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Holidays

Canada - holidaying in and around Vancouver!

38 replies

susanmt · 06/01/2003 16:52

We are planning to go to Vancouver to visit BIL and his wife in August/September, (they are out there studying) and were a bit shocked at the price of flying in August, and are a bit worried about the weather in September as we have heard it can change quite suddenly.
Has anyone done this or similar with small kids (they will be 1.5 and 3.5 then). Any tips about airlines. We would ideally like to fly direct to Vancouver from Europe.
Am going to do some searches but thought we would ask here first as there is bound to be someone who knows!!
Thanks

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Jaybee · 06/01/2003 17:07

may be worth flying to Seattle, US and driving to Vancouver (about 40 miles) the prices seem to be cheaper to fly to Seattle than Vancouver for some reason. I know a few people who have done this.
A good website for flights is www.expedia.co.uk, searches all airlines in one go.
Good luck.

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SueW · 06/01/2003 21:14

If you're not bothered where in Europe you fly from - IIRC you are in Scotland so may need to connect anyway - you might find it cheaper to buy a ticket to Frankfurt and onwards from there. However, the ticket bought for the jounrey from Frankfurt must be bought from a German travel agent/be a separate journey, rather than something put together by a UK travel agent as a package.

I played around with doing this a couple of years ago when we were flying out to Australia, using the website that is now flights.com and found that I could have booked first class tickets for the price of business from the UK and business for a far smaller multiplier of the economy fare than I would pay for a flight originating from the UK, even factoring in the very expensive flight from East Midlands to Frankfurt.

HTH.

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GillW · 07/01/2003 13:13

A couple of years ago it used to be possible to get quite reasonably priced flights to Canada as there were a couple of low cost airlines operating those routes - Royal and Canada 3000. Unfortunately they first merged, and then went bust, so the options are a lot less now.

One of the cheapest flights available now usually seems to be KLM via Amsterdam (still cheaper even including the UK to Holland flights) which has the advantage if you're not near London that you can usually go from a more local airport at no extra charge - Glasgow or Inverness, etc, which would probably suit you Susanmt. If you do end up going on one of the UK/Vancouver direct scheduled flights (which basically gives you a choice of BA or Air Canada) it's possibly worth considering that if you aren't planning to get a seat for your youngest child then BA have a car-seat type arrangement which fits onto the bulkhead so they don't have to sit on your lap all the time.

Otherwise it might be worth checking out Canadian Affair who usually have some of the more competitive rates around.

Jaybee - I've even seen flights to Seattle via Vancouver being sold for less than flights to Vancouver - although they're actually on the same plane for the first leg. Why it's so much cheaper to fly to Seattle is one of life's great mysteries.

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Jaybee · 07/01/2003 13:19

I have no idea why they are cheaper - I suppose that everyone seems to know Seattle as a boring city where it always seems to rain so maybe people need some incentive to go there!! A man I used to work with had relatives in Vancouver and always flew to Seattle and his relatives used to collect him from there.

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Philippat · 07/01/2003 14:20

Jaybee, how can you say that about Seattle!

I wouldn't worry too much about weather in Sept - you won't get snow, maybe a bit of rain but autumn seems to come later to the West Coast than it does here in Europe so I'd think you'd be safe.

We've always flown from a UK regional airport via Amsterdam or Newark or Chicago. Amsterdam is a very easy place to change in (no passort control) but it can be a long fast walk across the airport (seems like the biggest airport in the world).

Changing in the states is another matter - not something I'd recommend with 2 young kids as last summer it took more than an hour in the immigration line at Newark. No seats, no buggy, never ever want to re-live that. Even when you are in transit you still have to clear US immigration (and I saw several people miss their connecting flights as a consequence).

Flying to SeaTac and then driving is a nice option - beautiful drive but it is more than 40 miles (Seatac is south of Seattle proper). But the queue to cross the border can take a while if you are not a Canadian or US citizen (again maybe an hour if you go at peak time). Make sure you tell your car rental agent (which incidentally is cheaper in the US than in Canada too as is gas - fill up before you cross the border!) you are taking the car into Canada.

I am so jealous, Vancouver is the most beautiful city. If you have time (days!) and want a scenic route, fly to Seattle then take the ferry to the San Juan Islands and then over to Vancouver by ferry. Just the most gorgeous part of the world.

