Helpful Travel Tips for RVing South of the Border
Written by Lisa McQuaid on November 06, 2017
As the temperature begins to drop, a foray away from the snowy, windy weather of Canada looks ever more enticing. The United States is a top choice, with travelling Canadians enjoying the ultimate in climactic and geographic variety. This perhaps accounts for the impressive frequency of U.S. visits, with 31.8 million Canadians hitting the States in 2016.
Canadian vacationers enjoy the proximity of Washington and New York, but many prefer the climate and hospitality of southern states. A Statistics Canada report from 2015 pointed to Florida as the most popular state among Canadian travellers, although Nevada, Arizona, and Virginia also enjoyed impressive rankings.
Whether you intend to visit Disney World, the Grand Canyon, or the Big Apple, ample preparation is essential before you travel to the United States. Follow these simple suggestions to ensure an enjoyable trip:
Expect to encounter strict border control agents. Passports are essential, of course, as is clear evidence of RV insurance.
Be careful as you pack food and alcohol; restrictions limit both the type and quantity of products you can bring to the U.S. duty free. For example, Canadian residents ages 21 and over can bring just one liter per person into the United States. Prepare to declare all food products and to throw some away if they don't meet current standards. Generally admissible items include:
- Baked goods
- Cultured milk products
- Hard cheese
- Canned goods not containing meat
When in doubt, wait to purchase produce, meat, and select dairy products until after you enter the United States. This reduces waste — and there's nothing quite like visiting regional grocery chains and sampling products you can't find anywhere else.
Before you pack your entire wardrobe, check the typical climate for your intended region or regions. If you intend to visit southern states, expect to wear shorts and tank tops. However, you may also need heavier clothing as you travel through chillier regions. Weather patterns can vary drastically from one locale to the next, so bring your boots, rain jacket, and plenty of sunscreen.
Don't bring more than $10,000 in cash into the United States. Ideally, you'll apply for an American credit card; many companies allow you to do so despite not having a Social Security Number. Your best option is to apply via a Canadian bank, which will examine your local credit history. Once you obtain a U.S.-based credit card, you can avoid a variety of foreign fees while also limiting the amount of cash you need to carry.
Find the Most Scenic Route
Your entry into the United States should be a grand adventure. As an Ontario resident, you enjoy a vast array of opportunities for scenic entry. Depending on your home turf, you could witness the stunning landscape of Upstate New York or the tranquil beauty of Lake of the Woods. Aim to visit at least one of the Great Lakes — the more, the merrier. The time of year also matters; you'll encounter the most beautiful drives when autumn's peak colours arrive, but spring and summer trips can be gorgeous as well. Northern states suffer many of the same driving delays you experience in Canada every winter.
Figure Out Cell Service
Some Canadians are willing to go off the grid while they travel; others require robust data plans. Determine how you intend to use your mobile device before you leave. Affordable options abound; consider stopping by a T-Mobile location to unlock your phone and invest in a SIM card. You can also obtain a SIM card for your already unlocked phone through Roam Mobility.
Don't Stay Too Long
It can be tough to depart sunny beaches for cold weather, but as a Canadian, you can only remain in the United States for so long. Thankfully, you're permitted to visit the U.S. for up to 182 days at a time. If you make a habit of travelling for several months each year, expect to complete additional paperwork.
A little preparation can go a long way as you plan your dream United States RV trip. No matter your intended region or itinerary, you'll make amazing memories every mile of your RV trip.