In this post I will list 10 tips for tourists in Canada, based on my experience of living in the country for over 10 years. I decided to write this based on our own experiences being unsure what to do in certain situations when visiting other countries. So whether it’s just for sightseeing, a short time studying, or more time on Canadian soil, it’s always good to pay attention to these things.
#1 | No Scents is Good Sense
Number 1 in my list of 10 tips for tourists in Canada is about odors. People really do not like strong odors from perfumes here. Actually, many places have signs that read “No scents is good sense” or something of this nature. So be discreet, use sparingly if you can’t get out without it.
#2 | Take off your Shoes
In case you go visit someone, always take off your shoes near the entrance of the house. Don’t even ask if you need to, just take it off. If the person does not mind that you keep them on, they will mention it (off course, only in the summer). It is also fine to bring slippers or flip-flops if you want to wear something.
#3 | No kisses
When meeting someone for the first time, don’t kiss. It’s even just a hi or a handshake. If you become friends with people, you might give a hug, but never a kiss.
#4 | Keep your distance
People don’t touch each other when talking and keep a respectful distance when at social events. I don’t know if that’s the way it is with very young people, but that’s how it is in our circle of friends.
#5 | No whistling
Waiters really do not like if you’re whistling at them or making “psst” type noises to get their attention. If they are really not coming, you can raise your hand or just give them a look, and they eventually will come.
#6 | Don’t play with kids you don’t know
Don’t start playing with someone else’s children if you do not know the parents, especially if you are alone. It’s find to say hi, smile and be nice, but with moderation. If a child shows interest in engaging with you, first talk to the parents, so they are sure you’re not some sort of a creep.
#7 | Appearances
Most people do not pay too much attention to appearances here, so do not be surprised if no one is checking you in the mall after you spent hours getting ready. People have messy hairs, nails to be done, and might even be wearing their pajamas to the supermarket.
But sometimes you might people making comments about stuff they like on you, like your hair, or your coat. And they might even ask where you bought it.
#8 | Food
There’s no shortage of options from all over the world. On top of that, most of them are run by immigrants from those countries, so you really get an almost authentic experience. What you might find hard to find is a “Canadian” restaurant, although some my say pub food is the closest to a Canadian cuisine you can get. In Quebec, you have “poutine“, but that’s all.
When in a restaurant, you should always add a tip for the service, with the recommended amount between 13-15%.
Finally, it’s also very common to take leftovers home, and many restaurants have special boxes to go.
#9 | Garbage
Do not leave your garbage in your table when eating in a food court or in a fast-food restaurant. There are normally places for you to place the garbage, and your tray. And in most cases you will have different bins for plastic, paper, organic, etc.
#10 | “Sorry” and being cordial
People really say “sorry” a lot, pretty much for everything. Some say it takes the purpose out of using the word, but I just feel it’s polite. So just use it in abundance and you will fit right in. 🙂
Most people will hold the door open until the next person comes, will wait in traffic, and respect pedestrians and cyclists. Unlike Brazil, pedestrians and cyclist really have the preference. If you don’t stop for someone crossing the street, you might see some angry Canadians…
Also, most people will tolerate and try their best to understand your English, regardless to how broken it is. I cannot say the same from Quebec, where in some regions people might get annoyed if you do not speak French.
So there were my 10 tips for tourists in Canada – if you have your own tips, leave them in the comments.
See you next time!