Travel is one of the best educational opportunities you can get. It allows you to discover new places, cultures, activities, and ecosystems. If you can, take your international student on a trip, whether around town, around BC, or further. 

Travel is one of the best educational opportunities you can get. It allows you to discover new places, cultures, activities, and ecosystems. If you can, take your international student on a trip, whether around town, around BC, or further. 

Travelling is fun, but to be safe when travelling with your international student, be sure to follow these tips: 

Travelling by bus and transit in BC

Driving and parking are getting quite expensive in Vancouver. Between the cost of gas and the high parking rates at our most popular attractions, you can save money by travelling with your international student on our transit system.

If you don’t usually travel by transit, here are a few things to know:

(Local) Bus travel

First, children under 12 can ride transit for free (up to 4 free children with one paying adult). Otherwise, children 13-18 are considered Youths and travel on discounted Concession fares. Make sure your homestay student brings a form of ID to prove their age if a transit attendant asks. 

If your student regularly travels on the local transit system, get them a Compass Card and preload it with a stored value (to be used as needed) or a monthly pass for unlimited trips for the calendar month. Your student’s monthly pass is just $58.60, which is a good value. To compare, a Concession day pass is $8.65, and a cash fair for a 1-zone trip is $2.05. 

Teach your student about Fare Zones. If you travel through 2 or more zones, the pay-as-you-go fares (cash and stored value on the Compass Card) will be more. A Concession monthly pass includes all zones, so you don’t have to worry about that.  

To take a bus, your student can tap their compass card when they enter, and the appropriate fare will be deducted. If paying by cash, deposit exact change only (no change given) into the fare box by the driver. 

For more about Travelling on buses in Greater Vancouver, visit the TransLink website. 

Travelling by ferry

You may wish to take your student on a day or weekend trip to Vancouver Island. On the ferry ride, the gift shop is full of excellent local products and souvenirs. Overall, it’s a great place to learn more about local cultures, especially the local Indigenous peoples. 

If the travel is for a school event, students can travel free (proof of school-sanctioned trip must be provided). Otherwise, all students 12 years and older are charged the adult fares on BC ferries. 

Another way to save on ferry costs is to get together with other local homestay families and go as a group. Groups of 10+ travelling by foot or in 1 vehicle may qualify for a group booking rate if booked in advance. 

We recommend paying for a reservation as the limited sailings fill up quickly. 

Crossing provincial borders

As you likely know, travelling across provincial borders in Canada is effortless. No passports or identification is required. If you’re taking your student on a trip across provincial borders, help them know what to pack and plan ahead for events & activities you would want to experience together. Waivers must only be signed by your student’s legal parent/guardian or custodian. 

Crossing into the US

Crossing from Canada into the US can be trickier but not impossible. Depending on their passport, your student may be required to get a special visa or permission to enter the US. 

It’s very important that your student has the appropriate paperwork to cross the border. Conduct research about travelling online and have your student can ask their home agency for advice about what is required to cross the border or check with your local US embassy or consulate for exact details.

If you have questions about crossing into the US to travel with your international student, talk to your homestay company or the local consulate. 

Important note about ANY overnight trips:  Your student’s legal custodian must always be aware of where they are. If you take your student outside the Lower Mainland or on an overnight trip, then inform your student’s custodian about your plans, even if your student’s parents back home approve of the trip. Depending on the location, you may be required to fill out before a trip is approved, so make sure you plan ahead.

In addition to paperwork, remember you are required to provide meals and accommodations for your student. Students must be under the same roof as you — either in the same hotel room (with their own separate bed from yours) or have their own room. 

If your trip plans include flights, remember that airfare should be covered by the student. Additional costs like activities and souvenirs should be covered by your student, too. Plan ahead for any activity which may require a waiver — only the student’s legal parent/guardian or custodian can sign waivers.

Benefits of travel for international students

Travelling with your student creates great memories both for your student and for your own family. It provides  an opportunity to explore the community, BC, and the country. Be your student’s guide and show them all the wondrous things our great region offers. 

If you want to become a homestay family, contact us at Harmony Homestay. We’re looking for families in your area to provide educationally rich learning opportunities for international students.

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