Hello Again. I am back to report my latest budget trip – Vancouver B.C. In case you are new, I post trip reports to highlight that its possible to travel for cheap, even if you are on a journey to pay off a significant amount of debt.
To take trips very cheaply, I utilize travel hacking to obtain free flights and accommodations. Vancouver is my 3rd vacation trip this year – take a look at my previous trip reports below.
Washington on a Budget (Dec 2016)
Let’s see how this trip spending compares to my previous trips.
For the first time in 2 years, I paid for my flights without using points (da da daaaa). I know, I know that’s crazy talk. I paid for my flights on this trip because when I purchased the tickets I was still was in progress to meet the minimum spend on the Chase Sapphire Preferred card*. Previously I had the Chase Sapphire Reserve card but decided to downgrade the card in September to avoid the $450 annual fee. I still had some points in my Chase Ultimate rewards but decided to save them for future trips.
When I’m booking flights “old school” with cash I use two free tools to find the best deals.
1. The Hopper App – This shows me the cheapest dates to book flights.
2. Chase Ultimate Rewards/google flights – You can still pay with cash using the Chase portal, I always compare to a google flights search to ensure I’m getting the best deal (southwest flights aren’t in either of these searches – you have to look up on southwest.com)
I ended up buying two separate one-way tickets with Delta and United to get the best possible price. Also, I found out I still have another year left on my priority pass from my Sapphire Reserve card, so I got to enjoy airport lounges in Vancouver and Seattle on my connection back.
Total flight Cost – $279.92
Whenever I am not staying at a hotel with points, I am always using Airbnb. There are very few cases where paying for a hotel make sense, so the majority of the time Airbnb is going to have more options with the best location and price.
This year my friends and I rented a two-bedroom house in North Vancouver for four nights. The Airbnb was right on a lake in the Deep Cove neighborhood. The primary purpose of going to Vancouver was to enjoy the outdoors, so our Airbnb was a great location to hit the best spots. Our place was a close drive to great hikes at Lynn Canyon and Lighthouse Park. Also, Whistler (where the winter Olympics were held in 2010) was only 90 minutes away (beautiful drive up highway 99).
Total Spent for 4 nights (split 4 ways) – $114
The best part of spending our time hiking was that our entertainment costs were next to nothing. All we had to pay for was the entry fee to get into Whistler (~$4 per person). Everything else was free outdoor activities. Below are some pics of our hikes and outdoor activities!
Total Entertainment costs – $4
Rental Car, Food, Souvenirs, & Miscellaneous Costs
Since we are traveling to many rural spots to go on hikes, getting a rental car is essential.
My friends arrived before me and picked up the rental car. We went with Alamo rental car and got a Hyundai Elantra. The car was fuel efficient, and we had no issues.
Rental Car Price – $31 per person
Gas Costs – $17 per person
Total Car Costs – $48 per person
Most of the trip we tried to keep food costs low by stopping at the grocery store and picking up quick food.
We did go to a few good restaurants I would recommend:
Tap & Barrel at the Shipyards was well priced and had great Poutine!
Taco Bar (downtown Vancouver) had terrific tacos and large quantities for the price
Next time I go, I would like to experience more of the local cuisine. Vancouver’s demographic is over 40% Asian, so next time ill be targeting more Sushi, Korean, and Tai foods (plus fresh seafood of course).
Total Spent on food – $79.93
Souvenirs, & Miscellaneous Costs
I picked up a Travel Insurance policy with Allianz for $20. I don’t usually do travel insurance, but I thought it might be a good idea since this was technically an international trip and I would be outdoors the majority of the time.
Other than that I bought one fridge magnet to add to my collection ($8) and had to pay for airport parking in Austin ($35)
Total Souvenir/Misc Costs – $62.87
Total I spent on the trip – $619.96
I had a blast in Vancouver and would recommend it to anyone who loves the outdoors. I can’t wait to go back and explore more of Canada.
Overall, Vancouver was in the middle of the pack on total spending from all my trips in the last few years. However, its a little hard to compare because some trips like Portland/SF, Phillippines, and Europe were all over ten days in duration.
This trip could have been a lot cheaper (~$340 total) if I were to use points rather than pay for my flights. That’s why its so important to utilize travel hacking. To travel cheaply and get the best value for your money, you have to hack your biggest expenses – in this case through obtaining free flights and accommodations via travel hacking.
The other part of the equation is budgeting money every month, so when you go on these trips it doesn’t affect your monthly cash flow. Meaning you can save the same amount or make the same debt payment as you do every other month.
As part of my automatic savings plan, I put money away 2x per month in my Capital One 360 savings account* for traveling. There are many high-interest savings accounts, but I love Capital One 360 because I can create multiple savings accounts (Travel, Gifts, Emergency, Business, etc.), set multiple savings goals, and set up automatic deposits, which helps put my savings on autopilot – AKA always paying myself first.
After I get back from trips, I transfer the money I spent from Capital One 360 to my checking account so my monthly cash flow isn’t affected.
Question for You!
What trips have you been on recently?
How do you get the most value when you travel?
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