Yay I’m finally I’m ticking Vancouver and Whistler off our bucket list. This city has been on my radar for a number of years, but we have been traipsing around Japan, South Korea and the United States trying different ski resorts. But, I’ve finally managed to secure a good British Airways redemption with my companion voucher, so we have booked first class flights to Vancouver from Manchester.
First class flights to Vancouver from Manchester
We have paid £1138.46 in taxes and fees (I know, eye watering right?), but this has saved us over £6,400. The best cash price for first class flights to Vancouver from Manchester or London was £7,543.66. Wowsers, does anyone actually pay that kind of price for a flight?
How did we earn enough AVIOS for this?
To be truthful, in the last three months I’ve earned over 180,000 AVIOS from credit card referrals, so these alone have covered the 170,000 we needed to book these off-peak tickets.
However, my top tip for earning enough points is to take out a British Airways AMEX Premium Card. Yes, there is a £195 fee, but once you spend £10,000 on the card in a year, you will earn a companion voucher. This voucher allows you to pay the AVIOS for one person and yet two people get to fly. Sadly, you have to pay taxes and fees for two, hence the cost of £1,138.46.
With this card, you will also earn 25,000 AVIOS on sign up (26,000 if you use this referral link). If you can then encourage your friends and family to sign up for a card, you earn 9,000 for each referral. There is a maximum of 90,000 AVIOS from referrals each year, but your spouse can be one of them, so you can repeat the exercise with them.
Don’t worry, this does not mean that you need to pay two lots of £195. Once you have earned the companion voucher for one account, you can downgrade to the standard card and receive a pro-rata refund for the remainder of the year.
Other credit cards
There are other credit cards which recognise spending with whopping sign up bonuses. My favourite is the AMEX Gold, as it has no annual fee in the first year. The sign up bonus is 20,000 (or 22,000 with my referral link). Take note you need to spend £2,000 in three months to earn the sign up bonus on this card, versus £3,000 in three months for the British Airways Premium Card.
If you want the full rundown on credit cards, read the post above.
Other top tips for earning AVIOS
I also have a ton of other resources which you can read, giving you bags of advice on other ways to earn AVIOS. You may wish to start with the 14 week plan to travel hack like an expert or you can get all the latest tips if you sign up to my weekly newsletter here.
What to do in Vancouver?
So, any top tips for things to do in Vancouver? If any of you have visited Vancouver, Whistler, Seattle or surrounding ski resorts I’m interested. Whistler is seriously expensive and we would like to try local slopes, that are more reasonably priced. Please pop any ideas in the comments below.
Otherwise, what are you waiting for? Your first class flights await for less than the cost of two economy flights!
Hi Anne! Welcome in advance!
Also a Greater Vancouver resident here. I don’t have much to offer in ways of hotels or points-earning but I do know coffee places, craft breweries, and Chinese food. Let me know if you want recs.
Oh definitely and I’m also interested in anything to do with getting on the water with whales. Although we are coming in February. I’m super excited about this trip as Vancouver has been on my wish list forever
Alrighty let me start with whale-watching: best place to do that is in Tofino, which is on Vancouver Island, which itself is a ferry ride + drive away from any point on the mainland. Budget at least one day + night for this. Proviso: I haven’t done this myself, but I hear best to book everything ahead of time.
As for Chinese food, Richmond has been nicknamed The New Chinatown so best to start from there. Red Star, Fisherman’s Terrace, Neptune, Kirin, and Shanghai River are all excellent (especially for lunch/dim sum) and are all easy walks from the Canada Line, not to mention super close to the airport. Alexandra Road is a slightly longer walk but has the highest concentration of restaurants possibly in the Lower Mainland – pick one (or more) and go nuts. Be sure to ask for English menus, and don’t be too intimidated by the numerous Chinese dialects flying around the room.
If you’re stuck downtown, Peaceful and Victoria are just as good and are also close to transit.
As for coffee: no shortage of coffee nuts around town all too happy to whip you up a pour-over, cortado, or cappucino. My faves are 49th Parallel (these folks will also feed you some wonderful donuts), Elysian, Pallet, Revolver, and Matchstick, but JJ Bean, Timbertrain, Artigiano, and Bows x Arrows are all solid in my book.
Beer: Take coffee, even more so. Go check out Parallel 49, 33 Acres, R&B, Faculty, Powell, Andina, Callister, Strathcona, Strange Fellows, Luppolo, Brassneck, Main Street, Van East, Off The Rail, Bomber, Red Truck, Postmark, the list goes on. Each has their own “style” and feel, but be ready for heavily-hopped IPAs, they’re the signature west coast style. The good news: many are within cycling distance of each other, either clustered near Main Street (Mount Pleasant, or “Brewery Creek”) or just off Hastings (“Yeast Van”.)
Happy hunting, and hope this helps.
Omg thanks so much for all these amazing tips. I’m definitely going to be checking these out. Will do my research now on the whale watching to avoid disappointment. If you fancy coming and meeting us for a beer at one of those beer houses, we’d love to meet up too! Have a great day and thanks for taking the time to give me tons of inspiration.
Vancouver resident and second homeowner in Whistler.
I would just spring for the $ to visit whistler. It is a world class ski area that attracts people from the whole world, Visiting our local slopes in Vancouver are akin to skiing in Scotland when you have the alps in France right next door. No one is travelling internationally to visit the local hills. I think you can buy a 4 day EPIC pass to bring the price point down.
If you are aiming for hotels in Whistler, I’d recommend the Westin for its accessibility on points. Otherwise, you may find varying levels of accommodations through condo rentals.
Vancouver has a huge variety of point hotels on offer so it all depends on what you want to do and the season you are visiting. Be forewarned that summer weekends are very expensive as we have cruise ships in town and all the accommodation gets sold out- so book early. Winter is the opposite: it’s usually very cheap.
Feel free to PM me if you need Vancouver / Whistler tips or advice (accommodations / restaurants).
Thanks so much for these amazing tips. I looked up the Westin and it looks amazing. I may even be able to accumulate enough points to stay for free so guess I should focus on that. Will be in touch nearer the time as we head out in feb. I will be super excited as it has been on my bucket list for ages!