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Places to go exploring Washington

Cardiff, United...
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Places to go exploring Washington

Hi there folks

I am planning to explore the Pacific Northwest during early September and am getting a bit bogged down in the pure scale of the place - I am like a kid in a sweet shop! I thought I would give an idea of what I am interested in doing/my budget and ask for some suggestions from people who know the area! I am a bit new to this and this is my first holiday on my own so bare with me!

Basically I am a 20 year old Brit who wants to do lots of outdoorsy stuff, particularly water based (Kayaking, canoeing, swimming etc.) although I dont have any formal training so it needs allow for beginners. I want to try and see as much epic, striking scenery as possible, be it through hiking, train rides or any other means. I want to absorb as much of Washington as I can. I was planning on going south to Oregon as well but I doubt I will have the time! My flight out of Vancouver B.C. is on the 18th - aside from that, I am free to plan what I want!

Only thing is - I can't rent a car because I dont have a license. My budget is as limited as I can make it. Trying to stay in youth hostels when in cities but can afford a small B&B. Want to stay below 60 dollers per night in accommodation if I can. Getting around will be confined to buses, trains and (if I can't avoid it) taxis.

So know you know a bit about me - is there anything that jumps to mind? Any words of wisdom will be greatly appreciated - planning holidays is more difficult than I thought it would be!

Thanks :)

Barney.

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United States
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Green Valley...
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1. Re: Places to go exploring Washington

Welcome to the TA Forums.

When, exactly, is your arrival? In Vancouver (as well as your departure)?

Can you bring basic camping gear with you? It's going to be hard to find lodging in many places below $60.00/night.

Once we know how many days available, we can advise.

BTW, swimming? Water is too cold. Beginning kayaker/canoeist? You'll want tours or placid lakes, not ocean.

Edited: 24 July 2013, 00:56
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Vancouver
Vancouver
Washington
Cardiff, United...
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2. Re: Places to go exploring Washington

Hi there

I arrive into Vancouver BC on the 27th. Staying in Canada until the 6th before crossing the border south. Need to be back for my flight out on the 18th but have no specific places I need to be between these dates.

Yeah I can take camping gear with me no problem :)

Edited: 24 July 2013, 00:58
Port Angeles, WA
Destination Expert
for Olympic National Park
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3. Re: Places to go exploring Washington

I am going to be condemned by other posters for this, but I will tell you the truth as I know it.

It's not going to work. Your budget is far too low for the United States, but your real problem is that you can't drive. The United States dislikes and distrusts public transportation, and every region outside of a few cities is oriented around car travel. It is not at all like the UK or Europe, where you can take trains and buses almost everywhere. You cannot visit the North Cascades, Olympic National Park, or the Oregon Coast without a car. If you had a larger budget, you could sign up with a tour company that could take you to some of these places, but your budget does not allow for that. Neither can you afford taxis, which is this are of vast distances would be prohibitively expensive. Buses do exist, but they are very limited. I am afraid that if you came to a place like Olympic National Park, your only form of transportation would be hitchhiking, which is unreliable and dangerous.

Let's consider Olympic National Park, which I know well. It is a huge, sprawling park spread out over the enormous Olympic Peninsula. There are buses between some of the towns, such as Port Angeles and Forks, but even supposing you could reach these towns, how would get into the park itself? How would you get to a campground? How would you get to a kayak outfitter, and how would you afford to rent that kayak?

Is there any way you could arrange to travel with someone else, preferably someone who could drive? Is there any way you could increase your budget so that you could sign up for a tour with a company such as Evergreen Escapes?

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Cardiff, United...
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4. Re: Places to go exploring Washington

Hi there

My budget can go up as necessary - what I specified earlier was more of an aim rather than a limit. A touring company is a possibility - any suggestions? If need be, I can spend more time in the cities and less in the more rural locations. I imagine I would still have a great time.

Thanks for the heads up - I very much got used to being able to rely on public transport 100% here in the UK. Seems quite odd that such a massive place would not have an extensive mass transit system but oh well!

I am afraid travelling with another person is not a possibility :(

Edited: 24 July 2013, 01:48
Green Valley...
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5. Re: Places to go exploring Washington

For cheap lodging example, and it does not get cheaper than this for San Juan Island, which is worth several days:

orcainnwa.com/friday-harbor-hotel-room-rates…

Renton, WA
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6. Re: Places to go exploring Washington

It IS a massive place...and that is why there is no public transportation.

http://www.olympic.national-park.com/

Vancouver, Canada
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7. Re: Places to go exploring Washington

Its not the size of the place, but the density of the people you are trying to serve that determines transit. Hard to afford a bus system when you only have three people on the bus and only 20 people paying taxes to run it. But I digress....

First of all, let me congratulate you with asking an excellent question. Very impressive for someone of your tender years. ;)

As you are starting and finishing in Vancouver, I'd recommend you look at the options offered by Moose Travel Network as a first option.

http://www.moosenetwork.com

They aren't in the US, but this would get you over to Vancouver Island, which will happily meet all your needs for everything you are looking for!

I do agree with kalburg to some extent - this place is not very well suited for people without a car, esp. to get to any wilderness areas. However, by staying in youth hostels, you will almost certainly meet up with people who do have a car and may be willing to offer rides. Or at least people who are traveling the same way and can make recommendations.

Trip Advisor is not really a 'backpackers' board, although I am noticing significanly more backpacker types on here this summer. Lonley Planet has a board...Thorntree or something...which I understand is more aimed at your style of travel.

As to kayaking -- its expensive if you are renting boats. However, its also beautiful and quite easy, so if you can put aside the money for a two or three night guided trip, I think it would be the experience of a lifetime for you. Look at something in the Southern Gulf Islands National Park, perhaps an outfitter off Saltspring Island. Here's some links, but I've not used any of these personally.

http://www.islandescapades.com

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Vancouver Island
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British Columbia, Canada
Port Angeles, WA
Destination Expert
for Olympic National Park
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8. Re: Places to go exploring Washington

Barney, there is one other important issue that you should understand before this trip. You need medical insurance if you are visiting the US.

Cardiff, United...
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9. Re: Places to go exploring Washington

Thanks for the advice guys - this is all invaluable stuff! I have medical insurance sorted - I have heard horror stories of travellers not being covered for medical expenses in the US. Makes me shudder just thinking about it.

The moosenetwork looks incredible! I think I will have to use that! Thanks :)

Poulsbo, Washington
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for Olympic National Park
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10. Re: Places to go exploring Washington

You have to understand American's love affair with the automobile. I will keep the history lesson brief, but after the War when Europe was rebuilding, America was booming and building motorways from coast to coast.

That said, send me a message when you are in Canada. I work in downtown Seattle. I go to Mt. Rainier a couple of times a year and the Olympics all the time. I can not promise anything, but we may be able to work something out. I can relate to your situation. I was exactly your age when I traveled around your country and others by public transit. In those days trains in Europe were even cheap for a college student on holiday.

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