An Insider’s Guide to Canada

Riding on a boat on a lake in Canada

Canada is a big country, and you will find a ton of information on it in blogs and articles, but sometimes you need a quick rundown of the best bits to give you a rough idea of where to go and what to do. That’s the intention of this Insider’s guide to Canada. Since the summer is fast approaching and folks are starting to make their vacation plans, an insider’s guide can give you a reliable overview of the highlights to help your planning along. Here goes:

Niagara Falls

Most people have heard of Niagara Falls; they are regularly classed as one of the seven natural wonders of the world. And sometimes they are included in the official eight wonders of the world. That’s not surprising; they are the largest waterfalls in North America.

If you decide to visit this iconic natural wonder, fly into Toronto and take the 90 minute drive down the highway. Watch this wonder before you, or get closer with a Maid of the Mist boat tour. In addition to the falls, there’s lots to see and do in the Niagara Falls area.

Whistler Mountain

Canada is known for its Rocky Mountains, and no wonder, with such a special landscape spanning much of Western Canada. But perhaps, one of the more famous mountains is Whistler. Whistler Mountain is located 125km north of Vancouver and is well known for its winter skiing and outdoor activities.

But Whistler Mountain has much to offer in the summer months as well. The mountain is 2,182 meters high, and there is almost always snow at the higher elevations, even in the summer sun. You don’t have to hike the whole way to have an incredible experience; just do what feels comfortable.

Quebec City

Quebec City is the capital of French-speaking Canada. It was established in 1608, making it one of the oldest cities in Canada and North America. The original Old Quebec City is a walled city and is home to some amazing historical architecture.

If you decide to travel here this summer with your partner or your family, you are in for a magical experience. The city offers a wealth of culture and cuisine you won’t find anywhere else. If you are visiting Canada, this is what happens after an eta application.

St. John’s

If historical cities are your thing, then take a visit to St. John’s in the northeast. St. John’s pre-dates Quebec City by around 100 years. It was established in 1497. It doesn’t have the same medieval feel as Quebec City; in fact, as a coastal city it has a distinct Maritime feel.

St. John’s is known as the San Francisco of the north because of its pastel-colored houses and artistic sensibility, but it has more to offer besides. Off the coast of St. John’s, there are Atlantic waters perfect for whale-watching, and you can take a trip to see icebergs as well.

Tofino

People don’t always realize how much Canada has to offer. It has the Rockies, of course, the wildlife, the cities, and the great lakes, but it also has something more exotic – an island paradise. Yes indeed.

Where is this island paradise then, you ask? The answer is Tofino on Vancouver Island off the west coast. Tofino is primarily a beach location that looks onto the pacific. It offers some incredible sunsets, excellent surfing, and much more besides.

Looking over the water in Tofino, British Columbia

Churchill

Canada is home to many famous places and landmarks that you could spend a lifetime visiting and getting value from, but it’s also how to some lesser-known places that can offer big wins in terms of value-adding, life-enhancing experiences.

Churchill is one of those places. It sounds a bit stuffy, like the top-hat wearing Prime Minister from the 1940s, but it’s way more interesting than that. This is polar bear country, and if you visit, there will definitely be a chance to see one of these towering giants – eat your heart out Churchill.

Old Montreal

If you love Quebec City, then you will also love Old Montreal. It dates back to around the same time as Quebec City, established in 1642. And like Quebec City, it can be found in the heart of the city. Montreal is a very culture rich and authentic place to visit.

Travel to Montreal if you want a continental experience within the Canadian borders. You will find plenty of historic buildings, nightlife, and seasonal events to keep you and your family entertained. This is the cosmopolitan Canada that will appeal to everyone.

Banff National Park

Banff National Park is a gateway to the Rockies and perfect if you have all the gear but lack some experience of hiking. Banff National Park is located around some natural hot springs and gives you the best of both worlds.

Spend some time hiking in the surrounding wilderness, following the well-trodden paths to low summits where you get the best view of the landscape. Absorb it all, then return to the springs for a well-earned relaxer.

Stanley Park

Stanley Park in Vancouver is a bit like Central Park in New York. It’s an extensive city park that is in all seasons and is famous for all the right reasons. Stanley Park is where many of the romantic fall walks in TV shows and the movies are filmed, even ones set in NYC.

Stanley Park is a big place, and there are tons of things to keep you occupied and entertained. You can spend all day at the park and take a leisurely walk, going hiking, lay on the beach, visit native totem poles, and drop by the lively aquarium.

Okanagan Valley

If you’re in Western Canada, and you’re in Vancouver, then you are a short flight or 4-hour drive to the Okanagan. Take full advantage of this and head northeast to the Okanagan Valley. Here you will find the Okanagan Lake and plenty of sunshine and native wine.

