we use computers mainly to smuggle kiddie porn across the border.) That bore-them-to-death strategy worked for me just last week at one of the least-used crossings into Canada, with no line and lots of time available to the border agent if he wanted to give me a hard time.

While I can't argue with Canada Day in Toronto, in 1997 I spent that day in Ottawa, which was also a real treat. I even lucked into seeing the Queen during those festivities (speaking on Parliament Hill, and seeing her well-practiced slow wave to the crowds as her limo went to other events). Probably no such luck this year, even with lesser royals (1997 was Canada's 130th birthday, this year is much less special). But you might look at the schedule for this year, or planning a separate visit to Ottawa for Canada Day 2017.

One other practical point -- if your credit card has a chip in it, you can use it to pay at the pump at gas stations, rather than go inside to pay with a non-chip card as I've had to do on previous visits. The pump will grab your card and not let go until it's approved your purchase. Do not be alarmed, that is normal. For transactions with a live person, you might be asked for a PIN, and have to explain that your card (if it's like most U.S. cards with chips) is chip-and-signature rather than the Canadian chip-and-PIN standard.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: tdindy88 on May 13, 2016, 08:45:19 AM
Thank you. If I do Ottawa I am certainly going to visit Quebec across the border. As for the customs, I do hope that bringing up the 402 route on my way out won't be too bad. Presumably I'll be heading back on a Saturday afternoon and I don't know how Windsor-Detroit area might be crossing the border. Besides, I would like to clinch the 402. Besides, on the other side of the border is I-69 and that takes me directly back to Indianapolis. There will certainly be road geek stuff as a part of this trip.

As for bringing stuff through, I don't plan on bringing a whole lot so I don't know if I can leave the computer for the end, am I going to be okay with bringing the computer and stuff. During that failed attempt five years ago with the inadmissible person I was in customs for three hours while they tore through everything we had. It was an honest mistake on the other person not knowing that they weren't allowed in the country (a policy that Canada had only started really enforcing over the past decade.) So I wasn't sure if that whole process was done because he had raised red flags with the border officials and if I would get a similar reaction. For the record, I made another trip to Windsor via the Tunnel Bus between Detroit and Windsor a few months later and got through customs with no problems (confirming for me that I was not the problem during that last visit but the person with me,) even explaining what happened the last time, I was only visiting Windsor for a couple of hours before heading back to Michigan.

As for Canada Day, that is only an idea, I could do the trip any week during the summer. Ideally I am looking more for a nice weather week with as little rain as possible, if that last week of June looks wet I'll pick another time. I've spent the 4th of July in Washington, DC so I wasn't sure what being in the capital city on July 1 would do and being in Toronto I can still make it back home before our own birthday. Ottawa is still a maybe, it would be a six-day trip total, without Ottawa I'll make it a four-day trip. That's why I mentioned the $1,000 if that will be good enough for the six days or not. As far as lodging is considered I'll keep an eye on rooms closer to the end of June and will most certainly have all my reservations done before crossing over so I can show them that I do plan on staying at certain hotels on each day of my trip.

Finally, as for the chip-and-pin, my card has no chip. I've heard though about the chip in the cards up there and may bring more cash to use as opposed to my card. I hope using it for hotels and ATM's are still alright.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: vdeane on May 13, 2016, 01:14:33 PM
Don't mention clinching 402.  Really, there won't be any reason to bring it up with Canadian customs.  When they ask where you're going, say Toronto.  IF they ask for more detail, you can mention the day trips to Niagara Falls and Ottawa.  You don't have to pre-register which crossing you'll leave through or anything.  When you return, if the fact that it's a different crossing raises eyebrows with US customs (not sure if they're even sharing that info yet or not), just say you felt like going a different way (but really, they're both major crossings, and both on you're way to/from there, it might not be an issue).  Don't give them more info than they need to answer the question; that's where problems start to arise.  They view it as suspicious when people give overly detailed answers.  Just clearly and concisely answer the questions (but not to the point of evasiveness).  The longer the trip and the more touristy the itinerary and the less likely you are to have problems.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: Mapmikey on May 13, 2016, 01:59:30 PM
I second the responses you have gotten...

I have traveled to Canada 3 times in the last few years and have had zero issues.

They have never asked me where I was planning to leave Canada at, only where I was headed and for how long I was planning on being in Canada.  And on my trip to Vancouver I entered via US 52/SK 39 in North Dakota and came back via I-5 and other than the US Border Agent declaring me crazy for driving from Virginia to Vancouver, I got no hassle whatsoever - my car looked like it had been on a cross-continent road trip.

I also don't recall ever being asked for a list of what I was bringing but they did ask about weapons and the value of what I was bringing back to the USA (once in the late 90s I got asked at an Alberta crossing if I was bringing firewood).

I did get asked at the inner Niagara Falls crossing if I had a reservation but didn't ask for proof.  I've also been asked where I work in the US.

My ATM card did not work everywhere but did work at Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) which is everywhere I've been in Canada. 

If you have no chip in your credit card you will have to go inside at most gas stations although at Shell I was able to use it at the pump by telling it a $ value I wanted (i.e. couldn't just fill it up). A chip and signature card can be made into a chip and PIN if you make arrangements with your credit card holder (at least mine through Chase will).
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: corco on May 13, 2016, 02:24:02 PM
Yeah do NOT bring up route numbers going into Canada. I did that once and it led to a very thorough secondary search including a laptop search, and the guy straight up said the fact that I brought up routes and highways made it suspicious, because that's highly unusual behavior. I've had the most success keeping answers as generic as possible. "Clinch the 402" becomes "sightseeing." Keep answers to one or two words as much as possible.

I've never entered the same way I've left and nobody has ever asked me why.

Valerie's advice is on the money.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: US 41 on May 13, 2016, 02:44:36 PM
Crossing the border into Canada and Mexico, and reentering the US is really pretty easy. Just tell them the truth and make sure you don't have anything illegal with you.

The only documents you need to enter Canada are your passport, vehicle registration, and vehicle insurance. Your car insurance policy you carry all them time here in the states is probably good enough in Canada, but you can also get an interprovince insurance card from your auto insurance company for free.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: Brandon on May 13, 2016, 05:48:46 PM
When you return, if the fact that it's a different crossing raises eyebrows with US customs (not sure if they're even sharing that info yet or not), just say you felt like going a different way (but really, they're both major crossings, and both on you're way to/from there, it might not be an issue).

That's not often a problem with the three major Michigan crossings (Blue Water Bridge, Ambassador Bridge, and Detroit-Windsor Tunnel).  A lot of people may take one route there and the other back, especially if the destination is somewhere after the two converge, such as Toronto or Niagara Falls.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: tdindy88 on May 13, 2016, 07:20:20 PM
Well thanks again to everyone for the advise, I knew that I could depend on the good folks here on AARoads. I wasn't sure whether or not mentioning "sightseeing" was considered too vague that they would want more detail or not. I'm reminded of the quote from Ocean's 11, "Don't use seven words when four will do." This is my first time of doing a trip of this nature solo so I wanted to know. Two more things then if anyone could help, what can I expect on the American side coming back. I would think that returning from a vacation with a destination like Indiana wouldn't be too bad on the Port Huron side. And would $1,000 work for a six-day trip that goes as far as Ottawa if I go?
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: US 41 on May 13, 2016, 08:02:10 PM
Well thanks again to everyone for the advise, I knew that I could depend on the good folks here on AARoads. I wasn't sure whether or not mentioning "sightseeing" was considered too vague that they would want more detail or not. I'm reminded of the quote from Ocean's 11, "Don't use seven words when four will do." This is my first time of doing a trip of this nature solo so I wanted to know. Two more things then if anyone could help, what can I expect on the American side coming back. I would think that returning from a vacation with a destination like Indiana wouldn't be too bad on the Port Huron side. And would $1,000 work for a six-day trip that goes as far as Ottawa if I go?

Going into Canada here's what they asked me and here's how I answered.

Q: Why are you entering Canada?
A: For tourism.

Q: Where are you going?
A: Sudbury, Toronto, and Niagara Falls.

Q: How long are you going to be in Canada?
A: Probably 2 or 3 days.

Q: Have you ever been fingerprinted?
A: No.

Q: Have you ever visited Canada before.
A: No.

Canadian Agent: Have fun and have a safe trip.

--------------------------------------------------------------------

Reentering the US

Q: Are you a US citizen?
A: Yes (Obviously, I just gave you a US passport.  :rolleyes:)

Q: What were you doing in Canada?
A: Just drove and stopped at places I thought looked interesting.

Q: Where did you go?
A: Ottawa, Toronto, and Niagara Falls.

Q: How long were you in Canada.
A: 3 days.

US agent: Okay. (hands me passport)

--------------------------------------------------------

Canadian customs on my experience seems a lot friendlier than US customs, but it honestly just depends on who the person is that is working that day. $1000 should be more than enough for that trip I'd think.

Also do yourself a favor. Don't stress out about customs. (I say this as a now frequent international driver.) That's like 5 minutes of your trip total. They are not going to not let you into Canada or not come back into the US. As long as your answers don't make you sound like a potential terrorist and as long as you don't have illegal items in your car (weapons and/or drugs) they are going to let you in / back in.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: Sykotyk on May 13, 2016, 09:05:21 PM
Yes, the Canadian customs seem to be much friendlier than U.S. customs. U.S. Customs always seems to think you're up to something. While Canadian seems to approach you as a tourist first/threat second.

