8 Ways to Save $$$ While Traveling

Let me start this out by saying I am not overly a budget traveller. I’m not sure what the numbers are that you have to spend to be considered that, but I definitely wouldn’t call myself one. Of course I like to save money, and on this trip especially I’d like my money to last because thats basically how long I’ll be able to travel for, but I also like staying nice places, taking advantage of all the things that are available in a place to do, eating good food and just enjoying myself without worrying about exactly how much I’ve spent per day.

With that all being said I do think that there are some easy ways to save some money or make the dollars go a little bit farther.

  1. Make friends while you’re traveling!

I think that this might be one of my biggest tips. Not only does it make your travelling so much more enjoyable, it also saves money. If you end up traveling with the people that you meet you can save by being able to split accommodation or transport. Another way this is great is that you end up meeting people all over the world and can then meet up again if you travel to where they’re from. I love having people I meet come to visit and then play tour guide for them. This gives them a local perspective on the places that they’re going and can maybe help them see things they might not have otherwise. And usually people are willing to return the favour, or let you crash at their place if you go to see them.

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New Years with new friends in Bali!

       2. Eat where the locals are eating.

Everyone knows that the places that are filled with tourists or near big tourist areas are going to be more expensive. It’s easy to go there, the employees will usually speak good english, they might have more dishes that you’re used to eating, but if you see a place that’s full of local people I will bet you it’ll be not only cheaper, but more authentic food. Think about it this way, you know the places in town that specialize in the kinds of things you like and usually have a pretty good deal on them right? It’s the same when you’re traveling. Plus who knows, you might end up making some new friends!

      3. Book tickets and attractions online

This is a fairly new suggestion for me. I’ve just started noticing that while looking up things to do in cities a lot of times if you pre-buy your entrance ticket while online you’ll get a discount. Or they’ll offer passes of maybe 3 attractions that if you buy all of the tickets together you’ll get a reduced rate. Obviously this is helpful in more ways than one, you get to skip the line when you get there and bypass all the silly people who didn’t think to check online and you get a cheaper rate. Winning.

     4. Make sure you’re using a no fee credit card

This is another one that I just started following. Before my trip to Australia I was reading a lot about overseas credit cards and had noticed that mine, on top of the exchange rate, charged a small fee for every transaction. Unless you’ve actually selected one that doesn’t yours probably does too, their aren’t a ton out there that don’t. Once I started doing some research I decided on the Capital One Aspire Card, this not only has no foreign transaction fees but also offers points on everything you purchase that can be redeem for any travel purchases charged to the card. I know that some people are against credit cards, but I personally think that if I’m going to be spending the money anyways I might as well get some small reward from it, plus I generally feel safer having my credit card rather than a huge heap of cash with me.

     5. Walk places (or use local transportation)

Obviously it’s not feasible to walk everywhere you want to go in a place your visiting, but if you plan your accommodation well you should at least be able to hit up some of the things you want to see and find places to eat around you. Walking also has the added benefit of being able to get to know the area around you, as opposed to seeing it whiz by from a car window. Plus you’ll totally burn off a few of those extra drink and food calories, if that matters to you. Another easy one is to take local transportation, buses or trains, if the place your in offers anything like that. Cabs are of course the most expensive but luckily in places like South East Asia or Indonesia (where I am right now) they are quite cheap. One thing I will add to this is to make sure before you go wandering around, especially solo, is to make sure that you are staying in a safe area and not to put yourself in any danger. 

     6. Spend longer in one area

A lot of people refer to this as slow travelling, I guess it depends how long you’re actually staying in that place, but this is an awesome way to save some money. Let alone the obvious travel costs you’ll be saving a lot of accommodation offers discounts for weekly or longer stays. If you are doing something like this websites like airbnb.com are great too, as you can actually get an apartment or house. Which brings me to another money saving idea, get an apartment or a hotel with a kitchenette and you’ll be able to save some money on food. Personally I don’t feel the need to go out for every meal and sometimes I do get sick of going out to eat. Being able to buy groceries and make breakfast or a quick snack can you save you both money and time during the day. Of course by staying longer in one area you’ll also be able to scope out places to buy groceries or cheaper restaurants.

