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Take the plunge, and make Canada your next trip (#136)

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Last night’s post in French, “Faites le saut!”, was a bit of a nudge to Francophones in Eastern Canada (particularly Québec) to take the plunge, and discover how easy it is to get out there and see their own country.

But even on this last trip, when reconnecting with a number of old friends in Alberta, I had forgotten how few people in Canada (Anglophone and Francophone) actually take the time to travel around our country. Canadians seem to have a much greater propensity to travel South or overseas than we do in our own land. Even during my taxi ride to Toronto’s airport a couple of weeks ago, the taxi driver told me he recently drove 12 hours straight North to Northern Ontario, and was astounded to see everything was in French. He was laughing about fueling up at a gas station on highway 11, and the attendant didn’t speak English. He didn’t realize that Ontario really is a story of two provinces, much like New Brunswick. Unfortunately, when we don’t travel around our own country, these are the things we don’t realize.

In this post, I’d like to give the same nudge to my Anglophone compatriots, just as I did to my Francophone compatriots, to also get out there, book a flight and just do it!  Not only did I run into a number of people these last couple weeks in Alberta who had never been anywhere else in Canada beyond Alberta or its two adjacent provinces, but I also ran into a couple of Francophile Albertans I know (Anglophones who speak French) who have never even been to the Francophone parts of our country (I’ve known them for a good number of years, and it was the first time I ever found this out about them). I was a bit taken aback and forgot that there is still such a large part of our population which does not travel around the country very much (but people often don’t hesitate when it comes to traveling outside of Canada once, twice or more times a year – it’s kind of weird in a sense, isn’t it?).

Without doing a word-for-word translation, I basically said in my last post that you can connect with most major cities on the other side of the country within a 4, 5 or 6 hour flight… and at the end of the day, such a short period of time is really nothing. Edmonton to Saskatoon is a 5 hour drive, Calgary to Vancouver is a 13 hour drive, Regina to Winnipeg is a 7 hour drive, and Halifax to Fredericton is a 5 hour drive. So what’s our beef about taking a 4 or 5 hour flight?

When I lived overseas I used to make 24 hour flights (including connection times) at least once a year for more than a decade (sometimes more often) just to come back to Canada for a few days to see friends and family. So perhaps my view of a 4, 5 or 6 hour flight is a bit skewed. But it still is a short trip in the grand scheme of things. After all, flying across Canada is shorter than the 35 to 60 hours of road-time it takes drive between Canada’s regions.

I do get it… I do know there are reasons why we don’t travel more within Canada – and yes, they are legitimate:

  • Distances and travel-related headaches seem greater when there isn’t someone or something at the other end of the road to greet us,
  • We all have jobs which limit our time to travel, so we desire something a little bit more exotic,
  • It “is” more expensive to travel within Canada than going elsewhere – and money doesn’t grow on trees.

I guess it comes down to priorities, but there are ways to overcome each of the above mentioned hurdles. I’d encourage you to see if you can at least get one or two cross-country trips under your belt in the next five years.

If cost is an issue, like I said in the French post, we can rent cars for as low as $35 (I just did it for a whole week). Hotels in Canada are actually available at a good, low price when you book a bit further away from downtown cores or in smaller communities within close driving distances of larger cities. The other great thing about Canadian hotels is that we tend to be clean-freaks in Canada compared to most other countries. That means even the cheap-cheap $45 to $55 hotels can be quite clean compared to similarly prices hotels in the US or Europe. If money truly is the biggest obstacle, clean hotel options in smaller centres for $45 to $55 should take care of your worries. Food always eats a big chunk of one’s travel budget… but buying your food at the salad-bar and deli of the local supermarket nips that one in the bud (even if you do it 30% of the time, you’ll still save a bundle). This can make for huge savings, even cutting your “after-transport” expenses by as much as a half.

You know already that there are no wars, no crime, and no public illnesses which will hamper your trip, so that excuse is out the window.

If the “no holiday time” factor is the reason (ie: you’d rather spend your time in a place a bit more exotic than Canada), there are still a few ways to re-think this notion. I’m not going to go into all the things there are to see and do across Canada, but we’re truly a continent unto ourselves, with all the variety and cultural diversity that entails (few other countries have as much variety from one end to the other… I can only think of a few… India, Turkey, the US, Brazil and Russia – but beyond that, there are not many countries with the diversity we find within Canada).

I still recommend to Anglophone Canadians to make Québec one of their first cross-country trips. Not only will you have one of the best trips of your life (I have never ever once met a single Anglophone Canadian who has ever said they didn’t love their cross-country venture to Québec), but you’ll see your own country, and even yourself in a new light. It usually also gives you the desire to explore your country deeper, and to travel to other parts of Canada to experience our diversity in all its splendour.

Turn on Google Maps, take a look at some places you might want to travel to, compare off-season airfares, and go for it! Believe me, it’s so easy!

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