travel

July 16

Lonely Planet Promo Code: 50% Off Everything

Posted by on July 16, 2014 at 4:30 PM

Lonely Planet Promo Code: 50% Off Everything

Do you have travel plans in the near future, or are you constantly planning that dream vacation in your head?  I’ve found a juicy promo code to help you with your plans, real or imaginary, with 50% off everything at Lonely Planet.  They are calling this code a secret, but we’re letting the cat out of the bag.

Click here to shop @ LonelyPlanet.com now

  • Coupon Code: LPSECRET
  • Discount: 50% off
  • Expiry: 18th July 2014

I am currently planning a few trips, both real and imaginary.  We are going to go back to New York City in the fall.  The last time we visited (the first trip there for both of us), we had a whirlwind 36 or so hours in the city.  We saw some of the bigger sites like the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Centre, and Times Square.  We did find ourselves a little overwhelmed and slightly lost from time to time.  I found this great deal on the City Box Set Limited Edition (USD$30.00 with coupon offer, reg. $59.99) which includes city guides for Paris, London and New York City.  Paris and London are high on my travel wish list, so this deal will help me out in the present and future.

Another cool resource I found is the Cycling in France Guide.  You can choose from the book (USD$12.50, reg. $24.99), eBook (USD$8.74, reg. $24.99) or you can purchase PDF copies of individual chapters (USD$2.48, reg. $4.95).  A little secret of my own is that I’m hoping my boyfriend will pop the question one of these days, and I’m hoping for a glorious honeymoon in Europe, with a strong focus in France.  I am a lover of all things wine, and my boyfriend is an avid cyclist.  I figure we can both be really, really happy with a honeymoon spent cycling the French countryside with some stops at Chateaux to sample wine along the way.

We recently blogged about another sale at Lonely Planet, you can check that out here to see what Eva had to say about Lonely Planet’s print and digital guidebooks.

Lonely Planet offers free shipping on orders over US$40.  I found that my order was still free as long as the original price was over $40, even if the coupon brought it under that.

Check back to Bargainmoose forums for more Lonely Planet coupons anytime!

Moose Rating (1 votes)
July 9

Expedia Canada: 3-Night Getaways For $249 Or Less

Posted by on July 9, 2014 at 8:30 AM

Expedia Canada: 3 Night Getaways For $249 Or Less

Do you have big travel plans this summer?  Need some help figuring out where to go and/or where to lay your weary travelling head?  Look no further than Expedia.ca for 3-night getaways for $249 or less.

Choose from a long list of destinations, both within Canada and abroad for anywhere from this week to five weeks from now.  Some of the more popular destinations available within this promotion are Las Vegas, Orlando, Niagara Falls and Paris, so there is a deal to please every kind of traveller.

Has a summer girl’s trip been on your mind?  Check out this deal:  Save 45% from August 8th to August 11th at the Silver Sevens Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.  The 3-night hotel deal is only $93!  This hotel is reviewed at 3.7 out of 5 or 87%.  Stay about a mile off the strip at this hotel with a 2-level casino, a bingo parlour, outdoor pool and 2 on-site restaurants.

Thinking of taking the family to Niagara Falls, but want to do it on the cheap?    You can save 10% at Niagara Lodge & Suites  with a 3-night deal for $240.  Now I’ll be honest, this isn’t the prettiest hotel I’ve seen, but I know when I go to Niagara Falls, we are very busy seeing all the sights both in the falls area as well as Niagara-on-the-Lake, so we are just in the hotel for sleep.  I prefer to keep my accommodation costs low in Niagara Falls so that I can spend a little more enjoying all the attractions, so this deal helps with that.

If you have some frequent flyer miles burning a hole in your pocket, maybe you would like to check out the 3-night deals in New York or Paris!  There are some good deals to California as well.  I don’t know when these 3-night deals from Expedia.ca will end, so I suggest booking asap.

(Expiry: Unknown)

Moose Rating (2 votes)
June 7

How To Save Money On Your Summer Road Trip

Posted by on June 7, 2014 at 8:00 PM

How To Save Money On Your Summer Road Trip

Summer is the time for cruising. If you can, you put the top down or open the sunroof and the windows, blare the music and hit the open road. Destination: Who knows? Well, that type of attitude could be costly and in the end, wasteful. If you love taking fun summer road trips as I do, have a read of this article on how you can do it without ending up at the side of the road with your thumb in the air.

Plan Your Trip

As I always say, planning saves you money. Plan where you are going, what the fastest route is and the one with the least amount of traffic. Sitting in traffic costs you needless dollars and isn’t really part of your free-wheeling plan, I’m sure. If you want to stop at various places along the way, ensure you plan your trip to drive the least distance. Find out when the attractions you want to see are open, so you don’t pass them and have to come back to them later. Make a detailed scheduled of all stops along the way. Planning Fun Road Trips has a super handy calculator to find out all of the costs of your trip.

Save on Gas

With any road trip, gasoline costs are probably one of the biggest expenses. Gas is just insanely expensive right now so every dollar you can save makes a difference. This article from CNBC tells you how to save money on gas costs, and these include using a gas app to find the cheapest gas, filling your tank mid-week and parking in the shade.

