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Traveling to Canada for Weekends and Summer Vacations

Tips and Information


Given our proximity to the country, traveling to Canada for weekends and summer vacations is a great option. There are, however, things to know, plan and expect depending on your ultimate destination. Here are just a few:

1. Border Crossing

The Ambassador Bridge and the Detroit-Canada Tunnel to Windsor represented the number one and two busiest Canadian border crossings respectively. Add on the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron/Sarnia and the Metro Detroit Area is indisputably the nation's gateway to Canada. Therefore, it is important to have Information About Border Crossings into Canada from the Metro Detroit Area, including which route to take, customs concerns and information about each.

2. Currency Exchange and Banking

Canada has its own currency. If your destination is a tourist destination and close to the border, the restaurants and hotels may accept American dollars. And for those that do not, remember, very few establishments in Detroit accept Canadian beyond the odd quarter. Whether American currency is accepted or not, there are important Currency Exchange and Banking Tips for Vacations in Canada.

3. Cell Phone Roaming Charges

International roaming charges can amount to a big surprise when you get your cell phone bill in the weeks following your weekend or vacation to Canada. There are, however, several Tips to Avoid Cell-Phone Roaming Charges While Vacationing in Canada.

4. Metric System

Back in the day, elementary schools covered the metric system, but the conversion formulas easily fall from memory. Here is some help:
  • For an approximate conversion of Celsius to Fahrenheit, multiple the Celsius temperature by 9/5 and then add 32 degrees.
  • Kilometers are represented on the underside of the arc on your speedometer. The important thing here is to remember that the “100” sign you see on the freeway does not refer to miles. Generally speaking, a kilometer is approximately a little more than ½ a mile.

5. Drinking/Gambling Age

  • Ontario 19
  • Quebec 18

6. Goods and Services Tax Rebate

For years, the Canadian government offered a rebate for Goods and Services Tax (GST) paid on souvenirs and hotel bills. The rules changed in April of 2007. While a partial rebate is still offered, the eligible expenses have been curtailed. Therefore, it is important to have Information Regarding the Canadian Goods and Services Tax Rebate.

7. Odds and Ends

While not necessarily any further away than several tourist destinations in the state of Michigan, Canada is another country. Some things remain the same but some things are definitely different.
  • Dialect –- In Canada, our favorite About.com site is pronounced “Ab’oo’t.com.”.
  • Canadian Tire –- There is undoubtedly a history of mergers and acquisitions that explain the misnomer, but “Canadian Tire” is more of an all purpose store like Target or K-Mart than its name implies.
  • Freeway Exits -- You do exit, but you won't necessarily find the standard McDonalds, hotel and gas station until you travel several miles into the nearest city or community.

8. Day Trips

9. Weekend Trips -- Within Five Hours of Detroit

10. Driving Vacations

  • Montreal
  • Quebec

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