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Old 06-24-2018, 04:36 PM   #1
alexk243
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Default Stuff to know for Canada Van Trip?

I'm planning a trip from Vancouver back to Illinois through Canada end of July. I'll have a Illinois/USA plated van, a few people, and a dog with me. Is there anything I need to know or bring (besides passport) that I should know before I start my trip?

Thank you in advance, can't wait for the trip!

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Old 06-24-2018, 08:24 PM   #2
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Default Re: Stuff to know for Canada Van Trip?

Let's see... do you have a ScanGauge? If so, you can set it to kilometers for more accurate speed reading
(otherwise: 50 kph = 30 mph, 80 kph= 50 mph, 100 kph = 60 mph (to one significant digit. 100 is really 62 mph)).
Your Sprinter has a dual-gauge, but it's helpful to know the numbers. Also for estimating distances (100 km = 60 miles)

For fueling, if you just think of liters as quarts (so 4 to a US gallon) you're "close enough".

Verify that your auto liability insurance is valid for Canada: call your agent/company and get the (free) "Canada card"
(that's an ancient piece of advice, but check it out anyway)

This is a decent "starter site" for to-Canada info: https://www.tripsavvy.com/what-you-s...canada-1481860
You will need proper documentation for your pet (showing vaccinations).
Quote:
Dogs 8 months and older and cats that are at least 3 months old need signed and dated certificates* from a veterinarian verifying that they have been vaccinated against rabies within the last three years.

The certificate also must:
be written in English or French;
be issued and signed by a licensed veterinarian;
identify the animal (breed, sex, color, and weight);
state that the animal is vaccinated against rabies;
indicate the date of vaccination;
indicate the trade name and the serial number of the licensed vaccine; and
specify the duration of immunity (otherwise, it will be considered valid for one year from the date of vaccination).
(source: https://www.tripsavvy.com/bringing-y...canada-1481849 )

Don't try to bring firearms into Canada unless you do a LOT of reading up on the subject.
(question 4 of https://www.tripsavvy.com/common-que...border-1481861 covers this)

If any of your passengers have a criminal record, they may be refused entry.

Don't bring fresh fruit (and meats are usually prohibited, too).

I've driven through and across Canada many times. For those of us near the border, it's always been a fairly casual process.

The usual border questions are: How long are you going to be in Canada? Any guns? Any fruit? (i forget if they add "or vegetables") Any gifts for people in Canada? Have a nice day.
I've never had a pooch with me, so i can't say what extra questions that invokes.

It never hurts to pre-warn your credit (and debit) card companies that you'll be travelling.

--dick
p.s. if you're driving north from the Seattle area, there are multiple border-crossing options.
The biggest is the I-5 "Peace Arch" crossing in Blaine, but it can take the longest.
Nearby is the "truck crossing", (exit 275 from I-5, to WA 543 which becomes BC 15) ... it can be quicker.
There's an illuminated sign on I-5 with estimated wait times, and Vancouver's AM 1130 includes wait-times with their every-ten-minutes traffic reports. Likewise the Washington DOT phone app has border crossing times.
If you're not planning to actually hit the city of Vancouver, there's also WA 539 and WA 9. The AM 1130 uses the Canadian side's towns' names (Abbotsford and Sumas) for those two.

For even more fun, you can take a ferry from Port Angeles on Washington's Olympic Peninsula to Victoria on Vancouver Island, and then Canadian ferries to reach the mainland.
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Last edited by autostaretx; 06-24-2018 at 08:39 PM.
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Old 06-25-2018, 03:02 AM   #3
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Default Re: Stuff to know for Canada Van Trip?

I routinely cross Canada in a US plated van. Never had any trouble of any sort, except for misc fruit and vegetables that are prohibited in one direction or the other. What I do now, since the rules are always changing is when I get to the boarder, I present them a list of what I have (if anything) along with a plastic bag of things and let them pick and choose.

Also the dog needs vaccination papers. I would consider AAA Platinum plus RV , but unless you are straying far from the TCH no where is going to be too far from getting service if you need it.

Good luck and have fun,

Icarus
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Old 07-15-2018, 10:42 PM   #4
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Default Re: Stuff to know for Canada Van Trip?

^- agree with all of this. I’d call your cellphone provider about roaming and data options. Our rates are scandalous by US standards and can get worse when not prearranged.

See:

http://www.drivebc.com
https://roadreports.ama.ab.ca/
https://hotline.gov.sk.ca/mobile/

for real-time highway information.

Note that BC police have a low tolerance for speeding, and every small town seems to come with a speed reduction zone. They were suspending licenses and impounding vehicles coming in from Alberta a few years back... some drivers whizzing along at 50 or 60 km/hr above the limit... smh. Shouldn’t be an issue in a Sprinter, but mind those reduction zones. Cruising along with traffic at 95 in a 90 zone is pretty normal, but goes badly when the limit drops to 70 (or 50) and you miss the signs.

There is a steep climb east of Golden, BC followed by what will feel like a central-American goat path carved into the wall of the canyon. It’s well signed, but when they say 30 km/hr limit they mean it. Just smile and be glad you aren’t driving it westbound with a heavy trailer in a snow storm.