Basically, as said, don't be too specific with your plans. It comes off as rehearsed. But, don't be too vague. Be relaxed. I know if you're not use to it, it can be nerve-wracking, but border-crossing is actually rather easy. Even when I've had my car searched (four times), it is anything to worry about. One was due to me being suspicious (arriving in Canada in the middle of the night), and another was just a random search.

Now, the little asterisk next to the passport requirement... is that legally you do not need a passport to reenter your own country. Even well after the passport 'requirement' I've entered Canada and reentered the U.S. on the ground without a passport.

How? Well, Canada still doesn't require a passport to enter Canada. A license, birth certificate, or other government-issued I.D. is sufficient. And, if you're a U.S. citizen, they can't restrict you from reentry. If you state you're a citizen, the onus is on customs to prove you're not a U.S. citizen. Not the other way around. That's why the first question is citizenship. It's the starting point of what they can and can't do.

I was friends with a guy who was in Laredo frequently and crossed the border on foot and several times didn't even take his license with him (just cash) and got back into the U.S. easily. And that was even with the cartel troubles in Nuevo Laredo. And this was up to and including this year. And how long as the passport rule been in effect?

I do have a passport now because I planned non-Canadian travel. So far, I've used the passport two times. Another time I was in Detroit and crossed the border but my passport was at home in Ohio. So, no big deal. Again.

It's a scare tactic that has convinced many people to get a passport who generally don't cross the border enough to really need it. The only thing is it MIGHT speed up the process.

I've crossed the border into Canada in Calais (ME, old crossing), I-195, Peace Bridge, Rainbow Bridge (all in NY), Ambassador Bridge (MI), and US 395 (WA). I've reentered from Calais (ME), I-91 (VT), I-195, Peace Bridge, Rainbow Bridge (all in NY), Blue Water Bridge, Windsor Tunnel, Ambassador Bridge (MI), and I-5 (WA).

Only US395/I-5 and one of the trips across the Peace Bridge into Canada and out on the Ambassador Bridge did I have my Passport on me. And only the Calais and I-93 crossing was before the passport 'requirement'. The rest were since the passport was 'required' and I didn't have it (most of them) or didn't have it on me (Ambassador Bridge to Canada and Windsor Tunnel back).

And only a few of those times without a passport was my car inspected or was I detained any longer than the simply 5 or 6 questions at the booth. And even when I got sent for a secondary inspection, Canada was easy. U.S. asks about 10-15 questions because agreeing that you're a citizen. Not exactly waterboarding.

My favorite was when the U.S. customs asked me, about third question in, "What high school did you go to?" And then "What was their mascot?". Then handed me my license and registration and told me to have a nice day.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: empirestate on May 13, 2016, 09:51:20 PM
I'd suggest clearing out any excess items from your car that you don't need, just in case you do get searched. Once some friends and I took a trip in a car belonging to my one friend's mom; she had recently bought a new car stereo and left the old one loose in the trunk. That required some explaining…


iPhone
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: tdindy88 on May 13, 2016, 09:59:23 PM
Oh yes certainly. I am already planning on making sure the car is clean. I'm assuming that jumper cables and a spare tire are fine for the trunk. I've flown around a few times and have learned to bring as little as possible and if I have any doubt that it would cause any problems just to leave it at home. I'm also going to make sure I have some maps and my AAA Ontario book around which should support my claim. I have a U.S. Passport Card (originally meant for the aborted 2011 trip,) it worked both that time and during my two-hour visit later that year with no problem. I'll use it both ways. Skyotyk mentioned arriving in the middle of the night, I do like to arrive in Windsor around 6:00 in the morning, I hope that is okay, I would like to beat any rush there and would like to use the entire day at my disposal. Can't do much with road pictures at night. Crossing back over will be on a Saturday afternoon, I'm expecting there might be some traffic, especially if it is that holiday weekend.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: AsphaltPlanet on May 14, 2016, 09:36:13 AM
Just one note in addition to what has been indicated above.  If you plan your trip for the Canada Day long weekend, be prepared for long lines at the border.  That's pretty much the peak time for recreational Canada/US travel, so border wait times may be an hour or longer.  If you enter Canada at 6:00 that will probably be less of an issue.

Also, while I think it's definitely a worthwhile idea to visit Ottawa on Canada Day, again the city will be very busy.  It may be prudent to leave your car at a suburban park and ride station and take the OC Transpo bus Downtown if for no other reason than to save on parking costs.

Have a great trip.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: tdindy88 on May 14, 2016, 10:13:59 AM
That's not a bad idea for Ottawa, I wasn't sure about whether or not to park downtown and see the attractions around there or something like taking the bus. It will sort of depend on where I stay that night I guess. The plan though is for me to be there on the Monday before Canada Day, several days before, I'd like to be in Toronto for the holiday and if I see any fireworks I would certainly take a train into the city that night. But to reiterate, that particular week isn't set in stone yet for me, it may not be until mid-June before I make that determination. As far as I know it may be later in July or even August. 

One more idea I've been thinking on and this is only a possibility is going as far as Montreal. This would add one day to the trip, I'd head for Montreal first before turning to Ottawa and then Toronto. If I did that particular week I'd be there on a Sunday, with me arriving at the border Saturday morning. I'm going to wait until after Memorial Day for my final go-ahead onto whether or not I should do that, but I'd like to ask if that sounds feasible with my proposed budget.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: corco on May 14, 2016, 12:00:38 PM
I mean, your budget will really depend on what you are doing. I could blow through 1000 bucks in a few hours in many of those cities if I stayed at the Ritz-Carlton and walked around drinking expensive scotch sitting in premium seats at sporting events, but I could also make $1000 last me a few weeks if I slept in the car and got all my food at grocery stores.

With the help of the internet, you should be able to generally spec out how much a hotel that meets your needs will cost in the areas you want to stay (if you're willing to stay at Super 8, that's going to be a lot cheaper than if you need to stay at a Hampton. Is it important to you to stay in the city center on the nights you're in big cities? That's important to me when I travel, but that makes it more expensive.), and you should know roughly how many miles you are driving and be able to figure out what the current gas price is. As far as other activities - that's up to what you are looking to do.

Figure US$1000 is roughly C$1250.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: tdindy88 on May 14, 2016, 12:10:50 PM
That's cool and I've already started making the calculations on that account, I just need to hammer down my cost for food and extras. The hotel and gas figure is well below $1,000 right now but I want more than enough for the trip. And thanks again to everyone here for the advise on everything.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: Sykotyk on May 14, 2016, 03:07:26 PM
No matter what, fill up before you cross into Canada (duty-free shop should be the best price) and make sure you're as close to empty when you cross back. It will save you a lot in gas. Also, if you use a credit card, Discover is used at only a few gas stations (only one I could find on my trip from Toronto to Detroit was the TA Truck Stop somewhere near London as it's an American chain).

Carry enough cash for things. If your trip is $1000 estimate, carry about $600 or so in cash. Also, do not convert your money anywhere other than a bank or casino.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: AsphaltPlanet on May 14, 2016, 04:15:35 PM
^ Really?  I just went to the US for 12 days, and I think in that time I used only $60 in cash, with the rest of my expenditures on credit card.  Aside from headaches at the gas pump itself, you should have no need for any cash money in Canada if you plan on using a credit card.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: corco on May 14, 2016, 06:20:09 PM
Yeah, and paying for hotels and things is much easier with a credit card - since you'll often have to put a cash deposit or something if you pay cash. You'll probably get the best exchange rate from your card too, even with a 3% foreign transaction fee.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: oscar on May 14, 2016, 07:00:31 PM
No matter what, fill up before you cross into Canada (duty-free shop should be the best price) and make sure you're as close to empty when you cross back. It will save you a lot in gas.

But don't overdo it on the last part. Once I did that and made it across the border nearly empty, only there was no gas station at the border and I ran out before I could get to the nearest gas station.

Quote
Also, if you use a credit card, Discover is used at only a few gas stations (only one I could find on my trip from Toronto to Detroit was the TA Truck Stop somewhere near London as it's an American chain).

Irvings, a chain operating in New England and eastern Canada. sometimes takes Discover at its Canadian staarions.

Quote
Carry enough cash for things. If your trip is $1000 estimate, carry about $600 or so in cash. Also, do not convert your money anywhere other than a bank or casino.

Even at banks, the per-transaction fees can hurt (less if your bank has a relationship with a Canadian bank -- my bank, a Tennessee-based regional chain, doesn't), so it pays to convert as much as you can and save the rest for next time. I always convert about $500 U.S. at a time (my bank's ceiling on ATM withdrawals) for that reason. I've also walked into a Canadian bank and exchanged a big pile of U.S. bills, but it was kind of a wash that way (better exchange rate, but higher service fee).
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: Sykotyk on May 15, 2016, 05:19:38 AM
^ Really?  I just went to the US for 12 days, and I think in that time I used only $60 in cash, with the rest of my expenditures on credit card.  Aside from headaches at the gas pump itself, you should have no need for any cash money in Canada if you plan on using a credit card.

In my experience, US travel is more accommodating to Canadian issued cards than the other way around. MasterCard, which is very common here is difficult to find places away from southern Ontario or border towns. Discover and AmeEx are basically impossible. At least that's been my experience. I hear MasterCard is getting better, but Visa is most common I found (MasterCard was near non-existent in the Maritimes when I was there).

