Canada 2012: Five Things Visiting Toronto Taught Me

Here are the top five tips I wish I would have had before this last rendezvous in Canada to help save time, money, and panic.

1. Fill up on that tank. That town you’re staying in? The one with the hotel and some amenities around? Don’t leave without a full tank. I know, I know, petro is expensive in Canada… But seriously, don’t. And if you noticed your tank is even close to empty — I’m talking quarter tank close to empty — stop the first time you see signs for a station. That or you can realize you’re nearing empty… Wait, you’re gas light just flashed on… You’re just above E, on E, below E… And there seems to be absolutely nowhere to stop for gas. (Purely hypothetical, of course, we didn’t really put ourselves in this situation and nearly escape spending hours on the side of an empty Canadian freeway.)

2. Be picky with parking. Deciding between convenience and affordability is something you can do on your own, but if you go for convenience and drive into the city, parking is not cheap. I’m talking $23-not-cheap. Instead of parking right near city center, try driving down one of the streets running perpendicular to Yonge street. Dundas and Yonge is the main intersection and just a couple of blocks down on Dundas, we saw day parking for $6. We were not pleased. Also: Read the signs carefully! We were under the impression that our garage chared a maximum of $17, but it turns out that was between specific times.

3. Try to avoid taxis. A taxi ride starts at $4.50 and accelerates fast. We thought we would save money by grabbing a cab to our second location (on Polson Pier) instead of parking again. We thought wrong.

4. Skip on eating at franchised chains. Local shops turned out to be cheaper, offer greater portion sizes, and, well, taste better. Toronto is a cultural hub — dive on in to one of the many tastes available. My favorite was Thai!

5. Print off return directions. City driving is always complex and Toronto is no different. Unfortunately, it was not a simple case of reverse-the-directions and cost us an hour of wandering the city. While the view was beautiful at times, the frustration was not.

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About Toni Lupro

"I've got a plan, I've got an atlas in my hands."

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