Gas stations in BC and Alberta are required by law to collect pre-payment before fueling a vehicle (following a few high profile deaths of pump attendants being run down chasing after gas’n’dash drivers) Generally just a card swipe at the pump, though you sometimes need to go inside. Fuel quality has never been an issue for me.

You are not required to purchase a park pass to drive through the National Parks, but need one if you plan to make a stop (other than fuel) or explore any side roads. The annual pass is good nation wide, so you may want one, or day passes are available. Firearms are restricted in the parks (check rules with the staff).

You’ll leave the mountains abruptly west of Calgary and the prairie abruptly east of Winnipeg. The country north of Lake Superior is lovely, and I’d recommend it, though the upper peninsula of Michigan is also nice if you want to route through Duluth/Superior.

Have a safe trip!

-dave
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Old 07-15-2018, 11:34 PM   #5
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Default Re: Stuff to know for Canada Van Trip?

Thank you all so much for the responses. I got the Canadian insurance card from my carrier as they said I am covered, but need a special card (Progressive). I also contacted my vet and got a list of vaccines for the pup.

Where do you guys get the annual park passes? I am leaving tomorrow so is it something I can order and show proof of online? or do I need to do it in person?
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Old 07-15-2018, 11:38 PM   #6
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Default Re: Stuff to know for Canada Van Trip?

Quote:
Originally Posted by alexk243 View Post
Where do you guys get the annual park passes? I am leaving tomorrow so is it something I can order and show proof of online? or do I need to do it in person?
Last year they were free (celebrating the 150th year of the Park Service)

I'm pretty sure you can still buy them at any park that collects fees (that's how i last bought one).

lemme dig...
national pass info: https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/voyage-travel/admission
where to get them: https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/voyage-trave...oits-locations
(and they say at any Parks Canada location ... but only during business hours)
Manitoba: https://www.gov.mb.ca/sd/parks/camping/info/fees.html (passes in Liquor Marts, too)
Newfoundland: http://www.tcii.gov.nl.ca/parks/services.html
Sask: http://www.tourismsaskatchewan.com/p...s/camping/fees
Ontario: http://www.ontarioparks.com/fees/camping/2018
Alberta camping: https://www.albertaparks.ca/albertap...ee-guidelines/

(my memory says that paying for camping usually covers that day's entry fees.... like the US)
Saskatchwan clearly says that the day fee ($10 one day, $24 three day) is required in addition to the camping fee.

((Alberta's Royal Tyrell Museum in Drumheller and Dinosaur Provincial Park (Iddesleigh, east of Calgary) are two must-visits if you're a fossil nut))

I've never sweated camping at the parks ... just drive in and see if there's space.
(there's a packed campground in the urban mess of Banff, but much nicer ones nearby in the hills)
You *are* in High Season, so things can get tight.

July 21st is Canada Parks Day ... free admission (but camping will probably still cost)

Driving the Banff/Jasper highway is one of the most spectacular roads in the world ... I'd rate it higher than the Going to The Sun road in Glacier National Park. (they're both good, but southbound on the Banff/Jasper is awesome)

--dick (warning: there's national parks and provincial parks ... two different systems/passes)
(and i have to admit that Ontario's camping fees are relatively steep (Cdn$45+tax powered))
... but Manitoba's and Newfoundland's prices are very reasonable... Alberta's DPP is only Cdn$33 with power.
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Get YOUR Sprinter's full configuration datacard by entering your VIN to https://www.datamb.com/
http://diysprinter.co.uk/reference <-- lots of service documentation, Thanks to Jens Moller and Arnie_Oli
((as always: this post may go through a couple of post-posting edits... so maybe give it ten minutes before commenting))

Last edited by autostaretx; 07-16-2018 at 12:15 AM.
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Old 07-19-2018, 02:39 AM   #7
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Default Re: Stuff to know for Canada Van Trip?

You can buy the national park passes at the entrance gates. Several options, including day, annual, individual, family, senior. As noted, if you're driving straight through no pass is required, but any stop or deviation including driving along the Banff - Jasper (Hwy 93) requires a pass. Happy travels!
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Old 07-30-2018, 03:28 AM   #8
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Default Re: Stuff to know for Canada Van Trip?

Back in the USA. Everything went smoothly. I had all the documentation, but neither the USA or Canadian border agents asked for it. If people are viewing this thread for advice there is nothing else I can add. The advice given above was spot on.
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Old 07-30-2018, 06:24 PM   #9
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Default Re: Stuff to know for Canada Van Trip?

Just back from Yukon trip. Add electric chainsaw and shovel if you plan to travel secondary roads. 170 with 2WD did the Canol Road, but 'Travel at your own risk' and 'No maintenance beyond this point' added spice to the journey. Worriers add SPOT unit or equivalent.
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Old 07-30-2018, 07:59 PM   #10
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Default Re: Stuff to know for Canada Van Trip?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nautamaran View Post
There is a steep climb east of Golden, BC followed by what will feel like a central-American goat path carved into the wall of the canyon. Its well signed, but when they say 30 km/hr limit they mean it.


Have a safe trip!

-dave
The 30km/hr canyon goatpath on the TransCanada Hwy was bypassed in 2010 with a 90km/hr straight bridge, but you might still be able to see the old route
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