Relatives visiting? 5 tips to ensure a smooth trip to Manitoba

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Reunions are always fun. It’s an exciting time preparing to welcome friends or family who are visiting Manitoba for the first time. You can imagine the lengthy conversations that you’re going to have, catching up on things and talking about home. You’ve already listed the parks you’ll go to, your favorite restaurants and museums, and other wonderful sites to show Manitoba off to your visitors.

Before you get lost in the flurry of planning for your outings and parties, have you checked up on your family member or friend’s preparations for their trip? If it’s their first time to come to Manitoba, consider the following tips to help make their journey problem-free, safe, and enjoyable.

  1. Language barriers

    Do they know English? There will be many situations where they would need to use the language. For instance, immigration officers will be asking them standard questions about the purpose of their trip. To find the right terminal at the airport, they would need to read directional signs. They will need English for simple things like asking for directions to the washroom, food court, or when buying things at the airport.

    To help them navigate the language barrier, consider equipping them with a standard script containing common phrases in your native tongue translated into English. For instance:

    “Hi, I only speak _____. Could you help me find my gate? My flight number is ___ on Air Canada bound for Winnipeg. My departure time is ___. Thank you.”

    “Hello officer. I only speak _______. I am visiting my son and his family in Winnipeg. Here is his address. I will be staying there for three weeks. Here are my itinerary and return ticket.”

    “Hi. Do you know where the nearest washroom is? Thank you.”

    A colleague made such a script for her mom who is visiting from Siberia. Since her mom only spoke Russian, she included tips about minding the time difference, claiming luggage, and other helpful advice so that she wouldn’t have to ask. She even made notes for her to show people in case she is late for a flight, or if she gets lost. For any major issues, her mobile phone was listed in the guide so her mom could easily contact her.

    If your visitors have a problem speaking English (or French) they can also consider downloading language translation/dictionary apps like Google Translate or iTranslate (for iPhone) so they’ll have a handy reference on their mobile phone.

  2. Proper documents

    If your relative or friend is the type who forgets things, consider sending them a document checklist. List down necessary travel documents that they need to bring like:

    • Passports
    • Visas (or if they’re coming from a visa-exempt country, an Electronic Travel Authorization)
    • Tickets (copies of the itinerary and return tickets)
    • Health insurance
    • Driver’s license if they plan on driving here.

    For additional security, some experts suggest making copies of important travel papers. They can take a photo on their phone, photocopy or scan them so that they’ll have extra copies should the original ones get lost or stolen.

  3. Customs regulations

    It is important that you inform your family or friends about what they can and can’t bring over the border to avoid hassles or unnecessary expense. It is also important that they fill out the customs declaration card completely and honestly. For instance, are they bringing some native foods as presents? Do these contain meat or dairy products? Then these will be confiscated at the border. Some goods like alcoholic beverages or tobacco have quantity limits. There is also a required legal age to be able to import them (minimum age is 18). Check this page for more detailed Manitoba customs regulations.

  4. Proper clothes and footwear

    Experiencing Manitoba’s weather can be a drastic change for them. Make sure they’re adequately dressed for the season when they land.

    In Manitoba:

    • Fall is usually from September to October. Average temperatures range between -1°C to 9.8°C. Your visitors should have a light jacket or sweater. They can opt to layer clothes so they can take some off should the temperature rise in the afternoon.
    • Winter is from November to March. Average temperatures range between -22.8°C and -12.7°C. It can get freezing cold in Manitoba so they should dress as warmly as possible. Must-haves are a thick winter jacket, socks and boots, gloves and a toque.
    • Spring is in April with average temperatures between -3.4°C to 8.9°C. Appropriate clothing will be about the same as fall. A light jacket or sweater will be enough to keep them comfortable.
    • Summer is from May to August with average temperatures between 11.8°C to 24.8°C. Summers in Manitoba can be hot and sometimes humid. They can wear light, breathable clothing, but it may be wise to still have a light sweater on hand. It can get a bit chilly in the evenings.
  5. Check credit card and carry a bit of cash

    Before they leave, tell them to consult their bank to know if their credit card will work in Canada. Most credit cards with chip technology would work here, but to be safe, they should inform their bank of their travel plans to ensure that they won’t have problems when they get here. They should also have some local cash on hand for contingencies like food or terminal fees. As much as possible, they should have US or Canadian dollars ready before they leave. Airport money exchange centres may not have the best exchange rates.

To know what to expect when they land, they should read: Canada Border Services Agency Travellers Arriving by Air or Entering Canada.

Oh, and don’t forget to ask them the date, time of arrival and their flight number so that you can welcome them at the airport. Happy trip to your family and friends and enjoy your reunion!

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Community Resources

Interested in helping your family visit you in Manitoba? Read Sponsoring parents and grandparents to Manitoba (Super Visa).

Read Services and activities for visitors to Canada and Want to know more about a country? Visit a museum to help you plan activities for your visitors.

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