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jlmickel
10-02-2007, 07:02 AM
Each year my three traveling buddies and I decide on a place to go for our big summer trip. Two years ago we drove to Toronto ON and Ottowa.

This weeked we decided to go back to Toronto since one of our group hasn't been to and really wanted to go, spend more than just a day in Ottowa and then add Montreal as our final stop. Plus actually make it to Niagara Falls this time around.

Last time we drove straight there and almost died, we had one driver and myself as the naviagator (I wasn't on the rental agreement and the other was such a scary driver we pulled her off the rotation). We left Winston-Salem up US 52 into I-77, then through WV on I-79 into PA, then merged onto I-90 in NY through Buffalo and then crossed into Canada at Fort Erie. When we crossed into Canada we had been driving for over 13 hours and still were 2-3 hours out from Toronto. (When the Forums say don't do that they're not kidding!)

My question is...

What is the fastest route to Niagara Falls from Winston-Salem NC? I would like to avoid as many tolls as possible and would like to find a route that would provide rest time. With three in the driving rotation this time, and with this trip already under our belt once, we're more confident on how to do this without being overly tired. We'll be renting a SUV again this time (we put almost 3200 miles on our rental the last trip) and although that sucks on gas its hard to squeeze four (on the rather large size) people and their luggage into anything smaller.

We're leaving on Thursday, June 26 at noon and will begin the trip back on Saturday July 5. That gives us over a week to get there and enjoy the sites. Does anyone have any other suggestions of things not to miss?

Thanks!

rennick
10-02-2007, 07:37 AM
You may want to try to be in Ottawa on July 1st (Canada Day (http://www.ottawakiosk.com/canada_day.html)). I've never been, but I would imagine that the festivities would be pretty cool.

On the other hand, the crowds are likely much heavier than usual, and you may have difficulty obtaining accomodations around the area, unless you reserve well in advance.

jlmickel
10-02-2007, 08:17 AM
That's a great idea!

Yeah, we're going to be reserving our hotels and things early this time. On our last trip we decided to wing it and ended up in a great hotel but so far out side of Toronto it took us ages to get anywhere. In Ottowa we were right in the middle of everything but in a really crappy hotel.

Plus there's a way to get your VAT taxes back but you have to have an itemized bill, we ran into that issue when we reserved everything online through Hotwire and Expedia.

I'll look into Canada Day.

AZBuck
10-02-2007, 09:27 AM
Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

The fastest route from Winston-Salem to Niagara Falls, is the route you've taken before, namely US-52/I-77/US-19(avoids the West Virginia Turnpike)/I-79/I-90. Now I-90 is toll in New York, but can be avoided by leaving I-79 just north of I-80 and taking US-62 up to the Buffalo area, but unlike the US-19 shunpike, this one is going to cost some time, enough so that I'd think the $3.35 you'll pay in New York tolls would be worth it.

As for things to see and do along the way, since you're going to both Toronto and Montréal, consider these sites on a loop around Lake Ontario.

And thanks for yet another confirmation that all day driving is NOT fun. I've mentioned before that every one of the regular contributors here has done such a drive and NONE of them recommends it! Sorry you had to learn the hard way.

AZBuck

jlmickel
10-02-2007, 09:47 AM
That's what I figured, I spent quite a bit of time planning that route the first time around, I'll just need to remember to have money ready for the tolls.

Yeah, that kind of drive gets old very fast. We're going to attempt it this time again but with a rotation so everyone gets a nice rest (drive, navigate, rest, repeat) but we are building in extra time and are very much open to a stop somewhere in PA or NY to get a hotel.

On the way back we are planning two full days of travel and a night in a nice hotel as a final treat to ourselves.

rennick
10-02-2007, 10:40 AM
Plus there's a way to get your VAT taxes back but you have to have an itemized bill, we ran into that issue when we reserved everything online through Hotwire and Expedia.

IIRC, You can also get back GST on all your other in-Canada purchases, so keep that in mind when you're collecting receipts. Also be aware that the Cdn dollar is now floating around par with US, and may still be so when you visit next summer.

jlmickel
10-03-2007, 07:48 AM
I'm going to do a bit more research on the tax thing this time since we had a bit of confusion about how and what to do the last time.

