You wonder how much money may you need to travel around the world? We still don’t know exactly 😉 But we know that sometimes it’s very difficult to find specific information on costs of traveling around given country. That’s why we decided to share with you our financial summary at the end of each stage of our journey. Here’s Part One – Canada.
How to calculate expenses?
One of the inherent problems of traveling is finance. Before each journey we try to estimate how much money we need to go here or there. Before we started our trip around the world we assummed some budgets. One is the general budget for the entire trip, and the other ones are the budgets for each country or stage of the journey. All done as a quick and rough estimate. We assumed more overall amounts that we want to spend in each country, rather than the daily average. We didn’t count the cost of flights between the continents, because we bought them all in advance.
From the first day of our trip we noted all our expenses: accommodation, transport, shopping, tickets to tourist attractions, etc. After each week we try to verify if we’re not to prodigal.
After Canada, we did financial summary to see how our spendings correspond with our estimates and if we should watch ourselves more while visiting next countries.
Summary of our spendings in Canada
All the amounts are in Canadian Dollars (CAD). The current exchange rate is about 0,75 USD for 1 CAD.
We divided all expenses thematically, as in the diagram below:
Accommodation includes the cost of accommodation: camping in Algonquin Park, camping Mer et Monde and renting a room in Montreal. Most of the times we were able to find a couch on Couchsurfing, so accommodation is only 10% of total.
Transportation takes into account all the rides: both public transport and connections between cities (buses and Kangaride). This is almost 1/4 of our expenses in Canada.
For food we spent a total of 29% of all expenses in Canada. We tried to save and eat at home while couchsurfing, so 13.2% is the total cost for groceries.
Other 15.6% of expenses fall into the category Restaurants. All the spendings on eating out while in transit or when we did not have the possibility/time to cook at home. This category also contains “going out”, e.g. to the restaurant with a rotating observation deck on the top floor of the Le Concorde Hotel in Quebec City, to see the city from a different perspective.
In the Entertainment category we included: all the tickets to attractions and parks Algonquin and Jacques-Cartier, equipment rental (canoe, tent, fishing rod, etc.) in the Algonquin Park and fishing license for Dawid, boat cruise to Niagara Falls and ferry to Toronto Islands. This is a total of 34% of our expenses.
The last category Other, that is 2.9% of our expenses, is just a Canadian prepaid SIM and a top-up, laundry in Montreal and a gift for First Nations.
Budget or extravaganza?
And here is a small summary of average costs for all categories, divided in 3 categories assummed by us:
|Accommodation (per room)||0-20||40+||50|
|Transportation (daily per person)||0-3||15+||12|
|Groceries (daily per person)||5-10||?||7|
|Restaurants/Eating out (meal per person)||0||20+||11|
|Entertainment (attraction per person)||0||40+||39|
|Other (per item)||0||10+||20|
Budget variant, or “I want to explore, but I don’t have a lot of money”:
Accommodation: Only the cheapest, that is Couchsurfing or hostels/dorms.
Transportation: Hitchhiking (although sometimes it can be really difficult), and in cities mainly walking with a minimal use of public transport.
Food: Preparing the food on your own and buying only the most needed foods.
Entertainment: Visiting only free attractions, and viewing paid ones only from the outside.
Other: Since you’re saving, it makes no sense to buy unnecessary things.
Variant mostly preferred by people with a stable financial situation, who like to spend their vacation comfortably:
Accommodation: Staying in hotels, motels or renting a room through Airbnb. Room rates start at 40 CAD per night (depending on the city and location) and end on the bottom of the wallet.
Transportation: Public transportation between cities/major places (trains, buses, airplanes) or car rental. The minimum cost to rent a compact car starts with 15 CAD a day, not including the cost of fuel and insurance. Trains and buses are more expensive than renting a car in Canada.
