Has the dropping temperature and fading green of the summer sparked your urge to gas up your RV and head down south of the border? Every year, more and more Canadians are opting to spend the harsh winter months exploring the warmer climates of the United States. According to Stats Canada, last year, more than 3.7 million trips were taken south of the border, with over 900,000 border crossings having been completed in cars and RV’s. So, it isn’t surprising that you might want to avoid the snowy, windy weather, and take a road trip in search of mountain landscapes, warm sandy beaches, and stunning scenic highways.
But before you go, it is important to do your research and make sure that you have all the supplies you need to be comfortable and safe. These helpful tips can help you avoid some common travel problems when you leave for your trip.
What is in Your Wallet?
The United States Customs and Border Protections Office indicates that anybody carrying more than $10,000 USD in cash will have to report it at the border crossing. In order to limit the amount of cash you need to carry for your trip, consider opening a credit card in American currency before you head out. If you connect it to your own bank, you can skip the headache of converting US to Canadian and back. Your credit card will be able to access cash at most ATMs and protect your vacation budget all in one easy step.
What Happens at the Border Crossing
If this will be your first time entering the United States, you need to be prepared. Every adult in the RV will need to present a current passport, an enhanced driver’s license, a NEXUS, a FAST/EXPRESS, or a SENTRI enrolment card. You will be asked the purpose of your visit and the amount of time that you expect to stay, along with being asked to present proof of RV Insurance. Generally, you are allowed to remain in the States for up to 182 days per calendar year. Children under the age of 16 can present their birth certificate or citizenship card.
Search for Cell Phone Options
Some Canadians are willing to go off the grid while they travel; others require robust data plans. If you’re the latter type of traveler, be sure to call your provider and ask them about cost saving tips to avoid high roaming fees. They may have a travel plan able to save you some serious money while maintaining your phone number while on the road. Another alternative would be to simply pick up a pre-paid phone when you enter the country. Many of these phones even offer data plans! As most campgrounds offer free or paid Wi-Fi, you will not be entirely dependent on your mobile data plan when you want to share your travels on your social media profiles.
Wait to Fill the Cupboards
Another surprise for many travellers at the border is the restrictions on food. While you might want to save some cash and stock up at your local grocery store before leaving, it can end up causing more problems in the end. You cannot bring meats, fruits, vegetables, alcohol, plants, or anything live across the border. Most of your canned goods, condiments, and snacks are fine, but you will want to wait to fill the freezer until you reach a store in the States.
Your cat or dog is welcome to enter the United States for your vacation, but you will need to present a current rabies vaccine certificate.
Planning Ahead for Your Health
When you leave Canada behind, you are also leaving behind the universal health-care system. Should you have an accident or become ill while on your road trip through the United States, you may be faced with exorbitant bills for ambulance rides, emergency room visits, and other fees. Check with your health insurance provider before leaving regarding specific coverage outside the country. If you have no protection in place, consider buying a travel insurance policy. These policies are designed to help defray medical costs while you are on the road so you can truly enjoy every minute of this epic exploration.
Now that you have the right ID, cash, a working phone, plans for food, and the means to protect your health, it is time to buckle up and set out for the wide open road. Whether you are heading to New York City, the theme parks in Florida, or the stunning vistas surrounding Las Vegas, you are sure to experience a worry-free trip worthy of your bucket list.