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Traveling without Busting your Budget

Written by: François Gagnon

July 4, 2017

I love traveling, and always have. But all too often, I have too much fun spending and end up with an empty wallet because I forgot one travel essential: a budget.

While it might seem unimportant, budgeting is the key to a nearly perfect vacation that only bad weather could spoil… and even then!

So where do I start?

Whether you decide to explore your own province, drive down to the United States or fly your family out to an exotic destination, the first thing you must determine is the amount of money you can spend on this vacation.

There’s a lot to consider: your destination, how many nights you’ll spend there, your meals, the activities you’re planning to do and transportation. I also suggest that you expect the unexpected and set aside an emergency fund, just in case. This may seem obvious to you, but you’d be surprised by how many people leave without any plans except for their destination!

What’s my budget?

According to a recent survey conducted for CAA-Quebec, more than half Quebecers will stay in Quebec for their vacation this year.

For more than half of you, the budget for your summer vacation will apparently range from $500 to $2,000, while another quarter – probably those who intend to leave the province – have budgeted over $2,000 for their trip.

Knowing this, let’s break down the actual budget of a Montreal family of four (2 adults, 2 children) who will be spending a week in the Quebec City area. I chose Quebec City as an example, but you can apply the same analysis to whichever destination you set your mind on. If you still don’t know where to spend your vacation, you can check out this website for a few ideas: Associations touristiques régionales du Québec (in French only).

 

TYPICAL 2-WEEK VACATION (13-NIGHT STAY)

-Round trip by car and normal car use once there:   $85 ($1.08/litre)
-13 nights (best price found: $85/night): $1,105
-Meals (approx. $95 for three meals a day): $1,235
-Activities (4 during the trip): $400
-Emergency fund (15% of your budget): $425
Total: $3,250

 

As you can see, the costs add up quickly, and the total is quite different from what most surveys have found. Why is that? Well, it most likely is because we, the respondents, had yet to make our budget when answering those questions, which resulted in an optimistic estimation of the cost of our trip.

Of course, going camping or sleeping over at a friend or a relative’s house can significantly decrease your expenses, especially in terms of lodging and meals.

We are traveling to the United States

Maybe you decided to visit our southern neighbours this summer. According to CAA-Quebec, 10% of you will.

In this case, you’ll probably need a bigger budget along with a valid passport, as these have been mandatory to cross to the United States since June 1, 2009. If yours is expired, the costs to renew it are either $120 for an adult or $57 for a child.

Another travel essential if you’re leaving the country is a travel insurance for you and your family, especially if you are headed for the United States. This piece of mind normally costs under $300 and if you search thoroughly, you can always find something better for less.

Furthermore, remember that high exchange rates also make for additional expenses. At the time of writing, one USD was worth CAD $1.32. For a simpler and more advantageous solution, I suggest that you use your credit card so as to be charged the rate at the time of each transaction. For more information, refer to your credit card provider.

We are traveling abroad

Asia, Caribbean, Europe… The recommendations above apply to all destinations. Plan a budget before you leave, purchase a good insurance and check out the exchange rates to avoid surprises and have a great vacation.

USEFUL LINKS

For those who wish to explore the province of Quebec: https://www.quebecoriginal.com/en-ca

Travel insurance: http://assurancevoyages.ca/travel_insurance.html

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