Pack your Food

Drive-thru’s along the way are costly, and most of the time, regrettable. Every time I’ve gone through a drive-thru at McDonalds or some other fast food along the way on a road trip, I always feel crappy afterwards and eat too much of something I wouldn’t have normally eaten if it wasn’t so convenient. Pack some snacks and even meals and put them in a cooler in your back seat, even within reach of the driver. If you want to stop and have something, find a rest area or picnic area along the way, preferably with a washroom so you can do that too. Also, don’t feel like you have to buy something at a restaurant just because you stopped there to pee. That is just needless spending. How Stuff Works has a great list of 10 best snacks for a road trip.

Where to Stay

If your road trip is going to comprise a night or a few nights, you will need somewhere to sleep. The most economical way of doing a drive overnight is having a second driver so you don’t have to pay to sleep anywhere. Other than this, camping is your best bet. But, camping is only the best option if you already have the equipment. Buying everything you need for a camping trip, plus your campsite costs can add up to more than the cost of a hotel. Staying in a hotel can be an economical option if you plan ahead and book online, find coupon codes or budget motels along the way.

Need ideas on where to go? Check out Trail Canada for ideas on frugal road trips within Canada.

Bargainmoosers, what are your money-saving tips for road trips?

(Photo Credit: James Wheeler)

Moose Rating (2 votes)
June 2

Saving Money at Disney World

Posted by on June 2, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Saving Money at Disney World

The Robinson family is planning our first ever trip to Disney World in Orlando, Florida.   We are taking our kids at some point over the next 10 months.  We know for sure we’re going to fly there vs. drive and we want to take in a few days at the Disney parks.   Beyond that we’re not sure about any other details:  what to see, how to organize our days to get the best bang for our buck at Disney, when to go, etc.  There is a lot to think about, and considering the amount of money we will be spending, we want to ensure that it is an excellent trip.   We have had a lot of luck travelling lately, and I think it’s because of the time we have put in, up front, with planning every detail of our trips.  For some reason all of my friends who have been to Disney have VERY strong opinions on everything: where to eat, where to stay, what to do, when to go.   Honestly, I am very overwhelmed with the enormity of information available, and the varied opinions that people have.   Clare Yeh, another writer extraordinaire at Bargainmoose, wrote an article recently about  4 ways to save money at Disneyland, and her tips are excellent.  Given that our trip will be to Disney World, there are some differences to consider.

Stay on a Disney resort or off-site

The first thing we need to decide is whether we are going to say on a Disney World resort or rent accommodations elsewhere.   90% of my friends who have done Disney stay at a Disney resort, so that is clearly a popular route to take.  We are taking Clare’s advice and are going during the low season: likely November.  For us, the potential savings we can realize by travelling in the off-season far outweigh the allure of travelling to a hot location when it’s icey cold in Canada.  We have never stayed in a hotel overnight with our kids, so this is something that is nerve-racking for us, hence the reason we haven’t travelled with them thus far.  Staying at a rental house (ideally with a pool!) is an attractive option since we can all have our own space, privacy, and we’ll be able to cook our own meals if we wish.  Given that my husband is the best cook ever (and he loves it), we definitely plan to cook a lot of our own meals.  We are food snobs, and we don’t enjoy most food at restaurants.   Conversely, I have heard absolutely wonderful things about the Disney resort experience, from the customer service to the pools.

Price comparison between Disney resorts or staying off-site

Given that we are going on the low season, how do the prices match up?  For comparison’s sake, let’s look at the week of November 16.  According to About.com, Disney is offering a free dining plan for that week.  On DisneyWorld.com, the cost for a 6 night, 7 day package which includes park passes for 7 days, a Disney dining plan, hotel room and transportation to the parks, the total cost for the 4 of us is $2841.82.

According to TripAdvisor, there are thousands of house rental options for that week.  You can do a search based on your exact preferences.  For us, we want a house that has a private pool, grill, enough bedrooms for us all, and close to Disney World.  We narrowed down our options to 4 houses, and they are all around $1000 per week.  In addition, we will have to rent a car for the week, which would cost us around $300.  We are getting our Disney park tickets for $265 for all four of us, (see below for more information on how we scored such an amazing deal on our tickets).  Food costs for the week for the four of us for food we will probably be around $500 in groceries and meals out.  In total, our costs to stay off-site will be around $2065.  Note that if we had to buy our tickets we would need to add on an additional $1300 or so, for a total of around $3365.  Also note that our price to stay off-site is for 7 nights and 8 days versus the 6 night 7 day Disney package.  We will have to pay for our flights regardless of whether we stay at a Disney resort or at a rented house, so I didn’t include that cost in my calculation.  The daily rate for our family to stay at a Disney moderate-priced resort is approximately $473.64.  The daily rate for our family to stay off-site is approximately $295.  If you factor in the Disney ticket costs, the price is actually about the same.  I’m really surprised by this.  Note that there are varied types of Disney hotels, value, moderate and deluxe, and their prices reflect their different offerings.

Save money on Disney tickets

I discovered about a year ago that you can redeem Air Miles for Disney park tickets.  I have been saving my miles ever since, and I now have enough for 2 children’s 5 day passes, and 1 adult 5 day pass which will cost me about 7200 Air Miles.   My kids’ preschool has an annual Fun Fair and silent auction and the past 2 years they have had 4 single admission park tickets which were donated by Disney.  Tickets regularly cost around $100 per ticket, so our goal this year was to bid up to $400, since the money was going to the school anyway.  We were very fortunate and bought the tickets for $265, which is a total steal.  Generally you cannot get deals on park tickets other than through a website called UndercoverTourist, which offers a small discount on Disney prices.  If you plan your trip in advance, it’s worth purchasing your tickets through them.  They also have some really informative links on their site about the park, busy times et cetera.