    7. Book hotels with breakfast included

Similarly if you make sure that each hotel you book has a continental breakfast or some sort of breakfast included you’ll be saving money on one meal a day! I’ve found that most hotels do this, just make sure when you’re booking if there is the option of breakfast included or not, that the one with breakfast included isn’t a ridiculously more expensive options. When I booked my last hotel for five nights I found that some hotels were adding almost $200 to the price of the stay for breakfast included…that would’ve had to have been a damn good breakfast to make that worth it.

    8. Think about where you’re deciding to go traveling

This one is huge. There are tons of lists out there about the cheapest and most expensive places to go traveling. Where you go will pretty much set the bar for how much money you’re going to spend. Obviously some places the exchange rate is worse, there are higher costs of living and transportation, and you’ll end up spending way more money. Basically going somewhere like the UK vs. Thailand is going to make a huge difference in the amount you’re going to spend on comparable things. I’ve stayed at a 5 star resort in Thailand for $45 a night, try finding something similar to that in Australia…it won’t happen. Of course one place isn’t better than the other, but if you consider you’re budget before you pick where you’re going you can stretch your money a lot further than doing it the other way around.

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Enjoying a mojito in gorgeous (and cheap) Krabi, Thailand

Again, like I said at the beginning this isn’t a spend nothing a day type of post, and I’m not going suggest for you to book a bed in a 24 person hostel, just because that’s really not my travelling style. If it’s yours more power to ya, you’ll probably be able to travel a lot longer on a smaller amount of money than I will be, but I’m still happy in my air conditioned room with a nice pool to lounge around in the afternoon.

What are some of your money saving travel tips? Got any secret gems for me, comment below and Happy Traveling!

Where do Penguins go to Dance? – The Snow Ball!

Friday morning it was time for another road trip, this one a lot shorter than the drive to the Great Ocean Road, only about an hour. Luckily when I woke up Friday it was sunny and warm again.

We headed out in the morning down to Phillip Island. Matt has spent a lot of time there as his family has a house there, so he knew all the fun things to do. On the way we stopped for brunch in a tiny little town called Tooradin at a restaurant called Sawtellis. It was such a small town that while I was looking up somewhere to get breakfast on Tripadvisor we actually missed the whole town and had to turn around. Breakfast was delicious, I’m a sucker for eggs Benedict and a good chai latte, so we left full and happy and ready for some sight-seeing.

It was only about another 45 minutes down to the island, which was a good length for the non-roadtrip lover in me. On the way into town we went to the Phillip Island Chocolate Factory. There had tours you could do but neither of us were really interested in that, so we just bought a bit (a lot) of chocolate and headed out. We stopped off quickly at Matt’s family’s house to drop off our bags and then headed out for some activities!

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First we went to a place Matt really likes called A Maze’n Things. It was basically like a little fun centre, with mini golf, a mirror maze, and then a big room full of puzzles and games. We wandered through there for about an hour, trying out all the different stuff. I hated the mirror maze…was way too creepy for me!!

Once we made it out of there we headed to the Koala Conservation Centre, which was definitely one of the best parts of my day. You walk through an information centre and then out to basically a 2km walk around a forested area. They had some lifted boardwalks that bring you up higher to the trees. I didn’t think I’d be able to get so close to the animals and it was amazing to be able to see them in their own habitat. We spent quite a bit of time walking around there, seeing both koalas and wallabies. Again I think that this was a really good place to see the animals and they had so much freedom, I didn’t feel at all like they were being taken advantage of or treated poorly.

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After seeing the koalas, we got hungry again so we made our way into Cowes to grab an early dinner. We each just got a quick burger and then it was time for the big draw of the day…The Penguin Parade!

Each night these little penguins come in from the ocean and climb up the hills back into their little homes in the hills. I wasn’t too sure what to expect when we went there but knew it was a pretty big tourist draw, of course when we got there there were quite a few tour buses already parked. Considering it’s low season for them right now I’m not sure I’d like to see it in the summer, it was busy enough for me! We got our tickets and a hot chocolate to keep us warm and headed down to the stands that they’ve built on the beach to wait for the penguins to make their appearance. Finally after the sun was fully down we started seeing groups of them come up. They were so much smaller than I even expected, they’re the smallest penguins in the world! They were super timid and so adorable. I’m not sure how I feel about turning this nightly thing into a tourist event but they did seem pretty proactive about caring for the penguins and their safety. They have everything roped off and no photos, even flash off, are allowed. Sadly for that reason I don’t have any pictures of them, but it was super cute. After they came in, you could walk up the boardwalk and watch them actually go into their houses. We stayed until we were both too cold to hang out anymore. Then it was time to head back to Frankston for the night. It was such a great day and I was so glad that the weather held out for us! It was an awesome beginning to the weekend.

