Vancouver (YVR), Calgary (YYC), Toronto (YYZ), and Montréal (YUL) serve as the dominant hubs for international flights and are served by most international carriers, including British Airways, Air France, Qantas, Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa, SAS, and most U.S. airlines. Smaller airports, such as Halifax and Winnipeg, also have international flights, particularly in summer.
Air Canada (tel. 888/247-2262; www.aircanada.com) is the country's largest air carrier, with flights to Canada from all major U.S. cities, as well as South America, Europe, and Asia. Canada's second-largest airline is WestJet (tel. 888/937-8538; www.westjet.com), which flies into the country from major U.S. cities such as Los Angeles, Phoenix, New York, and Orlando.
Because Canada has the longest open border on Earth, it makes sense that many U.S.-based travelers will consider taking their own car to Canada as a road-trip destination. There are scores of border crossings between Canada and the U.S. (the U.S. freeway system enters at 13 different locations). However, not all border crossings keep the same hours, and many are closed at night. Before you set off to cross the border at a remote location, ascertain if it will be open when you arrive.
In addition to having the proper ID to cross into Canada, drivers may also be asked to provide proof of car insurance and show the car registration. If you're driving a rental car, you may be asked to show the rental agreement. It's always a good idea to clean your car of perishable foodstuff before crossing the border; fruits, vegetables, and meat products may be confiscated and may lead to a full search of the car. Remember that firearms are allowed across the border only in special circumstances; handguns are almost completely outlawed.
Rental Cars -- Canada has scores of rental-car companies, including Hertz (tel. 800/654-3001 in the U.S. or 800/263-0600 in Canada; www.hertz.com), Avis (tel. 800/331-1212; www.avis.com), Dollar (tel. 800/800-3665; www.dollar.com), Thrifty (tel. 800/847-4389; www.thrifty.com), Budget (tel. 800/527-0700 in the U.S. or 800/268-8900 in Canada; www.budget.com), Enterprise (tel. 800/261-7331; www.enterprise.com), and National (tel. 800/877/222-9058; www.nationalcar.com). Nevertheless, rental companies regularly sell out during the tourist season, from around mid-June through August. Therefore, it's a good idea to make reservations as far in advance as possible.
Check out Breezenet.com, which offers car-rental discounts with some of the most competitive rates around. Also worth visiting are Orbitz, Hotwire, Travelocity, and Priceline, all of which offer competitive online car-rental rates.
International visitors should note that insurance and taxes are almost never included in quoted rental car rates. Be sure to ask your rental agency about additional fees for these. They can add a significant cost to your car rental.
Several rental-car agencies offer roadside assistance programs in Canada. In case of an accident, a breakdown, a dead battery, a flat tire, a dry gas tank, getting stuck, or locking yourself out of your car, call your agency's 24-hour number. For Hertz, call tel. 800/654-5060; for Avis, call tel. 800/354-2847; for Dollar, call tel. 800/235-9393; for Budget, call tel. 800/354-2847; for National, call tel. 800/268-9711; and for Enterprise, call tel. 800/307-6666.
None of the above rental agencies enforce a mandatory upper-age cutoff for renting cars to seniors, but individual franchisers can impose their own age limits. The minimum age for renting cars in Canada is usually 21, though rates are high. Standard rates for drivers kick in at 25 years of age.
Members of the American Automobile Association (AAA) should remember to take their membership cards since the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA; tel. 800/222-4357; www.caa.ca) extends privileges to them in Canada.
Amtrak (tel. 800/872-7245; www.amtrak.com) can get you to the Canadian border, where you can connect up with Canada's VIA Rail (tel. 888/842-7245; www.viarail.ca) system. On the East Coast, Amtrak's Adirondack starts at New York City's Penn Station and travels daily via Albany and upstate New York to Montréal. The Maple Leaf links New York City and Toronto via Albany, Rochester, Buffalo, and Niagara Falls, departing daily from Penn Station. On the West Coast, the Cascades runs from Eugene, Oregon, to Vancouver, British Columbia, with stops in Portland and Seattle. Amtrak-operated buses may also connect segments of these routes.
Amtrak and VIA Rail both offer their own rail passes, which give you 15, 30, or 45 days of unlimited economy-class travel. Remember that the passes don't include meals; you can buy meals on the train or carry your own food.
Greyhound (in Canada tel. 800/661-8747, www.greyhound.ca; in the U.S. tel. 800/231-2222, www.greyhound.com) operates the major intercity bus system in Canada, with frequent cross-border links to cities in the U.S. northern tier (many more than what's offered by Amtrak). In general, Greyhound offers cross-border service along routes where the U.S. freeway system enters Canada.
Ferries operate from Maine to Nova Scotia, and from Seattle, Anacortes, and Port Angeles, Washington, to Victoria, British Columbia.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.