Some folks love to travel, while others dread it. However, careful planning ahead will maximize your pleasure and reduce your travel headaches. The following tips, apps, and websites will help you as you plan your travel to Montréal (and beyond!).
Before you go…
Become a Smart Traveler
Make a list: Check it Twice.
Actually, you don’t have to make a list: Trip Resources has done it for you with their Travel Packing List.
Once upon a time, you only needed your driver’s license to travel between the US and Canada. Not anymore. So, plan now and renew or apply for your passport early. It takes longer than you think and often requires more paperwork than you realize (like divorce decrees and birth certificates). Wait too long and you’ll be paying extra fees to expedite the process. And, if you are traveling with children under the age of 16, you’ll have a few more hoops to jump through.
Those of you who are US citizens can pick up an application at your local post office or check out the US government website to find out everything you need to know about applying for or renewing a US passport.
Be sure to make a copy of your passport to leave it at home, along with a copy of your itinerary. Bring an extra copy with you and leave a copy in the room or hotel security box.
US citizens are encouraged to enroll in the US State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). There's no charge and it is designed to help US citizens in the event of an emergency who are traveling to or living in a foreign country. Please let us know if you have a similar program in your home country and we’ll post it here.Getting into & Getting out of Canada: Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) officials determine who can come (or go) in accordance with Canadian law. Please see the CBSA website for details. Canadian law requires that all persons entering Canada carry both proof of citizenship and proof of identity. A valid US passport, satisfies these requirements for US citizens.
Travel with Minors
If you plan to travel to Canada with your stepchild, niece, or grandkids (i.e., with a minor who is not your own child or for whom you do not have full legal custody), the CBSA may require you to present a notarized affidavit of consent from their legal guardian/parents. While there is no specific form for this document, it should include your travel dates, parents’ names and photocopies of their state-issued IDs. Please see the CBSA website for more details.
If you have a criminal record (including misdemeanors or alcohol-related driving offenses), you may need to obtain a special waiver (well in advance of any planned travel). To determine whether you may be inadmissible and how to overcome this finding, you’ll need to go to Canadian citizenship and immigration.
Need more information? Contact the Canadian Embassy at 501 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington DC 20001, tel. (202) 682-1740; or the Canadian consulates in Atlanta, Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, San Juan or Seattle.
Contacting Your Consulate
We hope you won’t need your consulate’s help while traveling, but it’s a good idea to know where they are and how to get in touch with them. Here’s contact information for a few of the consulates representing the ILA membership.
1155 rue St. Alexandre
Tel: (514) 398-9695
Emergency after-hours telephone: (514) 981-5059
Finnish Honorary Consulate
Mr. Patrick Kenniff, Honorary Consul
Honorary Consulate of Finland
Place Sherbrooke, 1010
Sherbrooke Street West, Suite 602,
Montréal, Québec, H3A 2R7,
Tel: +1-514-282 9798
Consulate General of Japan at Montreal
Suite 2120, 600 de la Gauchetière West
Montreal, QC, Canada, H3B 4L8
Tel: (514) 866-3429
Australian Consulate-General and Trade Commission, Toronto
175 Bloor Street East
Suite 1100 - South Tower
Toronto, Ontario M4W 3R8
Phone: +1 (416) 323 4280, Passports/Consular: +1 (416) 323 4288
Fax: +1 (416) 323 4295
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
Traveling in and about Montréal just might be easier after checking out the sites below.
iPhone and Android users can use to locate the phone number of a taxi. We’ve been told this app can find them most anywhere. While they currently don’t include Montréal, they may add it prior to our 2013 convention. Check it out closer to convention time and see. If not, it’s still a great app for other conventions you’ll travel to in the United States.
With kilometers and kilometers of track, you can get most everywhere you need to go via underground rail (and there’s great shopping in underground Montréal as well!). These sites provide Montreal Metro iPhone/iPod and Android applications for comprehensive guiding and tracking.
Have a GPS device? Bring it with you to Montréal and be sure to purchase and download the Canadian map to update your unit.
