Having to travel to another city or province for your child’s surgery can be a stressful experience. While it might seem daunting, there are steps you can take to ensure you and your family are well prepared. On this page, we’ve compiled some information that may help. Your Surgical Nurse Coordinator can also direct you to the hospital Social Worker, who is an important part of your support team (and can assist with travel planning and accommodations).
The BC Children’s Hospital website includes a wealth of information to help you plan your visit, learn more about the hospital and surrounding areas and discover on-site resources. We refer to sections of this website numerous times throughout this page, as it contains the most up-to-date information.
In addition to the information on this page and the hospital website, many parents find it helpful to connect with other families who have previously travelled to BC Children’s for their child’s surgery. There are support groups available in each of the Western Provinces, most of which have social media groups where parents can connect and ask questions.
Start planning your trip as soon as you receive confirmation of the surgery date. Many accommodations book up fast and travel prices are typically more affordable the earlier they are booked. Keep in mind that surgical dates can change, and this may impact your travel plans. Your child’s care team will advise you of any changes to the surgery date.
In some unique cases, you and your child will be transported to BC Children’s Hospital in a medically-assisted flight. Your child’s care team will advise you if this will happen (in this case, be sure to bring a child car seat with you for your trip back home). In other cases, you will need to plan your own travel to Vancouver.
Vancouver, BC, is served by three major airports: The Vancouver International Airport (YVR), the Vancouver Harbour Water Airport (CXH) and the Abbotsford International Airport (YXX) which is located in neighboring Abbotsford. Both the Vancouver International Airport and Vancouver Harbour Water Airport have ground transportation services, taxis and access to public transit to make your way to BC Children’s Hospital. If you are travelling to Vancouver via the Abbotsford Airport, which can sometimes offer cheaper flights, be prepared for a longer drive into the city (approximately 45 minutes).
If you plan on taking public transit from the airport to the hospital or your accommodation, use the TransLink Trip Planner.
Many families drive to Vancouver instead of flying. If you choose to do so, we recommend using Google Maps to plan your trip, as directions to the hospital and your accommodation will vary based on where you are coming from. Keep in mind that Vancouver is a large metropolitan city with high levels of traffic congestion, so plan your trip accordingly and leave ample time for any delays. The hospital Social Worker can assist with parking vouchers for your stay.
If you are coming to BC Children’s from other coastal areas of BC, you will likely need to travel by ferry to the lower mainland. Reservations are highly recommended as seats fill up quickly. Having this planning done ahead of time will help reduce the stress of travelling to the hospital. For more information and to plan your trip, visit the BC Ferries website. Upon arrival at the BC Ferries Port, you’ll be able to access ground transportation services, taxis and public transit to make your way to BC Children’s Hospital or to your accommodation.
For BC residents, there are numerous travel assistance programs that offer support to those travelling from out-of-town for medical appointments and hospital stays. These include:
Families travelling to BC Children’s Hospital from other provinces can request travel assistance and support from Hope Air. You may also speak with a Social Worker at your home hospital for assistance.
Please visit the BC Children’s Hospital website for up-to-date information to help you plan your trip to the hospital. When coming to the hospital for an appointment or surgery, try to arrive early in case there is traffic, difficulty finding parking or transit delays.
If you plan on taking public transit to the hospital, use the TransLink Trip Planner. If you are driving to the hospital, you can get directions from your current location using Google Maps.
In some cases, you may need to find accommodation during your stay in Vancouver. There are numerous hotels, motels and AirBNB accommodations close to the hospital. In addition, the BC Children’s website provides a listing of accommodation options for medical patients and their immediate families (i.e. not for tourists or business travellers). The rates for these accommodations are often lower because of charity support. Space is limited, so book as early as possible. If you need assistance finding suitable accommodation, speak with your Surgical Nurse Coordinator or the hospital Social worker. You can also refer to the BC Family Residency Program website for accommodation information.
Packing correctly is especially important when travelling to another city or province for your child’s surgery. You need to bring the appropriate medical supplies and items for your child, and also need to ensure you have everything you need for an extended stay. Please check with your Surgical Nurse Coordinator if you have any questions about what you should bring. The list below offers suggestions, and was created with input from hospital staff and families.
For your child:
For a baby:
The hospital has:
The BC Children’s Hospital website includes a “During Your Visit” section that provides information on the many amenities available to patients and their families. There, you can find information on where to eat, where to find an ATM and other available services. The hospital is home to numerous resources that help address everyday needs and help families feel more at home. These include in-patient family facilities that provide access to laundry, showers and lockers. The helpful “Where Can I Find?” info sheet can help you locate these facilities.
On-site support services are available to all families and patients receiving care at the hospital. These services can help address social and emotional needs. You can learn more about these services on the hospital website. If you have any questions or would like to request a service, speak with your Surgical Nurse Coordinator.
The BC Children’s Hospital Surgical Nurse Coordinator is your go-to contact for any questions or concerns. They can help connect you to resources and offer advice on travel considerations for your specific situation.