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Beautiful view and full moon waiting for the penguins appearance.


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Someone was a little tired of taking pictures by this point in the day.

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12(ish) Apostles

Last Friday Matt and I made the journey from Frankston to the Great Ocean Road to see the 12 Apostles in Port Campbell National Park. This is was something I have been looking forward to since I first started thinking about coming to Australia. The weather finally turned nicer for the weekend and I couldn’t have asked for a nicer day to spend on the coast. Finally some sunshine! (I think it might have done this since I actually bought some warm clothes last week)

The drive up to the park took about 3 hours on the way there, we took the highway instead of going up the Great Ocean Road to save some time. I get pretty bored during car rides if I’m not driving so I was probably a little bit annoying haha. The scenery was a little bit different than I was expecting, went through lots of farms and some cute little towns. When we got closer to the park it was a lot more forested.

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Once we were finally at the park it was a quick walk down from the parking lot to the viewing areas. I knew it would be gorgeous but it really took my breath away how beautiful it was. It wasn’t too busy with people, but I would definitely say we were the only people speaking English. They have a couple of different lookout areas and you get such a great view from all of them. One mistake I made was wearing a dress…keep that in mind when you go down there. It was very windy and I think I may have given a few of those tourists a bit of a show…whoops!

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Once we got our fill of the view there we popped into the visitor centre to use the washroom and take a peek around, it was mostly just a little convenience store with snacks and coffees. From there we headed back down the road to Gibsons Steps, it was probably only like half a kilometre down the road. I’m so glad we went there because you can actually walk down to the beach and get a different view of the Apostles. It was a pretty easy walk down the stairs and so worth it.

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After that we headed down the Great Ocean Road. I didn’t realize how windy it was, wouldn’t want to take that trip if you get motion sickness! It was a great scenic drive to Apollo Bay, where we stopped for lunch at a little pizza place with a great patio. Then it was time to head home. The drive back took about 4 hours, there was lots of traffic going through Melbourne. I was really glad to get out of the car when we got back…little too much road trip for one day.

If you’re in Australia don’t skip the 12 Apostles, it was well worth the trip and I’m so happy I got to see it, especially on such a beautiful day.

 

 

Sea Life and High Times in Melbourne

Tuesday…finally made it into the city! The weather in the morning was not at all promising, pouring down rain the whole drive, but once in Melbourne the sun was out! It took about half an hour to get there.

Once in the city it was super easy to find the Melbourne Sea Life Aquarium. Parking was just across the street in a parkade that had super steep prices (hint, for 3 hours it would have been $62 but with a voucher we got when we got to the aquarium it ended up being only $11, so well worth it to ask when you get in there). I bought the tickets online before we went in, you save 10% doing it that way. Always after a deal… 😉

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I was super excited to go to the aquarium and it did not disappoint. Although we were stuck between two tours…school kids in front and a group of seniors behind us. That did have the benefit of being able to eavesdrop on the guides speeches but the downside of trying to avoid 20 screaming children and a group of slow moving seniors.

One of the highlights was the big aquarium that they had full of predatory fish, we watched a presentation about nurse sharks that was probably about 20 minutes long and super interesting. The tank had huuuuuge rays in it, I’ve never seen them that big. The presenter did keep saying “Don’t be afraid of sharks, they’re actually friendly.” Which I’m not gonna lie, I highly disagree with. If I’m swimming somewhere and I see sharks, you can bet I’m getting the hell out of there.

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This guy looked about 7 feet wide! Thank God for thick glass

There were quite a few cool exhibits, including a huge freshwater crocodile, turtles, seahorses and PENGUINS! I am always a little hesitant of visiting places that keep animals in captivity, but this aquarium did really seem to stress good treatment to the animals, breeding to help replenish ones that were endangered and they do have an organization in place for funding for protection of wildlife.

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Finally they had a 4-D show, it was based on the guy from Ice Age whose always loosing the nuts. It was a pretty entertaining little 10 minute video, and I do love a good 4-D experience.