I carry cash for that reason. Also, as America is slow to switch to the chip-based cards, it's even harder in places to use the old magnetic strip cards with a signature.

One thing to be sure, is to check with each credit card how they handle international transactions. Some might convert the currency, but might charge you a fee. Sometimes once-per-statement and sometimes once-per-transaction. Some also have really crappy conversion rates. Banks do give you the best rates (i.e., cash transactions at a bank near the border), but some credit cards give you different rates than those same banks who issued the cards will give on a cash transaction in one of their lobbies. Check before you head out.

Also, if you know where you're going to be, there's a lot of online travel sites that can book your rooms in advance. Otel.com was a great site for a deal in the Toronto area for me. More than half-off their own website price. Also let me charge Discover which wouldn't be accepted at the hotel in person.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: Sykotyk on May 15, 2016, 05:26:32 AM
No matter what, fill up before you cross into Canada (duty-free shop should be the best price) and make sure you're as close to empty when you cross back. It will save you a lot in gas.

But don't overdo it on the last part. Once I did that and made it across the border nearly empty, only there was no gas station at the border and I ran out before I could get to the nearest gas station.

I agree. Best to plan in advance. But, I never scrape by that closely on fuel. Usually at least a gallon or two available.


Quote
Quote
Also, if you use a credit card, Discover is used at only a few gas stations (only one I could find on my trip from Toronto to Detroit was the TA Truck Stop somewhere near London as it's an American chain).

Irvings, a chain operating in New England and eastern Canada. sometimes takes Discover at its Canadian staarions.

I wonder when that changed, because I was in the Maritimes and they didn't take Discover then. Still, Visa followed by MasterCard would be the order I'd deal with cards in Canada from now on.

Quote
Quote
Carry enough cash for things. If your trip is $1000 estimate, carry about $600 or so in cash. Also, do not convert your money anywhere other than a bank or casino.

Even at banks, the per-transaction fees can hurt (less if your bank has a relationship with a Canadian bank -- my bank, a Tennessee-based regional chain, doesn't), so it pays to convert as much as you can and save the rest for next time. I always convert about $500 U.S. at a time (my bank's ceiling on ATM withdrawals) for that reason. I've also walked into a Canadian bank and exchanged a big pile of U.S. bills, but it was kind of a wash that way (better exchange rate, but higher service fee).

I don't think I ever had a bank charge me a service fee to convert money near the border (in Canada). Sure, they fluctuate the price of the conversion to make their profit (i.e., convert from U.S. to Canadian to U.S. will not give you the same amount that you started with). Again, though, know how much you're converting and how much you plan to spend.

I'd rather lose $5 or so in transferring money I won't use than to wind up needing cash later in a trip and not have it. I, too, have about $80 left over from my last trip. Figure I'll just keep it until next time. Sure, if it's that tight financially, I'd avoid taking a big trip. Never know when crap will happen. Had a power-steering line go in Nova Scotia in December and had a little shop charge me to fix it. They were reasonable, but it was a cash transaction only. And this was on my way home and not expecting to get anything other than maybe some food somewhere in New Brunswick before reaching Maine.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: tdindy88 on May 15, 2016, 11:05:40 AM
That is certainly good to know about the gas, I was planning on filling up in Michigan before crossing over for sure. As for my card, it is a Visa card issued by my bank with no chip in it. So other than paying for the hotels I don't see me using it a lot. As for the cash, the only thing I do see is that I'll be crossing over likely on a Saturday or Sunday morning so I'm not sure about banks given I'm thinking they will not be open at the time (maybe for Saturday.) So I hope there are places I can go to convert the money.

Couple of other things on my mind. Oscar mentioned earlier on about mentioning stuff that you are bringing with you, is this the same as declaring. Will they specifically ask about all items you are bringing or stuff more like firearms, food, gifts that are "items to declare." I'm more than happy to answer it truthfully, I just didn't know if they were the same thing.

Finally, in Toronto I'd like to drive along the Gardiner and Don Valley expressways, probably during the middle of the day. Would Canada Day be a better day for that due to it being a holiday or would it really not matter. I'm fine if there's some traffic, I drove on the 91 freeway in California last year on a Saturday morning and experienced heavy traffic so I'm prepared for the unexpected. And yes I know of some construction on the Gardiner and parts of the 401 (which I should be traversing over a weekend.)
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: AsphaltPlanet on May 15, 2016, 12:20:58 PM
^ Really?  I just went to the US for 12 days, and I think in that time I used only $60 in cash, with the rest of my expenditures on credit card.  Aside from headaches at the gas pump itself, you should have no need for any cash money in Canada if you plan on using a credit card.

In my experience, US travel is more accommodating to Canadian issued cards than the other way around. MasterCard, which is very common here is difficult to find places away from southern Ontario or border towns. Discover and AmeEx are basically impossible. At least that's been my experience. I hear MasterCard is getting better, but Visa is most common I found (MasterCard was near non-existent in the Maritimes when I was there).

I carry cash for that reason. Also, as America is slow to switch to the chip-based cards, it's even harder in places to use the old magnetic strip cards with a signature.

One thing to be sure, is to check with each credit card how they handle international transactions. Some might convert the currency, but might charge you a fee. Sometimes once-per-statement and sometimes once-per-transaction. Some also have really crappy conversion rates. Banks do give you the best rates (i.e., cash transactions at a bank near the border), but some credit cards give you different rates than those same banks who issued the cards will give on a cash transaction in one of their lobbies. Check before you head out.

Also, if you know where you're going to be, there's a lot of online travel sites that can book your rooms in advance. Otel.com was a great site for a deal in the Toronto area for me. More than half-off their own website price. Also let me charge Discover which wouldn't be accepted at the hotel in person.


My primary credit card is a MasterCard.  I've never found a location in anywhere in Canada that didn't accept MasterCard but did accept a VISA.

That's good advise about Discover Card.  Discover doesn't really exist in Canada, so most retailers probably won't be able to accept it.  Amex is pretty well accepted up here.  Not so much for small purchases such as fast food or coffee shops, but certainly many of the more conventional retailers accept it.

That is certainly good to know about the gas, I was planning on filling up in Michigan before crossing over for sure. As for my card, it is a Visa card issued by my bank with no chip in it. So other than paying for the hotels I don't see me using it a lot. As for the cash, the only thing I do see is that I'll be crossing over likely on a Saturday or Sunday morning so I'm not sure about banks given I'm thinking they will not be open at the time (maybe for Saturday.) So I hope there are places I can go to convert the money.

Couple of other things on my mind. Oscar mentioned earlier on about mentioning stuff that you are bringing with you, is this the same as declaring. Will they specifically ask about all items you are bringing or stuff more like firearms, food, gifts that are "items to declare." I'm more than happy to answer it truthfully, I just didn't know if they were the same thing.

Finally, in Toronto I'd like to drive along the Gardiner and Don Valley expressways, probably during the middle of the day. Would Canada Day be a better day for that due to it being a holiday or would it really not matter. I'm fine if there's some traffic, I drove on the 91 freeway in California last year on a Saturday morning and experienced heavy traffic so I'm prepared for the unexpected. And yes I know of some construction on the Gardiner and parts of the 401 (which I should be traversing over a weekend.)

If you're on the Gardiner/DVP on the middle day of the long weekend traffic will probably be manageable.  I'm not saying their definitely won't be congestion, but that's typically a time when the city is quieter.  Like any major city, the best daylight times to drive around are on a sunday morning before the city has awoken.

Construction on the Gardiner has an eastbound lane shut down.  All three westbound lanes are sill open though, so it might be better to the loop heading south and westbound compared to eastbound.  The sklyine views are probably slightly better while traveling eastbound, but the westbound view is pretty awesome as well.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: empirestate on May 15, 2016, 01:15:02 PM
Couple of other things on my mind. Oscar mentioned earlier on about mentioning stuff that you are bringing with you, is this the same as declaring. Will they specifically ask about all items you are bringing or stuff more like firearms, food, gifts that are "items to declare." I'm more than happy to answer it truthfully, I just didn't know if they were the same thing.

When asked if I have anything to declare, I have always answered "nothing" (truthfully, as far as I'm aware). Things you'd need to declare would be anything that requires a duty paid on it: liquor and tobacco above a certain amount, merchandise (beyond basic items like souvenirs or that bottle of Yoohoo you got from the 7-11), and so on.

"Things you're bringing with you" is slightly different, but related. That's when you'd mention your firearms (so that they can turn you around), heroin, illegal vegetables, that sort of thing. I've never found it necessary to itemize all the mundane items I had with me; saying something like "personal effects" or "clothing and toiletries" has always sufficed.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: corco on May 15, 2016, 01:26:12 PM
As with every other question - with the customs-related questions just answer the questions they ask. The burden isn't on you to volunteer information unless they ask you the question. I usually am asked if I have alcohol, tobacco, firearms, or more than $10,000 in cash. They'll ask you specific questions that can be answered yes/no, not "what do you have with you?"

Crossing the border really isn't that hard - just give them your passport, answer any questions they ask, and don't answer any questions they didn't ask. I think what I've learned that's helped me is that the border really does not give a shit about you personally or what you are doing, they just want to make sure that you aren't breaking any laws.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: vdeane on May 15, 2016, 05:09:42 PM
^ Really?  I just went to the US for 12 days, and I think in that time I used only $60 in cash, with the rest of my expenditures on credit card.  Aside from headaches at the gas pump itself, you should have no need for any cash money in Canada if you plan on using a credit card.

