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From Bellingham, WA to Vancouver

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From Bellingham, WA to Vancouver

I am planning a trip for next year and saw a cheap airfare from LAX to Bellingham, WA roundtrip. I was thinking of just renting a car from there and driving into Vancouver for 3 days. Afterwhich I would drive to Seattle for 3 days then back to Bellingham to drive home.

Is a rental car advisable or are there other options?

Thanks

Vancouver BC
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1. Re: From Bellingham, WA to Vancouver

There's Amtrak but the Bellingham station is a distance from the airport. There are buses too but renting a car seems the easiest. By the time you are done your total cost will eat up the cheap flight savings.

Los Angeles...
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2. Re: From Bellingham, WA to Vancouver

Thanks.

There are 4 of us going (2 kids) and the price is only about $150 per person to fly roundtrip from LAX to Bellingham ($600 total). To fly directly to Vancouver or Seattle would cost about $300 to $400 per person ($1200-$1600 total).

Also, I was planning on renting a car anyhow to drive from Vancouver to Seattle. Do rental car companies charge extra for taking it across the boarder for a few days?

Vancouver, Canada
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3. Re: From Bellingham, WA to Vancouver

It will be much easier to rent a car in the US and return it in the US. I believe that renting a car in one country and trying to drop it in another is both expensive and a bit more difficult.

However, you will need to look at the cost of car rental + parking in Vancouver (at $30 to $40 per day) vs just using Amtrak and public transit. For four of you, it may well be worth it, but I would double check.

Another consideration is the border crossing, which can be a substantial delay by road (can be 3 - 4 hrs), but is simple and quick on the train.

Vancouver-by-the-Sea
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4. Re: From Bellingham, WA to Vancouver

As long as you have the insurance arranged there should be no charge to bring a rental into Canada-certainly I've taken rentals from here to the USA many times with no issues.

Parking the car anywhere near downtown here will be expensive though figure $25-$40/day depending.

West Grey, Ontario
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5. Re: From Bellingham, WA to Vancouver

Hi jdanh;

There are some car rental companies that will not permit their cars out of the state or out of the country, or charge a premium if they do. Most of the larger rental companies will allow cross border travel.

Ensure that the car rental company notes on the rental agreement that they authorize you to take the car into Canada. You may be asked by Customs when entering Canada, or when re-entering the US, for this documentation.

Some companies offer unlimited mileage, but only within the US. The rental company will use the onboard GPS to track your usage. The extra per mile charges can add up quickly, so be sure to ask in advance.

Best Regards

Vancouver, B.C.
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6. Re: From Bellingham, WA to Vancouver

The waits at the border at the border is normally between 30-60 minutes southbound. Those 3-4 hours waits are only during the long weekend. The current wait time according to drivebc is 10-15 minutes.

Vancouver, Canada
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7. Re: From Bellingham, WA to Vancouver

Over the years, we have found that the best time for crossing the border coming north to Canada is generally the morning. Going south to the US, it's generally late afternoon. (You're going "against the traffic" crossing in this way.)

Also, it seems to depend upon the time of year. There are horror stories in the local media every year regarding lengthy waits (3 - 4 hours as noted by V-67) during long weekends from the Easter weekend through Labour Day. However, we have found that in July/August, even weekday border traffic can be pretty heavy.

Yesterday, we were pleasantly surprised - 20 minutes going south at about 10:00 AM and 45 minutes coming back north at about 5:00 PM, which is within the time frame noted by Techboy.

Vancouver, Canada
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8. Re: From Bellingham, WA to Vancouver

3-4 hour waits at the border would be an extreme case, even on long weekends. Even 2 hours would be an extreme case. I've crossed the border during long weekends 3 times this year and never had to wait longer than an hour. Usually the wait is more like 30 minutes.

And for what it's worth, I just drove across the border on Friday afternoon of our Thanksgiving long weekend and waited 5 minutes to cross at Peace Arch. I just drove back last night after spending the evening in Bellingham. Got to the border on a holiday Monday at 8pm and had to wait 45 minutes.

Vancouver, Canada
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9. Re: From Bellingham, WA to Vancouver

Last Remembrance Day - 5 hr wait at Pacific. What a nightmare! But agreed that its an extreme case, and that waits of 30 - 60 minutes at peak times is closer to normal.

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10. Re: From Bellingham, WA to Vancouver

Is there any cheaper parking near hotels that can be recommended. I don't have a hotel in mind yet but there has to be some hotels that charge very little around the area or at least parking areas nearby.

Other alternative I found was to take AMTRAK from Bellingham to Vancouver for about $42 total (all 4 of us). From there we could just roam around the city on public transportation. Then take AMTRAK to Seattle for $114 total. Then AMTRAK back to Bellingham for $66 total. That would be $222 for all 4 of us. I don't know if we would be saving much from just renting a car at that price though. Especially if you figure in transportation cost from the airport to the train station in both cities and convience of having a car with two kids (11 and 13 years old).

Hmmmmm

Edited: 11 October 2011, 23:41