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Getting From Vancouver to Seattle Airport


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My cruise starts in Seattle and ends in Vancouver.  I'm going to spend a couple of days in Vancouver before flying home.  I'm flying into Seattle the day before my cruise and trying to decide if I am better off flying back to Tampa out of Vancouver or booking a round trip to and from Seattle.  The return flight from Vancouver to Tampa flies to Seattle where I would have to change planes.  I don't mind getting myself back to Seattle if that is going to be better for the flights.  If I do that then what is the best method of getting from Vancouver to the Seattle airport?

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Best you'll have to decide for yourself - the key questions are whether a) do you save any  $ flying back out of SEA instead? and then b) assuming you do save $, is the extra cost, time and hassle of a bus, train, or rental car worth that saving or does it eat up all the cash and more of your time?

 

You'll spend at least three hours, probably four, on the land travel to SEA, so compare that to your connection time sitting around SEA. Unless you value your own time at $0 per hour, it's a thing you should think about! You'll also spend between $1 and $60pp on buses/trains, with rental car rates ~$100 (if not picky about car size) but perhaps double that if you demand a specific, larger vehicle type. Plus, unless you head down to SEA the day before and overnight there the earliest bus or train misses the first batch of flights out of SEA - so flying the whole way means you will usually get home earlier. Given that you go through US immigration/customs at YVR, your flight would also be like any other domestic connection - usually very short layovers are available, and since SEA lets you get from any gate to any other without coming back through Security it's one of the less-troublesome airports for a transfer.

 

If you don't mind getting home later, then there are things you can see/do on the way that may add value for you. Some folks just love train travel, and the Cascades is an attractive route that uses modern carriages and runs much more on-time than most Amtrak trains. The morning train has zero dependency on anything, so it will virtually always leave on time and is rarely more than 30mins late. Even the evening southbound train is good, as it starts life as the morning train from Seattle (which also sits there overnight so usually leaves on time) and has hours of padding to get it turned around to head back south. Nice views, cheap tickets (US$33pp saver, less for Seniors/kids, bistro car onboard is decent and not too pricey and takes CAD cash if you have some to get rid of). Train has the best border crossing too - you are precleared before boarding, so they only stop for a few minutes to run dogs along the train and randomly ask a few people a few extra questions onboard while doing that.

 

Buses are the most boring in terms of route (sticking to the main highway, except when they come in and out of towns to get to stations) but even I5 has some pretty tasty mountain and sea views here and there. QuickShuttle goes straight to SEA, but they charge more extra for the convenience than it would cost two people to use Bolt or Greyhound and then get a cab (US$59pp on QS, whereas Bolt can be $1 and is usually ~$20, and Greyhound offers Companion fares that can make it as cheap as Bolt for 2). NB: border crossing by bus can be a nightmare, as ALL of you have to wait if even 1 person attracts the interest of CBP! If they are rejected quickly, no problem, them and their bags are dumped at the border and the next northbound bus has to return them to origin - but the whole time they are being questioned the entire busload has to wait, and wait, and wait. Plus, the dedicated bus processing office can't be reached if regular car/truck traffic is heavy, so the buses also have to wait in the same big queue with everyone else when the general wait gets close to an hour or more.

 

Renting a car means you can drive anywhere you like on the way - and there are some gorgeous places around the PNW. Car rental price varies, and you have gas/insurance on top, but even for 2 can be cheaper than QS in total (there are a lot of one-way rentals Vancouver-Seattle, so there's usually someone who wants to drive the opposite way which means drop fees rarely factor in as your dates get closer - but they'll be added to many rentals long in advance to cover the company just in case, so do NOT book any car rental on a non-refundable basis!). Border heavy? At least you have the choice of which crossing - there are four which are feasible to use, and screens on the highway give the wait times to let you choose sensibly.

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