In my experience, US travel is more accommodating to Canadian issued cards than the other way around. MasterCard, which is very common here is difficult to find places away from southern Ontario or border towns. Discover and AmeEx are basically impossible. At least that's been my experience. I hear MasterCard is getting better, but Visa is most common I found (MasterCard was near non-existent in the Maritimes when I was there).

I carry cash for that reason. Also, as America is slow to switch to the chip-based cards, it's even harder in places to use the old magnetic strip cards with a signature.

One thing to be sure, is to check with each credit card how they handle international transactions. Some might convert the currency, but might charge you a fee. Sometimes once-per-statement and sometimes once-per-transaction. Some also have really crappy conversion rates. Banks do give you the best rates (i.e., cash transactions at a bank near the border), but some credit cards give you different rates than those same banks who issued the cards will give on a cash transaction in one of their lobbies. Check before you head out.

Also, if you know where you're going to be, there's a lot of online travel sites that can book your rooms in advance. Otel.com was a great site for a deal in the Toronto area for me. More than half-off their own website price. Also let me charge Discover which wouldn't be accepted at the hotel in person.

And to think I thought MasterCard was pervasive in Canada.  Never had problems using it in eastern Ontario or Québec.  That is true about Discover though; never tried to use it in Canada and never seen a place that would accept it.  Even in the US, Discover isn't everywhere, though it's more common than it used to be.  Possibly true of AmEx; one time I was on an Honors trip to Ottawa and someone couldn't use the card he was given by one of the staff members to pay for admission to the Ottawa science museum; I think he ended up using his own card and getting reimbursed.  Certainly hope that isn't true about MasterCard - I don't have a Visa.

Never seen anywhere in Canada that wouldn't take a mag stripe card except gas pumps.  Shouldn't have any more difficulty than remembering to pay inside for gas or retailers figuring out how to print the receipt to sign.

As for cash, even with a bank, exchange rates are generally better enough with a credit card that the card is better even with a fee.  I remember that same Honors Ottawa trip - I had some leftover meal cash that was given to use (used my credit card for one meal), and I could tell from the credit card statement and Google (actually, the credit card had a BETTER than official exchange rate at the time!) that I got ripped off exchanging the money back at my bank.  If it had been cash that I had converted from USD to CAD and then back, I would have been PISSED.

One other thing: it's May 2016, so if your credit cards aren't all chip-based by now, it means your bank sucks.  They should have replaced your cards months ago (sometimes the do forget, though; recently had to replace my ATM card because they never sent me a new one after it expired months ago).
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: tdindy88 on May 15, 2016, 07:48:13 PM
As with every other question - with the customs-related questions just answer the questions they ask. The burden isn't on you to volunteer information unless they ask you the question. I usually am asked if I have alcohol, tobacco, firearms, or more than $10,000 in cash. They'll ask you specific questions that can be answered yes/no, not "what do you have with you?"

Crossing the border really isn't that hard - just give them your passport, answer any questions they ask, and don't answer any questions they didn't ask. I think what I've learned that's helped me is that the border really does not give a shit about you personally or what you are doing, they just want to make sure that you aren't breaking any laws.

Thanks for that. The only reason I'm really curious about this sort of thing is because of that ill-fated attempt to enter Canada in 2011 when the person I was traveling with WAS grilled on everything they had and were doing, we were in customs for three hours while he had to answer just about everything. He raised red flags (being inadmissible in all that) and they went through the whole process, searching the vehicle and all our belongings and detaining us. I sat in the office and was never asked anything except for a few questions at the beginning while he went back and forth to the office trying to prove that he was not aware of the rule of him being not allowed in the country. He had visited Canada many times in the past (although not after 2001) and believes that his passport had alerted them of his past.

One other thing: it's May 2016, so if your credit cards aren't all chip-based by now, it means your bank sucks.  They should have replaced your cards months ago (sometimes the do forget, though; recently had to replace my ATM card because they never sent me a new one after it expired months ago).

Well it's a smaller bank, only based in Indiana and a few adjacent states so it may be that. Plus I've only seen chip-based cards being used this year and I've had my card since last year. It may just be bad timing that they'll get around to it in the future. For what it's worth I was reading that my driver's license (which expires in 2021) won't be good to use at the airport after 2020 due to some SecureID stuff or whatnot, meaning that if I desire to fly I would have to get a new license before the actual time I have to renew.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: Sykotyk on May 15, 2016, 10:10:13 PM
That is certainly good to know about the gas, I was planning on filling up in Michigan before crossing over for sure. As for my card, it is a Visa card issued by my bank with no chip in it. So other than paying for the hotels I don't see me using it a lot. As for the cash, the only thing I do see is that I'll be crossing over likely on a Saturday or Sunday morning so I'm not sure about banks given I'm thinking they will not be open at the time (maybe for Saturday.) So I hope there are places I can go to convert the money.

If you can't get to a bank, one of the big casinos usually offers a very fair conversion rate since they're catering to the American customer coming over to gamble (at least before so many American cities or states have gambling as well, such as Detroit). But, the money change/quickloan type places are the worst conversion rates.

I remember some friends and I crossed over years ago on I-195 and were on the QEW somewhere. Got off at a McDonalds to find a payphone (before the days of cell phones), and since we hadn't changed cash at the casino yet (it was late evening) we asked if the restaurant took US currency. They did. I bought a drink with a $5 USD and got $6.00+ change CND. Thought that was weird. But, that was back when over 3CND = 2USD.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: thenetwork on May 15, 2016, 11:12:34 PM
Well thanks again to everyone for the advise, I knew that I could depend on the good folks here on AARoads. I wasn't sure whether or not mentioning "sightseeing" was considered too vague that they would want more detail or not. I'm reminded of the quote from Ocean's 11, "Don't use seven words when four will do." This is my first time of doing a trip of this nature solo so I wanted to know. Two more things then if anyone could help, what can I expect on the American side coming back. I would think that returning from a vacation with a destination like Indiana wouldn't be too bad on the Port Huron side. And would $1,000 work for a six-day trip that goes as far as Ottawa if I go?
Considering that I-69 is an interstate that goes to your home in Indy, there should be no issue there. 

Southern Ontario crossings are/were pretty relaxed when it comes to where you are going via what crossing.  Pre-passport days, it wasn't usual to say you were taking the short cut to New York from Michigan or vise versa, or if you were from elsewhere in the states and was passing thru between NY and MI so you can say you went to Canada

Don't mention clinching 402.  Really, there won't be any reason to bring it up with Canadian customs.  When they ask where you're going, say Toronto.  IF they ask for more detail, you can mention the day trips to Niagara Falls and Ottawa.  You don't have to pre-register which crossing you'll leave through or anything.  When you return, if the fact that it's a different crossing raises eyebrows with US customs (not sure if they're even sharing that info yet or not), just say you felt like going a different way (but really, they're both major crossings, and both on you're way to/from there, it might not be an issue).  Don't give them more info than they need to answer the question; that's where problems start to arise.  They view it as suspicious when people give overly detailed answers.  Just clearly and concisely answer the questions (but not to the point of evasiveness).  The longer the trip and the more touristy the itinerary and the less likely you are to have problems.


SM-N910V

Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: US 41 on May 16, 2016, 09:35:57 AM
If it makes you feel any better, I'm only 19 years old and Canadian / Mexican customs have no problem letting me drive into their countries.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: corco on May 16, 2016, 11:29:12 AM
If it makes you feel any better, I'm only 19 years old and Canadian / Mexican customs have no problem letting me drive into their countries.

Do you get bugged about alcohol going into Canada? From 19-21, the US always assumed I was smuggling booze back into the US.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: US 41 on May 16, 2016, 11:54:12 AM
If it makes you feel any better, I'm only 19 years old and Canadian / Mexican customs have no problem letting me drive into their countries.

Do you get bugged about alcohol going into Canada? From 19-21, the US always assumed I was smuggling booze back into the US.

Surprisingly no. They typically just ask me what I was I was doing in Canada (or Mexico) and how long I was there.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: tdindy88 on May 16, 2016, 01:41:32 PM
If it makes you feel any better, I'm only 19 years old and Canadian / Mexican customs have no problem letting me drive into their countries.

That does make me feel better.

So right now I'm thinking of my full trip plan (one week) that includes Montreal, Ottawa, Niagara Falls and Toronto, leaving June 25 and coming back July 2. If I don't choose that week I'll pick another but keep the Saturday to Saturday format. My six-day plan is the same without the Montreal part and goes as far as Ottawa, arriving in Canada on Sunday and my four-day plan has me arriving on Tuesday with only Toronto and Niagara Falls.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: Sykotyk on May 16, 2016, 09:39:57 PM
If it makes you feel any better, I'm only 19 years old and Canadian / Mexican customs have no problem letting me drive into their countries.

That does make me feel better.

So right now I'm thinking of my full trip plan (one week) that includes Montreal, Ottawa, Niagara Falls and Toronto, leaving June 25 and coming back July 2. If I don't choose that week I'll pick another but keep the Saturday to Saturday format. My six-day plan is the same without the Montreal part and goes as far as Ottawa, arriving in Canada on Sunday and my four-day plan has me arriving on Tuesday with only Toronto and Niagara Falls.

