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Hello everyone,

I've been a lurker for a long time and now I finally get to post something!

I am 21, nulliparous, and next month I will be traveling from Philadelphia, PA (USA) to Vancouver, BC (Canada) to get a Gynefix Mini IUD inserted by Dr. Wiebe at the Willow Women's Clinic.

Medical History: I've been taking a low hormone birth control pill for four years, but hormones have always made me very emotional and I have trouble remembering to take a pill every day, even with an alarm. I also have long and heavy periods, so I thought Paraguard wouldn't be a good choice for me. My local doctor told me that Mirena generally keeps hormones localized to the uterus, so I made an appointment last year to get a Mirena inserted. Unfortunately, I was measured and ultrasound'ed and my uterus was too small for a Mirena (or a Paraguard, which is the same size).

After some reasearch, I decided that the Gynefix Mini was the best choice for me. It's smaller, no hormones, and I heard that there is less bleeding than a Paraguard.

My main question is for those who have travelled from the US to Canada to get their Gynefix's: how do I keep the costs down?

I am traveling alone for three days.

IUD and procedure: ~ $300
Roundtrip flight: ~ $600
Two nights at a hotel: ~ $200 (there's a hotel in walking distance of the clinic, which I thought was best)
Shuttle to and from local airport: $120 (my dad won't drive me to the airport even though he's available, I don't know why, I'm trying to persuade him otherwise)

I'm not sure how to get from Vancouver International Airport to the hotel, which is about twenty to thirty minutes away. I also want to bring my own food for three days in my carry-on bag, is that allowed through airport security?

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to keep costs down? 

Thanks so much!


( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 1st, 2012 01:23 am (UTC)
Vancouverite here... Where's your hotel? The skytrain (an above ground subway) runs right from the airport into the city. If you look at translinks trip planner they will plot your trip on public transit....
Feb. 1st, 2012 03:29 am (UTC)
Oh wow, the skytrain is really cheap, thanks!
Feb. 1st, 2012 03:40 am (UTC)
That's what I did. I used public transit, and bought day passes for unlimited travel. Do some sightseeing! You can ride the seabus (a ferry to north vancouver) for free with your day transit pass.
As far as transportation to your home airport, can you take a bus? In my city, it's $1 each way for bus fare, and that includes the airport.
Food is an iffy situation. Definitely no liquids since it's a carry on. Nothing liquid-ish either. Depending on how anal the customs people are feeling that day, they could crack down on things like fruits, nuts, and seeds. I've seen that happen before in Miami.
My trip to vancouver was awesome! I hope yours is great as well! Tell Dr. Wiebe that Grace from Kentucky said hello! :)
Feb. 1st, 2012 03:43 am (UTC)
Haha, I will, thanks! Do you happen to know of any way to lower airfare or hotel rates?
Feb. 1st, 2012 03:50 am (UTC)
Have you already booked your flight? If so, did you book directly with the airline, or through a service like expedia? I suggest signing up for Yapta. They'll tell you if the fare drops low enough for you to get a partial refund.
Rather than a hotel, I used airbnb.com to rent someone's apartment. I loved it and it was a savings. I can give you her name if you want. I think she's still on there.
If you havent booked the flight already, sign up for alerts like Fare Alert or some of those things. I scheduled mine on a date that was historically the lowest price over the last 5 years.
Feb. 1st, 2012 04:02 am (UTC)
I haven't booked anything but the IUD appointment yet, I'll try out the sites you mentioned. I would love the name of who you rented a room from, that'd be great! Was she near the clinic or did you have to take a bus or something? Thanks!
Feb. 1st, 2012 04:05 am (UTC)
I did take a bus. It was about a 1 block walk to the bus that went straight there. I also walked quite a bit while I was there before I figured out where to catch the bus. If I remember correctly, it was about 10 blocks to the clinic.
Here is maggie's listing on oodle, I searched just now and couldn't find her on airbnb though. I might be typing in something wrong though. http://vacationrentals.canada.oodle.com/detail/trendy-retro-pad/2826853194-vancouver-bc/
Feb. 1st, 2012 04:06 am (UTC)
Also, it was $68/night when I went, and she's super flexible. I bet if you made her an offer she'd be willing to work with you.
Feb. 1st, 2012 04:14 am (UTC)
My general recommendations for saving money on flights (this may be familiar to you, or maybe not) don't fly on weekends, monday, or friday. Be open to flights at all times of the day, and long layovers. Search places like orbit, expedia, cheaptickets, but use a web browser that doesn't save cookies-Chrome has an "incognito" option (control+shift+n) and explorer has "InPrivate" browsing. Do this because those websites (and the airlines themselves if thats where youre searching) save cookies and know which flights you're looking at, so they raise prices artificially, thinking they'll scare you into making a quick purchase. So search (privately) on the big comparison sites, but actually make your final booking through the airline directly. Make sure and look at airline partners - we got the same itinerary that we were looking at on american airlines, but booked through alaskan and saved $40 each or something.
Many airlines won't give the refund if fares drop if you didn't book directly with them.
Some people disagree, but I never ever buy the trip insurance. It's an extra cost, and I'll be damned if anything is going to keep me from being where I've planned to be, especially for my IUD trip. If you're running late, you can get rebooked on the next flight, and if weather or mechanical failure cause delays, they'll rebook you automatically as well. So I don't feel like I gain enough from the insurance to make it worth it.
Feb. 1st, 2012 04:29 am (UTC)
Here's another thought. Do you have an HSA or FSA? If so, you can pay for your flight and $50 per night of your accomodations with it, tax free!
Feb. 1st, 2012 04:32 am (UTC)
I don't know what those are so I probably don't have them, haha.
Feb. 1st, 2012 04:41 am (UTC)
Lol probably not. An FSA: you (or whoever the insured party is) would have made an election during open enrollment to set aside money before taxes for medical purposes, it has to be all used up in the clanedar year or you lose it. An HSA: you have a High Deductible Insurance Plan, and you set aside money before taxes for medical purposes, but you can keep the money forever and use it even if you convert to a regular (non-High Deductible) plan, or even save it to pay for your Medicare coverage down the road.
Feb. 1st, 2012 04:13 am (UTC)
Yup, Vancouver is a (rare) city where transit to the airport is fantastic, definitely make use of it.

