Quebec Trip Frequently Asked Questions
Please check here BEFORE you ask. It's highly likely you'll find the info here that you need!
1.Do I need a passport?
No. Students who are under 18 with a documented, organized school group do NOT need passports. You need a picture ID (student ID is fine, as is a driver’s license) and your birth certificate. If you have a current passport, you may use that instead of the ID and certificate.
2.What does my birth certificate look like?
It is typically a 5”x7”-ish or a full piece of paper with an OFFICIAL, RAISED SEAL and a signature. It is NOT the paper with your cute little inky footprints.
3. What do I do if I can’t find my birth certificate?
You must contact or visit the city hall in the city where you were born and request a new one. Different cities may charge different amounts. A photocopy is not acceptable…the copy you get must have an OFFICIAL, RAISED SEAL and a signature. This is a US Border Patrol rule in accordance with US State Department policy, not a Sacopee rule. We have no choice but to follow it.
4. How long does it take to get a birth certificate?
Plan on this taking as much as two months, depending on where you were born, if you’re communicating by phone, email or snail-mail. BUT, if you go to the city hall in person, you can usually get it on the same day (and can take it home with you!)
5. My mom is very concerned about the school holding my passport or birth certificate. Do I have to give it to you?
Yes. We will ask for these items a few weeks prior to leaving, and they will be locked in the school vault. They will be with Mr. Burnett at all times in Canada. You will get your documents back on the way home from Canada, and you are responsible for getting them back to your parents.
6. What Sacopee staff members will be chaperones?
We will let you know about the chaperones when we have that information.
Crossing the Border
1. What is it like?
The border patrol typically boards the bus and asks for our documents. We ask you to be quiet while they are on the bus. They may question a few people, everyone, or nobody. They may search every bag, a few bags, or no bags. Typically this does not take more than half an hour, but it may be several hours, depending on if the border patrol decides to search anyone. Just as if you were going through airport security, do NOT make jokes about bombs, illegal items or anything else of a sensitive nature. Border Patrol does NOT think this is funny, and it WILL delay our departure.
2. What happens if someone brings something illegal on the trip?
If the border patrol finds an illegal item or substance, you WILL be detained in jail. There is nothing that Sacopee Valley High School can do to assist you. We will contact your parents, and leave you behind. It will be up to your parents to hire an international attorney and come get you. You will also be subject to all school rules while we are in Canada and will have to answer for any misbehavior on your return.
3. What things am I not allowed to bring?
Border patrol will give you a list of items you are not to bring across the border. If you question an item, leave it home. You can not reclaim confiscated items. Do not attempt to bring tobacco, alcohol or illegal drugs into Canada. Do not bring any very valuable items that would be a hardship for you if lost or stolen.
4. If I have had legal problems in the past, will I be allowed to pass into Canada?
Your entrance into Canada will depend on the exact nature of your legal record. It is your responsibility to take care of any special permissions you need to leave the country. Ask Officer McAllister if you have questions.
The Bus Ride
1. How long does it take to get to Quebec City?
Typically 7-8 hours.
2. What kind of bus are we taking?
We have hired two charter coaches that each have a bathroom.
3. Can we bring food on the bus?
Yes. Please clean up after yourself.
4. Are we stopping on the way to Canada?
Yes. Once at the border and once for lunch. We typically eat at Burger King or McDonald’s and you are expected to pay for your own lunch. The restaurant will accept American currency but will probably give you Canadian change. We do NOT take bathroom breaks, but there are bathrooms on the bus. Make sure you go before we leave and at the restaurant. Otherwise, use the bathroom on the bus.
5. What are we allowed to bring on the bus?
Bring snacks and drinks, playing cards, appropriate movies on DVD, travel games, headphones, and any other thing you would bring on a car ride. The bus is equipped with a DVD player or you can bring your own portable player. Be aware that anything you bring, you must carry…and the bus does not often drop us off in front of the hostel. NO SVHS LAPTOPS WILL GO TO CANADA FOR ANY REASON.