In addition to the above measures, we are going to ensure that we plan all our Disney days in advance so we can optimize our time at the parks. This Babycenter article is a great place to start the planning process, with some good half day agendas.  I have to admit that I was more than a little apprehensive about this trip before I started doing research, but now that we have a good plan shaping up, I’m actually starting to get excited about it.  The thought of my girls meeting Cinderella in person is pretty exciting.

Bargainmoosers, what are your best tips to save money at Disney World?

Photo credit: Emilio Dellepiane

Moose Rating (3 votes)
May 29

Travel Zoo Canada: $29 Off Per Adult For A Niagara Falls Helicopter Tour

Posted by on May 29, 2014 at 3:00 PM

Travel Zoo Canada: $29 Off Per Adult For A Niagara Falls Helicopter Tour

If you are heading to Niagara Falls anytime soon and looking for something fun and unique to do, consider taking a helicopter site seeing tour. Imagine seeing the falls from above, where most people don’t get to see them! If you thought the price was too steep for your budget, how about saving $29 off each person with Travel Zoo’s printable coupon? Instead of spending $137 per adult, you’ll pay only $108 for this once in a lifetime experience.

I think this deal would be amazing for a number of reasons. I’ve lived in Ontario my whole life and seen the falls probably 30 times, but I’ve never seen it from a helicopter and have always wanted to. My husband and I often go there for a quick getaway together, and this would be something so fun to surprise him with. Just my husband and I would save $58. If you have out-of-town visitors, what better way to impress them than a ride in a helicopter over Niagara Falls? A proposal inside of the Niagara helicopter would also be truly unforgettable. What if you had a bunch of your friends standing beside the falls holding Will You Marry Me signs?

Looking at the Niagara Helicopters site, I see that the flight is only 12 minutes long but takes you over the whirlpools, over all of the Falls and even dips down a bit to see the falls from the front, where you really can’t see them except from an aviation vehicle. It then flies over the city and lands, giving you ample opportunity to snap lots of amazing photos.

Check for more Travel Zoo coupons in our forum, we might be able to save you a ton of money on your next trip!

(Expiry: 31st March 2015)

Moose Rating (1 votes)
May 29

Air Canada Promo Code: 20% Off Flights To Honolulu

Posted by on May 29, 2014 at 8:00 AM

Air Canada Promo Code: 20% Off Flights To Honolulu

Want to head to Hawaii this winter? Air Canada is giving you another reason to go, which is this fantastic promo code for 20% off your flight from anywhere in Canada to Honolulu.

Click here to book your dream trip @ Aircanada.com now

  • Coupon Code: ALOHAROUGE
  • Discount: 20% off
  • Expiry: 10th June 2014

If there is somewhere I’d love to visit, it is Hawaii. If it is good enough for Oprah, it is good enough for me. Typically though, flights are mega-expensive because it is so far away, especially since I’m on the eastern side of Canada. Imagine my shock when I did a test flight and it was less than $400 from Toronto to Honolulu! And this is even including all taxes and surcharges, which usually kills the cheap price of the flight. With this new information, I might skip the heading to Florida that I was planning this Winter and hit up Hawaii instead. There is a layover in Vancouver, but I’ve never been there before either and it would be cool to try and get a long layover along the way.

Travel has to occur from November 21st, 2014 to April 30th, 2015, which is exactly when you’d probably want to get out of Canada. There is a maximum of nine people per booking, which works for me!

Just for fun, I checked on the Toronto price for the week of Christmas and flights were as low as $600, so if you really want to get your family something awesome for Christmas, check out this deal.

As always, Air Canada coupon codes are located in our forum, so if this deal doesn’t spark your fancy, see what else might do it.

Photo credit: Justin Ornellas

Moose Rating (2 votes)
May 28

Air Canada Coupon Code: 15% Off select flights within Canada

Posted by on May 28, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Air Canada Coupon Code: 15% Off select flights within Canada

Air Canada is offering 15% off select flights across Canada when you book today or tomorrow.

Click here to book your next flight @ Aircanada.com now

  • Coupon Code: TOGETHER
  • Discount: 15% off
  • Expiry: 29th May 2014

This coupon is for routes within Canada excluding the following routes:

  • Toronto city’s airport – Montreal
  • Toronto Pearson – Montreal
  • Toronto Pearson – Ottawa
  • Toronto Pearson – Thunder Bay, ON
  • Toronto Pearson – Timmins, ON
  • Calgary – Cranbrook, B.C.

This coupon is valid for tango fares booked on Air Canada, Air Canada Express, and Sky Regional Inc. flights. With this coupon, you can actually travel between the 2nd of June 2014 all the way to the 10th of February 2015. However, there these blackout dates apply: October 10 to October 13, 2014 and December 18, 2014 to January 13, 2015.

Sometime within the next ten months, we are planning on visiting my husband’s brothers in Hamilton. Usually it is better timing flight-wise (and often cheaper) to fly into Toronto Pearson rather than try to get a flight directly to Hamilton. Nanaimo weather can also be unpredictable and planes do not leave if the fog is too thick. So I think we would ferry across to Vancouver and depart from Vancouver. I checked out what a flight from Vancouver to Toronto is running these days, and I could pick up a round trip ticket for $587. If I was flexible with my dates, I am sure iI could do better.

As always, Air Canada coupon codes are located on our forum.

