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Tips for Skiing in Canada

by Emilio Trampuz

CARRY A PASSPORT

A drivers license is not enough any more  Before 2006, you could cross the border with two pieces of ID to prove your American citizenship (like a Driver's license and a Birth Certificate). But, as of about 2006, you cannot do that any more. A passport is now the only way to cross borders. Don't wait until the last minute. Get a passport now!

You passport is your main form of ID outside of the United States.  Have it with you at all times.

 

PAYING BY CREDIT CARD

By paying with a credit card, you will usually get the best rate of exchange, the one that international banks use to move money among themselves. However, note that most banks will charge you as much as 3% of every transaction in the form of an "international transaction fee".  Check with your bank.

One credit card that doesn't charge this fee is the Capital One card. Look it up and get one at: www.CapitalOne.com

 

GET CANADIAN CASH AT ATMs

Having some cash on hand is always good, to pay for a cup of coffee on the slopes, or to purchase items at places that don't accept credit cards.

Finding a place to exchange currency might be difficult.  This is not like Europe, where currency exchanges are commonly found at airports, train stations, border crossings, and in city centers.  Banks are the logical place to look for, but banks are closed on weekends.

The easiest way to get some Canadian cash is to withdraw it from ATM machines (some of them at the ski resorts themselves) by simply using your debit card (the one linked to your checking account). The withdrawal will be automatically in Canadian currency, and your checking account will automatically be debited in the equivalent US currency.

 

MOBILE PHONES

Using mobile phones in Canada (or anywhere abroad) can be very expensive due to roaming fees.  Do not send any pictures or documents over the phone. It's just too expensive.

But do contact your phone company and tell them you are going to Canada.  Ask them to enable international calls and see if they have a plan that might lower your costs of using the phone in Canada.  Some companies charge a fixed fee per day -- which is OK if it avoids roaming charges (which add up per minute).

 

SKI RESORT DEALS

For the past decade, there has been an interesting tradition among some Canadian ski areas. Keep this in mind for next year.  Chances are the practice will continue:

 

1) Sun Peaks offers a special "ski free" day to all US citizens on Thanksgiving Day.  It's their way of saying: "Happy Thanksgiving to our neighbors south of the border!"  Also, just so the Canadians themselves wouldn't feel left out, the day after Thanksgiving is a "ski free" day for Canadian citizens!  That way, everybody is happy!  So, keep this in mind for next Thanksgiving.  And, you can combine it with the following:

 

2) Big White offers free skiing to anyone who comes and reserves lodging at Big White. You don't even need the Warren Miller coupons, as long as you are willing to find lodging in the on-mountain village. Minimum stay is 2 nights. The offer is valid from opening day till mid-December. Chances are a similar offer will be available in future years too. Still, double-check before you go.

 

3) Silver Star used to have the same offers as Big White (since they were under the same ownership). Free skiing till mid-December if you stay on the mountain.  But, this might not be true any more. Check before you go.

 

 

MAKE FRIENDS WITH A CANADIAN

Talk to the locals on the chairlift, in cafes, in the hotel's hot tub, etc.  Canadians are friendly people. If you are nice to them, they might even reveal some local hidden stashes on the mountain!

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