Packing Tips for Your Trip to Canada

Travelling to another country is always exciting, except for one thing: packing. You may want to take your whole wardrobe,  but be sure to make it compact to avoid overweight bag charges.

Read through our vital list of packing tips from a travel expert, so you don’t forget anything.

Rule #1: Documents and Money Go in Your Bag First


Passport, visas, work & study permits and other documents are the last thing you want to forget. I would suggest taking a photocopy of all the documents and putting them in another bag, so you have a copy of them in case you loose the originals.

List of the main items that go in the carry-on bag:

  • Passport
  • Visa and study or work permits (if applicable)
  • Health insurance (if you ordered it through ILAC, you will get it upon arrival)
  • ILAC Letter of Acceptance
  • Homestay Letter (if applicable)
  • Money and credit/debit cards (notify the bank about your trip prior your departure)
  • Have some cash in Canadian dollars (call to the bank and preorder cash in advance)
  • A list of important phone numbers
  • A doctor’s note translated into English and prescription medicine
  • Contact lenses with the container, glasses, sunglasses (if applicable)
  • A camera and charges
  • Laptop (take it if you go for a long period of time. You can also use computers at ILAC)
  • A change of clothes, toothbrush and toothpaste (in case your luggage is delayed)

winter_clothingRule # 2: Check the Weather and Pack Accordingly

The Canadian climate is often associated with cold weather and snow but, in reality, our climate is very diverse.

Summer officially starts in June 21st and ends in September 21st. The beginning and end of warm weather usually coincide with these dates. If you visit Canada in the summer, take summer clothes and something warm (long pants, closed shoes, jacket, long sleeve shirts) as the evenings may be colder.

Winter season obviously requires something really warm. Do not forget about a warm jacket, gloves, a hat and a scarf. Winter in Vancouver is usually moderate and the temperature ranges from -2 to +8 degrees Celsius. Also don’t forget to take an umbrella as weather in Canada is quite unpredictable and it may rain even in winter (especially in Vancouver).

ilac_packing_tipsRule #3: Don’t Pack Your Whole Wardrobe

Take only the clothes you need, otherwise you may end up paying for overweight. Plan to wear one shirt/dress/pants per day.

List of the main clothing items:

  • Shirts with long and short sleeves
  • Socks and thermal underwear (applicable also for males in the winter season. Can be worn under the pants)
  • Shorts (for summer), pants and jeans
  • Bathing suit (for summer season) and shower sandals
  • Party outfit (we have many events at ILAC, so bring a dress to impress!)
  • Jacket, raincoat (depending on a season) and a small umbrella
  • Comfortable shoes and one pair of dressy shoes
  • Pajamas
  • Summer or winter hat
  • Gloves (applicable for fall and winter)

clothing_winterRule #4: Don’t Forget Other Travel Accessories

  • I am sure you can live without a hair dryer unless you’ve got really long hair
  • Bring a portable mini iron only if you really need it. Not all homestay families use an iron, so double check it in advance
  • We recommend to bring your own towel
  • Cosmetic and toiletry bag with the travel-size versions of your favourite products
  • Hairbrush

Rule #5: Bring the Medicine You Need

Bring the medicine you need with prescriptions and ideally with the drugstore receipts. I suggest carrying all medication in its original package as the customs officials may want to check it at the border.

Rule #6: Have Suitcases with Wheels

Having suitcases with wheels makes it simpler to get through busy airports. It puts less strain on your body and makes maneuvering simpler.

compression_packing_bagsRule #7: Buy Compression Packing Bags

I have recently discovered this great invention. Using compression packing bags, you can remove excess air from bulky garments.

Compression bags compress big items, save up to 80% of your packing volume and maximize the space in your luggage.

Rule #8: Check Canadian Security Requirements

Canadian Air Transport Security Authority regularly updates the list of permitted and non-permitted items for flights originating in Canada. Check out for current security requirements.

Rule #9: Wear the Heaviest Clothing

Wear the heaviest clothing, so you don’t need to pack it.

Remember the main rule: to pack in advance especially if you are planning to come to Canada for a long period of time. First, pack everything outside your bag, so you can see all the items and eliminate unnecessary ones. Once you’ve considered all the rules listed above, pack your stuff and have a safe flight!

Alena Khabibullina

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