As someone who roadtrips frequently (and not just to clinch new roads but just to go explore), I recommend doing as much as you can when you can. So, if this trip is a 'big trip' to you, I'd make the most of it. Stretch it out Saturday to Sunday for 9 days, see as much as you can, and enjoy it.

You never know when you'll be back. And sometimes regretting not going the extra mile (literally) may be what you remember most than what you did see or experience. And don't worry about "Someday, when I have the time or the money I'll come back and really do this road trip right..." truth is, you won't ever redo this road trip. You'll want to explore new places.

I've been to Yellowstone, and it was awesome, but there's so much more out there that I want to see that Yellowstone is never high up on my list anymore. Even if it is 'better' than whatever else I'm seeing. I've seen Yellowstone, but I haven't seen Going to the Sun Rd in Glacier, or the Grand Canyon up close, or some of the other smaller parks and sites in southeast Utah or western Colorado.  Or Mt. St. Helen's, etc.

So, enjoy what you can when you can.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: tdindy88 on May 17, 2016, 09:58:03 PM
That thinking is actually a big motivation for me to do the full 7-day part of the trip, I don't want to add any more days due to time I have available to take off from work and the 4th of July weekend afterwards (of which I'd like to be home to celebrate.)
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: tdindy88 on June 03, 2016, 06:14:21 PM
So I hope it's okay resurrecting this thread with another question or two in terms of this trip. Right now I am still planning on the seven day trip, leaving Saturday the 25th and coming home on Saturday the 2nd of July. The first overnight stop will be either Kingston or Brockville in Ontario, the second in Montreal, the third in Ottawa and the last four nights in Toronto. Right now I do have reservations made in Toronto at least and hope to begin making the other reservations as soon as this weekend. In Montreal and Toronto I plan on making use of pubic transportation as much as possible, maybe in Ottawa as well.

My question involves more of the roadgeeking stuff. In short, am I going to have a problem with taking pictures of road signs while driving? I know there's a handheld ban on cell phones and the like and I have no problem not using my phone at all, in fact I hate having to be on it at all while driving, but I do like taking pictures with my small digital camera. Will it be a problem for me if I do so (provided that driving conditions are safe.)
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: vdeane on June 03, 2016, 06:56:41 PM
It's technically illegal in Ontario (also New York) but I've never had problems.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: GaryV on June 11, 2016, 06:30:37 AM
For the last few weeks there has been construction on the Ambassador Bridge, resulting in only one lane going into Canada.  Several times the morning traffic reports have said that there is a very long wait time because of this, with backups stretching to the middle of the bridge or even most of the length.  The problem is that cars and trucks usually are in separate lanes, so even if the truck lines at customs are long, cars can get through.  But if cars and trucks have to use the single lane, everything backs up when the truck line to customs backs up.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: oscar on June 11, 2016, 08:43:38 AM
My question involves more of the roadgeeking stuff. In short, am I going to have a problem with taking pictures of road signs while driving? I know there's a handheld ban on cell phones and the like and I have no problem not using my phone at all, in fact I hate having to be on it at all while driving, but I do like taking pictures with my small digital camera. Will it be a problem for me if I do so (provided that driving conditions are safe.)

I think Ontario's ban is phrased in terms of "handheld electronic devices", which would apply equally to cellphones and digital cameras. But not dash- or windshield-mounted video cameras.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: tckma on June 11, 2016, 05:08:11 PM
I had a Canadian girlfriend from let's say 2004-2007, since I can't remember dates.  She lived in St. Catherines, ON.  At the time, I lived in Central MA.  I'd drive to see her about once a month and she'd make the trip to me at the same frequency.  I can tell you which NY/Niagara Falls area crossings are better than others, but that won't help you.  I also had a Nexus pass (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NEXUS_(frequent_traveler_program)), which I got when the relationship began getting serious, so I got to use the dedicated lanes at the border, ergo, I don't have as much experience as you think with standard border crossing lanes.  (I never renewed it because the relationship ended by the time it was renewal time.)

Canadian Customs is MUCH friendlier than US Customs.

The only time I had problems getting into/out of Canada with customs were:

1. The time I took said girlfriend along on my 2006 cross-country road trip.  She couldn't get as much time off work as I did, so she flew into Las Vegas, and we crossed the border at Sault Ste. Marie.  The customs agent seemed to be suspicious that there was a US Citizen AND a Canadian citizen in the same car, that we were headed to St. Catherine's, that we were on a cross-country road trip, and that we were staying the night at her roommate's parents' house in Elliot Lake.  This was the I-75 border crossing.  I didn't think the truth would cause crap, but it did.

2. The time I decided to fly to Buffalo instead of drive, having said girlfriend pick me up and drop me off at the airport.  Despite this being the airport physically closest to her apartment, the customs agents on both the US-->Canada and Canada-->US side gave us lots of crap.

3. The time my ex (different girlfriend) were supposed to do something outside, but it was raining, and we instead decided that morning to drive from Boston to Montréal and return the same day.  The fact that we were from Massachusetts and had no overnight lodging reservations in Montréal led to a full search of my car including drug-sniffing dogs at the I-89 border crossing in Vermont.  It ended with one of the customs agents performing the search translating my bumper stickers into French for the other customs agent who did not speak English.

4. Flying into Newfoundland with plans to stay in St. John's at the MUN dorms the first night (our flight got in at something like 12:30 am local time), taking the bus to Port-Aux-Basques the next day, staying at a friends' house there for several days, then back to an actual hotel in St. Johns.  That got me whisked aside for a full search of my luggage by Customs Canada.

Customs Canada seems to have issues with anything non-standard involving using their roads for road trips.  So if you can tell them the truth but not the WHOLE truth... road tripping becomes "tourism" or "sightseeing" -- that seems to be better.

I haven't crossed the border any time around Canada Day, so I can't speak to the lines at the border. 
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: tdindy88 on June 11, 2016, 06:25:40 PM
Well, telling them that I'm sightseeing won't be any problem, that is primarily what I will be doing anyway. I've never seen Ottawa or Montreal and my last time in Toronto and Niagara Falls, Ontario was in 1997. I have all my lodging accomodations made already, I just hope doing it by myself won't come up as a big problem.

Sort of back to the camera thing, I do try to keep my camera out of sight whenever there is a police car within eyesight on general principal. How often would I encounter police along the highways? I ask somewhat for that reason but so gauge what I should go on speed limit along the highways. I am typically careful on keeping my speed in places I'm not familiar with, but what would be considered okay along the 400-highways and other two-lane routes.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: vdeane on June 11, 2016, 06:44:05 PM
Nobody goes 100 on 400 series routes.  Under 120 should be fine.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: 1995hoo on June 11, 2016, 10:06:22 PM
I think the same principle that largely applies on US highways applies on the 400-series highways: There's always going to be someone who's eager to show off how his car is faster than yours. Let him. Unless your car is unusually flashy or you're driving like an idiot, you won't stand out if you're not the fastest car on the road.

I've never had any trouble up to about 130, and on 401 there's always so much traffic on the parts I've driven that I felt it's hard to go much faster than that without driving like an idiot. There were enough people trying to push 140+ (doing idiot things like tailgating or weaving in and out) that 130 didn't stand out. The only place in Canada where I ever recall hitting 140 was on the Cobequid Pass Toll Highway in 2008, and I probably could have hit 160 or more on there had I not figured it was a Very Bad Idea.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: tdindy88 on June 18, 2016, 07:51:53 PM
I'm less than a week away from this trip and things are falling into place. I see the new 412 and parts of the 407 will be open by next Saturday when I pass by so I may journey onto those routes since there will be no tolls. I also saw that the Gardiner will apparently be done with its lane restrictions too so I may travel that way on Canada Day itself. I should be spending the 30th and 1st in Toronto proper itself taking the subway around the city and leaving my car at the hotel. I only have one question and this is mainly for those familiar with the city and mass transit (I rode the rocket back in 1997 so I am very vaguely familiar with it, I was also 9 at the time.) I am planning on seeing the fireworks downtown on the 1st on the Harbourfront. What will the subways be like that evening in terms of returning back if I park my car at Kipling (I'll be staying on the west side and I know parking is free that day.) I'm just curious of what riding the train will be like on that night. I remember being in Washington D.C. for the 4th of July in 2000 and waiting two hours to board the train at Metro Center station, so that's my reason for the concern. 
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: MisterSG1 on June 18, 2016, 08:03:45 PM
Even after big events like Blue Jays games and concerts on the same night potentially throwing more than 70000 on the TTC, you usually won't have to wait to board a train. The only time I've ever heard of the subway being jammed with passengers due to an event outside of business hours was during Nuit Blanche where the subway was crowded like it as in Tokyo, where TTC employees had to try to squeeze people in to get the doors to close. The system generally looks much the same as it did in 1997 except for Museum station, and Osgoode/St Andrew stations which now have a "retro-modern" look. Considering that the busiest part of the Toronto subway is the Yonge line, the east side of the yellow line on the map, you should have no issues whatsoever.

Do not take the 509 Harbourfront Streetcar after the event as it could take a while to board that thing, just simply walk back to Union Station after....

