I’m so, so, so excited to be venturing into Canada on this trip, because over the next month I’ll be heading to New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Quebec City. I’ve never been to any of these provinces or cities and am really looking forward to sightseeing in these beautiful areas, some of which are fairly remote with little tourist traffic like on Cape Breton Island.
After finishing my last quest on Maine’s Big Sur, I stayed in Calais, Maine at – you guessed it – Walmart to sleep for the night and get some work done before heading across the border.
The border crossing into New Brunswick is in Calais, Maine so it’s a very short 5 minute drive to the border.
Before crossing into Canada I did some research about crossing into Canada and what was allowed, not allowed, what I needed for Lily’s dog medical records, and also cell and Internet coverage.
Crossing the Canadian Border and What You’ll Need
Thankfully I didn’t have any hiccups with crossing into Canada – not that I expected there would be – put preparing yourself before you get there, especially while traveling in an RV, is essential.
I’ve heard stories of how border agents can pull you to the side and literally go through every area of the RV and pull things out onto the parking lot in order to search your RV. I’m not sure under what circumstances that would happen, but I wanted to be as prepared as possible so as to not have that kind of search.
I certainly didn’t want to spend my time repacking my RV.
To cross the border you’ll need to be prepared for the following:
-Valid passport or valid passport card (Some states have the enhanced ID card for Canada and that can be used as well in lieu of the passport.)
-Signed rabies certification for pets – It must be signed or it’s not valid. Since I travel and go to different vets across the country, I had to go back to the original vet who administered Lily’s rabies shot and have them sign the certification and then email it to me.
-Shot records for pets – This isn’t a must, but I brought it with me just in case.
-Be prepared to answer questions concisely and directly.
-Know where you are going and where you’ll be staying. For us RVers who travel full-time, we don’t always know where we will be or where we’ll be staying. I did however know that I was going to Cape Breton Island and staying at one particular RV park, so that’s what I told them and that I would make my way to Quebec City after that, but that I didn’t have a reservation yet. They seemed to be okay with that answer.
-Know how long you will be in the country.
-Know where you are coming from and where your “home” or home base is in the U.S. This may sound silly, but again, with being full-time RVing, we are traveling from all sorts of places, so when they asked where my home was, I told them my home which is in Washington State. I don’t like to advertise that I’m a full-time RVer in case that’s a warning flag for anybody. I’m certainly not doing anything illegal, but it’s not the “norm” in society and can be looked upon as being homeless instead of houseless. So I’d rather give as little information as possible and only answer the direct question concisely. If they asked me if I was full-time, I wouldn’t lie, but again I just want to keep to the direct question.
When I came to the border crossing, the Canadian border agent was friendly and asked me some of the questions I detailed above. She also asked me if I was carrying a firearm, weapons, or pepper spray.
So let’s address this question. There are certain firearms that are not allowed into Canada. I’m not going to into that in this post since I’m not an expert and these laws can change. I wouldn’t want to steer anybody in the wrong direction so it’s best that you really research on the official Canadian website for this information and I’ve provided a link to help you with that research.
Pepper spray is not allowed either. If it’s pepper spray for self-defense, mace, or anything like that, then it’s considered a weapon and not allowed.
The only type of spray that is allowed is bear spray and it must be labeled as such.
The other concern for crossing the border into Canada is food items. There’s a very long list of specific food and plant items that can and can’t be brought into Canada
For the most part your probably safe as long as you don’t bring in house plants and firewood. Meat must be marked with it’s country of origin along with a long list of what you can bring so make sure you review the list. Fortunately I didn’t need to address this since I’m vegan.
You’ve heard the saying, know before you go – well that applies here. Just be as prepared as possible. It’s not complicated at all even though it might sound like it with this full list of requirements, but it’s really very easy as long as you prepare yourself.
Cell Phone and Data Coverage
Before traveling to Canada I also researched cell phone and data coverage since I definitely need this for work, at least during the work week.
My cell phone and data plan is with Verizon so I called them to find out what my plan offered.
The Verizon representative explained to me that I still had unlimited coverage in Canada so this was a great thing!
Fast forward to visiting Canada and actually testing this unlimited service plan – which proved to not be 100% accurate.
I would be working and then I would get a text message stating that I had reached the maximum of 1/2 gig of data for the day.
1/2 gig of data limit?
I called Verizon and they confirmed that cell and text is unlimited; however data is capped at 1/2 gig per day.
That was super disappointing. I’m not sure if I explained it incorrectly initially or the rep just didn’t explain in full about data. Nevertheless, I was left surfing free wifi in Home Depot parking lots which wasn’t really how I intended to spend my time in Canada.
So, lesson learned – I need to research a little bit better next time on this topic and either add service or get a sim card in Canada for data service for the time I’ll be there.
Since I was so reliant on the Home Depot wifi I didn’t take the time to find any other free spots to camp at night while traveling through New Brunswick on my way to Nova Scotia.
Interestingly, there seems to be a Walmart by most Home Depots. Start looking for it and see if you notice it too.
So it was easy to park at night at Walmart and then drive over to Home Depot to work for the day. Also, just a little tip if you ever need free wifi while traveling – I seem to be able to pick up their free wifi signal better if you park over on the contractors pickup side rather than the garden side.
I haven’t had much luck with the free wifi at Walmart. It seems spotty and it’s hard to get a signal in the parking lot.
Yes, I know – thinking about Walmart boondocking doesn’t seem quite so glamorous when you think about RVing and traveling to these beautiful places, but when I work all day and sleep all night, it doesn’t bother me too much.
