Lessons Learned

On this page I’ll place all the lessons I’ve learned along the way, they might come in useful, and prevent others from making the same mistakes/ falling into the same traps. They’ll be in chronological order as I hit any unexpected challenges along the way.

Don’t be afraid to ring ANYONE and ask stupid questions….

Generally I’ve found insurance companies, phone companies, banks, etc, are all quite happy for you to ring them, explain in idiots terms what you want to do, and ask “Can I do that with this?”, and then give you an answer. Stupid questions prevent stupid mistakes…

Apart from CIC….

If you ring CIC or your nearest Canadian embassy and ask “Ummm…when are your experience Canada visas coming out?” they will direct you to their website. I didn’t actually do this, but got an automated message before I got the chance. For all questions on that I’d go here:


UPDATE: – Canada’s visa system changed while I’ve been here and probably changes often. As with tons of things you can read a lot of rumor/opinion on the internet. Your best bet is to simply get involved and make your own way through without hanging on forum comments and things. The biggest piece of advice I can offer is HAVE YOUR DOCUMENTS READY. At a minimum you’ll want:

  • A valid passport
  • A criminal record check application forms. (Filled in and ready so that you can apply once your visa application is started.)
  • Your last few addresses
  • Previous visa info, if applicable.

Is the ski season your priority?

If it is then you might want to wait until later on in the year to head out to Canada, rather than May as I did. I discovered after booking lots of stuff that most ski resorts in Canada do their European recruiting trips in June / July. Getting an interview and possibly a job before you leave for Canada would make things much easier. Oh well, I didn’t head out this way because I thought it would be easy….!

Saying your leaving to go to another country is the best way to fob off any salesman, ever.

Try it next time you want to cancel your phone contract, or insurance.

Take care of your body!

This sounds obvious and wishy washy, but the run up to this trip was bloody busy for me. Work was mental, I had to sell my car, move house, clear out a fish tank, and do an innumerable number of little things. Get sleep, proper food, and drink. I learned this the hard way after unpacking, cleaning, and selling my car, then cycling to town with the cash, all in the boiling May sun. There was nausea and vomit that night, enough said.

A better way to avoid this stress would be to allow more time, I did all of the above in 10 days, with 5 of those working 8-530, and a lot of last minute socialising.

Keeping fit also helps if you find yourself running for a tram with a heavy bag on your back… Going between the ski resorts I was carrying close to 50kgs of baggage.

Also your teeth.

I have an decent electric tooth brush, and I use the toothpaste with the highest fluoride content I can lay my hands on, and this is so far given me a clean bill of health over the 3 years. I would highly recommend this as I have heard dentist prices are very very high.

Allow plenty of time to find gates and platforms.

Again another obvious one, but its worth bearing in mind that north American train stations are often massive and the platforms are through tiny little doors down long corridors. I turned up at least half an hour before every train. Or ran.

Border guards aren’t friendly and are out to get you.

Tell the truth, take it on the chin, and have your stuff together. And you’ll make it through the border with nothing else but some frowning and muttering. Check you have the IEC requirements days before you leave and be organised. But be prepared for some grumpyness.

Money Transfers take time.

In my case literally weeks, thanks to a cock up at the bank…. In order for me to survive, I didn’t move all my money at once, and I made use of my commission free credit card to pay for essentials which I could then pay off with the money I’d hadn’t moved. A credit card which is has commission free purchases abroad is extremely handy if you can obtain one. Just make sure you are able to pay it off in accordance with the banks rules, while your abroad. Having a good internet banking service is the best way to do this.

Speaking to the person in charge with a resumé really works!

When it comes to looking for casual work, or if your targeting small businesses like cafés and shops for jobs, it really helps to meet a decision maker face to face with a CV. I guess it gives them a face to go with that piece of paper and a chance for you to make a good first impression.

The Train across Canada is great, if a little tardy…

Getting the train from one side of Canada to the other was an incredible experience, but the train itself has quite a loose timetable. Apparently the train is frequently hours late, especially if your getting on mid way – We were 3 hours late to Winnipeg and 7 hours late into Saskatoon. This got pulled back to 3.5 hours late in Vancouver, but people around me were scrambling to re-book flights and things. I nearly missed my bus!

UPDATE: – My train back to Toronto was 13 hours late!!! Allow a day at the end!!! Top Tips:

  •  DO NOT plan anything major for the day of you arrival, especially things like flights.
  • Take some form of entertainment. The scenery is stunning for the most part, but if you get stopped in say, a cutting, you will get bored. My laptop was invaluable here.
  • Avoid getting on half way. We were many hours late into some of the mid way stations.
  • Have the attitude that it’s the journey, not the destination.

Local Libraries are really handy!

If you need to print tickets or scan job contracts, don’t forget the local library. In Canada at least, they are very well equipped and cheap!! SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY!!!

Travelling by Greyhound??

When planning, if your journey involves layover stops, try searching these legs as single journeys. I was able to make a slight saving by booking Whistler to Vancouver, and then Vancouver to Westbank, rather than booking Whistler straight to Westbank, even though it was the same two buses! Booking early can also yield big cost savings with Greyhound.

NOTE: Do not underestimate the “print at home” ticket option. You simply must present them with a piece of paper, and they will not accept a phone screen. THEY ARE VERY STRICT ON THIS.

Anything prove to be unexpectedly useful??

  • Top of the list comes my mountain bike multi-tool: I used it for absolutely tons of stuff; from adjusting my snowboard bindings, to fixing racoon caused holes in my ceiling.
  • “Freesole” rubber/shoegoo: My old pair of snowboard boots were basically held together by this at the end of my second ski season.
  • Gear Aid Flex patches: Very handy for repairing fabric things. My bag has one that hasn’t budged in 18 months. Top Tips – If it won’t stick (carefully) add a thin layer of shoegoo to provided a better adhesive surface. Round off the corners.
  • Penknife: Sort of obvious, but it has proved very handy, especially the small, precise, scissors. Obviously not one for your carry-on!
  • USB SD Card Reader: When you have multiple cameras this is a no brainer, I can’t believe I went over a year without one! Good laptops have an SD reader built in.
  • Microsoft Surface Power Cable: Every Surface power cable has an extra USB charging port on the adapter brick. This is actually super handy when you’re on the go. Well done Microsoft.

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