I took my family out to a festival recently, and we were so happy that it was free. It got me thinking about how activities eat up a lot of a travel budget if you’re not careful, and I remembered how my partner and I ended up spending more than we planned to when we visited the UK this summer. In this part of my series on traveling through Canada on a budget, we’re going to focus on cutting costs as far as activities go. I can’t believe we’re almost done this series, but it’s been a lot of fun to write and I hope it helps some of you when it comes time to plan your own trips.
I think that admission costs to attractions and events are only really a huge factor in a budget if you plan on traveling for more a week or more, and you plan on hopping around different towns and cities. Spending $40 to go to a couple of museums for a week isn’t as scary as dropping $400 to visit several more. Regardless, it’s always a good idea to cut costs when you can, so sit down and make a list of your must-see events and attractions before you figure out the rest. For example, if you’re driving from Halifax to Toronto, maybe your must-see places are the Bay of Fundy, the Notre Dame Basilica, and the CN Tower. Once your list is finished, find out how much tickets and parking will cost; so, for example, visiting the Notre Dame Basilica will run you about $10 per person, plus whatever parking costs you need to worry about.
If you plan on staying in a specific city for a whole, you might want to take advantage of package deals that often save you money in the long run. In Toronto, you can take advantage of the CityPASS, a package deal that allows you to visit the CN Tower, the Royal Ontario Museum, Ripley’s Aquarium, and the zoo or the Science Centre at hugely discounted costs. Things like this exist in most major cities in Canada, it’s just a matter of having a quick Google to see.
On top of this, you should absolutely consider all the free things you can do anywhere in Canada. Visiting one of the hundreds of parks and going for a picnic, going on hikes, visiting beaches, attending festivals, and even stopping by universities’ free events can all make for a nice day out. One of my absolute favourite things to do is to stop at parks and watch the sunset; my boyfriend is bird nerd (he prefers the term, “birder”) and he has lots of fun identifying birds and practicing his bird calls. It’s free to do and some of my best travel memories come from our park stops, and I’m sure yours will too. Here’s a tip before I sign off, though: Hamilton has lots of waterfalls to look at, parking is free or very low, and they’re stunning; and Oakville is a city just outside Toronto with nice parks that are accessible to people with mobility issues.