Vancouver Fast Facts + Tips


FAQs

Q: How will you keep our children safe?

A: We always have a 1:10 chaperone to student ratio along with 1:10 ratio of a local guide to student. There are enough adults to cover emergency situations as well as split group scenarios. Safety guidelines are announced at beginning of trip as required throughout the tour.

Q: What will happen in the event of an injury or a sick child?

A: A 2 Degrees guide will take the injured or sick child to the nearest walk in clinic or hospital. The parent will be notified as soon as child is being attended by a medical professional. There will always be an adult accompanying your child while the rest of the group continues with the tour.

Q: How does the medical claim process work?

A: The student must have access to enough funds to pay for medical expenses in advance. Receipts of doctor visits and any other expenses relating to the medical incident must be kept to submit to insurance provider. Once student returns home initiate the claim with your medical insurance provider.

Q: What should our child pack?

A: Click here for our packing guidelines.

Q: Will there be WIFI access at all times for family to stay in touch with my child?

A: 90% of the time your child will have access to WIFI. During Outdoor School is the only time the students disconnect and fully engage in the experience with nature. Expect to hear updates from chaperones during the time at Outdoor School.

Q: How do you handle dietary restrictions?

A: During registration, you complete a medical form which advises us of any dietary restrictions. North Americans for some reason have much more dietary needs than the rest of the world, for this reason, external kitchen staff are well prepared to avoid such food when serving special menu requests. 2 Degrees staff communicates and ensures all staff we work with are notified well in advance as well as reminded during each meal.

Q: What is the best way to stay in contact with the group tour?

A: There is a private Facebook group page formed for each tour. There we share updates and photos as the tour proceeds. Meet other parents, students, schools staff and 2 Degrees staff in this group.

Q: Can my relatives visit my child?

A: Your relatives can visit your child only during rest time while at the hotel. Visiting during rest time allows loved ones to reconnect and minimize tour disruptions/delays.

Q: Will there be time to go shopping?

A: Yes, we allow at least one time slot for shopping. Education and experience is the focus of the tour and will accommodate shopping interests during allocated times.

Q: What do you recommend to bring for spending money?

A: We recommend no more than $500 to buy personal snacks, beverages, souvenirs and other merchandise.

Population

The population of Vancouver, the metropolitan area and Province of British Columbia (BC) based on Census 2016 are:

  • 631, 486 in Vancouver City

  • 2,463,431 in Vancouver metropolitan area

  • 4,648,055 in Province of British Columbia

The Vancouver metropolitan area more known as the Lower Mainland represents 53% of BC’s entire population.

Language

The Canadian government operates and services in two languages, English and French, most of the Canadian population speaks English as their first or second language.  Most of the French speakers live in the province of Quebec.  This hardly affects you as a visitor to Vancouver as most government related documents and product labels are printed in both English and French.  Maps, signs and directions are in English in every province except Quebec.

The top 6 first languages other than English spoken in Vancouver are:

  1. Chinese (including dialects Mandarin, Cantonese or N.O.S)

  2. Punjabi

  3. Tagalog (Pilipino, Filipino)

  4. Korean

  5. Persian

  6. Spanish

Vancouver is multicultural and multilingual which makes you feel like you fit in no matter what origin you are from.  Most likely, you can find little neighborhoods bustling and speaking in their own languages selling some items you miss from your home country. 

Site:  Statistics Canada. 2012. Visual Census. 2011 Census. Ottawa. Released October 24, 2012.

(accessed December 11, 2017)

Currency

It is recommended to all visitors to use Canadian currency (the Canadian Dollar – CAD) when travelling within Canada. To get the best possible rates visitors can exchange currency at Foreign exchange brokers outside of the airport or tourist attractions.  For the most convenience and value exchange your currency at Canadian chartered banks.  To make your arrival as smooth as possible it is advised to have local currency on hand prior to arriving. Some hotels, stores, restaurants and suppliers mostly accept US or other foreign currency at a higher rate than financial institutions.

