AARoads Forum

Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length

Author Topic: Possible Trip to Canada  (Read 14538 times)

tdindy88

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 1338
  • Last Login: Today at 03:13:30 AM
Possible Trip to Canada
« 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.
Logged

jwolfer

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 2037
  • Age: 48
  • Location: Jacksonville, FL
  • Last Login: June 04, 2019, 01:41:20 AM
Re: Possible Trip to Canada
« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2016, 10:44:49 PM »

If you go to Ottawa cross over to Hull, QC.. Get another province
Logged

oscar

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 6394
  • Age: 63
  • Location: Arlington, VA
  • Last Login: June 19, 2019, 06:55:47 PM
    • my Hot Springs and Highways pages
Re: Possible Trip to Canada
« Reply #2 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.
Logged
my Hot Springs and Highways pages, with links to my roads sites:
http://www.alaskaroads.com/home.html

tdindy88

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 1338
  • Last Login: Today at 03:13:30 AM
Re: Possible Trip to Canada
« Reply #3 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.
« Last Edit: May 13, 2016, 08:47:28 AM by tdindy88 »
Logged

vdeane

  • *
  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 10016
  • Age: 28
  • Location: Latham, NY
  • Last Login: June 19, 2019, 08:43:48 PM
    • New York State Roads
Re: Possible Trip to Canada
« Reply #4 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.
Logged
Please note: All comments here represent my own personal opinion and do not reflect the official position of NYSDOT or its affiliates.

Mapmikey

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 2634
  • Co-curator with Froggie of www.vahighways.com

  • Age: 49
  • Last Login: June 19, 2019, 05:12:30 PM
    • Co-curator Virginia Highways Project
Re: Possible Trip to Canada
« Reply #5 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).
Logged
Clinch:
I: 4 8 12 16 17 20 26 27 30 40 59 64 66 68 72 73 ew74 77 78 79 82 83 ew84 85 ew86 e88 97 99
US: 4 6N 9W 11E 11W 13 15 19W 21 44 46 48 58 72 92 113 117 123 130 158 163 176 178 192 206 209 211 219 220 221 222 258 264 276 290 311 319 322 340 360 378 401 ew422 501 521 522 601 701
PriSys: VA, DE

corco

  • *
  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 4925
  • Just Livin' the Dream

  • Age: 30
  • Location: Boise, Idaho
  • Last Login: Today at 12:55:11 AM
    • Corcohighways.org
Re: Possible Trip to Canada
« Reply #6 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.
« Last Edit: May 13, 2016, 02:33:39 PM by corco »
Logged

US 41

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 1791
  • Age: 22
  • Location: Terre Haute, IN
  • Last Login: June 15, 2019, 10:35:56 PM
Re: Possible Trip to Canada
« Reply #7 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.
Logged
Places I've drove in North America

USA (36)= AL, AZ, AR, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MS, MO, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WV, WI
Canada (5)= NB, NS, ON, PE, QC
Mexico (6)= CH, CO, DG, NL, SI, TM

Brandon

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 10269
  • Mr. Accelerator is our friend; Mr. Brake is not.

  • Age: 42
  • Location: Joliet, IL
  • Last Login: June 19, 2019, 05:47:55 AM
Re: Possible Trip to Canada
« Reply #8 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.
Logged
"If you think this has a happy ending, you haven't been paying attention." - Ramsay Bolton

Illinois: America's own banana republic.

Screw the KSA; Stand with Canada.

tdindy88

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 1338
  • Last Login: Today at 03:13:30 AM
Re: Possible Trip to Canada
« Reply #9 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?
Logged

US 41

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 1791
  • Age: 22
  • Location: Terre Haute, IN
  • Last Login: June 15, 2019, 10:35:56 PM
Re: Possible Trip to Canada
« Reply #10 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.
Logged
Places I've drove in North America

USA (36)= AL, AZ, AR, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MS, MO, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WV, WI
Canada (5)= NB, NS, ON, PE, QC
Mexico (6)= CH, CO, DG, NL, SI, TM

Sykotyk

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 874
  • Last Login: February 03, 2019, 02:49:05 AM
Re: Possible Trip to Canada
« Reply #11 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.
« Last Edit: May 13, 2016, 09:09:56 PM by Sykotyk »
Logged

empirestate

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 4118
  • Last Login: June 19, 2019, 10:07:33 AM
    • Empire State Roads
Re: Possible Trip to Canada
« Reply #12 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
Logged

tdindy88

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 1338
  • Last Login: Today at 03:13:30 AM
Re: Possible Trip to Canada
« Reply #13 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.
Logged

AsphaltPlanet

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 2623
  • Single Occupant Vehicle Commuter

  • Location: Toronto, Ontario
  • Last Login: June 19, 2019, 10:21:46 PM
Re: Possible Trip to Canada
« Reply #14 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.
« Last Edit: May 14, 2016, 10:07:10 AM by AsphaltPlanet »
Logged
AsphaltPlanet.ca  Youtube -- Opinions expressed reflect the viewpoints of others.

tdindy88

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 1338
  • Last Login: Today at 03:13:30 AM
Re: Possible Trip to Canada
« Reply #15 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.
Logged

corco

  • *
  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 4925
  • Just Livin' the Dream

  • Age: 30
  • Location: Boise, Idaho
  • Last Login: Today at 12:55:11 AM
    • Corcohighways.org
Re: Possible Trip to Canada
« Reply #16 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.
« Last Edit: May 14, 2016, 12:11:48 PM by corco »
Logged

tdindy88

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 1338
  • Last Login: Today at 03:13:30 AM
Re: Possible Trip to Canada
« Reply #17 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.
Logged

Sykotyk

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 874
  • Last Login: February 03, 2019, 02:49:05 AM
Re: Possible Trip to Canada
« Reply #18 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.
Logged

AsphaltPlanet

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 2623
  • Single Occupant Vehicle Commuter

  • Location: Toronto, Ontario
  • Last Login: June 19, 2019, 10:21:46 PM
Re: Possible Trip to Canada
« Reply #19 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.
Logged
AsphaltPlanet.ca  Youtube -- Opinions expressed reflect the viewpoints of others.

corco

  • *
  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 4925
  • Just Livin' the Dream

  • Age: 30
  • Location: Boise, Idaho
  • Last Login: Today at 12:55:11 AM
    • Corcohighways.org
Re: Possible Trip to Canada
« Reply #20 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.

oscar

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 6394
  • Age: 63
  • Location: Arlington, VA
  • Last Login: June 19, 2019, 06:55:47 PM
    • my Hot Springs and Highways pages
Re: Possible Trip to Canada
« Reply #21 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).
Logged
my Hot Springs and Highways pages, with links to my roads sites:
http://www.alaskaroads.com/home.html

Sykotyk

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 874
  • Last Login: February 03, 2019, 02:49:05 AM
Re: Possible Trip to Canada
« Reply #22 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.
Logged

Sykotyk

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 874
  • Last Login: February 03, 2019, 02:49:05 AM
Re: Possible Trip to Canada
« Reply #23 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.
Logged

tdindy88

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 1338
  • Last Login: Today at 03:13:30 AM
Re: Possible Trip to Canada
« Reply #24 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.)
Logged

 


Opinions expressed here on belong solely to the poster and do not represent or reflect the opinions or beliefs of AARoads, its creators and/or associates.