Plus – I always have a grocery store right in my backyard.
Road Trip on Cape Breton Island’s Cabot Trail
Ah…Cape Breton Island is the creme de le creme of Nova Scotia. It’s not a short trip at 400 miles from Calais, Maine to the southern tip of Cape Breton Island and you must back track to leave the area, but it’s completely worth it!
The Cabot Trail goes all around the Great Breton Island so you can choose to go clockwise or counterclockwise.
From my research, clockwise is easier on the RV engine because of the steep inclines going counterclockwise and also I didn’t want to be in the lane right on the cliff for safety purposes. After my trip to Lake Tahoe and being on the edge with no guard rails I thought this would be better suited for me.
There was this feeling I had of pure freedom and bliss as I RV’d along Cabot Trail that hugs the coastline all the way around Cape Breton Island.
The cliffs that overlook the ocean…..
The grass swaying in the wind….
The waves crashing on the rocks….
The smell of the salty air….
The sun glistening off of the water….
The feel of my skin as the wind brushed across my arm with the windows down on the RV….
The winding and curving road on Cabot Trail through the mountains, villages, and seaside….
My senses were overloaded with goodness and joy.
It’s funny, when I went back to edit my video footage of this trip, you could see the profound smile on my face and the joy gushing out.
It truly was incredible.
I had reserved a campsite at Hide Away Campground half way through Cabot Trail on the far northeast side of Cape Breton Island in Dingwall for several days so I could relax and enjoy the view, do some hiking and then complete the other half of the loop around the island.
Propane Alarm Issue AGAIN
Just before I got to the campground, my propane alarm went off again while I was driving. This was the first time it had ever gone off while driving and I thought I had it figured out – it was going off due to a low voltage problem.
There goes that theory. I had plenty of power in the batteries and I was driving which charges the batteries on top of what the solar panels are bringing in.
What a hot mess. I have no idea what’s happening with this alarm.
When I left Hide Away Campground, my plan was to head to Halifax, Nova Scotia and spend some time there; however literally on the first day there, I was sleeping and the propane alarm went off. I couldn’t figure out why it kept going off.
Every 30 minutes the alarm would sound so I didn’t get any sleep and was worried about what was happening, especially since I would open the side door and that would seem to clear the alarm.
That really worried me because it then appeared that something in the atmosphere was definitely setting the alarm off.
I ended up finding a dealership that completed Winnebago warranty work all the way back up in New Brunswick so I set-up an emergency, same day appointment with them and left the next morning to New Brunswick.
My concern was the propane tank was leaking gas and this was the problem.
The dealership did a propane leak test and found nothing wrong and of course by this time the alarm wasn’t going off anymore.
Super frustrating, but at least I know there’s not a gas leak.
Okay, let's go back to Cabot Trail on the way to my first overnight destination.
Overnighting at Hide Away Campground
I found the campground with no problems using my GPS and check in was simple and short.
I couldn’t believe my eyes at the view as I entered the campground and discovered where my campsite would be and the view I would have each day.
The spaces aren’t too compact and spaced a decent distance from each other for the most part. I mean I could always use more space, but for some reason it didn’t seem bad. Maybe it was the beautiful view.
There was no Internet service here and my cell phone barely got a signal so it was good that I took an extended weekend to come here and not need to work.
I relished in the peace of no digital communication and took the time to meditate, read a book, enjoy the outdoors, walk, and do some hiking.
The campground filled up over the weekend with people in the cabins, tents and RVs. It was a really great experience and I loved being there.
The views of the mountains and water are incredible.
I had full hookups though I was too scared to plugin the RV electric due to the propane alarm issue. I still wasn’t sure what was causing the issue and thought it could still be a low voltage problem. Every time I plug-in to shore power this alarm will go off within 30 minutes.
After spending a beautiful weekend at Hide Away Campground I set out to complete the last leg of Cabot Trail on the southeast side of Nova Scotia. It was raining that morning and clouds lingered in the sky; however it didn't deter Cape Breton Island's beauty from shining through.
While I experienced some challenges along the way with the propane alarm and Internet, I still made the best of the time I was there and really enjoyed my stay. Next time though, I’ll be headed to Halifax first so I can take in the western side of Nova Scotia.
Have you been to Nova Scotia and Cape Breton Island? What’s your favorite destination there?
Overnights & Places Visited
- Walmart all through out New Brunswick and Nova Scotia / $0
- Hide Away Campground in Dingwall, Nova Scotia, Canada / $32 per night US dollars for full hookup
- Cabot Trail / $0
- Cape Breton Highlands National Park / $0 on this trip since it was the Canada 150th Year Anniversary and they were giving away free passes for the year.
- You can drive this route in any RV without any problems. There was plenty of parking at all of the sights I visited.
Cell Phone Signal Strength: 2-4 bars and almost 0 bars at Hide Away Campground. I didn't have my cell booster at this point so it might be different with a booster.
Park Pass: Canada's National Park pass is required when you want to travel around Cape Breton Island's Cabot Trail
Panasonic Lumix G85 Camera – For most still images and vlogging
Sony Action Cam FDRX3000 – For dash cam and walking/talking video
Joby Gorillapod – Used for holding the cameras as a tripod or mounting to just about anything to capture a shot.
AllStays app – Use on phone or desktop for finding gas stations, RV parks, campgrounds, propane, and more on your travel route.
Verizon Data Plan – Best nationwide coverage as of this post while traveling.