Money Makes the World Go around…
This section includes information on how to get the local currency, how much to tip, and other useful advice.
Areas in and around airports or tourist areas typically will charge a higher rate to make an exchange. An online article from the USA Today does a great job of reviewing your options.
Current Exchange Rates
You can find also sorts of apps to help you check and calculate currency exchange rates. These apps for iPhone and Android are free of charge.
Using Credit Cards
Although using credit cards may help you to avoid having to exchange (and carry) a large amount of cash, you’ll still need to prepare in several ways.
1) Let your credit card companies know when and where you will be traveling. You don’t want to be held up by a purchase that won’t go through because your credit card company thinks someone stole your card number.
2) Check with your company to see what if any charges may accrue when you buy that great souvenir. Remember, a currency exchange occurs with every purchase you make.
We appreciate good service, but when the service is good…should you tip or not? How much is too much or too little? What’s an insult? A compliment? Magellan’s offers a Worldwide Tipping Guide that provides advice on restaurant, portage, and taxi tipping when traveling in Canada as well as a number of other countries.
Can You Hear Me Now?
Advice and tips for traveling with your mobile phone.
Smart Phone & Mobile Phone Charges & International Travel
Although Canada is just north of the US border and Montréal is a just a hop and a skip above New York, that imaginary US-Canadian border can cost you when it comes to mobile phone use. US travelers may forget that they need to think “internationally” when traveling to Canada. Most mobile services will provide you with 30 day options providing reasonable costs for making calls and downloading data around the city or all the way home.
Stop the Downloads
Many mobile phones, and all Smart Phones, automatically download updates. Those downloads can cost you! Check with your phone company and see if you can link in to free Wi-Fi spots (offered by some cafes, hotels, etc.) and get your downloads for free. If not, and if you can live without updates for a few days, turn off the downloads until you get back home.|
Charging Your Phone and Other Devices
The US and Canada use the same electrical system, so you won’t need a special converter to charge your phone, camera, or to use any other electrical devices. If you are from Europe, Asia, and other areas of the world you’ll want to check compatibility with your devices. REI discusses the good, the bad, and the ugly of using electronic devices in other countries. Converters are available at most retail outlets.
Cool Mobile Phone Tips
If you haven’t downloaded a flashlight app, do so. They make a great nightlight. Afraid you’ll forget your room number or which station you should get off on when returning on the Metro? Take a photo. In addition to all your regular contact numbers, add your airlines customer service, the hotel’s main number, and the number of your car rental company. Send digital postcards, by attaching a picture to a short text message (just check with your phone company regarding cost). Text yourself to provide an easy look-up of your flight information, hotel information, confirmation numbers, taxi and shuttle information.
Taking your Computer?
Where Forth Art Thou?
Apps and tips for getting where you want to go, and helping your friends find you when you’re on the go!
One friend wants to go a walking tour, you want to head to the Casino, while a third friend wants to go to Port Montréal. You decide to meet up for dinner, but you can’t seem to find each other at the corner you said you were going to meet? No need to try calling out your friends’ names on a crowded Montréal street in the small hope they’ll hear you. Let your smartphone be your guide! For example, try using the FourSquare application. Foursquare allows registered users to check-in and post their location and connect with friends. As a user, you can choose to have your check-ins posted on your Twitter and/or Facebook accounts. You can find apps for Androids, Blackberries, iPhones, OVI, and more at FourSquare.
Ready, Pack, Go!
Use these tricks to get that last must have item into your suitcase, but leaving room to bring home these great souvenirs.
Travel light! You have to go through customs and so the less you pack, the less to slow you down going through customs. If your suitcase is several years old, consider buying a new one. Many older bags can’t match their new counterparts when it comes to basic weight of the suitcase. So, what should you pack. Check out Magellan's for travel advice on what it means to pack just the essentials. Pack like a pro and guard against dirt.
