By Soren Rivero
Canada is a spectacularly diverse country, and there's no better way to experience it than traveling like a local! To help you enjoy the most authentic Canada trip, here are some tips on how to travel like a local!
Learn Some Canadian Slang
If you wanna blend in with the locals, you have to speak like ‘em!
You’ll most likely be hearing and communicating in North American English with a few dialectical changes. If you really want to mesh in with the others, the best way to do so is to learn some Canadian slang.
Learning some French might be in your best interest, too! Anytime you visit a new country, it’s respectful to learn a few words in the country’s native language(s). If you travel to the East and visit provinces such as Montreal, you’ll want to know just a few French words to help you get around. And who knows, maybe you’ll find the love of your life there! French is the language of love, after all...
Eat at Local, Small Restaurants
One of the absolute best things to do when visiting a country is to try the local cuisine. There’s so much to learn from it and you might even find your new favorite dish.
When you opt for local restaurants instead of chain restaurants, you get a real taste of authentic cuisines (such as poutine and beavertails) while supporting the underdogs. It’s a win-win for both situations, so why not try it out? Plus, what's the point of traveling if you're just going to eat the same fast food from home, right?
If you’re going to travel to Canada like a local, you also can’t miss out on their staple coffee spot, Tim Horton’s. When you take your first sip, it’ll feel like you’re immersing yourself in everything Canadian!
Manners and Etiquette
Be sure to keep in mind Canadian table manners. Keep your elbows off the table, cover your mouth when you yawn, and always say thank you! Tips are also necessary, with the standard being 15%.
Outside of restaurants, there are (of course) other things you should keep in mind, such as:
- No discussion of politics — this is a private matter in Canada
- Always be on time
- Don’t point at anyone
- Try to avoid overarching stereotypes
- When in doubt, be respectful
Canadians also greet each other with a handshake at their first meeting. Not too foreign of a tradition for those who already live in the West, but for others this might be a little unsettling. Just a fair warning, it is considered impolite to not shake someone’s hand whenever they extend it to you, so try your best!
Rethink Your Commute
If you’re in a popular urban city such as Toronto, you can walk or bike to most destinations. But if you really want to fit in with everyone, take the bus! It’s the most common form of transportation in Canada and surely the most cost effective.
Avoid Popular Tourist Areas
An overwhelming number of tourists visit Niagara Falls, CN Tower, Old Quebec, and other popular tourist locations. This is where the biggest crowds are going to be, and while these attractions are definitely worth visiting, you won’t really get a sense of what it’s like to travel as a local.
So, how do you offset this? By visiting the lesser known hidden gems, of course! Visiting hidden gems gives you a better sense of how locals vacation around their country, and it helps you appreciate the small things in life!
Let’s face it, we can’t always take off our tourist disguise and transition into a local. There are going to be times when you feel off or confused, and that's okay!
The marvelous thing about traveling is being able to connect with people and learn from their culture. It’s perfectly fine to ask your hotel attendant or restaurant server for any tips about traveling around. Just be respectful, patient, and most importantly, have fun!