Canadian money is colorful and waterproof.  A lot of people joke that it’s funny looking or similar to Monopoly money.  The Canadian Dollar is made up of 100 Canadian cents. Coins are in denominations of 5 cents (nickel), 10 cents (dime), 25 cents (quarter), $1 (loonie), and $2 (toonie).  Notes are in denominations $5, $10, $20, $50, $100 and $1,000.

In 2013, Canada phased out the 1 cent (penny) coin.  If you are paying cash, the total amount of your purchases will be rounded either up or down to the closest 5 cents. Credit card and debit card payments are not rounded. For more information, visit the Royal Canadian Mint website

Taxation

Know what to expect when buying merchandise in Vancouver.  The total will be greater than the list price due to taxes applied both from the Provincial and Federal Government.

Purchases in British Columbia are subject to:

  • 7% Provincial Sales Tax (PST)

  • 5% Federal Goods and Services Tax (GST)

  • 8% PST plus up to 3% additional hotel tax on Accommodation

  • GST and/or PST exempt items are food, restaurant meals, books and magazines, and children’s clothing.

Time Zone

Vancouver is in the Pacific Time Zone and practices Daylight Savings Time starting on the second Sunday in March ending on the first Sunday in November. You can see Vancouver’s time in relation to most cities around the world by visiting www.thetimenow.com, where you can find Canadian specific important dates.

Workdays

Vancouver’s business hours are generally from 09:00am to 05:00pm, Monday to Friday.  Hours vary for each organization or business. Retailers are usually open seven days a week, and most stores are open from 9:30 am to 06:00pm Monday to Wednesday up until 9:00pm on Thursdays and Fridays. Some major drugstores or grocery chains, nearly every form of accommodation, and some restaurants/bars, stay open around the clock.

Electricity

Outlets and voltage (110 volts) are the same as in the United States. Small appliances such as hair dryers, irons, razors, etc. can be used in Canada. For those from other countries, adapters are required for electrical appliances. The frequency of electrical current in Canada is 60 Hz.

Holidays

British Columbia celebrates 10 statutory holidays annually.  Generally, banks, schools and some businesses remain closed on statutory holidays.  Hotels, retailers, restaurants, coffee shops and grocery stores remain open for business as usual.  In addition to the statutory holidays, Easter Monday and Boxing Day are often observed as holidays by businesses, banks and schools. 

Holiday 2018 2019 2020 2021
Boxing Day * Dec 26 Dec 26 Dec 26 Dec 26
Christmas Day Dec 25 Dec 25 Dec 25 Dec 25
Remembrance Day Nov 11 Nov 11 Nov 11 Nov 11
Thanksgiving Day Oct 8 Oct 14 Oct 12 Oct 11
Labour Day Sept 3 Sept 2 Sept 2 Sept 6
BC Day Aug 6 Aug 5 Aug 3 Aug 2
Canada Day Jul 2 Jul 1 Jul 1 Jul 1v
Victoria Day May 21 May 20 May 18 May 24
Good Friday Mar 30 Apr 19 Apr 10 Apr 2
Family Day Feb 12 Feb 11 Feb 10 Feb 8
Easter Monday * Apr 2 Apr 22 Apr 13 Apr 5
New Year’s Day Jan 1 Jan 1 Jan 1 Jan 1

Note: Canada Day is usually July 1. If July 1 falls on Sunday, Monday July 2 replaces July 1 as the statutory holiday.

* Not official statutory holidays

School Calendar

All Statutory Holidays are observed.

Last day of school End of June
Spring Break Middle of March (includes 5 days not in session)
Winter Vacation The week of Christmas and New Year’s Day
September – June First day of school: Generally the first Tuesday of September

*Professional Development Days to be decided.

When to Visit

There are a few things to factor after reviewing the dates you are able to visit Vancouver.  Most participants come during their longest school breaks to make the travel time and adjustment worthwhile.  Below are factors to consider:

WEATHER

Peak Season

  • Pros – Best weather conditions, aligned with school breaks, free festivals, free outdoor activities

  • Cons – travel cost is more expensive, long wait times, larger crowds

Shoulder Season

  • Pros – Mid-range travel costs, cool and warm temperatures

  • Cons – Limitations on what to do due to variable weather

Off Season

  • Pros – Lowest travel costs, little to no wait times, flexibility in availability with more options

  • Cons – Wet and cold weather, short days

 

Winter (January – March)

Vancouver enjoys mild winters with rarely any snow in the city.  Outdoor enthusiasts love the proximity of the mountains just 20 minutes from downtown, winter is the perfect time to visit for those looking to ski, snowboard, snowshoe or toboggan.  Winter hosts both a peak and an off season.

