Canadians love to shop in the States. Even now with our dollar not being as strong as it was a few years ago, we still plan our annual girls shopping trips down to the USA, back to school shopping, stocking up on amazing cheese shopping… you get my drift..
I have friends who in live in Vancouver so I will catch a inexpensive flight (check out Swoop, one of Canada’s low budget a-la-carte airlines) from YEG to YXX and then we drive across the boarder to Bellingham.
We like to leave at about 9 in the morning and grab our Starbucks and then head to the Pacific Highway boarder crossing which crosses into Blaine, WA. You can check crossing wait times here.
Do you have anxiety at the thought of crossing the boarder? Here’s some helpful tips:
- Have your documents ready. For Canadians this means a valid passport, NEXUS card, or depending on what province you are from (British Columbia, Manitoba or Ontario) you can use your Enhanced Drivers License / Enhanced Identification Card instead of other identification.
- Be prepared to answer some questions about your visit to the US. Some I have been asked in the past have been regarding the length of my stay, what I’m planning on doing while I’m visiting, where I am staying, if I’m planning to gamble. Just be pleasant and remember the guard is just doing their job.
- Declare all food you are bringing. Or even better, don’t bring any food.
- Know what you can bring back to Canada. Then you won’t have to deal with paying duty on items if you go over the limits, or having your items confiscated because they are not allowed to cross the boarder. You can find the guidelines here depending on your length of stay in the US.
We crossed into Blaine and then headed straight to Bellingham. Our first stop was Marshalls because we find the US outlets of this store a lot better priced and better selection then the Canadian ones. We also hit up Ross Dress for Less. I find this store hit or miss, but there’s been enough amazing finds on my visits that I keep going back.
Then off to Bellis Fair Mall across the street. Check here for their website and latest directory of stores.
We were hungry at this point so we went to Jalapeños. There’s three locations, we went to the one in Fairhaven. They are known for ginormous and delicious margaritas and they did not disappoint! (My recommendation: get yourself a DD for the afternoon so you can have a couple.) The food was amazing, I had fillet mignon fajitas and I sampled everything else that I could from my friends and would have ordered anything again.
Then we stopped at Trader Joes and Costco for some grocery shopping. Yes, Canada has Costco, however as I have gone on about before, the USA has better selection and prices for cheese than here, and well you’ve seen the sizes of the cheese from Costco. I feel I don’t need to say anything else about this!
At this point, I had lost complete interest in shopping, possibly it may of had something to do with my lunchtime margaritas.. I don’t know. And the rest of our group was tired as well. So we headed back up north to the boarder.
Here’s where it gets interesting: a couple of our group brought back more alcohol then permitted for a 24 hour period. So when they declared it at the boarder we had to go park. Everyone in our vehicle had to get out and go into the building. The guards have the option of searching your entire vehicle if they feel like it at this point. The ones we had did not so it wasn’t as lengthy of a process, however it still took us about an hour to get out of there. Not really what I felt like doing at the end of a long day. Moral of the story: know your limits and stay within them. The cost of the duty that they had to pay was about how much the same bottles would have cost in Canada.