After the aquarium we grabbed a quick lunch at a pub across the road then headed over to the Eureka Skydeck. It was only a couple minute drive and is the tallest building in Melbourne. According to the brochure it’s the highest public vantage point in the Southern Hemisphere and the glass on the outside of the top 10 floors are coated in 24 karat gold. It was $20 each to go up to the top and the views were unreal. You get a 360 degree view of the city which I think really helped me get my bearings of where things were.

They also have ‘The Edge‘ where you pay extra and get put in what looked like basically a glass box and hung out over the edge of the building. I did not do that. One of the things I really like was they had little like binocular things pointed at the main sites around the city. There’s also a little outdoor terrace you can walk onto, which surprisingly considering how windy it was down below wasn’t windy at all.

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In this one you can see the MCG on the right and then the Flinders Street Station in the bottom left corner. Fun fact I learned while up there, over 110,000 people go through that train station a day!

After seeing everything up there it was time to head back home. Just relaxed in the evening and did my first haircut in Australia on a friend!

Shiny Weekend at Sparkling Hill

What a great weekend my last weekend in Canada has been!

After doing my last hair client on Saturday morning I headed over to my friend Callie’s to get ready for a quick little going away party. It was so much fun to see my friends before I head out on my trip. We made lots of appies and snacks and had a great night playing games and drinking lots of wine. Unfortunately I totally forgot to take any pictures, except for before the party when I was making cupcakes.

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Slaving over Funfetti box cake mix 🙂

Sunday morning it was time to take my mom out to Sparkling Hill Spa, just outside of Vernon, about an hour and a half away. My sister Erica and I got my mom a night there as an early Mother’s Day present, since I’m going to be away by the time Mother’s Day gets here. Sparkling Hill is definitely one of my favourite places to spend time, so I was very excited for the night!

I started out my day there with a relaxation massage, it was good, but since I do tend to get very sore shoulders and neck I really prefer my regular massage therapist, but that really isn’t as relaxing as this massage was. After the massage we all met back up, my mom had gotten a massage as well, and Erica got a body scrub. The rest of the day was spent relaxing by the pool and then having a great dinner. The next morning after breakfast and a little bit of reading by the pool we all had spa services done again, pedicure for my mom, facial for me and a massage for Erica. Sadly after that it was time to head out, one night at Sparkling Hill is just not enough time for me!

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Could spend hours reading here! 

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I had the crab cakes as an appetizer and they were amazing

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All in all it was a great send off weekend!

Australia Packing!

 

I’ve been having a little bit of a hard time so far figuring out what I need to pack for Australia; my other trips so far have been more of a throw something on over a bathing suit type of packing, which I find a lot easier! Since I’m not sure how long I’m going to be gone and I’ll be in a few different temperatures this trip is proving to be a bit harder! I do want to be mindful of packing light (or at least as light as I can, I’m certainly not a pack everything for months into a carry on kind of person).

One thing I want to mention is packing cubes! These things are seriously a life changer, especially when travelling with a backpack. Being able to keep some bit of organization while travelling is such a help. I generally try and pack like things together, a cube of bathing suits and underwear, a cube of bottoms, etc.

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These packing cubes make a huge difference on organization and space saving!

I did get a new backpack for this trip, finally one of my own! I had borrowed a girl friend’s the last two trips but I invested in one from MEC this time. I’m super excited to use it, finally not having to pull everything out of the top of the drawstring bag is going to be awesome. I got this bag on a recommendation from Jacqui, who I’ve travelled with before. I was always envious of her bag and she had nothing but rave reviews for it!

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Very full backpack! 


Here’s what I’ll be bringing with me…

2 pairs of leggings (will wear 1 pair on the plane)
1 pair of jeans
Sandals
Runners (will wear these on the plane too)
Flip Flops

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I ended up not packing the wedge sandals, ran out of room in my bag!


1 pair of jean shorts
2 pairs of cotton material shorts (live in these!)
2 pairs of Lululemon workout type shorts

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8 dresses

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10-14 shirts
3 sweaters

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1 light windbreaker jacket
7 bathing suits
Underwear & bras & socks

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and finally all my toiletries, which take up so much room!

Now just to wait until it’s time to head to the airport and a few long flights and I will be in Melbourne!

