Workshops and Events

 

Workshops & Events

photo workshop

October 19th – 23rd, 2015 • Bangkok, Thailand

This is an intensive, week long workshop that focuses on building your food, travel, street and lifestyle photography. Using the backdrop of one of the most beautiful and fascinating places to photograph, Thailand, we’ll focus on building your photography skill, teaching practical editing techniques to enhance your work and by the end of the week you’ll have a portfolio of some of the best photos you’ve ever taken.

If you’re a blogger you know photography matters. Not everyone travels or takes photos of food, but the skills you learn in this workshop can be applied to any type of blog. Each day we focus on a different kind of photography situation.

100 Ways to Save Money

 

Go with Oh Prague
100 Ways to Save Money
100 Ways to Save Money

100 Ways to Save Money

When I published ‘74 Tips On How To Save Money for Travel‘ earlier this year I wanted to help my readers with low incomes save money for travel – something that many of them didn’t think they could do. And in my opinion those tips are still valid. So, why am I publishing an updated post on this blog? Well, I want to take a slightly different approach, and add some more ways to save money, but not just for travel.

Save Money by Planning Ahead

Planning ahead use to be my kryptonite. Why on earth do I need to do that?! I’m a carefree kind of person. Planning? Blech!

And then I realized how much money I was throwing away, and that I wasn’t being carefree, I was being careless! Oh, the things I could have done with all that wasted money… It’s best not to dwell on that though. I’m currently working on losing weight and eating healthier, so planning ahead is integral.

  • Make a Budget – the first thing you should do in your quest to save money is create a budget! This is imperative and can be easily done on places like mint.com.
  • Want vs Need – always, always, ALWAYS evaluate whether you want something or need something. Only buy what you need.
  • Create weekly menus based on sales – I’ve recently started shopping the flyers and creating menus based on what is on sale at local shops. This means I only buy food that is on sale. And I only buy what I will use during the week.
  • Buy food when it’s in season – This goes along with the above tip. When fruit and vegetables are in season they are generally cheaper. That is the best (and cheapest) time to buy them.
  • Stay away from processed foods – Not only are they bad for you, but most processed foods are expensive as well. If you are able, cook for yourself as much as possible. Sure, it takes time, but the taste is usually better, it’s healthier, and cheaper.
  • Cook meals that keep or freeze well – As a single person it’s easy to make small meals, but those can actually add up fast. Making things like soups, and chili are cheap and they last, which stretches your food budget. Again, plan ahead, and use seasonal ingredients to keep costs down.
  • Canning – Yes, it sounds very Little House on the Prairie, but it saves you money down the road. Buy fruit and vegetables you like when they are in season. Buy large quantities and can them. Make soups or sauces, pickles, anything you enjoy eating all year round.
  • Bake your own bread – This is insanely easy to do with the right recipe. Make country breadflour tortillas, or pita bread and stop spending money on overly processed breads. *Make only what you need for the next couple days to avoid wasting food.
  • Plant an Herb garden – Everyone can have an herb garden, it doesn’t matter where you live. If you share a house, have a pot in your room, on a balcony, a porch, etc. As long as you have a window with good light, you’re solid. Fresh herbs always taste better, and thinking of the $3 jars of Basil or Parsley that you won’t have to buy anymore!
  • Keep scraps – Put things like onion peels, carrot ends, old herbs in a bag and freeze them to be used in stocks for soups in the winter. Chicken, turkey, and beef bones are also ideal for freezing and using in stocks.
  • Set water heater at 120 degrees – Lowering your water heater can actually save you a lot of money in a year.
  • Clip coupons – but don’t go insane to the point where you’ll be the next extreme couponing star. Use coupons with moderation. You don’t need 10 tubes of toothpaste just because it’s 99 cents. Think about your needs over the next three months, and use that as your base. Also, look for ways to stack your coupons. Cha-ching!!
  • Shop when you’re full – never ever go shopping when you’re hungry. Always shop when you’re full and you’ll make wiser buying decisions.
  • Buy meat a day or two before expiry – Some stores (like Loblaws) will mark their meat down by 50% a day or two before expiry. This is a fantastic was to treat yourself to a steak dinner or cook a chili for super cheap.
  • Bus vs Taxi – Why pay $39 in taxi fare to get somewhere, when the bus would cost $2.75?! Swallow your pride. Plan ahead, leave earlier, and take the bus.
  • Walk – if it’s feasible, walk as much as possible. You’ll need to leave earlier, but it’s good exercise, good for the environment, and good for your wallet.
  • Collect points – If your local store has a points program and you shop with them frequently, join! The trick to points is the same as shopping sales and using coupons, moderation. Don’t buy something purely because there is a points special, buy it if it’s a good price, something you need, AND a points special. Keep accumulating your points cash them in when the points amount to your weekly food budget. Yay, a free weeks worth of food!!
  • Gift card sales – from time to tim gift cards will go on sale and you can save that way. Wait to buy iTunes cards when $50 are on sale for $40 etc.
  • Shop online – many stores have online stores and this is fabulous. Great way to find clothing you want in your size, save on shipping (unless you’re trying to buy from Old Navy and live in Thailand), and not deal with snotty salespeople.

