Travel tips – USA and Canada series

In 2016, I had the opportunities to move to the USA and Canada for work as a research scientist. I am currently living in Edmonton, AB, Canada. 

Canada is incredibly beautiful. People are so friendly and helpful! The health care system is amazing! I am so impressed. If someone enter Canada under student or work permits, he/she can apply for the Alberta Health Care. This allows the person to visit a general practitioner or specialist (e.g. dermatologist, ophthalmologist, etc) free of charge! If the person is under a full-time work, the workplace usually provides the person with a private health care insurance too (you have to double check this info though). The private insurance cover a certain percentage for dental, prescription drugs and natural therapies (massage therapy, osteopathy, chiropractic, etc).

Hence, I love Canada! But it is so COLD especially in Edmonton. It gets down to -30C recently and even -45C during Christmas. Although this deep freeze temperature does not last very long, it is generally in the -15 to -20C on average. What I find that is harder to deal with is actually the short amount of daylight. During the winter, it only starts to get bright at ~9pm and goes dark at ~4pm. When it is sunny, it is wonderfully nice but it is cloudy on most days! I find it extremely difficult with the lack of sun here (especially coming from Australia and Southeast Asia!). But I still enjoy being here and feel incredibly blessed to experience everything this country has to offer.

I have traveled to a few cities and national parks in the USA and Canada. For the next few weeks, I want to share my travel tips, experiences and photos with you all – the reason why I have this USA and Canada series. I will try to make a list of things to do, places to visit and see in each cities that I have visited. I aim to provide additional travel tips and advice from other wonderful websites and blogs.

Therefore, I will be sharing my visits to the following cities and national parks in the USA and Canada:
1. New York
2. Seattle
3. San Francisco
4. Yosemite National Park
5. Las Vegas
6. Grand Canyon National Park
7. Death Valley National Park
8. Chicago
9. Boston
10. Washington D.C. – coming next!
11. Lansing, MI

For Canada
1. Toronto
2. Banff National Park
3. Edmonton
4. Yukon

I have already shared my experiences, tips and photos for some of the cities above. Visit the specific post with a link to read them 🙂

A general advice that I can start off here is about tipping. It is quite mandatory in the USA – they put a lot of emphasis on tipping. However, it is more relaxed in Canada. In the States, I usually give ~15-20% of the total amount spent as tips for servers at a restaurant, taxi drivers and other services I received. I also add additional tips for taxi drivers if I have luggages I need help with. Hotel housekeepers, I will give $2-5 each morning with a thank you note to thank them for cleaning (the amount depends on how messy your room is). This article provides really useful advice on tipping in the US.

I would say that the rules are about the same for Canada but as mentioned it is more relaxed in Canada so less panic…just kidding. Here is another article with useful advice on tipping in Canada.

That’s it for now. Check out those links in the respective cities that I have already shared and posted 🙂

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