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  1. Default Tourist - Driving Vancouver, BC to Seattle, WA

    Hello everyone,

    I've recently booked a holiday to Vancouver in June to visit some friends, and also experience a different country and city, never been to Canada before.

    I'm there for 2 weeks. My parents are quite reluctant about me going at 25, think it's a general parents' concern to see their child leave the country so somewhere unknown.
    To make the most of the time I'll be there, i'm really interested in viewing the space needle and a few other sights in Seattle, and though plane or train are both good options to get there from Vancouver, I'm really keen to get there by driving, heck; driving in a different country with a different car and experiencing the sights, even solo, sounds like a great journey.

    From what I understand, i'll need to drive across a border between the states, will I need to have any paperwork completed to let me into Seattle from Vancouver and back? Is the drive going to be straight forward or complicated? I've 5 years driving experience across the UK and hope this is enough for a my trip planned. Is it possible to make it there and back in one day, or would I look at taking two days round trip to complete it, and any UK drivers had experience doing this trip, will i need specific documents etc? is there a good route to take that i can take regular stop off's to view sights etc on the way?

    Any advice or thoughts you can shed would be appreciated, I'll be doing the trip solo but guess it'll be good fun :-)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Easily done.

    Hi, and Welcome to the Great American Roadtrip Forum.

    The first thing is, you will have to organise a visa to enter the US, before you fly to Vancouver. Without it, you will not be able to cross the border. Actually, what you need is the Visa Waiver Program, which allows you entry into the US for up to 90 days.

    Yeah! I can understand your parents reluctance to let you go, even at 25. Been there, done that and seen it many times as well. But maybe they will not feel so bad if you tell them that I did it solo as a grandmother... sleeping in my minivan. In fact I went all the way to AK.

    There are several routes you can take to cross the border and drive to Seattle. If you possibly can get hold of maps of BC and WA, that would help you a great deal. Crossing the border southbound onto I-5, the major crossing, is very congested and busy and could take quite some time. There are other crossings which you will see marked on the maps.

    If the people you are visiting in Vancouver are members of the CAA, they should be able to send you over those two maps. Otherwise the best thing to do is purchase a Rand McNally road atlas, which essentially has the same information. Maps are invaluable with planning a trip, and essential when on the road.

    I would allow at least two nights in Seattle. There is quite a bit to see, besides the Space Needle, there is Pike's Market... don't miss it. The library is also a show piece, as is the Melbourne tram which runs along the waterfront. The HI hostel in Seattle is one of the best in North America. Make sure when you rent a vehicle that it is allowed to cross the border. The drive to Seattle, even on I-5 is quite nice. But you could take a different route each way for variety.

    While in Vancouver, I highly recommend that you make a visit to Giribaldi Prov Pk., Whistler, Squamish and if you have the time to the glacial lakes up near Lilooet. Lilooet is a lovely little place. The glacial lakes in that area are three lakes one above the other, each one drains into the one below. There is a lovely walk up to the top lake.

    Rural BC is a lovely place.

    Enjoy the planning.

    Lifey

  3. Default

    Thank you for the reply.

    Is the Visa (or Esta) the only thing i require to cross the border, or will i need more paperwork?

    Currently, i'm planning to pick up a rental car in the evening a day before, and will take a few hours to get used to the vehicle (being automatic, my forte' being manual) and then head out to Seattle early the next morning, departing at maybe 6 or 7am.

    It should be an interesting experience, and i'm looking forward to the scenic drive.

    Appreciate your advice also.

    Are tourists permitted in Vancouver to use gun ranges and have a go at firing pistols, automatics, shotguns etc?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    As a UK citizen, you shouldn't need anything other than the Visa Waiver Program documents. It should be a pretty easy process. You may want to have a copy of your return plane ticket, just in case there are any questions about when you plan to return home, but that's really just an extra precaution and not likely to be a big issue.

    I'm not sure of the specific rules in Washington State or British Columbia, but typically, citizenship doesn't matter at all for using a firing range. It's really just an age issue, and you'll need a valid id - for which a British Passport should be just fine. I'd do a search of ranges you might to visit and contact them directly for their policies, but I would't see it as being a problem.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Rjones99 View Post
    Is the Visa (or Esta) the only thing i require to cross the border,
    Yes. That is all you need for a short visit, and as Michael says, your ticket home..

    Lifey

  6. Default

    A little confused, so for my visit to Seattle for one day, from Vancouver, do I need an Esta, Visa, or sign up for the Visa Waiver Program...

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    ESTA is the electronic system to sign up for the Visa Wavier Program. As a British Citizen just looking to visit for less than 90 days, you do not need a visa.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Confusing.

    Check their website. First we had the VWP, and in recent years they have had the Esta. I understood that the one replaced the other. However, since I have not used either (I travel on a different visa), I am not 100% sure. But why not ask a local travel agent.

    Then let us know, so we can answer this question in future.... until they change the system again. lol

    Lifey

    Edit: There you go, Michael had the answer while I was typing.

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