1. What happens if I become ill or injured?
Before we leave, we will ask that you give us your insurance information so that we can provide that to the hospital, should you need to visit.
2. I have to take medication. Can I carry that with me?
You may carry medications for which you have a prescription; the prescription must be clearly labeled on the bottle or container. Scheduled medications should be held by the chaperones or the nurse. If you are not sure about your medication, ask Mrs. Matthews or Mrs. Hodgdon.
3. What if I have a headache/stomachache or other ache or pain and I just want Tylenol or Tums?
The nurse or one of the chaperones can give that to you.
4. Are there drugstores near the hostel?
Yes. If you need cough drops or feminine items, you can get those there. Some of the chaperones will also have some of those things, should you need them.
Clothing and Supplies
1. What should I bring?
Find a packing list on the home page. Simply click the link to download a PDF document. Of particular importance are a HAT, MITTENS or GLOVES, a warm COAT, and BOOTS, not sneakers! Wool socks, long johns or Under Armor are a good idea as well. It is cold in Quebec. It is very cold in Quebec. It is super cold in Quebec. We spend a lot of time outside. Be prepared or you WILL be miserable.
2. Are there things I should NOT bring?
Yes. Do not bring expensive items that would be a hardship to you if they are lost or stolen. Obviously, you must not have any illegal substances, nor should you have any kind of alcohol or tobacco. The hostel does not allow you to use your own pillow or blanket for health reasons, so if you bring those for the bus, they must stay in your footlocker in the hostel and not on the bed. Avoid bringing an excess of “stuff”, since you are responsible for it, you have a limited amount of space, and you have to carry it to and from the bus, which may be parked several blocks from the hostel. Do not bring your school issued iPad.
3. Can I bring my headphones?
Yes! Have fun listening to whatever you like. However, you will NOT be allowed to use headphones when you are on a tour and we will expect you to keep them off at those times.
1. How much money should I bring?
Plan to bring around $50-75 for food, plus any spending money. You can bring less but know that you will have to cover lunch (1) on the first day, breakfast (2) and lunch (3) on the second day and again on third (4, 5) days, and supper (6) on the way home. That is six meals. Souvenirs are VERY expensive; t-shirts typically cost from $25-40 and sweatshirts around $40-60. You can have a GREAT time in Quebec even if you buy nothing except food! The best souvenirs are actually pictures, so plan to bring a camera!
2. What will I need to spend my money on?
Lunch the first, second, and third days, breakfast the second and third day, and supper back in the USA on the way home the third day, so plan for six meals at around $10-12 each. Some students eat a big breakfast the third day, eat snacks back on the bus and buy supper on the way home. It’s up to you. You may want to bring extra money for souvenirs and keepsakes, or pocket money for the pool table and snacks at the hostel.
3. Where can I change my American currency to Canadian?
You can change some of your American currency in the US at a bank or you can use a Canadian ATM or the exchange near the hostel. It is typically less expensive to change money IN Canada rather than here at home. We’ll check on the exchange rate before we go.
4. Do stores in Quebec accept American currency?
Many do, some do not. Plan accordingly. Also, although there may be a favorable exchange rate for American currency, retailers in Canada typically change money 1:1 and give you Canadian change. That means your US dollar will not go as far.
5. Can I use Canadian money in the US?
In the border towns like Jackman, yes. We may or may not stop in Jackman. If you have currency when you cross the border, plan to use it in Skowhegan where we stop for supper, because they will accept Canadian money. Otherwise, you can exchange it at a local bank (if you have a substantial amount) or you can keep it as a souvenir or use it the next time you visit Canada. Canadian coins under $1 are generally accepted in the US.
Electronics and Phones
1. I would like to bring my very expensive laptop/camera/iPhone/iPod. Am I allowed to bring it?
Yes, but be aware that you should probably NOT bring anything that would be a hardship should you lose it. There are lockers in the hostel rooms for you to lock up valuables, but you will need to provide your own lock. NO SVHS iPads WILL GO TO CANADA FOR ANY REASON.
