Park Omega feeding a carrot to the Red Deer

Who knows travel better than those who have dedicated their lives to it? In this series, 7travel talks travel & tips with industry experts. Learn the best travel tips, what mistakes not to make, and what destinations should be on your to-visit list.  

40 years of working in the travel industry promoting Canada to many global markets has proven to Donna Campbell how much of a kindred connection exists between Canadian and Australian travellers. Now the Managing Director, Destination Canada GSA, Campbell can explain what makes the relationship between the two countries so special and why Canada is the ideal destination for the intrepid, active, curious Aussie traveller.

Donna Campbell

7travel: It seems like Canadians and Australians have a lot in common when it comes to having the desire to see the world. Why do you think that is?

Campbell: Australians and Canadians are kindred spirits. We like to laugh at ourselves – and each other!  We’re kind and hospitable and have an insatiable curiosity for life.  There’s nothing we won’t do for our fellow traveller, even if it’s someone we’ve just met that day. We feel like everyone is a potential friend. It’s quite phenomenal how much the two groups just click.

7travel: Any flight between Australia and Canada is a long one! Do you have a favourite tip or trick for getting through long flights?

Campbell: It sounds boring, but drink water and don’t eat heavy meals. I go for the fruits, juices, and vegetables and I come out on the other end at my destination feeling so much better.

The other tip is to arrive at the airport tired. If you don’t have a fear of flying, you’ll walk onto the plane ready to sleep. With the white noise of the engine and the gentle rocking of the plane, you'll be able to get six hours or more of sleep. 

7travel: Canada is such a large country that it’s hard to see every highlight in one trip. Where can a first-time visitor start?

Campbell: When anybody starts thinking about a destination, they start planning their bucket list of must-do ideas. For Canada, that might be ‘skiing in Whistler’ or the 'riding a Rocky Mountaineer train’ or 'seeing Niagara Falls.’ And of course, those are iconic, bucket list-worthy things to do. But there are 10 provinces and 3 territories in Canada and there is so much more to see and do than just the icons.

So it might be the Northern Lights in winter or glamping in summer that call to you initially. But when you go for one trip, it becomes an addiction… and you just have to come back and see more!

Visiting the Northern Lights

7travel: If a traveller wants an active holiday in Canada, how long is the ideal holiday?

Campbell: Ideally, you’d have 3 weeks for an active holiday in Canada. The best plan is to unpack and settle in, find out where the great restaurants and bars are, and then go off conquer the activities you planned. But those activities will lead to new ones - a mountain bike trip might lead to river kayaking or hiking, for example. So, no matter what you plan to do, leave enough time for spontaneous experiences when you  get inspired by your surroundings.

If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, I recommend driving in Canada. Sure, it’s on the other side of the road. But the roads are  wider than they are in Australia. Plus, Canadian drivers are courteous! There’s so much freedom that comes with hitting the road. You can choose your own adventure when you’re an independent traveller. Just settle on a location that excites you and  see where the road takes you. With Canada’s diverse landscapes and stunning country towns, you’ll find surprises around every corner.

7travel: Can you simply summarise what makes Canada an easy destination for the Australian visitor?

Campbell: Everybody is budget-conscious when they travel, so it’s important to remember that your Australian dollar goes far in Canada. In fact, the Australian dollar is at parity with the Canadian dollar almost all of the time.

And there’s a perception that Canada is too cold due to its location in the northern hemisphere. But truly, it’s not that cold! The warmer months are balmy, perfect for water sports, kayaking, and biking. Even in winter, the sun is usually shining, creating the perfect winter wonderland. Rug up and join the locals for some outstanding winter fun. It’s not just all about skiing and snowboarding either. We’re talking snowshoeing, dog mushing, ice skating, and sleigh rides. It’s magic!  

Polar bear sighting in Canada