Ontario is one of the 10 provinces of Canada and possibly the most renown province to people outside Canada with famous landmarks and cities like Toronto, Niagara Falls along with the capital of Canada: Ottawa. Ontario is also the most populous province in Canada with close to 40% of the population of the country’s population living in Ontario (https://www.lonelyplanet.com/canada/ontario ).
After spending 4 months in Canada and travelling around in different modes of transport, it is driving around, road tripping with a bunch of your friends that is the most cost friendly and fun mode of transport.
Here’s some car rental preparation information before you set off for your road trip:
- Driving licence: I’ve managed to use my Singapore driving licence to rent cars here and it has not been an issue hence an international driving licence is not required. However, if your driving licence is without a photo ID then an International driving license will be required. Some provinces in Canada will require an international driving licence so it will be beneficial if you do some research prior to renting a car.
- Underage fee: Car rental companies will charge an underage fee of around 15 CAD a day if you are under the age of 25 years old. Also, the minimum age to rent a car is 21 years old.
- Credit card: A credit card is required to hold the car and it will be swiped when you rent the car but no charges will be incurred as long the car is returned as per required. In most instances, you are allowed to pay in debit or credit for the car rental charges.
- Insurance: Generally, when we mention about car insurance, it typically refers to the motor insurance which all cars should have. This is paid by the car rental companies as the cars belong to them. The additional fee that you are paying extra for when renting a car is called the ‘Collision Damage Waiver’. Often, we pay for this without fully understanding what this waiver truly covers. This waiver means that if anything happens to your car, the cost of damage will be waived off. Sounds great, isn’t it? However, sometimes, it comes with a catch. The car rental companies may tell you that there is a deductible of an amount, such as $1000. What does this mean? This means that you will have to pay up till the first $1000, and the company will cover any cost of damage above $1000. However, if the cost of damage is below $1000, you will be liable to pay for the entire cost of damage. You will be required to pay $1000 upfront if your car suffers any damage and the car rental company will refund whatever is not used up for the repair. There are car rental companies which offer ‘Collision Damage Waiver’ with no deductible at all. This means that if anything happens to the car, you will not be required to pay a single cent (please read the terms and conditions for the exclusions some companies may have).What should you do when you encounter a car accident? Regardless of whether it is minor such as a dislodged car bumper or a major one such as a collision with another car, you will have to call the emergency contact number given by the car rental company when you rent the call AND call the police. You may feel that the damage to the car is very minor and a police report is unnecessary. However, a failure to report to the police may cause the motor insurance of the car to be voided and the car rental company could charge you the full cost of damage to the car. When you call the police, judging by the situation, the police may or may not take action. If the damage is minor, such as below $1000, the police will tell you to go to Collision Reporting Centre to report the accident. It does not open 24/7 so do check the hours of operation. Most importantly, please take a lot of photographs of the car, the damaged and the non-damaged parts, so as to prevent the car rental companies from ‘mishandling’ the car and charging you even more for damages that aren’t even caused by you. It is fairly common for the car rental companies to overcharge for the cost of damage so you must ensure that you have the evidence to protect yourself. If you bought travel insurance and it comes with a car rental damage clause, you can claim part of the amount that you paid to the car rental company. It will not affect your motor insurance premium in the future. You should contact your personal insurance agent after the accident has occurred so he/she will be able to guide you to a smooth claim. Do collect as many documents as possible as well as your return air ticket to prove that you are indeed travelling.The Damage waiver fee (insurance) comes up to around 20 CAD a day.
- Services: Car rental companies like Enterprise and Discount offer free pick up, send off services when you book the car rental with them.
- Gas: Cars come pre-fueled at full tank and it is required to return the car at full tank or the level when you got the car . Google maps is able to check the listing of gas stations and show the prices of gas at each gas station.
Conclusion: I personally prefer Discount car as it is the cheapest but do check enterprise and discount as at varying instances, one’s price might be more competitive than the other. With underage fee, insurance and a normal sedan car, it usually comes up to 90 CAD a day for the car rental.
Road-Tripping:Places to see
As my exchange was at Queen’s University, Kingston, it was the starting point of my 4D 3N road trip and right in Kingston there is this beautiful wilderness area called Rock Dunder. Rock Dunder is a 15 minute drive from the downtown Kingston and can be accessed by the road of Stanley Lash Lane. The Rock Dunder Trail is an easy hike, with some slopes that are manageable and the route is marked by yellow markings. It took us close to 3 hours as we strolled through the trail, enjoying the sights and taking loads of photos.
Most of the trail is either on flat ground or slight slopes.
I went to the trail when winter was just beginning to end hence the river was still frozen.
The lookout point of the trail is a large rocky ground that offers a panoramic view of the entire area and it is an excellent place to take Instagram photos. I’ve heard that during fall, the leaves of these trees have different colors which makes its even more beautiful.
2.Torrance Barrens Dark-Sky Preserve
This place is designated for star-gazing. On days with little light pollution and favorable conditions, it is indeed an excellent place to try to catch a glimpse of the milky way. Due to the unfavorable conditions at night to take photos, you’ll probably need a good camera to capture the sky.
3. Lake Muskoka
This Lake is pretty near the Torrance dark sky preserve and it’s another scenic spot for great photos although the Lake was pretty much frozen when we were there.
In summer or fall, the Lake will be buzzing with activities to do by the Lake like swimming or enjoying a nice meal by the waterfront.
4. Scenic Caves, Collingwood
The original intention of the visit to this area was to check out the scenic caves but they were closed during the winter season and thus we could only hike around the suspension bridge area. The admission ticket to the suspension bridge area costs 10 CAD per person and on a clear day you can see 10,000 square kilometers far.
5. Stratford Festival
If you’re a Shakespeare fan, then Stratford Festival is the place for you! It’s North America’s largest classical repertory theatre so be sure to check out the show timings and catch one. Stratford is in fact the town that Justin Bieber grew up and there are areas in the town that are marked out that mentioned where Justin Bieber used to hang out etc.
6. University of Western Ontario
University of Western Ontario is not only known to be rivals with Queens’ in academic excellence and sports, it has also a beautiful campus to rival that of Queens’. Definitely one of the most beautiful campus I have seen.
7. Spencer Gorge/ Webster Falls Conservation area
This conservation area is in the region of Hamilton and there is a parking fee of 10 CAD per car. It takes around 2 hours to hike around the conservation area from Webster Falls to Spencer Gorge.
8. Niagara Falls
A road trip around Ontario is not complete without a visit to Niagara falls. On some nights, there are light shows that projects onto the Niagara Falls.
9. Scarborough Bluffs, Scarborough
The last stop of my road trip was at Scarborough which is 20 minutes away from Toronto and it is a great place for a walk as it is so peaceful and tranquil. The Bluffs are a sight to behold and should be viewed from both the shore and the top of the Bluffs.
I managed to cover all these areas in a 4D 3N road trip of Ontario and the list is in a chronological order based on what i managed to cover with my starting and ending point being Kingston. Some of the ideas for my Ontario road trip were inspired by what i read through this website.
Nevertheless, a road trip is always more enjoyable with a bunch of friends and I’m definitely looking forward to more road trips in the future!