Living abroad for the first time can be quite daunting – not only are you in a whole new country, but in a whole new world of possibilities. Planning the trip can be a scary but exciting process. Hopefully, I can help with the little and odd questions you have before committing to a big trip to the ‘Great White North’.

1. Travel like a local

When you travel you want your trip to be special – something different. You don’t want to be like the average traveller and go straight to the tourist engulfed lands. I try and live by the mindset that the more rural it is, the prettier it gets.

Now, there is nothing wrong with the places like ‘Vancouver’, ‘Banff’ or ‘Whistler’ but try and take the time to travel outside them. Sit on Google a little longer and try to find a place that isn’t as commercialised. You will discover that that is where you find the rare beauties of Canada.

2. Tipping? Um what?

For anyone who is from a country without gratuity (like myself), it’s quite foreign and difficult to understand. Be aware that in Canada tips are an unspoken necessary when it comes to customer service. It is not a legal requirement to tip but it is considered to be extremely rude if you don’t. It is even needed for services that aren’t hospitality - taxi drivers, hairdressers, hotel housekeepers and so many more.

In saying all of this don’t be ripped off. Tip according to service and nothing more. The basic rate is 10-15% but if they gave exceptional service than you can choose a higher rate. For most hospitality workers, their tips are what they live off as minimum wage in Canada for this industry is around $10/hr.

3. Sales tax!

Now this can be a little sneaky monster that only rears its ugly head when you get to the point of sale. Not only in Canada but North America as a whole, they charge sales tax at the cash register. This can be quite annoying as you have planned to pay a certain price (as stated on the tag) but it won’t be that amount when you go to pay. This amount may not always be high but can make a difference, so I will say always keep this on your mind when you’re buying ANYTHING in this great country (or in the US). (Sales taxes are generally 8-12%). Not to mention that in many of Canada’s Provinces there is two types of sales tax. PST (Provincial Sales Tax) as well as GST (Goods & Services Tax). Cha ching, cha ching. I just think of it as a positive – how great will my maths be when I return home!

4. Prepare for a bit of homesickness

Let's get real now. Moving away from home can be the best move that you make in your life but after a few months you can start to miss it. You realise that you aren’t heading home any time soon and it really takes its toll. Homesickness can get the best of people ‘down in the dumps’ so always try to take the time to do things that remind you of where you came from and where you call home. I often feel like my real life is ‘on hold’ as most of these opportunities abroad are only temporary, but then I realise that I can return home whenever I like or I can stay for as long as I like. The whole trip depends on your own decisions. So, when the homesickness kicks in don’t forget that this trip can be as long or as short as you would like.

5. You can never be too prepared.

No one likes sitting behind a laptop researching whilst you could be out forging a new path in this amazing world but it’s something any well-travelled person would tell you. Even if you are going through a travel company like The Global Work & Travel Co., still take the time to familiarise yourself with the area or place – it will save any surprises when you get there!

Canada is an outstanding and welcoming country so take the leap, be bold and get your butt over here!

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