An alternative option is to simply drive downtown using the Gardiner, get off at Jarvis, make a left on Jarvis, left on the Esplanade (first set of lights), and then turn left immediately onto Market St, there is a giant Green P parking lot that has thousands of spaces and they only charge $6 after 6pm no matter what day of the week it is, they don't overcharge due to holidays or special events.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: hbelkins on June 18, 2016, 08:45:04 PM
One other thing: it's May 2016, so if your credit cards aren't all chip-based by now, it means your bank sucks.  They should have replaced your cards months ago (sometimes the do forget, though; recently had to replace my ATM card because they never sent me a new one after it expired months ago).

I hate the chip cards. Not all of mine have been replaced yet, and I hope it stays that way as long as possible. At least a lot of the merchants where I use my credit cards and debit card haven't activated their chip readers yet, which makes me happy. I'd much rather swipe my card and stick it back in my billfold than leave it in the reader for a much slower transaction.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: empirestate on June 19, 2016, 12:18:19 AM
I hate the chip cards. Not all of mine have been replaced yet, and I hope it stays that way as long as possible. At least a lot of the merchants where I use my credit cards and debit card haven't activated their chip readers yet, which makes me happy. I'd much rather swipe my card and stick it back in my billfold than leave it in the reader for a much slower transaction.

Then you'll like your chip card after all if you go to the UK. Since nobody there even knows how swiped cards work, those are what lead to the slower transaction.

As for Canada, the fact that transactions can be processed right in front of you at restaurants instead of the multi-step cashing out process we seem stuck with will also work in your favor.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: vdeane on June 19, 2016, 03:14:09 PM
Plus part of the reason they're slow in the US is because the banks insist on using the same online authentication as mag stripe cards.  It always took that long to process here, but most people neither noticed nor cared because they had their cards back in their wallet before the transaction was even halfway processed.  Since other countries use PINs, they verify the PIN, and submit the transactions to the bank in bulk later.

It's rumored that one of the reasons we went to chip and sign instead of chip and PIN is because restaraunts didn't want to change how they processed transactions.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: hbelkins on June 19, 2016, 03:45:51 PM
Most of my cards don't even have a PIN. Which suits me fine, because I never get cash from them.

And the border hassles being described here and elsewhere have convinced me never to go to Canada. Heck, after reading about some of the Border Patrol station stories that were posted on Freewayjim's Facebook group after he put up a picture of a station on I-10 in Texas, I'm not sure I want to go to the southwest. If you don't have a record or aren't on some watch list, you shouldn't get the Nth degree when you're crossing the border. And if you're not crossing the border, you shouldn't have to stop at a Border Patrol checkpoint -- on a east-west route that doesn't even cross the border, no less.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: tdindy88 on June 19, 2016, 05:22:37 PM
Come come don't scare me like that. As for money, I'll use an ATM to draw a little bit of cash when I cross the border next Saturday and take some cash to a bank probably in London to exchange it there. Outside of hotels and ATM withdrawals I'll be sticking with cash for my other purchases.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: AsphaltPlanet on June 19, 2016, 05:23:12 PM
While I recognize that there are many reasons to not want to visit a place, but I have to say, not wanting to visit a place for fear of crossing border patrol station frankly seems pretty cowardly to me.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: hbelkins on June 20, 2016, 12:41:33 PM
It's not fear. It's the PITA factor. I have no desire to subject myself to an interrogation, a search of my vehicle, a search of my laptop or any other electronic device, possible confiscation of the radar detector I have legally used on my way to get to the border crossing, or anything else that happens either randomly or because the guard doesn't like the way I look. And from most things I've read here, it's harder to get back into your own country than it is to go out of the country. It's all ridiculous and I refuse to be a part of it.

If I don't have any warrants, don't have a past record, am not on any watch lists and don't fit any profiles (neither my name nor my appearance should set off any alarms), then I shouldn't be detained at a border crossing any longer than it would take for me to pay a toll at a toll booth. The technology exists already to scan license plate numbers in the line and have the vehicle registration information displayed on a screen to a guard at the booth. That and a cursory check of the driver's license should be all it takes for most people.

I'm as big an advocate for border security as you'll find anywhere, but this oft-described theater is just overkill.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: empirestate on June 20, 2016, 03:04:04 PM
Maybe I have to re-read the thread, but I'm frankly not seeing where people are experiencing widespread hassles at the border. The gist I'm getting (which matches my own experience) is that with an appropriate demeanor and a few precautions to avoid raising the inquiry, crossing between the U.S. and Canada is about as easy as you could want. In any case, it certainly doesn't rise to the level where I'd ever consider avoiding an entire country, If it did, I'd also have to avoid ever entering a court house, traveling by air, or visiting certain tourist attractions, all of which are at least as difficult as crossing the Canadian border.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: vdeane on June 20, 2016, 06:49:57 PM
I'm pretty sure radar detector bans are provincial affairs, and CBSA doesn't enforce provincial law, only federal law.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: AsphaltPlanet on June 21, 2016, 07:55:05 AM
It's not fear. It's the PITA factor. I have no desire to subject myself to an interrogation, a search of my vehicle, a search of my laptop or any other electronic device, possible confiscation of the radar detector I have legally used on my way to get to the border crossing, or anything else that happens either randomly or because the guard doesn't like the way I look. And from most things I've read here, it's harder to get back into your own country than it is to go out of the country. It's all ridiculous and I refuse to be a part of it.

If I don't have any warrants, don't have a past record, am not on any watch lists and don't fit any profiles (neither my name nor my appearance should set off any alarms), then I shouldn't be detained at a border crossing any longer than it would take for me to pay a toll at a toll booth. The technology exists already to scan license plate numbers in the line and have the vehicle registration information displayed on a screen to a guard at the booth. That and a cursory check of the driver's license should be all it takes for most people.

I'm as big an advocate for border security as you'll find anywhere, but this oft-described theater is just overkill.

Do you honestly plan how you are going to spend your recreation time based on whether or not you can take your radar detector with you?
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: jeffandnicole on June 21, 2016, 08:52:34 AM
The technology exists already to scan license plate numbers in the line and have the vehicle registration information displayed on a screen to a guard at the booth. That and a cursory check of the driver's license should be all it takes for most people.

Many people committing crimes aren't using their own vehicle.  A stolen vehicle not reported as of yet and a drivers license, in this scenario, will easily allow a criminal to come across the border. 

Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: oscar on June 21, 2016, 09:30:55 AM
In any case, it certainly doesn't rise to the level where I'd ever consider avoiding an entire country, If it did, I'd also have to avoid ever entering a court house, traveling by air, or visiting certain tourist attractions, all of which are at least as difficult as crossing the Canadian border.

Yes. I speak as someone who occasionally gets searched at the border, but that's a small minority of my frequent border crossings. Just my latest trip, six border crossings, five went smoothly and lasted only a minute or two (about what it takes for the minimal, ritual inquiries about alcohol, tobacco, and firearms for Canada, and importation of huge amounts of currency for both sides of the border). Nothing to stop me from visiting Canada.

TSA hassles, on the other hand, are worse than dealing with customs, and do help discourage me from flying.  And on the Mexican border, the need to buy short-term Mexican auto insurance (Mexican insurance is required by law, and U.S. policies don't count) and concerns about border violence do far more to limit my crossings of that border than just dealing with customs.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: lordsutch on June 21, 2016, 09:51:04 AM
For what it's worth, unless you're obviously not American (not just "look white" but more "barely, if at all, speak English"), you're hauling enough drugs for a dog to alert outside the car, or you recently crossed the border, you're not going to get hassled at an interior checkpoint in the southwest in a POV.

Philosophically I'm opposed to them, but even compared to TSA (much less an actual border crossing) the hassle is minimal beyond whatever wait you have to endure.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: vdeane on June 21, 2016, 01:15:03 PM
Or they agents don't like someone's attitude.  They've been known to, for example, give people grief who decide to give them no more information than they are legally required to (which amounts to a verbal declaration of citizenship for interior checkpoints); easy enough to do, since they've trained the dogs to respond to a signal with a signal of possible drugs to justify a search.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: jwolfer on June 21, 2016, 01:48:09 PM
Or they agents don't like someone's attitude.  They've been known to, for example, give people grief who decide to give them no more information than they are legally required to (which amounts to a verbal declaration of citizenship for interior checkpoints); easy enough to do, since they've trained the dogs to respond to a signal with a signal of possible drugs to justify a search.
Like getting pulled over for speeding.. if you run your mouth no chance for a warning.  And ticket for seatbelt, tail lights etc... then the figurative anal probe where they find a left over seed from giving your stoner cousin Jerry a ride home from grandma's

More flies with honey.....
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: 1995hoo on June 21, 2016, 01:50:22 PM
I've never had an issue entering Canada. I do stop at the last rest area before the border and put the radar detector in the trunk, though.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: english si on June 21, 2016, 04:27:54 PM
Since nobody there even knows how swiped cards work, those are what lead to the slower transaction.
We know how they work (at least people over about 30 should, if they grew up here. 40 if they grew up across the Channel), we just don't really have the equipment anymore to do it. My first debit card 12+ years ago (can't remember if I got it at 16 or 18, though I had a cash card for ATMs since I was 12 or something) was chip & pin when it was new, and I initially didn't like it even though I've never swiped and signed.

Of course, for low-cost (under £20) purchases, we're moving beyond chip & pin to contactless. Which can be done quicker than merely typing a PIN or signing your signature, leaving aside swiping it (surely if your card is back in your wallet, the signature is pointless as there's no verification?) or waiting for verification.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: tckma on June 21, 2016, 05:01:17 PM
I'm not exactly sure how chip cards are supposed to work.