At Home

Buy Vintage!

Buy Vintage!

There are several ways to save money at home, it just depends on how far you’re willing to go to save that money. This is where comfort counts and overdoing it could make life suck a little more than you want. In other words, think about the kind of lifestyle you want and save/plan accordingly!

  • Say goodbye to cable, and hello to Netflix – Personally speaking, I don’t like cable. There are a very few shows I enjoy, and because I travel a lot, I rarely watch TV as it is. For me, I made the choice to not even buy a TV. That being said if you have a TV, think about canceling your cable and watching programs through netflix instead. That right there could save you at least $40 a month.
  • If it’s daylight, you don’t need lights on – I hate having lights on when it’s daylight. Unless you have seriously bad eyesight or it is stormy outside, you don’t need lights on during the day. Turn them off, save some money!
  • Convert to LED lights – They may be more expensive to buy, but they are brighter and last a lot longer, making it a cheaper choice in the long run.
  • Embrace the DIY movement – Buying things for your home or apartment can be fun, but making things yourself is even better. Use tools like Pinterest to find ideas, then buy your supplies at garage sales, thrift stores, or on sale. Or if you’re really thrifty, go dumpster diving – but please, for the love of all things holy, never use a mattress off the street. Like EVER!!
  • Make your own household cleaners – It sounds odd, but making your own cleaning supplies is rather easy, it’s cheap, and you’re not using chemicals in your house. It’s a win-win kind of situation. Yay!
  • Avoid big brands when possible – I’m a girl. I have naturally curly hair. I know that those expensive shampoos and conditioners make my follicles sexy as hell, BUT I avoid buying them and opt for Herbal Essences when it’s on sale. At this point, sexy hair is for when I get a hair cut, not an every other day kind of thing. Le sigh…
  • Make your own soap – Don’t laugh! It’s so easy (you do need a double boiler pot though, so borrow your Mom’s if you don’t have one) to make your own soap. PLUS you can give some away as gifts, or sell them on etsy.com and make money. And don’t forget that you choose the scent you want.
  • Go to Beauty schools with hair cuts – sure, it’s a leap of faith, but you can get seriously cheap hair cuts at a beauty school. Alternatively you can ask a salon for a new stylist who has cheaper rates.
  • Use samples – go to places like Kiehl’s that offer free sample for you to try their products. Great way to use expensive shampoo without actually buying it!
  • Dye clothing that fades – You know that black shirt you love that is starting to look grey? You don’t need to go out and buy a new shirt (unless it has holes or something), just buy some black dye! Kaboom! New shirt!
  • Buy vintage – visit second hand stores and pick-up cool vintage pieces for cheap!
  • Avoid dry clean only clothing – stop feeding the dry cleaning machine and buy clothing that is machine washable, or hand wash – which are generally cheaper than dry-clean only garments.
  • Turn your heat down at night – Turning your heat down at night and when you’re not home can make a big difference in your electric bill. Get into the habit of doing this daily – leave yourself sticky notes it need be – and save some pennies.
  • Unplug things you don’t use – Don’t leave appliances or device chargers plugged in, unless they are in use. I admit the savings is not huge, but there is a small savings, and less risk of sparking a fire if there is a power surge.
  • Landlines for local calls only – Unless you make a ton of long distance calls, don’t get a long distance plan. Use cheap calling cards, or your cell phone plan if you have free local and long distance calls after a certain time of day.
  • Use Skype – If you have internet at home, use Skype for your long distance calls. Their packages are really reasonable and as long as you have fast wifi, most calls are crystal clear.
  • Recycle – Everyone should be looking for ways to recycle and reuse products. Reuse food containers and jars for storage. If your city has a bottle depot, take your empties every other week and put the change you get into a your passionate lifestyle fund. If you cannot reuse something, clean it out thoroughly and place in a recycle bin – if it’s a recyclable container.
  • Embrace Freecycle.org – this is a genius website where people give things away for FREE! If there is a freecycle community near you, use it for items you need, or to get rid of things you don’t need and cannot sell.
  • Wash dishes by hand – I LOVE the connivence of a dishwasher, but washing dishes by hand saves more water, which is both good for the environment, and your pocket book. And the soap is cheaper as well.
  • Have potluck dinner parties – One of my favourite things to do is throw a dinner party, but that can get expensive quickly (I have a gourmet palate). For your next dinner party consider coming up with a theme and then assigning each guest the task of bringing a dish to fit within the theme. It’s fun, and cheap!
  • Shop for used items on craigslist and kijiji – Before buying new, ask yourself if you can buy the same item used and still be happy with it. If the answer is yes, turn to sites like craigslist and kijiji and shop in your local area first.
  • eBooks vs Paper – I am a HUGE fan of paper books. I just love the smell and the feel of them. That being said it can be cheaper to buy books as an eBook, rather than paper.
  • Book swap – swap your old books at a second hand store for new ones!
  • Get a library card and USE it! – utilize your local library to take out books and movies for FREE! Why waste the money on buying them brand new?!
  • Do laundry at NIGHT – it costs more money to do your laundry in the morning or afternoon than at night. Wait to do laundry after 7pm when the rates are lower.
  • Cloth diapers – This is for the mamas. It’s a huge pain, but my goodness will you save a butt load of money (pun kind of intended) by using cloth diapers vs Pampers.
  • Kick the addictions – stop smoking, drinking, or eating crap food. All of these things cost money and you’ll be surprised by how much money you save when you cut them out of your life. Seriously!
  • Subsidized Heating – ask your local heating company if they have a subsidy program and if you qualify, then use it. Great way to save money.
  • Clothing swap – get together with friends who are the same size as you and swap clothing! Freshen your wardrobe for nothing. This is probably best for the crazy 20 yr olds reading this post. If they are in fact reading this post. Ha!
  • Work-out at Home – screw paying for a gym membership, do your work-out at home and save the cash.