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GillW · 07/01/2003 14:23

Phillipat - do you know that part of the world well? We've got friends who live out in the San Juans (on Lopez) and it does look fabulous from the photos I've seen of it.

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Jaybee · 07/01/2003 14:26

Phillipat - I am not saying that - personally never been but that is the reputation it seems to have - maybe Sleepless in Seattle didn't help matters.

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susanmt · 07/01/2003 15:35

Thanks for the input folks!
We are still trying to decide what to do. We are not sure about flying to the states as dh would need to extend his medical insurance cover and so far he has been quoted huge amounts just to transit (his current cover is Worldwide excl USA!).
We are planning to spend some time in Vancouver, then a few days with an old schoolfriend of mine on Vancouver Island, and DH is desperate to go to Jasper, as he went there a a teenager.
Any ideas about travelling within Canada. We don't want to have to do any HUGE drives with 2 children and 3 only 3 weeks to do it in.

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GillW · 07/01/2003 16:09

You can get a train from Vancouver direct to Jasper, which might be the best bet, and is quite a spectacular trip - see here .

Alternatively, Canada has a low-cost airline called Westjet which might be worth checking out for hops across country (I'd think Edmonton might be just about the nearest airport - but its probably still more than 200 miles!)

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Bubblesmum · 09/01/2003 18:22

Hi, I travelled to Vancouver by flying London to Montreal and then getting an Canadian internal flight from there to Vancouver. You clear immigration in Montreal and that incidentally is a great city as a stop over..which I did both ways... more reasonable than the US for hotel/food etc.. I didn't have kids at the time so I can't comment on that aspect of it. On the Vancover side, I travelled by ferry to Vancouver Island as I had a friend living in Victoria there and that is indeed a really beautiful part of the world. I was there in late Sept and the weather was about 25 C. Even warm enough to swim in the Pacific ! Vancouver is a great city and if I'd had the time I would have loved to travel to the Rockies ... Banff / Lake Louise / Jasper. But even without that it was a really memorable trip.

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CP · 09/01/2003 18:31

Hi, we went to Canada on our honeymoon and flew directly to Vancouver. Definitely worth the extra cash outlay if you are travelling with kids, I can't imagine trawling through airports more than once with them!!
If you are hiring a car I can highly recommend a trip to Whistler, it is great that time of the year and there are fabulous hikes and biking trails. The Rocky Mountaineer train is also good although I don't know how child friendly it is as they may get bored. The average age on the train when we were there was about 65 so they may not appreciate young ones.
Take lots of layers to keep warm as it can get quite cold, I was told to pack for the equivalent of an English spring and hubby had to buy me some fleecies to save coming home with frozen bride!

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Alibubbles · 09/01/2003 20:15

I can recommend a very god car hire company. They were brilliant I found them on the web, they were far more accomodating ( especially when I got the day wrong and we arrived in Vancouver a day early!!) and cheaper than any of the usuals.
We have used them three times, we had a Ford expedition which would have cost twice as much with Avis or Hertz.

Take a stretch limo from the airport down town to Vancouver (30$), same price as a taxi but much more fun for the kids. In fact we put them in one on their own whilst we waited for the luggage etc, and they checked into the hotel temselves which they thought was really cool!

We also stay in the Pan Pacific and you can really beat them up on room price! £80 for a suite!

Fleeces are so cheap in Canada, and really good quality, we always take an empty suitcase. We have skied in Whistler 8 times, it is the children's preferred destination, they just love it.

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GillW · 09/01/2003 22:47

I don't know if it's the same one Alibubbles uses, but we've found that Wheelsabroad (despite the name which suggests otherwise they're actually a Canadian company, operating only in Canada) are consistently the best value for car hire in Canada.

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Alibubbles · 10/01/2003 10:55

GillW. your link didn't wok, but I'll try and find them anyway as it's useful to keep details like that. We used Alldrive, again only based in Canada, they do have an agent in UK now as so many Brits were using them!

