As the recent host to the 2010 Winter Olympics, Vancouver is a popular destination for summer vacations in western Canada. With mild weather and a number of attractions and parks, it is the perfect Canadian city to visit during the mild and warm summer months.
With one of the busiest ports in North America, Vancouver has plenty to offer – ocean, parks, various sights and attractions, and the nearby North Shore and Coast mountain ranges with Whistler close by. With theaters, art and science museums, and an assortment of nightlife options in a temperate summer climate, Vancouver is a livable, big city with something to offer nearly everyone who visits.
After hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics, Vancouver will be the home to the Travel Bloggers Exchange, or TBEX, for many travel bloggers and and writers this June. Whatever your reason for visiting Vancouver, here are some budget travel tips on how to get there.
This week is the best week to find flights to Vancouver (and other places) as it’s the best airfares I have seen for 2011. So don’t miss out on the travel deals of the week for Vancouver and beyond.
Finding the cheapest flight to Vancouver
When flying from the US, a flight to Canada will involve international taxes, fees, and regulations which will add to the cost of a flight. Paying attention to taxes and fees, flying into different cities, and using different airlines are part of my 6 travel tips to find the cheapest flights. With that in mind, let’s explore the cost of flying to Vancouver – and why it isn’t your cheapest option.
Currently, the *cheapest flight from Chicago to Vancouver will cost you $673 of which $160 is for international taxes and fees (this fare also includes a $40 discount when booking). However, flying from Chicago to Seattle, 3 to 4 hours away, will cost you $448 of which $40 is in taxes and fees – a savings of $225 by landing in Seattle rather than Vancouver.
To better understand the costs of flying, check out what your airline ticket really costs.
From San Francisco, a flight to Vancouver will cost you $356 – $278 airfare and $47 in fees. While this might seem reasonable, you can also book a flight from San Francisco to Seattle for $169 of which $21 is taxes and fees – a savings of nearly $190. From Sacramento, it costs $498 to fly to Vancouver while it’s only $269 to Seattle – a savings of $230.
International flights to Vancouver
For international travelers, flying to Seattle may save you money as well. Currently, the *cheapest flight from London to Vancouver is $1350 – $560 of that in taxes and fees (and there is only one itinerary at this price). Other flights cost $1387 and up and also include $500 or more in taxes and fees.
For the same dates, flying from London to Seattle costs $1060 – $467 in fees. Other airfares to Seattle are from $1074 and up and the taxes are similar with a base airfare of $593 and up. The actual flight from London to Vancouver is more expensive than the flight from London to Seattle but the difference in taxes and fees also saves you money – in this example, nearly $300 in total.
When is the best time to purchase your flight?
Whether you choose to fly to Seattle or directly into Vancouver, knowing when to purchase your flight to save money is essential.
Currently airfare sales for most airlines are through early June. Look for airfare sales to Seattle from all over the US between now and mid to late March. If you wait, you may be able to grab some last minute airfare deals to Seattle in April or May but the price may be higher and it may limit some of your other transportation options from Seattle to Vancouver.
The best price for a flight to Seattle right now from California is out of San Francisco for $169 RT. For this price, this might be a deal worth buying now. For those on the west coast, Alaska Air and Southwest will be your best budget travel options for cheap flights to Seattle – but not yet (Tuesday, March 8 may be the first day for cheap flights to Seattle in mid June).
For other flights from the US, check airfares over the next couple of weeks for the cheapest flights. For international flights, check to see what the current airfares are to Seattle but check prices over the next couple of weeks for the first airfare sales. Late winter and early spring are the best time to find cheap flights for summer travel so don’t wait.
Best budget travel flights to Vancouver
Bottom line – By flying into Seattle, the money you save can be used to find cheaper transportation options to Vancouver. Flying to Seattle may save you money but may also require some flexibility and patience in your travels to Vancouver. For those looking for budget travel options to Vancouver, you must consider the factors of time, flexibility, and costs.
If you choose to fly to Seattle, what transportation options are available for travel to Vancouver? How long will it take to get there? Check out Part II in this series – transportation options from Seattle to Vancouver.
*cheapest flight – ticket purchased on Monday, March 7 using a online airfare search engine for travel dates of June 10 – June 13.
Vancouver (Flickr: halfpipe)