 

 

Step 1 to Australia – Flight Booked!

Finally, after what feels like basically my adult life time of checking Skyscanner, Google Flights and every other flight booking website out there, I’ve booked my flight to Australia! I don’t know about anyone else but trying to find a decent price on flights makes me crazy. I end up looking at them everyday and the prices change each time you look, so frustrating!!

I’ve read lots of ‘travel hacking’ sort of tips but I think in Canada it’s hard to find really cheap deals. I did get a Capital One Aspire credit card about 2 months ago that I’ve been using, it’s points can be redeemed towards travel purchases. I will probably do a separate post on that at some point once I’ve used it a little bit more.

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Now that the flight is booked it’s becoming a bit more real that I’m going Australia…and in just 3 weeks! I don’t have a ton of stuff to get organized before I leave, mostly just trying to figure out what to pack. I think I’ll need a fairly decent variety of clothing since the weather seems to differ a lot between Melbourne, where I’ll be starting my trip, and Cairns, where I’ll be meeting up with a friend to travel down the coast.

Time to work on a packing list…

Top Favourites in Bali

Taking a trip to Bali, Indonesia this winter was an amazing experience. Here are a few of my top highlights of the trip, I managed to narrow it down to 5, although honestly everyday was a highlight, it was so fantastic! 

1. Uluwatu Water Temple

While staying at Bingin Family Bungalow we rented two scooters and headed out to find this beautiful temple we had read so much about. Although we did end up getting lost on the way there…and maybe having a slight accident with a sign when one of the less experienced of us were driving one of the scooters, we made it to the temple at about midday…hot midday.

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After paying a small entry fee we were in. We spent a bit of time cooling off in the shade with some water and checking out what the locals had for sale (we wanted matching bracelets) and then we headed into the temple area. You have to wear sarongs to cover your legs, which they provided. Everywhere you looked there were amazing views to be seen…and huge monkeys to steal your belongings if you weren’t paying attention.

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We probably spent about an hour walking around, getting there at the time we did made it a very hot afternoon and we were all pretty sweaty by the time we decided to head back to the hotel. After a fairly uneventful trip back to our bungalows, we were all ready to hit the pool again.

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2. Gili Islands

Although we only had time to make it to one of the Gili Islands, Gili Trawangen, this place made a huge impression on me. It’s almost hard to explain the vibe on this island, with no cars only bicycles, the friendliest locals, fantastic food, and lots of fun lounges and bars to spend the nights in, it was an amazing place to spend some time. We decided to splurge a little bit while there and rented our own 2 bedroom villa, just a short bike ride away from the main street. There were so many adventures and misadventures on this little island it almost deserves its own post!

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3. Meeting new friends

One of the definite highlights for any trip for me is being able to meet people from all over the world, that I certainly wouldn’t have met had I just been at home doing my regular day-to-day stuff. This 3 week trip to Bali was no exception. I actually went on this trip with two people who I had met while on a trip to Thailand on a Contiki Tour last year, who I know are going to be life long friends. 

I’ve already had the opportunity to tour one of the Australians that I met in Bali around Vancouver and am planning my trip to New Zealand and Australia for this spring. The perk of meeting all these people is it definitely gives you a different perspective and a local tour guide if you ever make it to their part of the world!

4. New Years Eve in Seminyak

This night will be one I won’t forget! Dinner was an amazing BBQ, cooked and served by the wonderful staff at The Villas Bali and Spa Seminyak, a beautiful place I would highly recommend. After dinner we all enjoyed getting ready for the night and having some drinks while playing drinking games. Some walked and some scootered down to the beach around 10 o’clock and we spent the rest of the night on bean bags at various bars, like La Plancha,  down on the beach. Between shooting off fireworks, dancing, sending up a wish lantern and basically spending the night having the best time, it was certainly a night that made me appreciative to be able to spend time in such amazing places! 

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5. Gorgeous Sunsets

I spent a lot of time stopping wherever I was and whipping out my phone to take pictures of the sunsets while in Bali. I couldn’t get enough of them! It seemed like every night the sunset was trying to outdo the last. That final beautiful hour of the day was always one of my favourites and half of my photos ended up being pictures of the sky!

 

Have you been to Bali or Indonesia? What would you say is the highlight from your last trip?