If you are driving to Alaska, the old joke is just head north up through Canada and then turn left. While that may get you close, you definitely will have to drive many miles in Canada. Don’t sweat this, it’s easy. Their highways are good (like they are down here in the Lower 48), you will find all the services you need, and definitely won’t have lots of traffic to deal with.
What you will have to deal with is that Canada functions on the metric system so distances, purchases, speeds, and temperature will be given in metric. While, at first, it may seem strange, all of it is pretty easy to get used to. You will find that it’s easy to function normally.
My advice is… Don’t make it harder than it needs to be. I worked with the US Metric Committee back in the 1970s and ‘80s and presented metric seminars all over the country. Our focus was to get the USA to change over to this system. That effort failed partially because the naysayers always focused on the complexity of the exact conversion. You DO NOT need exact conversions. Simply, if it too cold, put a jacket on. It doesn’t make any difference that the temperature reading is 70° F or 21° C.
You can get REALLY close with these tricks…
- For liquids, four liters is about a gallon OR a liter is about a quart. So, when you need fuel in Canada and the posted price is, for example, $1.10, that is the price per liter. Just multiply by 4 and you will be REALLY CLOSE to the equivalent USA price per gallon.
- A millimeter is about the thickness of a dime.
- There are about 2.5 centimeters to the inch. A centimeter is about the width of your little finger at the nail. If you have fat fingers, it’s about the width of the nail.
- I cook. I have bought fresh meat in (I believe) every province in Canada (and one territory) and consistently, 500 grams of anything (including meat) is about a pound. Recipes work perfectly. So, a kilogram (1,000 grams) is about two pounds.
- Most odometers can be changed to kilometers with the push of a button.
- If you drive a car that was sold in the USA into Canada, use the LITTLE numbers on the speedometer (these are kilometers per hour – kph). The BIG numbers are miles per hour – mph.
- Temperature (Celsius and Fahrenheit) is a tiny bit more difficult but I received some great help from (appropriately) a Canadian reader. Consider this… Fahrenheit Temperature equals Celsius Temperature times 2 plus 30.
0° C = 0 x 2 + 30 = 30° F (Water freezes) Correct Temperature 32° F
20° C = 20 x 2 + 30 = 70° F (Correct temperature 68° F)
30° C = 30 x 2 + 30 = 90° F (Correct temperature 86° F°)
These three examples show that using this simple conversion will get you really close AND you can do this in your head! (Okay, some of you can!)
- The worst is hectares and acres. Don’t ask.
In my seminars and writing, I always recommend that you do a REAL measure for the height of your RV (I don’t care what they told you). Convert the measure to feet/inches AND meters. Then have one of those small plastic signs made that states your height requirement and glue this small sign on your dash. That way you (or anyone driving your coach) will know and it may prevent you from wiping out those air conditioners due to a low clearance. Whether Metric or English, too low is too low.
Finally, Google will do instant conversions for just about anything. You don’t need to ask complete questions. So, suppose your RV was 12’6” then ask Google this… “12.6 ft in m” which translated means “What is 12 feet 6 inches in meters?”