By Angelique Grace (Vancouver)
I had all my CDs placed within my reach on the front passenger seat for the 3-hour long car jamming session all the way to Seattle. Taking a bus or a train never once crossed my mind. That is, not until the malfunction indicator light lit up on the dashboard of my car and it was too late to bring my car in at the shop. I thought, great. Amtrak, it is. But after thinking about it for awhile, taking Amtrak was the cheaper, more convenient, and slightly more adventurous alternative to get to Seattle – especially for someone travelling alone for a few days.
10 Reasons Not To Take Your Car
1. Less to worry about. That’s 3 hours that you can relax and not worry about the road, reckless drivers, a possible flat tire. You could be the one on the passenger seat sleeping, or reading, or whatever.
2. Skip the two hour line up at the border. Unless you have a Nexus pass, you’ll most likely have to wait at the border with everyone else. Fact is, not a lot of people take the bus/train so the most you’ll have to wait could be 20 minutes, instead what would have been 1-2 hours.
3. Parking is crazy expensive. If you’re going to spend most of your time in Downtown Seattle for more than a day or two, you might want to consider that 24-hour overnight parking is between $25-40. The cheaper ones tend to be in the sketchy unlit areas. Just so you know. See here for real time availability and rates.
4. It’s useless. The best way to get around Downtown Seattle is by foot and that’s what most people do. Unless you’re planning to go outside the city, there’s no need for a car. You can take public transit, or a cab – I prefer Yellow Cab, or these Pronto bikes that you could use to go around.
5. It’s easier when you’re lost. When you’re lost, it’s always better to be on foot than in a car especially in the downtown area with all the one way street, detours, road construction, and jaywalkers (quite a few in Seattle). Your GPS can only do so much to help.
6. Exercise. Seattle has one of the most vibrant food scene. If you’re going to eat you’re way through Seattle, you’re going to have to walk your way through Seattle. Walking is the best way to get around because you never know what local grub you’ll find on the streets.
7. Seattle rush hour traffic is a b*tch. That’s both in and out of Seattle. Now that you know, please refer to reason #1.
8. Tickets can be easily exchanged. Amtrak’s cheapest Vancouver-Seattle ticket is $40 one way and it’s valid within 2 days of travel so you can easily exchange your reservation for an earlier or later bus if your itinerary changes. You can also go from bus-to-train or vice versa depending on seat availability. I think Greyhound bus could be slightly cheaper.
9. You get to meet new people. Both at the stations and on the bus. You might not share a 3-hour long conversation, you might just exchanges hellos and smiles – but never the less, it’s an encounter of something (or even someone) new. You get to watch people and wonder about their life story. You can learn a lot simply by observing people.
10. It’s different. If you’ve previously taken the car to Seattle before, there’s really no need to repeat the same experience. I realize that a huge part of traveling is stepping out of ordinary to experience new things. So be it taking a bus, a train, a mule, do it. Just make sure it isn’t something you’ve done before.