# Tuesday, April 7, 2015
                 
Pan Am Games Toronto

Games Overview

The Pan Am games, also known as the Pan American games, are being hosted this year in Toronto (Ontario, Canada). The games run from July 10 to July 26.

There are over forty countries from North and South America that participate in the games on a regular basis.

The games consist of summer time events, there is no "winter" version similar to what we see with the Olympic Games. (Winter time games were tried a couple of times but there was not enough sufficient interest to sustain them).

Events include, but are not limited to:
  • Equestrian (e.g. jumping and eventing)
  • Athletics (e.g. track and field events)
  • Aquatics (e.g. swimming and diving)
  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Boxing
  • Football (soccer to North Americans)
  • Tennis
  • Shooting
  • Water polo
  • Weight lifting
  • Field hockey
  • Wheelchair rugby and basketball
For a full listing of events click here.

Now that you know more about the Pan Am games, it is time to offer you some helpful tips if visiting Toronto, Canada for the festivities!

Tip #1: Clothing and Expected Weather

Game events are going to be held mainly in Toronto (downtown and the Greater Toronto Area, or GTA), with some events being hosted in Hamilton as well. All of these cities are close to one another, and have fairly similar weather patterns.

Make sure you dress appropriately for this expected weather:
  • A daily low temperature of 25 degrees Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit) and a daily high temperature of 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Occasional rainfall. On average Toronto receives 3.2 inches (81 millimeters) during the month of August.
To dig deeper into expected weather patterns please click here.

Note that the city of Toronto (as opposed to the outlying GTA) does get the occasional smog alert. Having said this, smog is not as much of a problem when compared to other large cities like Beijing, China or Mexico City, Mexico.

So, bring along clothes for relatively warm weather and make sure you also bring or buy rain gear (e.g. rain jacket or umbrella). The temperature usually drops slightly when a rain front moves into town, so a light jacket is a good idea along with a pair of pants for insulation.

Tip #2: Personal Safety and Protecting Your Belongings

Toronto is a relatively safe city to visit. In fact, in 2015 The Economist magazine selected Toronto as "the best city to live in the world" (based on safety, cost of living and "livability").

Having said this, you are never completely safe from crimes such as theft or personal assault.

When visiting Toronto please consider the following safety tips to protect you and your belongings:
  1. Never leave any personal belongings unprotected.
  2. Always keep a back-up of your critical documentation stashed away in a safe place.
  3. Wear two money belts: a visible one with a bit of operating cash, and another one inside of your clothing that can have some documentation and more cash (or traveler’s cheques).
  4. Avoid higher risk areas such as downtown alley ways in the middle of the night.
  5. Avoid wandering the city at night if you choose to imbibe heavily (however, Toronto might be one of the few cities in the world where you can get away with this).
  6. Let someone know where you are going if you strike out on your own.
  7. If you are ever accosted in a threatening manner withdraw from the scene as graciously as possible; do not escalate the altercation.

Tip #3: Medical Insurance Protection

Many people that visit Canada are surprised to find out that medical costs resulting from some sort of accident or unexpected medical condition are on par with medical costs in the USA.

For example, in Ontario the average daily cost for a general ward room is anywhere from $1,700 to $3,300. The daily cost for a stay in Intensive Care costs around $3,000 to $6,000 per day! For more information about average hospital costs see our Canadian Hospital Costs blog article.

If you are coming to the Pan Am Games from another country then we strongly urge you to have medical insurance protection. You have two options for this: get a travel insurance plan from your country of residence or buy a Visitor to Canada insurance policy. Note that there are several advantages to getting Visitor to Canada insurance as opposed to travel insurance from another country, click here for more information.

Tip #4: Electrical System and Personal Gadgets

Most of us bring along electrical gadgets when we travel such as mobile device chargers, hair blowers and laptop computers. It sure is nice when we can plug these things into an electrical outlet for power and have it work without damaging our appliances!

Canadian electrical outlet properties are as follows:
  • Residential voltage: 120 V (major appliances like dryers and washer run on 240 V)
  • Frequency: 60 Hz
  • Plug types: A and B
  • Plug standards: NEMA 1-15 P and NEMA 5-15 P

Note: any devices that are designed for 110V to 130V should work without having to get an adapter.

Tip #5: Traffic and Accommodations

Traffic in Toronto is busy at the best of times, and rush hour is especially busy.

Rush hours are approximately 8 AM to 9AM and 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM.

We advise visitors to Toronto to use public transit as much as possible. Besides the heavy traffic there are many one way streets, making driving difficult if you do not know the city.

There are numerous hotels in downtown Toronto (click here for a Google Map listing). You also have the option of getting a cheaper motel somewhere further away in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) and then taking public transit to the venues.

If you are coming to the games please book your room early. Once the games arrive your choices for accommodation will be greatly limited.

Tip #6: Tipping and Gratuities in Canada

When buying a product in a retail store there is no tipping or gratuity.

However, tipping is often expected for the following:
  • Going out for a meal where you are server by a waiter or waitress (note: take-out is a grey area, tipping is not usually expected, however).
  • In hotels (e.g. valet service, baggage handlers, etc.).
  • Taxi cab rides.
Note that most Canadians tip anywhere from 10% to 20% of the bill, depending on the level of service received.

Conclusion

If you are coming to Canada to see the Pan American games then we sincerely hope you have an outstanding experience!

Feel free to leave us a comment below if you have a useful tip that we have not mentioned in this article.

And if you have any questions about medical insurance when visiting please contact us, as licensed, experienced Canadian insurance brokers we are here to help.
 

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