I have ONE card with a chip, and it's a brand new card I just applied for this year.  That said, when I've tried to use the chip, I've always had to swipe it anyway, because "the chip reader doesn't work."  I don't even bother trying to use it anymore.  Seems this technology is still prone to frequent malfunctions.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: vdeane on June 21, 2016, 05:16:39 PM
Contactless doesn't strike me as a good idea.  I certainly don't want someone stealing all my card details with an RFID chip reader.  They tried that in the US and it flopped, big time.

A lot of places still don't have the software for the chip reader even though they have the hardware.  I don't understand why they don't just import everything from Canada... why reinvent the wheel?
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: oscar on June 21, 2016, 05:51:54 PM
Contactless doesn't strike me as a good idea.  I certainly don't want someone stealing all my card details with an RFID chip reader.  They tried that in the US and it flopped, big time.

Contactless is popular in Canada (if that's what is meant by "tap"), but I think none of my U.S.-issued credit cards support that technology. With rare exception, Canadian merchants have both the hardware and software to read chip cards, for chip-and-PIN transactions (the norm up there), chip-and-signature (the workaround for U.S.-issued credit cards without PINs), or chip-and-that's-it (for pay-at-the-pump at gas stations).
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: GaryV on June 21, 2016, 06:21:55 PM
Last week at the local grocery store (a large regional operation) you had to swipe the card and then put it in the chip reader.  This week, just the chip reader.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: empirestate on June 21, 2016, 06:53:07 PM
Since nobody there even knows how swiped cards work, those are what lead to the slower transaction.
We know how they work (at least people over about 30 should, if they grew up here. 40 if they grew up across the Channel), we just don't really have the equipment anymore to do it.

My experience was probably half knew-how-but-didn't-have-the-equipment, and half didn't-know-how. I'd believe you if you told me the two halves were distinguished by their age relative to 30; I don't really recall the breakdown. But there were definitely a few times where the clerk tried to stick my card in the chip reader and I had to point out the thing on the side where you're meant to swipe it.

There's also always the possibility of people just not being good at their jobs, although I noticed a far lower percentage of that over there. For example, my wife was astounded when she needed something from the chemist's, and the clerk there knew everything about the products on her shelves. That is just not something you can expect walking into a Walgreen's or Rite-Aid over here!
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: 1995hoo on June 21, 2016, 07:44:16 PM
I don't have any contactless cards, but I've used Apple Pay on my iPhone and my Apple Watch many times with no problems, including once at a Wawa station's pay-at-the-pump thing.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: tckma on June 22, 2016, 08:58:00 AM
Contactless doesn't strike me as a good idea.  I certainly don't want someone stealing all my card details with an RFID chip reader. 

Definitely 100% agree with you here.  I'm even a little wary about Apple Pay, but given the security hoops I had to jump through with my bank to enable it, and the fact that your card number is supposedly not transmitted, I'm willing to try it.  Just haven't had the opportunity yet.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: vdeane on June 22, 2016, 12:47:50 PM
HSBC loved RFID cards.  I remember a few years ago Dad was arguing with them every time they'd replace his ATM card with and RFID ATM/Debit card.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: tdindy88 on June 22, 2016, 09:13:06 PM
Okay, so I'm only two days away from leaving. Everything's in place at the moment though I did think of another question that has absolutely nothing to do with credit cards. I plan on being on Montreal on Sunday including a drive around some of the autoroutes through the city in the morning where I assume the traffic will be lighter. Is there anything I should know about the highways there, besides the French language and all that, I should be able to navigate without any problem?
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: US 41 on June 22, 2016, 09:25:43 PM
As someone that has drove in the southwest and in Mexico I can say that being close to / crossing the border really isn't that big of a deal. I know this thread is about Canada, but I'll share my Mexico experience since Canada is so much easier to cross in to than Mexico. If you can handle Mexico, than entering Canada should be a cakewalk.

I've drove through 5 interior checkpoints in the southwestern US. 4 of the 5 times they have simply just asked if I am a US citizen. When I show my passport that suits them. The one other time they asked me if I had been in Mexico lately. When I said yes they asked if I had brought any drugs back with me. "No" was a good enough answer for them.

Before crossing into Mexico I obviously stopped in Presidio and bought a days worth of Mexican liability only insurance. Once I got that and bought a case of water and some snacks at the local Dollar General I crossed the border. Of course I would get red lighted. The Mexican customs official gave a very thorough search, but he was very respectful. After a few minutes I was on MX Hwy 16 in Ojinaga and I was wondering why I was so nervous about crossing into Mexico in the first place.

Twenty miles or so into Mexico on my way to the Peguis Canyon (see picture I took of it below) I got pulled over by the Federales. My Spanish and they're English wasn't great, so we both spoke Spanglish to each other. I figured out that they were wanting to see my FMM and TIP once I heard them say something about permisos. I explained as best I could that I was only driving to the canyon. He told me that was fine, but I couldn't go any farther than the canyon unless I got my permits. We exchanged a handshake and I was on my way again. BTW the Peguis Canyon is beautiful and it is probably the best canyon I've ever visited. The walls are 2,000 feet tall. It's well worth the $18 in Mexican insurance to go see.

I drove in Mexico for another 4 hours after that, staying within the border zone. I pretty much clinched CHIH Rte 200 to Manuel Benavides. I turned around once I saw the sign that read Bienvenidos Manuel Benavides. I had no problems what so ever.

When I crossed back into the US they asked me a few questions, never searched me, and I was on my way again.

It doesn't matter which border you're crossing (Canada or Mexico), just observe the laws and go have fun. You only live once. I will be returning to both Canada and Mexico for many more road trips in the future. I really don't understand why some people are so nervous about going through customs.

(https://scontent-ord1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/l/t1.0-9/13428616_143884716020396_4773317179901725318_n.jpg?oh=eb452d64b1bc59a5f87f573d81ca8a6d&oe=5800F1B8)
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: vdeane on June 22, 2016, 10:47:43 PM
Okay, so I'm only two days away from leaving. Everything's in place at the moment though I did think of another question that has absolutely nothing to do with credit cards. I plan on being on Montreal on Sunday including a drive around some of the autoroutes through the city in the morning where I assume the traffic will be lighter. Is there anything I should know about the highways there, besides the French language and all that, I should be able to navigate without any problem?
The big thing in Montreal is the reconstruction of the Turcot interchange (A-20/A-15/A-720).  Numerous closures in the area.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: 1995hoo on June 25, 2016, 03:50:13 PM
The other big thing about Montreal is that it is illegal to make a right turn on red on the Island of Montreal unless it's otherwise posted. Generally you may see this sign as you enter the area (or as you exit the autoroute), but you will not see reminder signs throughout the city.

(https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/08/Qu%C3%A9bec_P-115-1-mtl.svg/200px-Qu%C3%A9bec_P-115-1-mtl.svg.png)
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: cl94 on June 25, 2016, 04:46:20 PM
With all of the discussion about chip cards, some gas stations require a PIN to use pay at the pump. Thankfully, all of my chip cards (credit or otherwise) have a PIN.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: oscar on June 25, 2016, 05:46:15 PM
With all of the discussion about chip cards, some gas stations require a PIN to use pay at the pump. Thankfully, all of my chip cards (credit or otherwise) have a PIN.

I've used chip cards to pay at the pump in all provinces from BC to ON (my visits to the territories, and provinces from QC eastward, predated my chip cards), at a variety of gas stations including at least Petro-Canada and Esso. Never once has a pump asked me for a PIN. None of my chip cards have a PIN, which may explain why I was able to pump without a PIN.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: tdindy88 on June 25, 2016, 08:24:07 PM
Well I made it to Canada, no problems with customs at all and I got to drive along most of the 401 up to Brockville. As for filling up at the pump, I was able to use my card at a Canadian Tire gas station at one of the service areas off the 401 without any chip or pin. I will keep what you said about Montreal in mind since I'll be there tomorrow.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: hbelkins on June 25, 2016, 08:31:28 PM
With all of the discussion about chip cards, some gas stations require a PIN to use pay at the pump. Thankfully, all of my chip cards (credit or otherwise) have a PIN.

I'm increasingly asked to input my billing ZIP code at the pump when I swipe a credit card.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: oscar on June 25, 2016, 08:55:50 PM
I'm increasingly asked to input my billing ZIP code at the pump when I swipe a credit card.

I think that was a hangup with using U.S.-issued swipe cards at the pump in Canada -- the pump would want a billing postal code (combination of six letters and numbers),and ZIP codes don't work, though usually my card was declined before getting that far. Chip cards seem to avoid that issue.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: vdeane on June 25, 2016, 09:25:55 PM
Guess it was the same issue that prevents Canadians from paying at the pump many places here.  They'll probably be very happy when we get chip readers at the gas pumps (who knows when those will work (deadline is October 2017 but we all know the retailers didn't have everything ready by October 2015); I only know of two stations that have them (Sunoco on Washington Ave and Stewarts at Wade and Forts Ferry), but at the former I was using the state's fleet card (no chip) and the latter doesn't have the software to read the chip yet.