The only thing to know is that there's an extra 5$ (on top of the regular transit fee) to take the skytrain from the airport. If you want to avoid that fee, you can go to the basement of the airport, there's a 7-eleven that sells books of 10 tickets for the normal price. It's only worth it though if you will travel enough to use 10 tickets (if you're travelling with someone, and you have to take the bus to go the clinic, for example, then it's worth it).

I personally would go to a hostel rather than a hotel if you're trying to save money. Hostels are around 30$ a night, generally. There's a commuter hostel on UBC campus that would be a convenient location for you, but I don't know if non-UBC-students are allowed to stay there. (The website isn't loading at the moment.) Might be worth looking into. If you haven't stayed in the hostel, let me a reassure you: they are perfectly fine! It'll be nice and quiet at this time of year too.
Feb. 1st, 2012 04:15 am (UTC)
I think that's where I bought my day passes. It was like a little pharmacy convenience store thing.
Feb. 1st, 2012 01:47 am (UTC)
Food is generally fine through the airport, but sometimes going through customs since you're flying international is more tricky. I'm not sure how strict Canada customs is, but when I flew to Australia they made me throw out anything containing meat (beef jerky) and anything that was considered a seed (sunflower seeds, popcorn).

My husband travels internationally a lot and doesn't have any trouble taking ramen noodles through customs. If you like those, that might be a good option. Just make sure you don't take any liquids or anything that might be considered a gel (like Jello).
Feb. 1st, 2012 03:27 am (UTC)
I love ramen, that is a great idea, thanks!
Feb. 1st, 2012 03:38 am (UTC)
Oh good :) My husband just uses the hotel coffee pot to make hot water. He buys the kind that come in an styrofoam cup (Cup O Noodles, I think?), so he doesn't need bowls. Just take a fork or spoon or buy a small package of plastic ones.
Feb. 1st, 2012 03:01 am (UTC)
Isn't there a clinic in Toronto or Ottawa that does Gynefix, too? My info might be outdated.

If bringing food through the airport, remember even peanut butter counts as a gel. As someone who always has food on her person for hunger pangs and the days I forget my lunch: Energy bars are awesome, Instant Breakfast mixes with milk, trail mix/dried fruit/nuts get boring after a while, quick oats can be made in a microwave and are cheaper than packets of instant. Definitely check with customs about bringing fruit and veggies.
Feb. 1st, 2012 03:26 am (UTC)
Thanks! If you know of a clinic in Toronto or Ottawa that does Gynefix, PLEASE let me know, that would be so helpful!
Feb. 1st, 2012 03:42 am (UTC)
If there is, I sure didn't find it. I scoured the internet and even talked to the manufacturer, who told me the only place in North America that they have shipped Gynefix to was WIllow. They've had a few here and there ordered for trials and things, but as far as clinical use, I think Vancouver is as close as it gets.
Feb. 1st, 2012 04:08 am (UTC)
Ah, the trials must be what I was thinking of. Damn!
Feb. 1st, 2012 04:18 am (UTC)
I actually tracked down a researcher in Mexico who was doing a study on immediate post-abortion gynefix insertion. Pretty interesting, but nothing I qualified for.
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )

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