Prior to the pandemic, 80% of cross-border travelers cross at least once a month.
Data collected during the 2018/2019 IMTC Passenger Intercept Survey asked questions of cross-border travelers that provide insights into regional travel trends.
Although there may be changes in travel patterns once the border fully re-opens, the following information still provides a snapshot of what was typical prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
For Canadians travelling to the U.S., the majority of trips are short – under twelve hours, predominantly for shopping and purchasing gas. In the winter, 64 percent of travelers used a NEXUS card.
For U.S. residents heading north, the primary trip purposes are for vacation, recreation, and family. Trips are typically longer than a day.
Over a third of cross-border travelers cross weekly.
Short-distance trips across the border dominate.
Even in the summer, the majority of trips are made by Canadians who live near the border (Surrey, Abbotsford, White Rock, Langley) and go to locations in Whatcom County (Bellingham, Blaine, Sumas, and Lynden). However there is more variety in where Canadians are destined in the U.S.
In the winter, Canadians predominately stick to Western Washington.
The majority of destinations continue to be in Whatcom County, or along the I-5 corridor to Everett and Seattle.
U.S. travelers come from all over Western Washington to B.C.’s big cities.
The biggest pairing is Seattle to Vancouver, but local traffic between Bellingham and Blaine and Vancouver and Surrey is still significant.
Winter cross-border trips are mostly regional.
There are a larger percentage of trips from Whatcom County to smaller B.C. cities in the winter months, although trip purpose continues to be recreation and family.