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GillW · 10/01/2003 11:05

Just worked (or "wok"ed even ) for me

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susanmt · 13/01/2003 10:33

Have to tell you this - have discovered a charter company called Globespan who do return flights to Vancouver direct from Glasgow (also Manchester and Gatwick) and from regional airports to other cities in Canada - for cheaper than all the connections you would need to get to a major airport. From our point of view, as we need a day just to get to Glasgow, it is fabulous, and we are hoping to book in the next few days.
www.globespan.com

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Philippat · 13/01/2003 11:13

Oh yes, Air Transat, totally forgot about them (you can book direct with them rather than go through the travel agent if you want). Never travelled with them so don't know, but suspect it's worth paying for their club upgrade if it's not too pricey as I expect they pack the seats in and it's a long way!

Air Transat are most famous for managing to glide 85 miles to an airport in Portugal when they ran out of fuel mid-Atlantic! (A fuel leak, not that they forgot to fill up! I'm not trying to scare you, I think that's really impressive - that's the kind of pilot I'd like to get).

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GillW · 13/01/2003 13:04

Susan - before you book that one, check out Canadian Affair too. They also have flights to Vancouver out of Glasgow (one a week - out on Mondays, back on Sundays) and are quite a bit cheaper again than Air Transat/Globespan.

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susanmt · 14/01/2003 11:42

Canadian Affair were over £135 per adult dearer than transat. Looking into the club upgrade for transat though.
We dont mind being packed in - cheap and cheerful so we can afford to eat at the other end!

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susanmt · 14/01/2003 11:59

Ooops sorry, when I looked at it again I discovered it was a lot cheaper, although with a stopover, now a bit undecided as the direct flight is very tempting with 2 wee ones but dearer. OOOh the balancing act!!

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GillW · 14/01/2003 12:40

Susan - if you're looking to go to Jasper as well as Vancouver, it might be worth asking Canadian affair if they could do a return with an outward to Vancouver, return from Calgary (it's the same plane, you just don't get on it for the Vancouver to Calgary bit on the way back) so you don't have to retrace your footsteps.

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GillW · 14/01/2003 12:44

Just looked at their website - and it does actually allow you to request a different route for the return journey. Doing it that way means no stop-over on the return flight of course.

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GillW · 14/01/2003 13:15

Susan - If you did decide to do the return leg from Calgary, you'd get the bonus of a chance to take in Lake Louise too, which is absolutely beautiful. If you went by road you'd just about pass it on the way back from Jasper to Calgary (it's more or less where you'd turn off of highway 93 onto highway 1 if you've got a map) - and I guess you'd be wanting to head that way from Jasper anyway if you want to go to the Columbia Icefields.

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GillW · 14/01/2003 20:42

Susan - it's funny that we should have been discussing this today, because when I got home tonight the new Canadian Affair brochure was waiting on the doorstep for me. There was also a letter with an early booking (by end of Jan) offer of £20 per person off flights and/or 10% off Rocky Mountaineer (the Vancouver->Jasper train) bookings in May/June/Sept/Oct - which might be of use if you do decide on September rather than August.

Here's the detail it gives on the flights - quoted departure time from Glasgow is 14.30, arriving in Calgary (GMT - 7) 16:10, and Vancouver 17:45 (GMT - 8). The return is 18:50 ex Vancouver, and 21:55 ex Calgary, arriving at 13:00 next day.

Actually a quick look at the Air Transat schedules shows that their Glasgow->Vancouver flights also stop off at Calgary - so there's probably not much to choose between them except on cost and/or departure time/day.

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susanmt · 22/01/2003 10:44

BOOKED!!!!!!!
Thankyou so much everyone for all your help in finding flights. We had looked ourselves and in the end got flights at £600 cheaper than we had found on our own. Booked with Canadian Affair, going on Mon 4th Aug for 3 weeks. Direct from Glasgow!!! We have to fly Stornoway - Glasgow or drive down, not sure what yet. The Calgary stopoff is just to drop off/pick up passengers, so it doesn't make the flight more awkward, in fact it could add a bit of interest by then!
We are arriving on the 4th and BIL's Birthday is the 5th, so that will be nice. Haven't decided what to do while we are there yet, but will look into it a bit more.
Any views on Glacier National Park vs Jasper? Is there a lot of difference between them? Is it worth making the extra effort to get to Jasper? I am a Geog teacher and v. interested in scenery etc!

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