1. Your Passport: U.S. citizens used to get away with a driver's license for ID, but security requirements have stiffened. Passports will be required for air and sea travel to and from Canada by the end of 2006, and for land travel as well by the end of 2007. Apply for yours now.
2. Layers: Fog and storms go with this territory. Even warm summer days can turn into chilly nights. A windbreaker almost always comes in handy.
3. Outdoor Gear: Nova Scotia's license plates proudly claim the title "Canada's Ocean Playground." New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador contribute some marvelous outdoor experiences as well. Among them, these provinces offer hiking, biking, paddling, fishing, river rafting, golfing, hunting, skiing, sailing, surfing, and exceptional wildlife-watching.
4. Binoculars: These come in handy for checking out seabirds and whales.
5. Insect Repellent: Why? Because black fly season peaks in June, and mosquitoes are plentiful and hungry all summer long.
6. Seasickness Remedies: The marvelous high-speed ferry known as The CAT slices through waves at up to 55 mph as it shuttles between Maine (Portland or Bar Harbor) and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia; catferry.com. But its gentle porpoising motion can unsettle stomachs. Trust us.
7. Auto Insurance: If you drive your own car, then you'll need proof of insurance. Ask your carrier for a Canadian insurance card.
8. Guidebook: Frequent updates make Fodor's Nova Scotia & Atlantic Canada (currently in its ninth edition) a good overall choice.
9. Tunes: The great fiddlers of Nova Scotia's Cape Breton Island exuberantly mix traditional and contemporary musical styles. Natalie MacMaster is the most famous and Ashley MacIsaac the most notorious (for personal eccentricities, not brilliant playing). See sfcelticmusic.com/Capebret/cbfiddlr.htm.
1 0. Required Reading: A sometimes bittersweet nostalgia for his boyhood on a Cape Breton farm imbues Alistair MacLeod's quietly absorbing prose. Island: The Complete Stories collects all of his short stories. He also has written a novel, the acclaimed No Great Mischief, and an illustrated holiday tale, To Every Thing There is a Season: A Cape Breton Christmas Story.