Vancouver International Airport is known to locals as YVR and is the 2nd largest airport in Canada in terms of number of passengers that come through the airport every year. It is a huge hub for travel from Asia and operates plenty of non-stops to Asia, Europe, Oceania and of course the United States to the south. The airport is actually located 12 km from downtown Vancouver in nearby Richmond. The airport is a hub for Air Canada and WestJet which serves most of Canada. More than 50 airlines have scheduled flights from main international destinations to and from the airport.
Vancouver International Airport is serviced by a rapid transit line (The Canada Line which was built in time for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver) as well as bus, taxi, Uber, Lyft and other private transportation lines. I have more information on this post on getting from Vancouver Airport to downtown.
Vancouver Airport has several parking lots and is located about 5 minutes off a major highway. There can be a lot of traffic in the area due to shopping malls and major retailers on the same road that goes to the airport. Keep that in mind when you are traveling here.
Vancouver Airport Parking
Vancouver Airport has several parking lots, with varying levels of service and various prices. The farther away you park, the cheaper it usually is. There is valet that will allow you to park your car right outside the International Departures Gates all the way to lots that require a shuttle or the option to hop on the Canada Line.
Gateway Valet Parking
This is currently closed due to current travel conditions. Check with them directly for updates.
Short Term Parkade
This is a popular option for drop offs and pick ups when you plan to go into the airport with whomever you are dropping off and picking up. Cost can add up quickly. Consider the cell phone waiting lot until your guests are off the plane!
The Vancouver Airport Short Term Parkade is right at the terminal. It gives access to both the domestic and international arrivals and departures.
This is a popular option with a regular shuttle that goes to the arrivals level (not a problem you just have to go up one floor) to get to departures. It is a quick walk from grabbing your luggage. Allow 10-15 minutes from the time you park to get to the airport.
Long Term Value Lot
This lot is located the farthest from the airport but is serviced by the Canada Line train ( the ride is free ). Park your car and hop on the modern rapid transit right to the terminal. Allow about 15 minutes to get to the terminal.
More British Columbia Travel Resources
5 Things to Bring with You to Vancouver
A good rain jacket is always a good idea, even in the summer. While you are not likely to get wet in July and August, late august almost always sees a wet day, and May, June and September will also get rain. If you want to read about average rainfall, I have more information on weather in Vancouver. Even if you are coming in the winter, unless you plan on skiing, you can get away with a rain jacket and some good base layers for most of the winter in and around Vancouver.
A good power bank to charge phones and other devices is always a good idea. After a day of videoing, GPS and taking photos, the last thing you want is a dead cell phone. These are inexpensive and come in handy during the day. If you are flying to Vancouver, make sure you keep any power banks in your hand luggage, as security will often remove them from checked bags (I have found that out the hard way before).
A universal adapter is going to be handy for International Visitors. Canada uses the same plugs as the USA but if you are coming from somewhere else abroad, grab yourself one before you arrive.
A good guidebook is something I always get when I am researching a new location. Lonely Planet is the usual go-to, but also check out these.
Reusable shopping bags are available to buy everywhere, but if you want to get a compact one before you arrive, it is a good idea.
Reusable water bottles are also a good idea. You can buy bottled water anywhere that you can get drinks, but Canada does pride itself on recycling as much as possible, and why shell out wasteful dollars when you can drink the tap water all over British Columbia.
Travel Insurance for Canada
There are a few other things to think about when it comes to international travel. The first thing is travel insurance. Whether it is an emergency room visit for something as simple as strep throat, or an emergency appendix surgery, or an unfortunate moped incident things do go wrong when people travel everyday. Canada is a very expensive country for medical care and a doctors visit in an Emergency Room is over $800 to just see the doctor.
I highly suggest travel insurance and a good policy. I personally never travel without it, and I even checked into my policy about care for my children if I am ever in an accident or hospitalized. There are just too many things to think about.
You can find out more information and buy your travel insurance here.
Lindsay Nieminen is the creator of UncoveringBC.com. She grew up and still lives in the suburbs of Vancouver with her family. She aims to inspire inform, and educate others about traveling in her home province of British Columbia. She is also the creator of carpediemourway.com which aims to show parents how to seek out adventure at home or abroad, with their children in tow!