Travel Plan Assistance Please
March 28, 2009 5:48 PM   Subscribe

Traveling from Texas to Canada, Bear Creek Provincial Park in Summerland BC. Is the Vancouver Airport the closest airport or should we fly in to Seattle and drive up? Not sure the best route. Help....airline tickets into Vancouver are like $600!
posted by madmamasmith to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total)
It is probably worth the cost to fly into Kelowna airport (which is less than an hour's drive from Summerland). Vancouver will be 4-5 hours by car from Summerland. If you don't want to fly over the border, you can try Spokane, WA, but that will be 5 hours by car as well. Seattle is a long way. Both of Canada's major airlines (Westjet and Air Canada) fly into Kelowna, but only Air Canada has an American partner that will get you to and from Texas without purchasing two flights.
posted by ssg at 6:01 PM on March 28, 2009

What part of Texas? Alaska Airlines has decent rates from DFW to Kelowna.
posted by Balonious Assault at 6:18 PM on March 28, 2009

Response by poster: It seems I could fly into Seattle and and ride the bus or train to vancouver for fairly cheap. But I cant find out about buses or trains to summerland.
posted by madmamasmith at 6:36 PM on March 28, 2009

I would recommend Vancouver over Seattle. The drive to Summerland from YVR isn't too taxing, and is beautiful much of the way. Are you planning on renting a car? If not, I agree with ssg in that Kelowna would be a more convenient destination.
posted by ms.v. at 7:03 PM on March 28, 2009

I just looked on Greyhound and found a bus from Vancouver to Summerland. It takes about 6 hours each way, and a round trip ticket is $126 (non-refundable) or $140 (refundable). For the train, you want to look at Via Rail, but I checked and they don't go near Summerland.

But... if you're forced to fly into Seattle due to price, the bus to Vancouver will take 2 or 3 hours at least. You're looking at a very long day. Instead maybe you can get off the bus in Surrey and rent a car from there; it will save you battling traffic in and out of the city. You could try to fly into Bellingham, WA to make it even closer. And see if you can take a bus to Abbotsford instead of Surrey, that would be even better. (I assume you can't drive a rental car across the border. Maybe you can? Worth looking into.)
posted by PercussivePaul at 7:13 PM on March 28, 2009

Paul's right--if your air travel ends in Seattle, it's a long day to Summerland even if you rent a car. If you don't rent and take transit: there's a bus from SeaTac to Vancouver so even though it's 2/3 hours (depending on the border--watch out on the weekends), it'd spare you from getting to the Seattle depot. However, I forget if it takes you to downtown Vancouver or just to the airport. If it's just to the airport, it's another 45 minutes from there to the bus terminal, and then you wait for up to 3 hours (depending on your luck) for the 6-7 hour Greyhound to Summerland.

(About buses from Seattle to Abbotsford--I'm guessing very strongly that any bus from Seattle or SeaTac would take you to Vancouver first and make you transfer to an Abbotsford bus, defeating the point.)

I think you should definitely try to budget things so that you have a car. BC is poorly served by buses and the like, and the Okanagan in particular. Even getting around the south valley (i.e. Summerland) and into Bear Creek will be a pain without one. So if that means flying to Seattle and doing the long drive, I'd strongly advise that. Ms V. is right that much of the drive is often beautiful, especially if you take the Hope/Princeton highway (rather than the Coquihalla). Manning Park is beautiful, and then Keremeos and Osoyoos have nice scenery.

Finally, if you can't afford any car rentals and have to do the "worst case scenario" of a bus from Seattle to Vancouver and then Summerland, is it possible for you to take a few days to make the trip? 2/3 hours to Vancouver isn't a biggie if you stay in Vancouver for a night, which, if you can, you should really do!
posted by Beardman at 7:46 PM on March 28, 2009

I'd fly to Canada directly, either Vancouver or preferably somewhere in the interior, just to be able to clear customs before I left. Much better to be denied access to Canada in Texas than at the land border crossing and it's a lot less hassle in my experience.
posted by Mitheral at 8:34 PM on March 28, 2009

Just a note: Seattle to Vancouver is never, ever a two hour trip. Under the best of circumstances, it's more than three hours, and our friend who visits every once in a while via Greyhound is typically stuck on the bus for four hours or longer. Continental flies from IAH to SEA for $380 on a good day, a typical price is more like $400. Which city in Texas will you be leaving from?
posted by halogen at 9:14 PM on March 28, 2009

Oops, I meant $280 on a good day.
posted by halogen at 9:14 PM on March 28, 2009

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