Moose Rating (1 votes)
May 23

How To Budget Your Summer Vacation

Posted by on May 23, 2014 at 8:00 PM

How To Budget Your Summer Vacation

With summer on its way, you may be stressing about what you’ll do for those two short (or long, depending on how you look at it) months while the kids are off. Many people take off somewhere fun – to another country or to cottage country – but many just stay home. Staying home can be the most frugal way to spend the summer, but knowing how kids are, they get bored within the first week. My first summer with the kids off school I spent a ton of money chauffeuring them around to expensive places in hopes of not losing my mind with “I’m bored” reverberating through my ears. That wasn’t a smart move and planning ahead can save everyone a ton of money. If you are getting away, there are ways to save too, with proper planning.

Getting the Money

Many people save a certain amount each month for their summer vacation. While this is a great strategy for next year, it won’t help you now. Figure out where you can cut costs this month and maybe the next few to get you money for your summer vacation. This could be not shopping any clothing sales, not putting away your retirement savings for a few months (not advised) or even eating budget meals for a few weeks. Consider where you can make extra money at work or selling stuff on Kijiji.

Make a Plan

It sounds so very simple but summer goes by so fast and before you know it, you’ve done nothing or you’ve spent too much. Decide as a family what you want to do the most. Let the kids choose one or two places they’d like to visit (i.e., the zoo, amusement park) and narrow down the money dwindling places to what is in your budget. This is of course, after you’ve decided on a spending budget for the summer. See what extra money you have available and when it is coming in so you can plan appropriately. After you’ve done this, prioritize items in what order you want to do them. You can number each activity from one to ten for example, knowing that the number one activity will be done for sure.

Write it on the Calendar

Once you know what activities you are going to do, schedule a date for each one, spacing them out so that you aren’t doing everything in one month and nothing in the other month. Have a rain date in mind as well. This also gives everyone something to look forward to and you know you’ll have the money allotted for this activity ahead of time.

Don’t Forget Hidden Costs

When you are planning your activities, factor in everything it will cost you. For example, heading to an amusement park isn’t just the admission cost. Don’t forget the parking, the food, the drinks and the souvenirs you might buy after listening to an hour of whining. Also, for any trip that might be out of your city, don’t forget to factor in the fuel costs. While you might think camping is cheap, there is a ton of equipment you might need, which could cancel out any potential savings. If you are travelling, don’t forget to budget airport packing, bag check fees, meals during travel and more.

Do It All At Once

While I said above you should space your activities out accordingly, there may be instances where this isn’t the best option. For example, if you live outside of the major city where the majority of the attractions you’ll be visiting is, you might be better to get a hotel and stay over and do them all in one week, rather than spending the fuel costs over and over. This is something you’ll have to balance out yourself. If Toronto is one of the cities you’ll be visiting, a CityPass is the best way to go to get the best value for your dollar on seeing all of the attractions. If you are getting out of the city to a cottage or somewhere farther away, booking two weeks instead of one could potentially save you a ton of money. If you are flying somewhere, an extra week added to your vacation is not that much more since the flight is paid no matter the duration of your vacation. If you are booking a cottage or hotel, often there are deals for an extra week or night that won’t cost you as much as the original booking.

See If Anyone Wants to Join

Sharing a summer rental with someone is a great way to get deluxe accommodations and not pay deluxe prices. Not only do you get friends to come along on your vacation, you can save money by having more people there. Many resorts will offer a group rate if there are a number of rooms booked and hotels will also offer a block of rooms at a discounted rate. Similarly, a cottage that houses 12 people isn’t much more expensive than one that houses six people, but the price isn’t usually double.

The best way to save money on any vacation is to plan ahead. Don’t just hope for the best and not expect to spend money! Bargainmoosers, how do you budget for your summer vacation?

(Photo credit: Faungg)

Moose Rating (1 votes)
May 13

7 Cheap Ways to Experience Vancouver Like a Local

Posted by on May 13, 2014 at 8:00 PM

7 Cheap Ways to Experience Vancouver Like a Local

In just a few days my husband and I will be flying back to Vancouver after a year away. Besides looking forward to visiting family and friends, I’m also really excited to experience Vancouver with a completely new perspective. Living there for 26 years, I left the city thinking I knew it like the back of my hand. Still, in those 26 years I never really played tourist in my own town. There were a number of amazing things about Vancouver that I took for granted, so this trip I’m going to make sure I soak up as much West Coast as I can for as little as I can.

1. Catch some rays at the beach

Having lived in Toronto for the past year, I’ve definitely missed being so close to the ocean and the amazing beaches Vancouver has to offer. That being said, I think the last two years that I lived in Vancouver I only visited the beach twice! This trip I’m going to make sure to soak up some rays at English Bay, Kitsilano, Jericho, or Spanish Banks Beach for absolutely free.

2. Get cultured at the Vancouver Art Gallery

Since Vancouver is known for its gloomy weather, I’ve got to be prepared in case my beach plans get rained out. Luckily there’s the Vancouver Art Gallery that never disappoints located in the heart of downtown. The best part is on Tuesdays they offer donate-what-you-can admission between 5pm – 9pm.

3. Tour around Granville Island

One of my favourite spots in Vancouver is Granville Island. Besides being a hub for playhouses and restaurants, it also has a number of great galleries and viewpoints you can check out for free. There are also some ferryboats that take off from the island, giving you an up close cruise around False Creek, which I’ve always wanted to go on but never got around to doing. Since I’ll be a playing a tourist on my trip, I don’t think I’ll mind paying $15 ($10 for seniors and children) for one of the best scenic tours around the city.