As far as the dollar goes, it was essentially dollar for dollar when we were there in 2005 so unless there's a sudden economic change I doubt that will be different in 2008. I've already added another couple hundred to my budgeting based on what I spent the last time.

Plus I've got to request my passport soon.

Midwest Michael
10-03-2007, 10:11 AM
Just so you're forwarned, right now the US dollar is at its lowest point against the Canadian dollar in 30 years - which is basically 1 to 1.

Back in 2005, the US dollar was worth about $1.25 CAN, so you can expect everything in Canada to cost about 20-25% more than it did the last time you were there.

While that 20 cents might not have seemed like a big deal, when you take that along with the charges you'll face for changing money, its really a very expensive time to visit Canada.

Of course, if you live pretty much anywhere else in the world, it also means its a great time to come to the US.

jlmickel
10-11-2007, 01:25 PM
Does anyone know of a bank card (credit or ATM/Debit) that would be the best for trekking into Canada? When we were there in 2006 I used cash and my companions used their Credit and ATM cards. Well, you can imagine the amount of fees that were incurred even though one had contacted his credit company.

I was thinking that maybe if you had a card with an international bank you would be ok, but I have a HSBC Online Account with an ATM card that is accessible all over the world but found out that any charges outside my home country (in this case the US) there would be a fee.

So, has anyone had any good experience crossing the border with plastic? I don't expect there to be a free all around card but at least one that doesn't charge as much? I think I may be on a fool's errand here.

Cash was nice when I was in Canada, but I'm always nervous about carrying large amounts of cash and I've never had much luck with traveller's checks, I always end up scrambling to find someone to cash them.

Thanks!

Midwest Michael
10-11-2007, 06:22 PM
Each bank has its own sets of rules in terms of foreign transaction fees and the like, however the exchange rate you'll get using a bank will always be far better than what you'll get by trying to exchange cash.

If you use a couple of banks or credit cards, I'd call all of them and ask what sort of fees they have - typically it will be around 3-5%. I would be very surprised if you find a place that will exchange cash for anything less than a 10% penalty, it just won't be as obvious, because while a cash transaction will simply give you .90CAN for each $1US, your credit card will give you close to a $1-$1 deal, and then charge you a fee of 5 cents.

jlmickel
10-12-2007, 08:39 AM
That's true, I was very fortunate in that every time I needed to exchange money last time we were near a bank and I was only charged a minimal 1-3%. Whereas my friends ended up paying 5-10% for some of the transactions on their credit cards.

jlmickel
05-22-2008, 09:31 AM
Well, our trip just over a month away now and we have settled on our itinerary. We'll be leaving on Friday, June 27 and arriving in Toronto on Saturday, June 28. We're staying in Toronto until Monday the 30th and heading on to Ottawa. We'll stop in Ottawa but not stay, from there we're going to Quebec City since this is their 400th anniversary.

Here's my new question. Has anyone traveled this route, if so what is beyond Ottawa (we were there two years ago) and are there any sites or etc that we should be aware of? Also, does anyone have any suggestions on how to get a hotel in Quebec? EVERYTHING seems to be full!

Any help is appreciated. I'll be sure to try and give an update when we are on the road.

Quebec Gen
05-22-2008, 07:22 PM
Hi there!

I am a native Québécoise and I've lived in both montreal in Quebec City. Check out my tips (http://www.roadtripamerica.com/forum/showthread.php?t=16552&highlight=Quebec+City&page=3) about both cities and what's in between.

As you mentionned everything is pretty much booked for this summer for the 400th Anniversary. I know a lot of people in the downtown area are renting their apt for the summer. Check out Logis Quebec (http://www.logisquebec.com) or for cheaper options browse the Bed & Breakfasts (http://www.roadtripamerica.com/forum/www.bbcanada.com). Rooms will most likely be cheaper on the South shore (Lévis, St-Nicolas), in the Stoneham area (north) or in the Beaupré area (east).

Good luck and Amuse-toi!
Gen

jlmickel
05-23-2008, 11:36 AM
Thank you so much, I will pass this on to my traveling partner who is doing our reservations. We also found out Quebec is holding it's Summer Festival during that time. So we managed to hit the busiest weekend of the summer apparently!