2. How much does it cost to make phone calls and texts from Canada to the U.S.?
This depends entirely upon your cell phone plan. Many carriers charge upwards of $1 per connection and $1 per minute for phone calls and $1 for each text. It is a VERY good idea to call your carrier before you leave and verify the charges for Canada. When you call, get the name of the person you speak with as well as their operator number so that if you need to dispute charges later, you can specifically reference the phone conversation you had. Carriers such as AT&T also have a bulk rate international plan where you can pay around $25 and get a certain number of texts and calls included.
FOR PHONES THAT USE DATA
Be very careful to keep your data shut off in Canada! Data use is prohibitively expensive unless you are using wireless, such as in a coffee shop. You can call your provider before you leave and purchase a bulk data plan if you choose to use data on your phone. Be aware that many apps use small amounts of data even if you aren't trying to access the internet on your phone. Your best option is to keep your phone in airplane mode or totally shut the data functionality OFF while we are in Canada.
3. Are there outlets in the rooms or bathroom?
Yes. There are several outlets in each room and several in each bathroom. You will not need special adapters for your appliances. We strongly suggest that you share appliances with others as you can easily overload a circuit. Also, sharing will keep you from having to carry several appliances.
1.Whose room will I be in, and do I get to choose?
Yes and no. You will fill out a roommate request form and we will do our best to honor it. There are no guarantees - we do not know until approximately 2 weeks before the trip which rooms and how many beds we will be assigned. Some rooms have 4 beds, some have 6, some have 8.
2. Are the rooms co-ed?
No. Girls room with girls and boys with boys. There are obviously NO exceptions to this rule. Also, you are not allowed to even enter a room of the opposite gender. This is stated in your behavior contract/permission slip. We do try to separate girls’ rooms and boys’ rooms by hallway, but again, that also depends upon the configuration of rooms we are assigned. In general, all rooms will have a same-gender chaperone.
3. When will I find out my room assignment?
When we arrive at the hostel, and not sooner.
4. Can I have food in my room?
No. The hostel expressly forbids food in your room. There are snack and drink machines in the common areas only on the first floor. You can eat food and have drinks there.
5. Can I use my own blankets and pillows?
No. For health reasons, the hostel does not allow you to use your own bed linens or pillows. The hostel does provide you with all sheets, blankets, and pillows that you need. The rooms are very warm and you can potentially get extra blankets should you need them. You WILL want your own towel, although small towels can be rented from the hostel for .50 per day.
6. Does the hostel have internet access?
Yes. The cost to access the internet is around $2 per day. You pay for a password at the front desk and can log into the internet on one of their PC’s. However, you will be very busy and not spending much time in the hostel, so it is not likely that you will have much opportunity.
7. If I bring my own laptop, can I access the internet for free?
No. You will still need to pay for access.
8. How many bathrooms are there? Are they co-ed?
There are several bathrooms on each floor, with multiple stalls and private showers. They are not co-ed.
9. Does the hostel have a policy about noise?
Yes. Quiet hours are after 10 p.m. and will be enforced by your chaperones and the hostel. You don’t need to be asleep (although we suggest it! You’ll be busy!) but you do need to be considerate of the other people in your room and in the hostel in general.
10. Is the hostel safe?
Yes. The hostel is a very safe place, otherwise we would not stay there. However, it IS like a hotel in that you will be sharing common areas, bathrooms, and hallways with people you do not know. You must wear pajamas or street clothing when you leave your room, keep your room door closed, and always carry your key. As with any place you visit, use caution with people you don’t know.
11. What else should I know about my stay at the hostel?
The hostel is very clean and they like to stay clean. Please make the effort to pick up after yourself so that the hostel will want us back year after year. On the last day, you must strip your bed, put your linens in the bag provided to your room, and clean your room of anything you might have left (like paper, candy wrappers, receipts, etc.) Please DO make an effort to follow their rules: be polite, quiet, and eat food only in common areas. It's really not too much to ask.