4. Taste test some local craft beer

Vancouver is known for its amazing craft beer, and yet when I lived there I never once went on a brewery tour. This time I’m gathering a group of friends to check out the Granville Island Brewery for only $9.75, and we might visit the Parallel 49 Brewing Company’s tasting room for a few free samples too.

5. Grab a cup of coffee

Besides craft beer, Vancouver also knows its coffee. Sure, you can find a Tim Horton’s or Starbucks on every corner, but the good stuff is hidden in places like JJ Bean, Caffe Artigiano, Elysian Coffee, and 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters. For just a couple of bucks, you can experience pure heaven in roasted bean form.

7. Dig into some delicious dishes

When it comes to food, you name it…Vancouver has it. I can’t wait to order some authentic Pad Thai from Bob Likes Thai Food or taste the mouth-watering crispy cauliflower at the Lebanese restaurant Nuba again. Of course, there are also a number of other great restaurants I’ve always wanted to try out too like the geek-themed hot spot Storm Crow Tavern, or Guilt & Co., the pub where you can nibble on a meat and cheese plate, play a game of Jenga, and enjoy a live jazz concert in the same night.

8. Go for a walk in the park

Stanley Park is by far Vancouver’s most popular park, and as beautiful as it is, there’s still one park above any other that I need to make a point of walking in on my upcoming visit. It used to be named Guelph Park but it now officially goes by the name Dude Chilling Park. If I do nothing else on my trip besides get a photo of myself with that park’s sign, it’ll all have been a very worthwhile trip.

Bargainmoosers, what are you best travel tips for visiting Vancouver on a budget? 

(Image credit: Ruth Hartnup)

Moose Rating (3 votes)
May 10

Driving The California Coast On a Budget

Posted by on May 10, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Driving The California Coast On a Budget

My dream travel trip was always to drive the California coast, and I finally did it last month. It is a trip I highly recommend to anyone as it is an unforgettable experience. If you read my San Francisco on a Budget article, you’ll know this is the ideal place to start your trip.

Drive the Central Coast

There are different areas all along the coast to drive, from north of San Francisco, the central coast and the south coast. I’ve only been to the central coast and the southern coast and while both have their features, the central coast was my favourite. I also think it is cheaper to stay along the central coast than it is in the south. The weather is warmer in the south, but if that is not important to you and money is, I’d suggest staying on the central coast. That said, not everywhere is cheaper.

Stay in Less Popular Areas

For example, while researching my trip, my original plan was to drive right from San Francisco to Los Angeles. However, when I was looking for a hotel in Santa Barbara, Santa Monica and those areas, they were quite a bit more expensive than the ones further up the coast. If you want to stay in Big Sur, expect to pay a big premium. I really wanted to stay at the Treebones Resort, which is basically glamping (luxurious camping) in yurts, but they were over $200 a night. Consider that this is cheap for Big Sur, as a stay in the Post Ranch Inn is well over $600 a night.

What we did was stay north of Monterey in Marina, which was cheaper than Monterey and Carmel, but close enough to enjoy it, and then stay in Pismo Beach, which is just on the other end of the coastal drive before you get into the more expensive areas. Both gave us access to go back up or down the coast as we wished without paying the premium prices for staying in the mountainous parts of the coast. Both hotels also had oceanfront access.

Drive Back to San Francisco

I priced out many options for driving all the way to L.A. and flying out from there, but they were all more expensive than driving back up. While car rental companies allowed you to drive just in one direction, there was a surcharge for this, which for us totaled a few hundred dollars more. Also, flying from a different airport home also seemed to be more expensive than flying from the one you landed at. San Francisco also seemed to be the cheaper airport to fly to.

Keep Your Parking Pass

When you visit the state parks and beaches along the coast, you have to pay a fee for parking, which was $10. Many people would park along the road and walk in, but I thought this was a dangerous option. The fee is also honourable, checked later by park ranger after you pay it. The great thing is that your parking pass will get you in to all the other parks and reserves for free for that day, which we weren’t aware of. So, your best plan to get the most of your money is to visit all the parks and reserves along the coast you can in one day.

Free Activities

You don’t really need to spend a ton of money to do things here. The scenery is so beautiful, all I wanted to do was see it. Spend your time exploring many of the trails you see along the way, savour the view at the many pull-outs along your drive, and definitely pull up a seat at the beach for one of the most gorgeous sunsets you’ll ever see. One attraction that I loved, which was absolutely free, was seeing all of the elephant seals relaxing on the beach, shedding their skins. There are docents who walk around and give you information about the elephant seals, which is very informative and as ours explained to us, the elephants seals were here to “relax and live off their blubber”. Nice life I say.

Eating

Eating is always one of my main concerns and definitely was during this trip. Since you’ll be driving a lot and there really aren’t any drive-thrus along the coast, you want to be prepared with snacks and even meals in your car. Stop at a local bakery and pick up some food for your drive as many of the restaurants (and there aren’t many) can be very expensive. We ate at Nepenthe, which was amazing, but spent over $100 on dinner, as lunch had just ended. If you do really want to eat there, their famous ambrosia burger is only $15.25 at lunch or dinner, so this is a great choice.

Souvenirs

Since I didn’t take my kids with me, I wanted to get them something at every stop. What I noticed with some of the souvenirs is that these items were available back home as well, so don’t be fooled into buying something so you could say it was from a shop along the Big Sur coast, when you can pay $20 less for it back home. Also, some of the souvenir stores will haggle a little, as we did for hoodies for the kids in Pismo Beach. I also bought my kids $1 pencils from a gift shop under the Nepenthe restaurant, while my first inclination was to spend much more. They appreciated the pencils as much as they would have anything I would have spent more on.