Okanagan Valley has it all. Food highlights include chef prepared outdoor farm to table dining experiences for small groups. The lake is clear and sparkling, the sunshine is pretty much continuous, and you can visit many orchards and vineyards.

The mountains of British Columbia

Guide to working and traveling abroad

A girl walking on the street in Japan

When it comes to traveling, most people would agree they don’t do it as much as they would like to. A lack of time and money are among the most common reasons behind it. While a tight budget and a 9 to 5 job make traveling more complicated, many people don’t realize there are other ways around it. Nowadays, many possibilities allow even the less privileged to experience the world outside of the standard once-a-year 10-day vacation. All you need is a bit of courage and the willingness to step outside of the established conventions. Easier said than done, right? Whether you’re daydreaming about backpacking your way around the planet or looking for jobs that allow you to explore the world, this guide to working and traveling abroad will bring you one step closer to embarking on your adventure.

Choose your destination wisely

Unarguably, the most exciting thing about traveling is choosing the destination. However, remember that nice beaches shouldn’t be your only priority when working and traveling abroad. Depending on the kind of work you will be doing, you might want to opt for places that offer plenty of job opportunities, a reliable internet connection, or other essential amenities that will ensure a positive experience. Places that are good for digital nomads won’t necessarily be suitable for someone who wants to teach English to kids, and vice versa. Consider choosing less popular or touristy destinations as they often offer more affordable living costs. Having less competition when applying for a job is another perk of going off the beaten track.

The idea of spending months or even years far away from home might seem overwhelming. Since traveling light is advisable, it might be a good idea to rent a storage unit for the things that are better left at home. This way, you can rest assured your precious belongings will stay intact while you’re having the time of your life on the other side of the planet.

Do the paperwork

Before you even think about packing your bags, one thing you must do is gather information about necessary visas and documentation. The regulations and restrictions can vary vastly from country to country, so thorough preparation is imperative to avoid unpleasantries. When working abroad, some countries will require a working visa, while for others, a holiday visa will suffice. Make sure to know and respect the laws. The last thing you want is to be deported or even banned from the country of your dreams. Not only is this embarrassing and discouraging, but it can lead to pressing issues with the authorities as well.

Woman sitting on a bench with a passport in her pocket
Misinformation about documents can ruin your work and travel adventure.

Taxes are another thing you must pay attention to since working and traveling abroad means you will be earning money in a foreign country. Some companies might offer to take care of all the paperwork for you. However, this is no reason to be clueless about what you are getting yourself into.

Jobs

Unless you already have a job that allows you to work remotely, you must be wondering how to financially support your passion for traveling. Fortunately, there are many different possibilities for travelers of all ages and interests.

Teaching

English is among the most popular subjects you can teach, but you can teach other languages and subjects, as well. Landing a job as an English teacher is relatively simple, especially in Asian countries such as China, Vietnam, and Korea, since a degree in English or education is not obligatory. Experience or a teaching certificate might be a plus.

Working on a cruise ship

If Around the World in 80 Days is your kind of thing, working on a cruise might be a good option for you. You’d be able to visit many countries during the cruise, but you would only be spending a few hours or days in each place. There are different positions to choose from, but the most common ones are in restaurants and bars. Beware that most of these jobs have long working hours, most of which you would be spending on your feet. Working on a cruise ship can be a fun way to travel the world, but it is not for everyone.

Freelancing

If you’re good at writing, programming, designing, or anything else that can be done online, freelancing might be your cup of tea. Freelancing gives you the freedom to work whenever and wherever you are. Since working on the road is remarkably flexible, it means you will have the ability to create your own schedule that allows you to travel as often as you wish.

Man working on a laptop
Freelancing can be very liberating if you are an organized person.

Volunteering

There are many volunteering options for those who would prefer to make a difference in locals’ lives. Although you probably won’t be able to earn any money, your work will likely be compensated with free accommodation and food. Additionally, you will experience the authentic local lifestyle and meet many fascinating people, and that is something money can’t buy.

Adjusting to culture shock

When spending a long time abroad, you are bound to experience a fair share of culture shock. A language you don’t understand, unfamiliar food, and strange customs will surely be intriguing at first. But sooner or later, there will come a time when you will miss home. During these times, it’s important to remember why you embarked on this adventure in the first place. Know that culture shock is only temporary, and as time goes by, things will get easier. If you ever feel lonely, make sure to search for expat groups or other travelers. These people will understand your feelings as they have probably gone through the same things. Make sure to put some effort into integrating with the local community as well. Traveling is all about challenging the borders of your comfort zone.

Man working on a laptop
Freelancing can be very liberating if you are an organized person.

Working and traveling abroad will teach you that drive and passion can make even the wildest of dreams possible. You won’t always have the most comfortable bed to sleep on or the tastiest food to eat, but the memories and experiences you will gain will surely make it all worth it.