  • Peak season Christmas and Winter Holidays, mid-December – January 1, including New Year’s Eve. 

  • Off season starts after New Year’s Day in January until the middle of March.

 

Spring (April – June)

People love Vancouver because you truly can ski and bike around the city on the same day! While it’s a winter wonderland up on the local mountains, the weather in the city is perfect for a walk through a colourful garden in a public park.  As the weather gets warmer and sunnier, Vancouver comes alive in the spring with more outdoor activities, wildlife, multicultural celebrations and more.

  • Peak season is Spring Break which is in Mid-March for 5 working days

  • Shoulder season is end of March until end of May

 

Summer (July – September)

Vancouver emerges and heads outside during the summer which offers consistent sunny and long days with plenty to celebrate.  There is an abundance of wildlife watching, mountain and marine activities, hence the crowds.  Enjoy mild sun rays with wind blowing in your hair while the sun sets as late at 10:00pm at night.  Yes, you read correct, the sun goes down very late which allows a lot of time to play.  With all the benefits in mind; expect to pay for what you get.

  • Peak season – July and August

  • Shoulder season – September

 

Fall (October – December)

Vancouver temperatures are cooler in the fall creating a stunning effect on the colour of leaves making it a beautiful time to visit.  When the days end early by 04:30pm it’s a great time to watch Canada’s favourite sport, hockey, which is the beginning of the Vancouver Canucks hockey season!  Leading into December, Vancouver is the perfect place to take pictures with snow, light displays, festive decorations and Santa. 

  • Shoulder season – October

  • Off season – November until Mid-December

What to Wear

Vancouver is known to be casually dressed ranging from yoga pants and rain coats to business suits and luxury bags. The most practical way to be comfortable in Vancouver weather is to wear layers (Jacket, sweater and shirt).  Be prepared to enjoy sun, rain and clouds all in one day.  When your visiting schools while in Vancouver, wearing your school shirt helps identify you in a crowd of students as well as differentiating you as a visitor.  Please see our resource page for our packing guide.

Winter

Vancouver’s winters are mild and wet – it rarely snows in this part of Canada except, of course, on the local ski hills. From November to February, temperatures average from 5° to 10° Celsius during the day (around 40° – 50° Fahrenheit). To stay comfortable and dry, you’ll need:

  • Warm clothes

  • Raincoat

  • Compact umbrella

  • Waterproof footwear is always advised and hardly followed, understandably, it may not be a readily purchased item in your local area. 

  • Going up to the mountains?  Bring your snow gear including hats, gloves and scarves as its most comfortable to you.  For those that don’t have ski gear we provide ski pants, jacket and gloves. 

Spring

Our coastal city has fresh crisp ocean air blowing in the spring. By February or March, you’ll see colors popping up from tulips and daffodils, quickly followed by the picturesque spring blossoms. People suddenly emerge from hibernation, filling the streets with bicycles, inline skates, and running shoes. Mornings and evenings are still chilly with showers at this time of year.  To be best prepared for spring its important pack:

  • Light clothing to layer

  • Couple sweaters

  • Raincoat

  • Waterproof shoes 

  • Compact umbrella

Summer

Vancouver has warm, enjoyable summers that are rarely too hot. June to August daytime temperatures linger just above 20° Celsius (70° Fahrenheit). Evenings, especially in the surrounding mountains, can be cool.  To stay comfortable, cool and warm its best to pack:

  • Light clothing

  • Open toed shoes, walking shoes

  • short sleeve shirts and wind breaker for cool evenings

Fall

Autumn is often a mild summer-like weather stretching into early October.  A beautifully sunny day has crisp cool mornings and evenings.  We spend a lot of time outside enjoying the fall foliage, make sure you pack:

  • Raincoat or umbrella

  • Couple sweaters

  • Long sleeves

  • Waterproof shoes