Food: Eating in restaurants is a minimum expense of at least $ 20 per person. This cost assumes promotional Menu of the Day, something to drink and a modest tip. If more sophisticated dish or a more well-known restaurant – the costs go rapidly higher.
Entertainment: Visiting all paid attractions can significantly increase the cost of the whole trip. As a reminder, the Toronto CityPASS cost starts at 75 CAD (saving you some money if you’re going to see at least 3 of the attractions it covers) and boat cruise to Niagara Falls costs 26 CAD. Other entertainments can be theaters or concerts, excursions to various interesting places and trips to national parks.
Other: This is limited only by imagination and the wallet 😉
From the very beginning, we promised ourselves to spend money wisely. If we can save on something, then we’ll try to save. But we will not regret spending money on the things we really want to see, or eat sandwiches with cheese and carrots the whole year just to save some money for entry ticket somewhere. Therefore, our costs fall somewhere in the middle between the “budget” and “extravaganza”.
We saved a lot of money thanks to Couchsurfing. It turned out also to be a good opportunity to meet interesting people and often see much more than we aimed for. Apart for the campsites in Algonquin (you can read about it here) and Tadoussac, we had to pay for accommodation only in Montreal and that really increased our expenses. If we had to pay for nights, it would really increase.
Looking back, we know that we could spend less money on transport. Although we hitchhiked twice, we felt more comfortable using Kangaride. Similarly, moving around the city – sometimes some things are so close together that instead of using public transport it’s better to go for a little walk.
When it comes to eating in restaurants, we could save some money with e.g. preparing sandwiches for whole day, and cooking in the evening. But… First of all – the bread in Canada is tasteless! Each bread tastes exactly the same – fluffy, sweet and has an expiration date at least six months in advance. Secondly – you can go a day or two on sandwiches, but when you leave house 4-5 days in a row shortly after breakfast and come back in after 22:00, tired after a whole day, sometimes much more convenient to eat in town, than to stand in kitchen in the night.
If we were going to Canada again, we would certainly not buy CityPASS from Entertainment category of expenses. Although, we didn’t visit the Museum of Science, which has very good reviews, but other attractions included in CityPASS that (in our opinion) are worth the visit are only the Royal Ontario Museum and Zoo. Casa Loma looks interesting from the outside, but to call this building a castle is too much. CN Tower is without any doubts the trademark of Toronto, but in our opinion ride to top is not worth 35 CAD and about an hour of waiting in line. Similarly, the Citadel in Quebec City – unique in North America but looks very modest compared to the citadels in Europe.
In our case, category Other was necessary in our expenses. In order to use the Kangaride we needed a Canadian phone number, so it was a necessary expense – but 10 CAD extra for issuing a SIM card is ripping off customers. We also couldn’t skip expenses for laundry and the gift for First Nations.
Assumptions vs. Reality
How much money do you need for Canada? How do all these calculations correspond with our original estimates? After summing up all the costs, our average spendings in Canada turned out to be around 50 CAD per person per day. We exceeded our original budget for Canada only by 3.3%. We believe that we have achieved a very good result. Especially now, when we’re about to finish a journey through the United States and we know that we’ll exceed budget much more 😉
At the end we’d like to show a short list of example prices:
|Dinner for two in an inexpensive restaurant (main course + beverage)||40-60 CAD|
|Pizza 32cm in chain restaurant||8 CAD|
|Sandwich and coffee at Tim Horton's||7 CAD|
|Poutine (traditional Canadian dish/snack)||4 CAD (cheap bar/eatery) – 20 CAD (restaurants)|
|Beer 330ml in bar/pub||8 CAD|
|Beer (6-pak 330ml)||10 CAD|
|Ice cream (medium)||3.50 CAD|
|Bottle of mineral water (1.5l)||2.50 CAD|
|Public transportation ticket||3.25 CAD|
|Compact car rental (per day)||15 CAD|
We know that this list may not cover everything you want to know so we recommend taking a look at www.numbeo.com where you can compare the cost of living between different countries and cities.