Gas and Car Rental

Since you’ll be driving this coast, gas and car rental charges are probably a big part of the budget. We tricked ourselves into believing we need a gorgeous car for the gorgeous drive, but in the end, we sat inside the car, so it didn’t really matter. I suggest getting a fuel-efficient vehicle that is on the smaller side. Our car had a large front end, so large, I was not comfortable driving it along those cliffs and my husband drove the whole trip. I also suggest getting your gas at the beginning and ending points of your trip as gas is said to be much more expensive along the coast. Gas in California is more expensive than the rest of the country, so be prepared for this.

Bargainmoosers, have you ever driven the California Coast and what was your favourite part? Any tips on a frugal trip?

Moose Rating (1 votes)
May 8

Air Canada Vacations: Kids Stay, Fly & Eat Free This Summer

Posted by on May 8, 2014 at 1:30 PM

Air Canada Vacations: Kids Stay, Fly & Eat Free This Summer

I came across an absolutely fabulous deal that you don’t want to miss if you are travelling somewhere with kids by the end of September. Book in the next four days and your kid stays, eats and flies free at so many great resorts.

I am really interested in this deal, but unfortunately because you have to book by May 12th, I won’t be able to partake in it. I’d love to get the kids south and originally we talked about Disney but they all screamed when I suggested Mexico, which is quite alright with me. Just because we can’t go, it didn’t stop me from checking out the prices for my family and I was literally delighted, until I again remembered we are in the middle of moving our family across the province so a vacation is not on the radar. Bummer for me, great for you.

The best thing about this deal is that it applies to Sun Resorts which are family-friendly. This means you have a huge choice of kids activities and family-friendly accommodations. I have a family of five and most hotel rooms have a limit of four, so I did some research and found a number of resorts that had rooms that accommodated us without a huge extra cost (although some were just ridiculous). Seriously though, your kids will not just stay free and eat free, they fly free too and this is going to save you so much money as I don’t think Air Canada offers kid’s airfares anyway. You pay for the seat, no matter your age.

Think about this: the Grand Sirenis Riviera Maya hotel and spa is a 4 Air Canada star hotel and you can go for $531.19 (plus those darn taxes) a person for seven nights all inclusive on June 10th. If you have two kids, your entire family can go for $1062.38 (plus $700.12 taxes). If you really want to get technical, the total cost of your stay, your flight and food per person per day would only be $62.95 a day!

Let me know where you are going!

(Expiry: 12th May 2014)

Moose Rating (1 votes)
May 7

5 Free or Cheap Date Ideas in Vancouver

Posted by on May 7, 2014 at 8:00 PM

5 Free or Cheap Date Ideas in Vancouver

It is without a doubt that Vancouver is an expensive place to live in.  Trying to date in Vancouver is another expensive venture, especially since everyone is house/condo poor and can’t afford to go on expensive dates on a weekly basis.  Even though you can eat reasonably well for under $30 for two people on a regular basis, there is more to dating than eating and coffee (though some people may beg to differ of course!).

Here are some fun date ideas in Vancouver that are free or almost free- of course these “date ideas” are great ideas for free things to do if you are visiting Vancouver too!  These ideas take you from Vancouver proper, to an island off of Vancouver, to Richmond, and to North Vancouver.

One of the great things about Vancouver is its walkability, and these ideas certainly take advantage of that!

Take a Stroll Anywhere

Well, more specifically, take a stroll at Lighthouse Park in Vancouver (you can check out this review from Vancouver Trails for more information), where you see a beautiful view of Vancouver, or take a walk around Stanley Park which takes about 2-3 hours to walk the 10km of beautiful scenery, or even walk up to the top of Queen Elizabeth Park, where you have another beautiful view of Vancouver.

The list could go on… window shopping on Main street or Robson street… you get the idea! 5 Free or Cheap Date Ideas in Vancouver

Walk on a Ferry and go to Bowen Island

Another fun activity to do is to hop onto a ferry and go to Bowen Island.  It is only a 20 minute ferry ride and can be accessed from Horseshoe Bay (through BC Ferries) or even Granville Island or English Bay (it costs $35 return to hop on the water taxi from English Bay, which avoids having to use a car to drive to Horseshoe Bay).  I recently went to Bowen Island after so many years.  From the ferry terminal, you can walk to the shops along the main street, or even head over on a hike around Killarney Lake, a beautiful circumferential lake hike that takes about 3-4 hours.  From Bowen Island, you can see West Vancouver and the buildings that mark University of British Columbia.

Go to Steveston for a Picnic

Steveston is quite a drive from Vancouver, but it is well worth it.  It is often labeled as the “Kitsilano” of Richmond (beach-y area where all the young, hip people like to live).  Steveston is a small fishing village (source: Tourism Richmond).  You can have ice cream here, grab some fish and chips at the famous Pajo’s Fish and Chips, or just walk around and admire the sights. The nearby park, Garry Point, has a great area for picnics or just sitting on the beach.