Be aware that your computer is subject to search.Custom agents can pull you out of line and review everything you have on it. Those embarrassing photos? That private email? Suffice to say, you may want to back your computer up and take a clean slate with you. Or better yet, simplify your life and leave it at home!
Well if you can’t live without all those electronic devices, you might want to consider picking up a specialized charger for them. For example, the Belkin power cube with USB ports is great for charging multiple objects, like computer, phone, or tablet. It is a must have for those long waits at the airport or when on the go in the city.
Non Parlez Francais?
The first language in Quebec is French. Don’t speak French? Never fear, the following links and apps will help you learn the language or download an app that will act as your own personal translator.
WikiTravel suggests that you attempt to use the language because it shows respect for locals. Whether or not they can speak English, if you manage a few words it is greatly appreciated, no matter how strongly accented. However, it should be noted that Montréal is considered to be one of the world's most bilingual cities with many residents whose primary language is English. In case of doubt, you may want to open with a warm "Bonjour!" (Good day) and see what language is used in response. Most likely you will be answered in English if your French accent does not sound local. Don't make jokes about French people (especially since francophones in Montreal are mostly Québécois with a few Acadiens and Franco-Ontariens, all of whom consider themselves different from the French from France and from one another). Also, do not assume that all Québécois are francophones. Montreal has a significant English-speaking community with a long history in Quebec and many immigrants whose first language is neither English nor French.
Before You Arrive
Take a few moments and learn basic terms. You can start with a smile, eye contact, and a "Bonjour !" ("bon joor"). Please "s'il vous plaît" ("seel voo play") and thank you "merci" ("mare see") are also very helpful. Another important phrase is Parlez-Vous Anglais,” pronounced ("parlay voo anglay"). However, if the person you are speaking to (or trying to speak to) is conversing in French, always begin with “Bonjour,” then acknowledge that you are nonFrench speaking with, "Pardon, non parlez Francais. Parlez vous Anglais?” Odds are, they (or someone close by) will be able to respond in English. No matter how strongly accented, your attempt to speak French shows respect for the local language and will be appreciated. You should also try to speak the language before turning to one of the applications below.
Google Translate is available online and will translate between any two of dozens of languages and it includes a speak out loud option.
Similar to Google Translate, Translator Voice is designed for iPhones and iPads and is available for a small fee. For Android users, TranZilla is a convenient and free application with voice option.
Smile, Camera, Action!
Be Ready to Take Photographs
Old Montreal and New Montreal are full of beautiful sites, charming people, and culture galore. However, make your photographs something more than stiff poses in front of that statue on the corner. Magellan's offers solid advice on how to take your photo shooting skills up a notch.
Legal & Medical Issues
Accessibility & Accommodations
Although Canada has implemented laws mandating access to buildings for persons with disabilities, such accessibility and accommodation can differ substantially from that mandated by other countries, including the US.
No Canadian health care provider accepts US domestic health insurance. In other words, be prepared to pay cash. The following has been plucked from various US Department of State webpages. First, don’t assume your insurance will go with you when you travel. It’s very important to find out before you leave. You should ask your insurance company two questions:
(1) Does my policy apply when I’m outside the United States?
(2) Will it cover emergencies like a trip to a foreign hospital or an evacuation?
If your policy doesn’t go with you when you travel, it’s a very good idea to purchase a separate policy for your trip. Many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas including emergency services such as medical evacuations. The names of some of the companies offering short-term health and emergency assistance policies are listed at the Bureau of Consular Affairs. This link will also help you learn about other health issues, such as vaccinations, etc. Finally, if you do find yourself in a health crisis, your consulate may be able to offer help (see above).
Depend on Medicare for you medical coverage? You should know that it will not cover hospital or medical costs outside the United States. You should consider purchasing medical travel insurance.
Be sure to have all prescription medications in clearly labeled containers.
More health questions?
The US Department of State has a variety of useful information.
Victim of a Crime?
We sincerely hope you’ll have a safe visit will attending the conference. However, if something untoward does occur, you should contact your country’s consulate. US citizens can find general consulate emergency information and advice here.