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First of all, get a street map and brochures from your city’s Visitor Bureau and take a few days to explore the public transportation system. Most of the information you need, such as fare costs and numbers to call about the service, should be in the brochures.

Buses and trains (such as Toronto’s TTC or Vancouver’s SkyTrain) are relatively cheap, reliable and safe across the country. In some cities, bus drivers are not permitted to handle change, so you will need to deposit the exact fare when you board or buy your ticket at the station or stop. Ask the driver for a “transfer” if you are planning on changing buses. This allows you to move from one bus to another without paying a second fare. Be aware that there are restrictions to the use of your transfer, such as time limits.

Once you familiarize yourself with the city, either by walking or via public transit, get to know some of the essential places/amenities you will need to go regularly, including the following.

Shopping: Spend a few hours checking out the closest grocery store — walk down aisles and familiarize yourself with the different products on the shelves. Go to malls and thrift stores to look at household goods you may need to buy. Also, if you are in Canada in the spring, summer or fall, you will see signs throughout the neighbourhoods saying “Garage Sale,” where you can often find great deals on used furniture, clothing and many other household items.

Local doctor’s offices and hospitals: Check the directory of your local doctors’ offices and hospitals and keep the numbers close by. Hopefully you won’t need to use them often, but it’s better to be safe than sorry!

Tourist attractions and local entertainment: The city’s Visitor Bureau will also have information about local attractions and entertainment. Take time to explore what the city has to offer and have some fun — whether it is a neighbourhood park, a historic landmark or the city zoo.

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