Snowshoe at Seymour Park

If you already have showshoes, this date idea will cost you nothing but if you don’t have showshoes, you will have to go to Mountain Equipment Co-Op or Cheapskates to rent them, which will set you back about $10 per pair.  Going to Seymour Mountain at night or even during the day is a great idea because normally snowshoe passes cost about $40 at Cypress Mountain or Seymour Mountain.  There is an area on Seymour that is part of the provincial park and hence, it is free.  Just remember to bring a headlamp and a flask of hot chocolate (or maybe even hot chocolate with Bailey’s if you are inclined) if you are heading there at night.

Sign up for Notifications on Events

Van City Buzz (they have a Facebook page and Twitter account too, if you’re into social media) has regular posts on the “what’s what” of Vancouver.  They post fun things to do around Vancouver such as free ice skating at Robson square, New Year’s Eve at the Jack Poole plaza, or other fun and free events around town.  They also post fee- events as well, so if you’re inclined to spend money on things to do then this might not be the best website to subscribe to!  They also post the latest news in Vancouver as well so you can keep up to date with current events.

Bargainmoosers, have you seen any of these things in Vancouver?  Do you have any other fun and free things you like to do in Vancouver?

Photo credit: abaransk

Moose Rating (1 votes)
May 6

WestJet Canada: Mother’s Day 3-Day Seat Sale

Posted by on May 6, 2014 at 6:00 PM

WestJet Canada: Mothers Day 3 Day Seat Sale

Go visit mom, or send her on a trip, with this Mother’s Day seat sale at WestJet.

Think about it, what would you rather have for Mother’s Day — a bouquet of daisies from the supermarket or a relaxing trip to Cabo San Lucas? For those big spenders out there, WestJet can make the Cabo trip come true. And while it may cost a bit more than flowers, the trip won’t set you back as much as usual if you book during this Mother’s Day seat sale.

As much as I love my mother, I’m not going to spring for a vacation gift for her this year, but I might consider booking a trip home to see her. This seat sale is valid on flights between May 21 and July 23, so maybe a summer visit to see the folks is in order. Nothing like visiting the free babysitters…oops, I mean loving parents and grandparents, for a few days!

Seat sale prices are valid on select Canadian flights as well as some flights to the US and Mexico/Caribbean. Summer travel is never going to be “cheap,” but there are some decent savings available. For example, for me to fly to Regina from Vancouver with the sale fare in June would be $365.66 return (with taxes), for non-sale flights the price ranges between $450-$700.

The lowest fares will be found on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Discounted fares are limited, so if you see a good deal now, you might want to book before you lose it. And if the WestJet schedule doesn’t fit yours, don’t forget to check out AirCanada.ca. They have some comparable fares on fares within Canada right now as well.

(Expiry: 8th May 2014)

Moose Rating (2 votes)
May 3

San Francisco On A Budget

Posted by on May 3, 2014 at 8:00 PM

San Francisco On A Budget

I just got back from San Francisco and it is an amazing place to visit. It was voted the #3 best place to visit in the United States this year on Trip Advisor. I can tell you, it is for good reason. There is so much to see, do and eat in this city, and its history is immense. But, considering it is California, which can be expensive, you’ll want to find ways to save your money and I’m going to tell you how.

When to Go

San Francisco is hottest in September, which makes it a prime time to go for weather and less crowds, as it is the busiest during the summer months. Off-season of December, January and February make it the cheapest time to go in terms of hotels. Plan to be there on a first Tuesday of the month as a number of museums waive their admission fees.

Places to Stay

First of all, you’ll want to find somewhere to stay and being a large California city, you are going to pay for it. I searched many of the hotel deal sites and found the best deals on Orbitz. I used a promo code and got another 15% off on top of the deals they already had, which were cheaper than just reserving directly online with the hotel. Space is limited in this city so expect a very small room. The best deal my husband found was for a hotel that only had room for queen sized beds. I opted out of that one, as he is a bed hog and I need my space for sleeping. Use Trip Advisor to find reviews of your hotels and to compare prices with other deals sites.

Depending what you want to do, staying closer to the action will save you the most money as you won’t need to pay extra for cabs or other forms of transportation. We stayed near Union Square, but as an afterthought we think Fisherman’s Wharf would have been better for us since we weren’t there to shop and it had quite a bit more action. San Francisco is extremely hilly – I actually couldn’t believe how steep those hills were – so if you plan to walk, be prepared for sore calves. I did find that staying near Union Square or Fisherman’s Wharf you could get to most of the places you might want to see with walking. The airport is fairly far from the city centre, so even if you are saving extra money by staying near there, you’ll lose it on transportation costs.

Make sure the hotel you do pick includes parking, wi-fi and breakfast for the best deal, although these may be hard to find. If your hotel doesn’t include these amenities, factor this cost into your final hotel cost.

Getting Around

Since we are on the subject of transportation, lets talk about this prime expense. Parking is very expensive in the city and also hard to find. Our hotel charged $50 a night for parking, which I wish I had researched before hand as it definitely impacted my budget. We rented a car because we were leaving to drive the coast and thought it might be easier to just leave from the hotel. It definitely wasn’t the cheaper option. If you are only staying in San Francisco or willing to pick up a car in the city or go back to the airport to get one, you won’t need a car for your San Francisco stay. Most neighbourhoods are walking distance, or are accessible by the BART (their bussing system) and the historic trolleys run right through the city for only $2 a ride. There is also a rapid transit system that leaves from the airport and drops off in the centre of the city, which is also very inexpensive. It is much cheaper to do this than take a cab from the airport. If you are taking the rapid transit (MUNI), then consider its drop-off spots when you book your hotel as well.

