The Answer to the Age Old Question: Canada or USA?

In an ideal world we wouldn’t need to decide on where to travel, we would simply go everywhere the heart desires! But things like budget and limited time tend to play a part in our travel plans, so we are often faced with a decision to make. Are you battling to decide between travelling to Canada or the USA? Many people have been faced with this conundrum, so we’re going to unpack all the best parts for you here.

Canada USA
Capital city Ottawa Washington DC
Most popular destination Toronto New York City
Natural attraction Niagara Falls The Grand Canyon
Nightlife destination Toronto and Montreal Las Vegas strip

Although they can be quite similar in their appeal, both Canada and the USA have very separate and enticing attractions to offer. Let’s look a little closer at each one.



Highlights

canada vs usa

Photo by Matt Thomason on Unsplash

Canada

Mountains, glaciers, forests and endless greenery make Canada a sought after destination for its immense natural beauty. But it’s also a haven of activity and entertainment for the urban lover too! Canada’s people are an incredibly diverse, multi-cultural, cosmopolitan population, possibly because of the relaxed and stable lifestyle that is generally led in this country.


Travel to: Canada 


If you’re an outdoors addict and your senses feast on fresh air and unspoiled nature, Canada is an excellent option for you. Camping, hiking, taking scenic drives, skiing and snowboarding (in Winter), canoeing and white water rafting, rowing, fishing… the list goes on. There are ample open-air activities on offer in Canada to thrill and delight the most avid outdoor enthusiast.

At the end of the day, if you really want to party, there is always something going on in the major cities of Canada. Canadians certainly know how to let go and have fun and have many festivals and events running throughout the year, such as their Celebration Of Light in Vancouver in July or the Quebec Winter Carnival at the end of January in Quebec City.

usa

Photo by Christoph Schulz on Unsplash

The Canadian dollar is well below the U.S. dollar right now, making this country a steal for American citizens looking to explore their neighbors to the north. Head into the mountains to experience wild life in its natural habitat, or head to the cities to get a taste of European culture with a laid back, Canadian twist. Don’t discount the islands of Canada. Some are harder to get to than others, but all are worth the trip. One of our favorite spots in the Pacific Northwest is Victoria, British Columbia. The mix of Canadian history, great food, gardens, culture and impressive hotels, makes this a weekend getaway you don’t want to miss.  Whistler is the perfect destination no matter the time of year. The snow is perfect in winter for skiers and snowboarders of all levels. Hikers and mountain bikers can’t get enough of the trails in summer and fall when the temperatures warm up, but don’t make you sweat too much. Olympic sites are great to check out with kids and the restaurants in the village are topnotch if you want to enjoy world class cuisine from across the globe. – Keryn, Walking on Travels

USA

The United States of America is high on many people’s “to visit” lists and there are so many different regions that have unique appeal. From mountains, snowscapes and forested lands, to warm, arid deserts, or tropical coastlines and bustling cities. The USA definitely has a state for everyone, it simply depends on what you’re inclined to enjoy. Some of the most popular American states include:

  1. California for beautiful beaches, surf and watersports as well as winelands and country escapes
  2. New York for New York City highlights such as Times Square, Central Park, Fifth Avenue and Grand Central Station
  3. Las Vegas in Nevada, because… Las Vegas
  4. New Orleans in Louisiana for jazz and blues, delicious cuisine and non-stop nightlife
  5. Florida for tropical Miami’s nightlife and beaches. As well as Disneyland, Universal Studios and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando
  6. Colorado for the Rocky Mountains, expansive natural vistas, lakes, forests, as well as epic snowboarding and ski adventures
  7. Arizona for road trips and the Grand Canyon

We have been twice to New York City and still there is so much to discover. A great place to have breakfast or lunch is Jack´s Wife Freda´in Soho. During our break in-between fashion shows and meetings, we tried some home-made desserts in “Baccarat Hotel” served in a beautiful room decorated with red roses and crystals by Baccarat. The hotel is absolutely fascinating, starting from the professional service through to the wonderful interior. A really cool place to hang out and meet people is the Soho House, which is a hotel and a members cub in the meatpacking district. It is a space for eating & drinking and there is as well a roof top pool and a screening room.  A place to see, as well, is the Chelsea Market, which is a food market and shopping hall. You can find different kind of cuisines/restaurants and interesting/unique shops there. For people that are interested into art & culture, they should definitely visit the Museum of Modern Art or the Guggenheim Museum. – Desiree & Jennifer, Des & Jen

Food And Drink

Canada

With Canada’s culturally diverse population there is a considerable representation of all types of foods to match any number of cravings. There are some French Canadian specialities that simply must be sampled, such as poutine, which can only be described as a dish of French fries covered in delicious gravy and topped with the curds from cheese. Canada is also known for some rich and rewarding Canadian craft beers, fresh fish and a wide variety of fruit.

Here’s a short list of the most delicious dishes and drinks from Canada:

  • BeaverTails, fried dough topped with fixings like Nutella, caramel, bananas, M&M’s, crushed Oreos, and more
  • Poutine, gravy-and-cheese-curd-topped fries
  • Tourtière, meat pie made with pork, as well as onions and spices like cinnamon and cloves

USA

USA is notoriously famous for burgers and fries, hot dogs and pizza. Fast food is major player in the food industry, but that’s not to say there aren’t loads of amazing restaurants and diners on offer and a vast arrangement of tastes for different palates. There are also loads of healthier options and an ever-growing organic, free-range mindset when it comes to food and drink.

