As an international student, you likely hope to spend some time exploring the beautiful landscapes and have some city adventures while you study. Here, our Ottawa and Orleans immigration physicians share some different ways to travel and offer tips on how to explore Canada on a budget.
When you visit Canada you'll have the opportunity to discover bustling cities, vast mountain ranges, impressive forests and everything in between. There's no place like it.
No matter the time of year or your preferences, Canada has something to offer each person. As a student, you have some benefits that can help you to explore Canada easily and on a budget.
From getting time off in the summer and over various periods through the school year, to student discounts and the ability to work anywhere in Canada. Here our team at Immigration Physician Ottawa offers some helpful information to help get you thinking about your next adventure in the beautiful country that you now call home.
Travelling in Canada on a Budget
While you'll find several high-end luxury hotels and resorts, they are not the only option. There are comfortable and convenient options perfectly suited to students as well. With a little effort and some flexibility, you will be able to find incredible travel opportunities all across Canada.
Where to Stay While You Travel
While Canada only has a minimal number of youth hostels, there are other reliable and inexpensive options for accommodations while you explore each area you visit.
There are many short-stay accommodation websites (and apps for those who use their phone!) such as Airbnb, which allow you to 'rent' a room or specific space in someone's home, or even their entire residence, for the length of time you desire. These rentals are available in all different parts of Canada in various environments. From downtown Toronto to the quiet wilderness in British Columbia or the coast of Nova Scotia.
Transportation Across Canada
Canada is a very large country and it can take some time to travel from one place to another. The good news is that there are several different methods of transportation to help you get to where you are going. They are:
Travelling by Train
If you plan to explore Canada it might be worth looking into travelling by train. This is one of the most popular options. VIA Rail Canada is the rail service which offers trips all around Canada, including from one end to the other if that's what you are looking for. They also usually have budget-friendly deals for students looking for an adventure.
Some of their most popular routes are vacations in themselves. From travelling around the Rocky Mountains, the Great Lakes, or even the Maritime provinces. Because of the distances travelled, some routes can even offer sleeping cars to make your trip more comfortable.
One tip we can offer is to purchase your tickets on a Tuesday. You can travel any day of the week but look at and purchase your tickets on a Tuesday. This is usually the day when prices offered are at their lowest.
Taking a Bus
There are several bus services within Canada to help you in your travels. If you are in Ontario, Megabus offers low-cost trips across the province with a few stops in both southern Quebec and even just over the US border in some cases.
Flying to Your Destination
When you plan on travelling a far distance in a shorter timeframe then taking a plane might be the simplest option. While this is quicker, it usually comes with a higher price tag. Several airlines operate within Canada. We recommend booking your flight in advance if you do choose to fly.
Driving Across Canada
Driving offers the most flexibility out of all of the methods of travel. Canada has highways that stretch across the entirety of the country, allowing you to explore new parts of Canada with ease.
Hitchhiking is not recommended in Canada but you could always ask those you know if anyone is headed in the direction that you would like to go. You could also check the Facebook group for students at your college or university. This can be ideal for when time when other students are driving home for the holidays and would be happy to share the cost of a road trip to their hometown.
While driving with a foreign driver's licence is typically okay on a short-term basis after your arrival, you will need a provincial driver's license if you plan on staying and driving over the years you are studying. It may be a good idea and is recommended by the Government of Canada, that all foreign nationals obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP) before they leave their home country.
Consider One of the Many Free Activities
Regardless of which city you are visiting, Canada has a variety of activities for students who are on a budget. With your student identification, you can get a discount on things like museum and art gallery admission, theatre tickets and more. If you've purchased a transit pass in your city then you should get out and use it. Explore the neighbourhoods and see what you can find. Many Canadian cities offer free concerts and events during the warmer summer months.
In the winter you can enjoy many free activities as well such as sledding in the park and ice skating in many places. Just be sure to dress for the weather and you'll stay nice and cozy. The wintertime also means that normally busy places are a little quieter and the snow on everything can be breathtaking.
Be prepared for travel to be a little slower in the winter, but most modes of transportation are well-equipped and continue throughout the snowy months allowing you to explore as you please.
Visit a Different City or Province as You Explore Canada
If you plan to travel around Canada during your breaks then you may also plan on working a little to have spending money. This means that you will need to know how to legally work in Canada as a student. The good news is that as a student, you are allowed to work up to full-time hours anywhere in Canada and for any employer that you choose. This opens up the possibility of working in an entirely different part of Canada while you are on break. During the summer, this can mean up to four entire months that you could travel and explore a new area, like the Rocky Mountains.
You will also need to consider where you will stay during your time away. A popular option is to sublet someone else's apartment during the time you need it. This means that they will be away as well and you will take over their rent and live in their unit for the time you need. If you have a lease at your college residence then you may also need to sublet your apartment while you are travelling.
Stop & Plant Some Trees
If you are wondering 'How can I go to Canada to work and go to school?' while looking for an authentic Canadian experience, then you may want to consider planting trees while on your breaks. In Canada, there are mass replanting jobs for trees that have been cleared away by lumber farming. This is commonly done in British Columbia and Alberta. It may be very hard work but it is also very rewarding. You also get to meet new people and make money while doing so.
Making Canada Your Home
All of this time travelling in Canada may get you thinking about making it your permanent home once you've completed school. When applying for residency you will have a set of guidelines to follow and eligibility requirements. These requirements can vary depending on the method of application. You can expect to show proof of a job offer and financial stability, as well as complete an immigration medical exam.