Things To Do

There is so much to do in San Francisco. The cheapest thing to do is to walk around and see the city. We walked through Chinatown, North Beach, Embarcardo, the Financial District and Fisherman’s Wharf in a day. We also walked down to Baker Beach, which is just under the Golden Gate bridge and provides beautiful photos. Just walking through the neighbourhoods was one of the favourite parts of my trip because of the friendly and lively people (especially in the Haight-Ashbury district) and the amazing architecture and history of the city. By the end, we were tired and took a cab back, which was only $6 to our hotel and well worth it as our hotel was on top of a very steep hill.

In our travels we found some free activities to do as well, like visiting the cable car museum, city hall (which is only free on certain days), Coit Tower and Musee Mechanique. Lonely Planet lists 25 free things to do in San Francisco. Instead of hiring a guide to walk you around the city, save your pennies and get the public library to do it for you. These tours run daily (five times a day!) and are completely free, or you can leave a donation.

If you are interested in activities that might cost you a bit of money, there are ways to save on these too. We did the Alcatraz tour, which we booked ahead of time at home as these tours fill up quickly. While we paid full price, by booking ahead of time it didn’t take out of our trip budget at the time, and it was well worth it. You can stay as long as you’d like there, so you really can make a full day of it (except that food isn’t allowed). Check out the CityPass for San Francisco, as it will save you 63% of the cost of four major attractions including transportation passes. It is actually cheaper to buy the CityPass at Costco and the price is in Canadian funds, saving you even more.

The Golden Gate Bridge is a must-do and you can walk across, drive across or bike across. We opted to drive as it was so cold when we went, I couldn’t imagine that wind getting me any longer. Parking was free on the other side of the bridge, but I do believe there is a toll to cross, although it seems it is automatic on your vehicle.

Eating

Ah, eating, my favourite thing to do. I was very excited going to California for all the eating I was going to do. I also knew that my eating would comprise a large portion of my budget. Unfortunately, I struck out a little bit with some of the restaurants. One restaurant I really wanted to eat at had no reservations available online a month in advance, but did state that it would take a limited amount of walk-ins. We got there and found the restaurant (it had no sign), but it had a big line already, 45 minutes before it was set to open. We waited and when we got in, they said they couldn’t seat us for another two hours. I was so disappointed. If you have a restaurant you really want to eat at, try hard to get a reservation or expect to line up. It seems there are line ups for restaurants all over the city.

The cheapest eats we did find were actually really good. The best place we found to eat was at the Ferry Building Marketplace. The food was so delicious at all of the little stores and you could get small bites at each place then move on, filling up easily. When we couldn’t get into the above restaurant, I used the UrbanSpoon app to find what else was close by. We were in Japantown, which had a number of noodle and sushi restaurants with very cheap eats. We ended up going to Benihana, which didn’t have a table for us, so we took a seat at the bar, which was having happy hour and got some very cheap sushi and drinks. Research what restaurants have happy hour, as this is a great time to score discounts on food. Inside Scoop SF lists the best cheap eats in San Francisco for 2013.

We also found that restaurants were cheaper for drinks and food outside of the tourist areas, so if you are willing to explore, you might find a gem. I ate some really amazing stuffed dates wrapped in bacon at this little bar we found and the drinks were very cheap there.

For drinks and snacks, don’t give in to temptation and open that bottle of water in your mini-fridge. My husband did and it cost him $4. Also, don’t buy these items from your hotel as the mark-up is nuts! Find a little store and stock up. If your hotel does offer you a free bottle of water or snacks (read the tags to make sure), take those bad boys and store them away for your trip!

Shopping

If you’ve come to San Francisco for shopping or need to pick up a few souvenirs, the best place to do this is in Chinatown. As I said, we did the Alcatraz tour and the souvenirs were so expensive on the island, but I found the same ones in Chinatown for a much discounted price. They also have other items you might want to think about buying there, like a cast iron teapot, which is $80 in Canada, was only $40 there. As for clothing, you can expect that nothing is very cheap in the city. You can check in the Haight-Ashbury district for vintage and consignment stores, as this is a hippie district and there are plenty of them.

Bargainmoosers, do you have any tips for visiting San Francisco on a budget? Let me know in the comments below!

Photo Credit: Eva Webster

Moose Rating (4 votes)
May 2

Flight Centre Canada: May Madness Savings On Everything For 3 Days Only

Posted by on May 2, 2014 at 2:00 PM

Flight Centre Canada: May Madness Savings On Everything For 3 Days Only

If you are planning on booking a vacation soon, you should really check out Flight Centre’s May Madness sale on for three days only.

I literally just got back from a fantastic vacation and am having post-vacation depression, especially with the rainy, grey weather we are having today. I love having another vacation to look forward to, even if it is only in my dreams, but our kids have told us that they want to have a family vacation, and they want it now! We are planning on taking our kids somewhere, probably in the fall or winter, so I am totally checking out this deal for potential opportunities for a family vacation.

There are quite a few different deals on during this sale, so depending on your interests, there is something for everyone. When you get to the site, you’ll see a tab for May Madness, but there are deals under each tab, all which end on May 4th.

Some of the best ones I saw include:

  • Book any tour or cruise of 7+ days and get a $200 airfare credit or a Herschel backpack
  • Book a family vacation to Orlando and kids eat free
  • Free seat selection when booking roundtrip airfare with WestJet
  • Save up to $1000 or receive $1000 on board credit for Celebrity cruises

Photo credit: Han Lee

(Expiry: 4th May 2014)

Moose Rating (2 votes)