With all of the discussion about chip cards, some gas stations require a PIN to use pay at the pump. Thankfully, all of my chip cards (credit or otherwise) have a PIN.
First Niagara?  Because that's one of the things that I'm unhappy with about the Key Bank merger (also the fact that the Key card has a 3% foreign transaction fee and the First Niagara card doesn't have one).
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: cl94 on June 25, 2016, 10:50:15 PM
Guess it was the same issue that prevents Canadians from paying at the pump many places here.  They'll probably be very happy when we get chip readers at the gas pumps (who knows when those will work (deadline is October 2017 but we all know the retailers didn't have everything ready by October 2015); I only know of two stations that have them (Sunoco on Washington Ave and Stewarts at Wade and Forts Ferry), but at the former I was using the state's fleet card (no chip) and the latter doesn't have the software to read the chip yet.

With all of the discussion about chip cards, some gas stations require a PIN to use pay at the pump. Thankfully, all of my chip cards (credit or otherwise) have a PIN.
First Niagara?  Because that's one of the things that I'm unhappy with about the Key Bank merger (also the fact that the Key card has a 3% foreign transaction fee and the First Niagara card doesn't have one).

Most Cumberland Farms locations that are newer/renovated have chip equipment at the pumps. I'm assuming the Stewarts at Congress and 5th in Troy has it as well, being as the pumps were just replaced. Which Sunoco on Washington has chip equipment? Might swing over there the next time I cash in on Price Chopper points.

And not First Niagara. USAA. Being as they only deal with people who have military connections, their members are more likely to travel abroad, so they started issuing chip cards on request well before the other US banks. My first credit card, which I got in 2012, was a chip card.

As far as chip and PIN vs chip and signature, I have read that US cards use signature due to the insistence of the credit card companies. Don't know how true that is, but I read somewhere that Walmart wants to switch to PIN, but the credit card companies won't let them.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: vdeane on June 26, 2016, 07:29:16 PM
I guess there's no hope of anyone in the US who doesn't have military, diplomatic, or (federal) government ties getting a true chip-and-PIN card.  Even finding one that's widely accepted but without a foreign transaction fee (and without an annual fee and not a specialty air miles card) is absurdly difficult.  If the First Niagara/Key Bank merger goes through, those of us who sometimes travel to Canada (or elsewhere) are just plain screwed.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: tckma on June 27, 2016, 01:29:27 PM
With all of the discussion about chip cards, some gas stations require a PIN to use pay at the pump. Thankfully, all of my chip cards (credit or otherwise) have a PIN.

I'm increasingly asked to input my billing ZIP code at the pump when I swipe a credit card.

There is a gas station near me that has a sticker explaining the ZIP code thing, with the instruction "If your ZIP code contains any letters, please pay the cashier inside the store."

There is no ZIP code that contains letters.  Canadian postal codes have letters, but ZIP codes don't.

(It's a nit-pick with me, but it annoys me.)
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: Mapmikey on June 27, 2016, 03:36:36 PM
I guess there's no hope of anyone in the US who doesn't have military, diplomatic, or (federal) government ties getting a true chip-and-PIN card.  Even finding one that's widely accepted but without a foreign transaction fee (and without an annual fee and not a specialty air miles card) is absurdly difficult.  If the First Niagara/Key Bank merger goes through, those of us who sometimes travel to Canada (or elsewhere) are just plain screwed.

I have a hotel rewards card available to anyone through a nationally known bank and is a VISA card that will do chip and PIN (so they say...I will be calling soon to activate that because I am heading overseas in August) and has no foreign transaction fee.  It does have an $85 annual fee, but they also give me a free night at their hotel group up to the mid-tier level every year which is a net gain over the annual fee.

And they consider using the card at all as a reason to NOT cancel your points after so much time...
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: tdindy88 on July 01, 2016, 12:49:04 PM
Greetings one last time from Toronto here on Canada Day. My trip has been a success as I've seen the attractions and highways that I've wanted to see this past week. My spending is okay and hopefully I filled up gas for the last time outside of St. Catharine's on Wednesday. I'm spending my last day taking it easy before heading downtown in the late afternoon/evening for a last stroll through before fireworks.
Title: Re: Successful Trip to Canada
Post by: tdindy88 on July 04, 2016, 12:39:23 PM
Just one last note here, I am back in Indiana and had a nice trip after all. The weather cooperated for the most part, going through customs was bearable (the Canadian side was a little more friendly than the American but the U.S. guy did wish me a nice day after searching my trunk,) and I got to see what I wanted to see. I clinched the 400, 401, 402, 412, 417 and QEW in Ontario and drove around the autoroutes of Montreal. I did just fine without the lack of a chip on my card, using cash most of the time. I got to ride around on both subway systems in Toronto and Montreal and saw the national capital in Ottawa along with the scenery in the region north of Toronto and Niagara Falls. I did enjoy the trip and got to do basically what I wanted to do, so thanks to everyone on this forum who contributed some advice. Next year if I do a trip of this size, it would either be to Texas, the Southeast (Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas) or the Mid-Atlantic (Washington DC up to New York along with parts of New York state and Pennsylvania,) but I got time to think on that.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: AsphaltPlanet on July 04, 2016, 01:08:24 PM
Glad to hear you enjoyed your trip.
Title: Re: Successful Trip to Canada
Post by: MisterSG1 on July 04, 2016, 01:10:58 PM
Just one last note here, I am back in Indiana and had a nice trip after all. The weather cooperated for the most part, going through customs was bearable (the Canadian side was a little more friendly than the American but the U.S. guy did wish me a nice day after searching my trunk,) and I got to see what I wanted to see. I clinched the 400, 401, 402, 412, 417 and QEW in Ontario and drove around the autoroutes of Montreal. I did just fine without the lack of a chip on my card, using cash most of the time. I got to ride around on both subway systems in Toronto and Montreal and saw the national capital in Ottawa along with the scenery in the region north of Toronto and Niagara Falls. I did enjoy the trip and got to do basically what I wanted to do, so thanks to everyone on this forum who contributed some advice. Next year if I do a trip of this size, it would either be to Texas, the Southeast (Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas) or the Mid-Atlantic (Washington DC up to New York along with parts of New York state and Pennsylvania,) but I got time to think on that.

Did you explore any of the PATH?
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: tdindy88 on July 04, 2016, 01:49:46 PM
A little bit of it, I know I saw the PATH map a couple of times. I did walk from Union Station to the CN Tower and I was also walking underground near the the Dundas subway station but otherwise I stayed above ground, it was too nice outside not to really do that in my opinion. Union Station was cool to walk around, the parts not under construction that is. I did explore the Montreal version of PATH, the Underground City to get from one metro station to another.

I can also say that I easily did 120 on the freeways most of the time but did go a bit slower in Quebec. I noticed a distinct lack of law enforcement on the highways for the most part though Quebec had a little bit more. I did push 140 for a brief moment going downhill on the 400 heading toward Toronto, I couldn't believe that my odometer had gone as far as it possible could and I quickly slowed down (not that I was really going much faster than the rest of the traffic.)
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: cl94 on July 04, 2016, 05:15:16 PM
Consider yourself lucky. Almost every time I have been to Toronto, it has been very hot, raining, snowing, very windy, and/or miserably cold. PATH is wonderful at those times.
Title: Re: Successful Trip to Canada
Post by: hbelkins on July 04, 2016, 06:03:16 PM
the U.S. guy did wish me a nice day after searching my trunk

What provoked the search?
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: 7/8 on July 04, 2016, 06:04:34 PM
I'm happy to hear you enjoyed your trip! The weather was certainly great here in Kitchener  :)

I can also say that I easily did 120 on the freeways most of the time but did go a bit slower in Quebec. I noticed a distinct lack of law enforcement on the highways for the most part though Quebec had a little bit more. I did push 140 for a brief moment going downhill on the 400 heading toward Toronto, I couldn't believe that my odometer had gone as far as it possible could and I quickly slowed down (not that I was really going much faster than the rest of the traffic.)

I would say the traffic often moves 120-130 on our highways, despite the speed limit. And it's true, we don't seem to have that many cops enforcing speed. Hopefully one day we'll get reasonable speed limits in Ontario  :rolleyes:

I clinched the 400, 401, 402, 412, 417 and QEW in Ontario and drove around the autoroutes of Montreal.

You managed to clinch the 412 before I did, and I live here. I'll have to head over that way soon, I'm looking forward to driving it  :)
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: tdindy88 on July 05, 2016, 01:05:05 AM
What provoked the search?

I think it was the fact that I was traveling by myself, the guy was interested in if I met anyone up in Canada, which I didn't. But the search was quick and I was on my way without any more trouble. The Canadian customs was more interested in the fact that I made Brockville, Ontario my first overnight stop instead of driving all the way to Montreal but Brockville is already 11 hours away from Indy so I explained that it was simply a point I had chosen to make my first stop. I only mentioned Brockville in the event that they would ask for proof that I was staying there at a hotel. Still, as others had pointed out here before, going through customs was no big deal in the end.

As for driving around the GTA, I can say that driving around Los Angeles last year helped me prepare for the driving around Toronto. Downtown Toronto may have a feel like Chicago and New York but along the freeways and even in the suburbs where I was staying (along the Mississauga/Etiobocke line) there was a Southern California vibe to the highways there with the way traffic was moving and the traffic jams and even using the definitive article on highway names.
Title: Re: Possible Trip to Canada
Post by: cl94 on July 05, 2016, 01:45:44 AM
Trunk searches have been very common lately. The last few times I crossed, almost every car got one, even in the NEXUS lane.