You can find pretty much anything your heart desires in the major cities of America. In the smaller towns, you’ll be treated to more home cooked meals and specialities, especially as you travel down south, where fried chicken, collard greens and corn bread are known as typically American comfort food. Don’t forget, no visit to the USA is complete without a meal in a typical American diner.

The USA has some incredible food on offer – even simple diner style restaurants are a treat and can be quite a different to visitors, depending which part of the world you’re from. Local markets or Mom & Pop run places often have the freshest, tastiest food. Your best bet is to talk to locals to get recommendations on where to dine, especially since each region has its specialities (e.g. Chicago deep dish pizza, East coast seafood, etc.). – Jen & Ted, Thrifty Nomads

Here’s a list of the most famous dishes of USA:

  • Brunswick stew, tomato-based stew, containing various types of beans, corn, okra, and other vegetables and one or more types of meat
  • Popcorn, any of several varieties of corn whose kernels burst open and puff out when subjected to dry heat
  • Cheeseburger, a hamburger with a slice of cheese on it

Travel to: USA 


Getting Around

Canada

Here some tips for getting around in Canada in the most time-effective way:

  1. The best way to get around the country is by plane. Air Canada is the main national carrier and it has by far the largest network and most frequent schedules but WestJet also offers a similar service.
  2. Travel by intercity coach is available between the main cities. Service is best in the densely packed Windsor – Quebec City corridor which includes the major cities of Toronto and Montreal as well as Ottawa, the national capital.
  3. The legal driving age varies between 14 and 16 throughout the country.
  4. If you are set on a road trip, an alternative to car rental is to hire an RV (motorhome or campervan). This gives you the flexibility to explore Canada at your own pace and it is ideal if you want to appreciate the natural environment.
  5. Passenger rail service in Canada, although very safe and comfortable, is often an expensive and inconvenient alternative to other types of transport. Only the corridor between Windsor and Quebec City is a bit of an exception to this generalization.
route 66

Route 66

USA

Here some tips for getting around while in the United States:

  1. The quickest and the most convenient way of taking long-distance intercity travel in the US is by plane. Coast-to-coast travel takes about six hours from east to west compared to the three or four days necessary for land transportation.
  2. The U.S. is one of the greatest countries in the world to be explored by passenger trains. There are a number of private operators who offer exclusive and luxurious packages on private passenger trains, but most tourists and travelers experience America by rail on board of trains owned by the state and by the subsidized company Amtrak.
  3. America has the largest system of inland waterways of the world. It is possible to navigate around and within the United States by boat. Your choices of watercraft range from self-propelled canoes and kayaks to elaborate houseboats and riverboat cruises.
  4. America’s love affair with the automobile is legendary: travelling through the country by car is a must.
  5. Intercity bus travel in the United States is widespread and, while not available everywhere, there are at least three daily routes in every state. Service between nearby major cities is extremely frequent.
  6. Recreational vehicles – large, sometimes bus sized vehicles that include sleeping and living quarters – are a distinctly American way to cruise the country. Some RVers love the convenience of being able to drive their home anywhere they like and enjoy the camaraderie of the RV campgrounds.
  7. Harley-Davidson is the preeminent American motorcycle brand and Harley operates a motorcycle rental program for those licensed and capable of handling a full weight motorcycle.

The USA is a vast place. There’s a lot to see and it can be overwhelming to know where to start. Do you want mountains, beaches, and epic scenery? West Coast driving may serve you well. Are you after towering skyscrapers and a buzzing city nightlife? The Northeast may be a good fit with highlights like New York City and Chicago. Rather than trying to tackle the entire country (which is huge!), think about what you want out of it, and narrow it down into sections.

Road tripping can be a great way to see the U.S., and there are many routes highlighting particular regions. Consider one-way car rentals as well, which are often reasonably priced and an easy way to get from point A to point B. Not up for driving? The states are well connected by a variety of airlines, so fares are quite reasonable to get you from one point to another. That being said, you don’t want to spend lots of your days in transit, so be mindful when planning to not move around too quickly so that you’re actually able to explore your region(s) of choice! – Ted & Jen, Thrifty Nomads



Budget

USA and Canada are comparable in price and both are quite expensive. You can enjoy a good meal for around 35 US dollars, but the range of your option is definitely wide and it will be easy to find what you’re looking for. Both countries have their own currency: the US dollar and the Canadian dollar.

 

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The lingo

Canada

CAN English
UK English
Serviette
Napkin
Bill
Check
Pop
Soda
Cutlery
Forks, knives and spoons used for eating
Washroom
Restroom

 

USA

USA English
UK English
Elevator
Lift
Trunk
Boot (of a car)
Check
Bill
Bus
Coach
Map
Plan

 

So, which one is better?

Canada is the world’s second largest country and there, spread across six time zones you’ll find both vast expanses of wilderness, as well as cutting edge cities like Montreal and Toronto. On the other hand, you could spend years travelling through the United States and still not see it all. Richly diverse in terms of landscape, food, and culture, you can have it all in America.