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From TO to Vancouver. Travel through the US?

Toronto, Canada
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From TO to Vancouver. Travel through the US?

Hi everyone,

I'm thinking of driving from Toronto to Vancouver. As I've seen our beautiful country by road before, but haven't been through the northern US (plus it's faster), I'm thinking of taking the US route. Has anyone encountered difficulty when crossing the border for a road trip across the country? I would be going to Vancouver indefinitely, so I'd have substantial luggage. Any tips?


Penticton, Canada
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1. Re: From TO to Vancouver. Travel through the US?


if you want to avoid Chicago you can take the ferry to Milwaukee along this route http://goo.gl/maps/o47bn

as for tips:

Document everything you have before you leave and put it in the cloud and a usb stick; create an encrypted files with your passport etc... so any discussion at customs when crossing back into Canada can be resolved. Search your car for any compartments to make sure there is nothing hiding. Vacuum the whole car if you think you may have seeds; that was a rule having lived on the border as a teenager.

When you come back to Canada make sure you do not have fruits and vegetables. Keep all receipts of purchases in the US in case you get picked for a search.

I recommend a CAA Plus membership; it is good insurance and their trip planning app is good. A gps takes some of the mystery of how far to the next stop etc...

There is always a hotel room available somewhere so no need to make reservations; that way you can have longer days if you feel like it. The AAA tour books have the hotels/motels and show pricing so easier to make choices when you do make a stop.

Edited: 05 August 2013, 03:48
Uden, The...
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2. Re: From TO to Vancouver. Travel through the US?

How long do you have for this tripand what time of year? Do you want to travel the byways or stick to the interstates?

Toronto, Canada
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3. Re: From TO to Vancouver. Travel through the US?

Probably stick to the interstates, with a few destination stops along the way. Thinking of going through South Dakota, but stopping in Chicago before that. Maybe 5 days.

Marina, California
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4. Re: From TO to Vancouver. Travel through the US?

I actually brought up the Lake Michigan Ferry on another thread just a few hours ago. It's pretty expensive. Even 1 adult + 1 car gets close to $200.

Don't try to drive through that part of the Midwest without hotel reservations. You'll end up driving around for hours. Eastern Montana, Western South Dakota, Western North Dakota and Northern Wyoming have all seen explosions in petroleum exploration activity in the past few years and, as a result, many small towns have no hotel rooms available as they're all full of workers. Also, in the summer, you'll encounter random construction projects, traveling childrens baseball teams, major events, and all sorts of things that fill up the hotels.

If you can show hotel reservations or some other proof that you're actually going on to Vancouver, then you should have no issues at the border. And even that's probably much more than they'll ask for. I mean, you're not driving to the Yukon via South Dakota. What you're doing makes sense. It's the inconsistencies that get noticed.

If you have a little bit of extra time and want to avoid Chicago (I would unless you want to visit it), you may want to think about hauling up to Sault Ste. Marie, crossing there, and following US 2 across Michigan's Upper Peninsula and northern Minnesota, then following I-94 to Billings to join I-90. It probably looks a lot like a lot of the TCH through western Ontario since it's so close (trees, lakes and bugs), so it may not be as interesting to you as the cities.

But, with 5 days, I don't think you have a lot of extra time to move around. Mapquest says it's about 42 hours between the two Canadian cities via Chicago and the Midwest, which is a little over 8 hours per day with 5 days. That doesn't include border crossing time, which will probably add an hour at Sarnia or Windsor, or stops for food. So you're looking at roughly 9-10 hours per day of just driving. If you can add a day or two, you should, and you can use that for a more interesting route, or for seeing sites along the way.

Good luck in your planning.

western WA
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5. Re: From TO to Vancouver. Travel through the US?

You have 5 days? That's all drive time. I am in the middle of a trip which encompasses your journey, having skirted just south of Toronto going from Buffalo to Detroit.

Gas is way cheaper in the US, so that's a plus. If you stick to I-90 leaving Wisconsin and on through Montana and Washington, you'll miss the oilfields and associated hotel shortage.

You can take short see routes and see Mt Rushmore and Devils Tower without losing a day.

I'd say three long 600 mile days from Rochester MN to Seattle, plus 3 hours up an in to Vancouver.

For most people, I think it would be three days from Toronto to Rochester, MN, too. Possibly two.

All of these are long hard days with no days off to sight-see. Sorry, but Chicago and Yellowstone Park are out!

Edited: 08 August 2013, 19:58
Anchorage, Alaska
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6. Re: From TO to Vancouver. Travel through the US?

I agree with previous poster as this is not much time, especially if you want to see anything.


- have your car clean/organized

- know what you have

- be polite and answer the questions asked

- we've crossed US/Canada border (as road trip travelers) 50+ times over the past 8 years and have never had an issue/problem

The drive (see google map link: http://goo.gl/maps/KAlNg ) ...

I've done the SD to YVR portion of this trip (part of a trip from FL to AK) and I love:

- Keystone, SD (Mt. Rushmore) and Deadwood, SD.

- Cody, WY and Yellowstone

- drive from Spokane across WA to Leavenworth (cute Bavarian looking town)

- Avenue 0 in BC (zoom in on map & notice the border crossing near Aldergrove Park, BC)

If you can get a few more days available you could really enjoy some of the sites along the way.

Good luck & enjoy,


7. Re: From TO to Vancouver. Travel through the US?

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