Fri, July 22nd, 2011 - By

Top 10 Budget Travel Tips for Canada


Canada is absolutely one of my favourite countries. From the incredible outdoors (think British Columbia), stunning nature (Niagara Falls anyone?), culture (Montreal!), and some fantastic experiences (overnight on the rails), there is little to keep you from visiting. But in recent years, Canada has gotten more expensive – partly as the Canadian Dollar draws closer in balance with other currencies, but taxes and other price hikes have made a bigger dent to your pocket than before. Here are 10 of my own personal tips for saving cash while on the road in this amazing country.

  1. Drinking out can be cheaper than drinking in. In many countries of the world, having a wee tipple in your hotel room can save you money compared to the equivalent drink in a bar.  In Canada, due to an ever-increasing and complex series of tax rules (that vary by province), often a drink in a bar is cheaper.  Strange but true.
  2. Take advantage of good public transport in cities and spend the night out of downtown. Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, Halifax.  These are some of the larger cities, and sometimes downtown accommodation can be pricey, but I have always found plenty of alternatives in some of the more unique neighbourhoods, with easy access to downtown.  Save a bundle and get a cool experience too.
  3. Find an outdoor activity.  It’s free. Seems obvious, but seriously, many of my best experiences in Canada have been outside. (Bundle up in winter though.)
  4. Consider Alternative Airports. It can be over a $500 (US) dollar difference to fly into Seattle rather than Vancouver (2 hour drive), or to Buffalo rather than Toronto (nearly as far from Toronto as the Toronto airport itself!).
  5. Check the Canadian Holiday calendar. Not all Canadians have the same hols as Americans and if you pick the wrong week, you can pay for it.  A great example is Canadian thanksgiving (the second Monday in October), when travel is traditionally much more expensive with lots of Canadians on the road.
  6. For intra-country travel, try rail instead of air. I’m not sure why but travelling within Canada is crazy expensive – and dipping down into the US for a connection is a real inconvenience.  VIA Rail is the national rail carrier and often the rail trip is less money, and a far more enjoyable experience as well.
  7. Get some of your tax back. You can get some of your taxes paid in Canada refunded – all you need to do is fill out the form (perhaps easier said than done).
  8. Enjoy some of the local favourite (cheap foods). Some of Canada’s most famous foods – maple candies, Tim Horton’s coffee, poutine (chips with cheese curds and gravy), and beaver tail (fried dough) might not be the healthiest, but I won’t begrudge you, because they’re all simple treats that are inexpensive too.  Everything in moderation.
  9. Do your homework on guided tours – they may be cheaper. A lot of guided tours such as wildlife excursions or boat trips are often cheaper when you look at what’s included – many offer to come and pick you up to take you where the trip departs from, and some include food.  It’s worth doing your homework before hiring a car to drive somewhere.
  10. Check out attraction websites. So many Canadian attractions offer discounts for pre-booking your reservations on their website.  You can also find coupon books and other savings online with a little bit of Google sleuthing.

What are your budget Canada travel tips?

Photo by Sharon Mollerus, livenature

Andy Hayes

Andy Hayes is a travel journalist currently based in Seattle, Washington. When not soaking up the Pacific Northwest lifestyle or enjoying life on the road, he is spending time hanging out on his own travel lifestyle magazine, Sharing Travel Experiences.

Posted : Friday, July 22nd, 2011 at 11:00
Category : Top 10
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