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Considering rental car from Vancouver airport to Seatac

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Gold Hill, North...
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Considering rental car from Vancouver airport to Seatac

We are considering renting a car and driving from the Vancouver airport to Seatac on September 22nd, our flight does not leave until Sunday the 23rd so we felt this was a viable option for 4 adults. Can anyone give me some info/ideas? I have read over some of the posts but I am not sure how complex the border crossing will be. I guessed it has to be better driving than taking the bus. Deborah Morgan, NC

Seattle, Wa
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1. Re: Considering rental car from Vancouver airport to Seatac

Well, you might have to wait in line at the border, but it's not "complex". And you can look at the WSDOT website to find average border wait times, and plan accordingly.

But have you priced this? Picking up a car in one country and dropping off in another, expect hefty drop off charges. And some companies will flat out not allow this. I suppose for 4 people, though, considering you'd have to buy 4 train/bus/light rail/etc tickets, it could be worth it.

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2. Re: Considering rental car from Vancouver airport to Seatac

actually its done all the time and is pretty easy. Bear in mind that its not a scenic drive and my preference is for you to take the train. If four of you got the train you may be able to get all 4 to Seattle for about $160. A one way car rental will be about the same. You can book a one way rental at hotwire.com.

Most companies will allow a US Citizen to rent a Cdn car and drop in USA but there are restriction on CDNs doing the same. Just make sure you check with the rental company

You normally get better info by calling the local office direct vs the 800#. Try to rent in downtown Vanc as it usually is cheaper. I crossed the border last sunday at noon and the wait was 90 minutes. This is avoided by taking the train.

Vancouver, Canada
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3. Re: Considering rental car from Vancouver airport to Seatac

Interesting David - I've always gotten the impression that renting in one country and dropping in another is a big deal, so that's good to know for future reference. I think it can be very expensive though, so the OP needs to really check out all those extra charges before making a final decision.

What's a flight worth?

seattle
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4. Re: Considering rental car from Vancouver airport to Seatac

I pay almost $200 to fly from Vancouver. Its ridiculously high. A cdn cannnot rent one way but an American can. I don't suggest driving ever but in this case it could work if they are willing to wait at the border. On the top question on top right is historic border wait times if you read the link for 'Trips to Vancouver and Victoria"

look at hotwire.com for one way rates and they aren't terrible. Harder will be to put 4 suitcases in most rental cars.

Seattle, Washington
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5. Re: Considering rental car from Vancouver airport to Seatac

We do cross-border rentals a couple of times a year, since we fly in/out of Vancouver airport on occasion (most recently two weeks ago.) It really is no big deal in terms of the process. I'd encourage you to check on prices with downtown pickup in Vancouver instead of the airport (if that's at all convenient.) If I recall correctly, there are some stiff airport fees associated with rentals originating at YVR instead of downtown. (The same is true of renting at Sea-Tac airport, but even worse.) The fees don't apply if you drop the car at the airport. For four adults it will almost certainly be cheaper than the train, since the train only gets you to the Seattle train station, then it's a further taxi ride (or somewhat hassle-ish light rail ride) to the airport.

You may need to go to individual rental car websites instead of using Expedia, Orbitz etc. Those agencies tend to balk at non-airport pickups on one-way rentals. We've had the best prices with Budget but not in every case (sometimes even Hertz is cheaper!) We've also phoned the local stations (not the 800 numbers - those folks are clueless) and asked if they have any "Seattle" ("Vancouver") cars; once or twice we've gotten a good rate, particularly with Canadian cars needing returned. But don't count on it.

With a rental car and a full day, there are some very scenic and interesting alternate routes from Vancouver to Seattle. The easiest (and very pleasant) route is to cross the border at Blaine (BC 99 / I-5) then go south on I-5 to Bellingham. Take WA 11 ("Chuckanut Drive") from Fairhaven (Bellingham's cute historic district) along the Puget Sound water's edge to the junction with WA 20. Then follow WA 20 west and south over Deception Pass (a stunning high bridge over churning water) and onto Whidbey Island. Follow WA 20 then WA 525 down the length of Whidbey Island, stopping at the cute waterfront villages of Coupeville and Langley, with a stop for a piece of pie at Greenbank Farm between them - OMG. From the south end of Whidbey, take the Washington State ferry across to the mainland at Mukilteo, then WA 526 past the Boeing widebody plant (biggest building in the world) to its junction with I-5, then 20 min. and you're in Seattle, 40 and you're at the airport. It's a great day trip, requiring maybe an extra 3 hours compared to the straight shot down I-5 from the border. If you have a full day, it's an ideal way to use it, and obtain a great snapshot of the Puget Sound country in the process. Highly recommended, and it only works if you have a car.

>>A cdn cannnot rent one way but an American can.<<

This has changed: tc.gc.ca/eng/…releases-2012-h048e-6704.htm

Edited: 14 August 2012, 18:05
Gold Hill, North...
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6. Re: Considering rental car from Vancouver airport to Seatac

WOW! Thx for all of the responses, I did price the train it is $156 for 4 adults and then we would have to use the light rail (not a good choice with 4 large suitcases) or take a taxi. Another negative with the train is it leaves at 5:45 pm and we had hoped to catch a Mariners game that evening if they are playing. I have checked the online rates for car rentals, and they vary from $70 (CDN) from 2 different rental companies; to $275 and $325 at 2 others. We are considering traveling via the Peace Arch (?) and currently anticipate a 1 hour delay. I checked and the exchange rate seems pretty spot on for 1 to 1, but am a little confused over the taxes. We anticipate being off the ship and at the airport between 10 and 11 am; and planning a 4 hour drive with the border crossing. We did check airfare and it was $176 per person, not a viable option.unless absolutely unavoidable. Again, thanks for all of your responses and we will be looking into this further before I make a final booking. Deborah

Seattle, Washington
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7. Re: Considering rental car from Vancouver airport to Seatac

>> We anticipate being off the ship and at the airport between 10 and 11 am. <<

But you could be at one of the downtown rental offices sooner than that; assuming you're arriving at Canada Place, there are a couple of rental offices right there (Alamo/National and Thrifty) and more within a few blocks. Have somebody stay at the cruise terminal with the bags while someone else goes off to get the car. There's no need to go to the airport. For example I can see a full size car for your day from National at Canada Place, returning the following evening at SEA, for $180 all in. So that's $90 a day / 4 persons, pretty good deal.

Gold Hill, North...
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8. Re: Considering rental car from Vancouver airport to Seatac

thx ibgardyloo, we will look into it. deborah

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9. Re: Considering rental car from Vancouver airport to Seatac

was going to suggest the same since you can walk to Canada Place in fact its the same place when you get off the ship.

Vancouver, Canada
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10. Re: Considering rental car from Vancouver airport to Seatac

Yes, its an additional 17% surcharge to rent from the airport (this is supposed to help out the taxi drivers or some such thing) or if you have been in the city for less than 24 hrs. They WILL ask you a question about how long you have been in Vancouver. Something like "How are you enjoying Vancouver?" Ans: "We only just arrived off the boat." will cost you an extra 17%. (At least, I have read this elsewhere - I should clarify that I'm reporting hearsay.)

But definitely rent from a downtown office. Getting out to the airport is easy, but totally unnecessary from the cruise ship terminal - whether you are arriving at Canada Place or Ballentyne Pier.