How to travel in Alberta on a budget
By ATB Financial 13 September 2018 3 min read
Plan a trip that fits your budget
You’ve survived a long, cold Alberta winter, and you just can’t wait to get out of town and enjoy the summer. But maybe you don't have a lot of extra money right now. Don’t worry, we’ve got a few tips for travelling on a budget and a formula to help you plan your vacation no matter how much—or how little—you want to spend.
Calculate cost with our travel-budget formula
Get where you're going with the budget you've got
Transportation should be one of your first considerations—and potentially one of your biggest expenses. But it doesn’t have to break the bank. Choose your destination with your budget in mind.
Typically, the farther you go from home, the more it’ll cost to get there. If you’re flying, look for seat sales and the cheapest days to travel. Booking in advance allows you to be a little more selective. It also lets you pay for the transportation ahead of your trip, which may be easier than paying for everything all at once.
For a more budget-friendly vacation, try a road-trip destination. Be sure to check road reports to avoid closures or delays and consider using an app like Gas Buddy to find the best price of gas at home and on the road.
You'll rest easy when your stay fits your wallet
Accommodation is the other potentially big expense when travelling, which is why we’ve combined it with transportation in the “major expenses” category of our formula. Look for midweek hotel deals or inexpensive hostels and campsites that meet your budget. If your stay includes breakfast, or a kitchen to prepare some or all of your meals, that’ll also help with the food budget.
Remember, summer is high season and that generally means higher prices, so planning ahead and searching out deals can really help your budget.
Fine dining or basic fare—plan ahead to eat cheap
There are easy ways to save on your food budget. It just takes a bit of planning and preparation ahead of time. Bring or make what meals you can, and hit the grocery store for snacks and bottled drinks. Planning keeps you from overspending, especially when prices are higher and the selection turns out to be limited at your destination.
Limit the number of times you eat out and go off the beaten path to avoid tourist prices when you do eat at restaurants. Once you’ve calculated your food and entertainment budget, you can decide where you want to spend a little more for a nice meal or drinks out.
Big fun on a small budget
You’re travelling for fun so be sure to budget for it. Look online for coupons or discounted admission to those things you really want to do, and search out free experiences as well, like hiking or bird watching.
If fishing is your thing, remember to factor in the cost of a license. If your chosen activity requires equipment you don’t own, check if you can rent it at home and bring it along. It could be more affordable than renting on-site. Or better yet, borrow from a friend.
Don't get caught strapped for cash—expect the unexpected
Leave a little wiggle room in the budget for unforeseen expenses, like the forgotten sunscreen or medication to treat an unexpected illness. The last thing you need is the stress of an unexpected expense.
Looking for local travel inspiration?
If you have a starting budget of $500, you can get three days and two nights of comfort camping at Sundance Lodges in Kananaskis for a family of four. This leaves plenty of room for food and entertainment. Pack your cooler to BBQ on site and use your remaining budget to rent a canoe ($70/day at Kananaskis Outfitters). Or you can spend your days exploring the hiking and mountain biking trails in the area. The views are free!