Practical Tips for Memorable Family Travel with Kids

A family having fun at the beach

Creating happy memories is one of the most important parenting tasks. These souvenirs from the past help shape children’s identities and serve as valuable learning opportunities. While not many children would say they enjoy learning, most of them would say they like to play, explore, try new things, and have fun. This curious and open approach to life is a powerful teaching tool every parent should encourage in their children. And one of the most effective ways to do that is travel. Since traveling with kids can be challenging and, in a lot of cases, overwhelming, some extra preparation is necessary to ensure you don’t end up feeling even more exhausted after your vacation than before. These practical tips for memorable family travel with kids should give you the courage to take your tribe on any adventure.

Plan your trip together

At a certain age, kids begin to enjoy making their own decisions. Allowing them this pleasure (when possible) makes them feel appreciated and heard. If they are old enough to have opinions about your travel plans, make sure to listen to them. Since kids’ wishes can sometimes be a bit unrealistic, explaining what’s possible and what’s not should help avoid disappointment.

You shouldn’t underestimate your little ones as they might have interesting suggestions regarding the destination or the itinerary. If they’re too young for that, give them a few options from which they can choose. They’ll take the task very seriously and feel proud if you go with their choice. Ask for their opinion about the accommodation, food, and other details. After all, your kids are going on that trip as much as you are, so it’s only fair to let them participate in planning.

Help your kids understand the destination

A crucial step in making memorable family travel with kids happen is teaching the youngsters about the places you will be visiting. It’s always a good idea to explain a few things regarding the destination’s history, culture, food, and language. Show them where the country is and tell them exciting stories appropriate for their age. As a family, try to learn a few common words and phrases that will help you communicate if the locals don’t speak English.

Two children reading
The more your kids know about the place you’re visiting, the more they will be able to enjoy it.

Knowing something about the destination will help your children feel more confident and excited to travel. It will help avoid any confusion and fear as well. Even if you plan to stay in the US and spend summer visiting amazing places in America, remember many places are vastly different from anything they are used to seeing. From Boston to Hawaii, both the scenery and culture change drastically, and it’s essential to prepare your kids for such changes.

Rely more on your intuition and less on your itinerary

Most children live in the moment and don’t care much for tight schedules, so you should avoid squeezing too many activities and sightseeing into your trip. Your children won’t enjoy traveling as much if they feel like they’re running errands. You’ll probably miss a few things due to rest, snacks, and bathroom brakes but by being attentive to your kids’ needs and feelings, you’ll avoid unnecessary stress and frustration. If you notice they are enjoying certain activities more than others, don’t force them to participate in everything. However, do encourage them to try new things if they are skeptical.

Remember that traveling is all about spending quality time with your loved ones and not so much about following an itinerary. Embrace your kid’s spontaneity as it might lead you to unexpected and extraordinary places.

Don’t let your memories fade away

A sure-fire way to ensure your kiddos remember the exciting expeditions you went on as a family is to take lots of pictures. Some places are more photogenic than others, but your travel pictures will undoubtedly be among the most cherished souvenirs you’ll bring home. You shouldn’t feel pressured to take perfectly staged touristy photos, as most children find it boring to pose for hours in front of famous sights and landmarks. Instead, try to capture spontaneous and heart-warming moments you want to remember. And a few of the not-so-happy moments as well, just to give your kids something to laugh about when they grow up. Don’t forget to let them take the camera and snap some pictures themselves. Seeing their point of view will surely be entertaining.

A girl taking pictures
Letting your kids take pictures will help them remember their perspective.

Seek authentic experiences with the locals

Memorable experiences almost exclusively happen outside of your comfort zone. Forget about the popular tourist spots and the convenience of your hotel or resort. When looking for unique encounters, it’s always best to follow the locals. Walk the less busy streets, eat at local restaurants, talk to people, and encourage your kids to do the same. Sure, hanging out at the hotel’s pool is great but interacting with the locals is much more exciting and meaningful. Children might be a bit reserved at first, but if they see their parents are relaxed and confident, they will follow the same path.

A busy street in Morocco
Experiencing the local way of life is something your kids will never forget.

There are not many things as memorable as interacting with people whose mentality, culture, and language are different from your own. And if you’re worried your kid won’t be able to communicate – don’t be. Children are remarkably adaptable, so they’ll certainly find a way to get their point across.

Embrace the imperfection

When trying to make memorable family travel with kids happen, it’s best to come to terms with the fact that things will go wrong. No matter how careful and thorough you are, someone will inevitably scrape their knee, lose their toy, or their temper. Remember that memorable doesn’t necessarily mean perfect and that mistakes and accidents are a vital part of the experience. Teach your kids not to let the mishaps ruin the entire trip. As long as everyone stays safe and healthy, a few troubles along the way will help your children learn how to deal with the real world. In the end, it’s all about the time your family spends together. And once you accept that, traveling with kids will become much less intimidating.