Went to Toronto this past weekend, and it was definitely awesome, a definitely needed getaway, and I would love to go back sometime. We got CityPass, which meant tickets for all the major attractions lumped into one low price ($60/person) and were able to see: Casa Loma (famous castle there), Science Centre, CN Tower, and Toronto Zoo. All in two days! We also saved more money on gas, eating, and travel then I was expecting, so we came back with $300 of the $700 we went to Toronto with! Here’s how we saved money:
+ Husband’s dad paid for our hotel stay as our Christmas present.
+ We drove, and used gas cards that my parents got us for Christmas (actually ended up only using one! Yay!).
+ Brought food for breakfast, and I way over budgeted for lunch and dinner (I thought 25 and 50, respectively, ended up much lower).
+ The only souvenirs we bought were a few magnets, a shot glass, and T-shirt.
+ We found a 24 hour parking lot outside the hotel that charged $38 less a day than the hotel valet.
+ Instead of driving everywhere in the city, we walked, and on Saturday we bought a day pass for the train/bus that was only $10 for the both of us.
+ We cut down at the Toronto Zoo, because we underestimated the sheer amount of walking (and the heat) and opted out of the tram ride, camel ride, and Stingray Bay (things we have done at other zoos anyway).
Because we saved some money, we ended up stopping at a zoo in Michigan on the way home and we fed giraffes! We did that at the Tampa Zoo as well, but it’s always fun because the giraffes are sooo hungry! 😉 I definitely think Toronto is a doable destination for anyone, as long as you can handle the hotels (the prices of which are comparable to Chicago). The money is easy to exchange (we did ours at a local Canadian bank and got $694 for our $700) and easy to use, because except for dollar/two dollar coins, the money is the same as American. The people are super friendly there and the food was really good as well (love me some poutine!). It is a great way to go international without worrying about language barriers or a completely different set of money.
So, how did we get $700 for the trip? Aren’t I always groaning about our lack of money? The money came from a few places: my payment when I worked for my aunt’s open house, my Christmas money, and my birthday money. A lot of ‘my’ there, right? Yes, I know. I was really frustrated that all MY money went to a trip for the BOTH of us, while Husband’s various gift money went straight to bike parts for HIM. A few months back we had actually argued about this, among other things, that are meant for another post. But suffice to say that it wasn’t until we went to and got back from Toronto, merely because I had been sacking away all the money I got for US, that Husband agreed he would take his birthday money and some of his Christmas money this year and put it in the pot (we are headed for Nashville next May).
I am not excusing the fact that Husband is just now getting on board with helping me pay for OUR trips, but I will say this: with his previous marriage, his in-laws paid for every trip he took with his ex. So there was no saving or setting aside certain money. You just had the money automatically and went on the trip. But now he’s on board with helping me out, and that’s all I care about. We’re staying in the States next year, so it should be less expensive, but Nashville doesn’t have a CityPass, so we’ll probably still have to budget.
Why are we so hooked on traveling every year? Aren’t we just so low on money? Well, again, we use extra income and gift money on these trips. Also, we don’t do a lot of entertainment during the year — we go to Michigan at his stepdad’s cottage, and maybe we’ll do another bike overnight if we can find a good deal on Hotels.com — but we don’t have cable and we don’t eat out too much, plus we both agreed when we were engaged that we wanted to find some way to make taking trips / vacations a priority for us, because we both like to travel and see other cities. It was the same way with our wedding — we had just a dinner at a restaurant, not a full out reception, so we could spend 10 days in Florida for our honeymoon. We prioritize what we really want over what others tell us we need (like cable, food from Jewel, or an elaborate wedding/reception).