Out and About

Go Outdoors!

Go Outdoors!

Saving money when you’re not at home means thinking through your choices and then making the best one at the time. It’s like a slow painful death to someone like myself who loves to go with the flow, but unless I (and you) want to be poor for the rest of my life, it’s something I (and you) must embrace.

Note: you CAN save money without being a cheap douchebag friend. Think, make choices based on current situation, and repeat.

  • Bring your own lunch – start taking lunches to work and only eat out once a week or month. Great way to save money and to eat healthier as well.
  • Happy hour is your friend – if you’re going to grab drinks and a snack with the girls (or guys), plan it for happy hour when drinks and snacks are cheap. Just remember that 2 for 1 specials doesn’t mean you indulge twice as much as normal. Stick to a reasonable amount and save some money!
  • Buy beer by the pitcher – buying beer by the pitcher instead of by a sleeve or pint is a lot cheaper!
  • Take cash – decided how much you want to spend and only bring that in CASH. Leave the credit card and bank card at home!
  • Eat at home before the bar – Eat a filling meal at home before you go out, and avoid the free bar snacks. This will help you to drink less and save you money.
  • Ladies Night – girls, this should be a no-brainer! Seriously.
  • All-you-can-eat – use moderation, but hitting up an all-you-can-eat buffet is a great way to save money, although it’s not the healthiest option. I don’t recommend going into the bathroom to puke, and then keep eating – my brother did that once. Not. Good. Plus you could end up banned for life.
  • Eat family style – if you’re with a group of friends order a couple dishes and eat family style by sharing. You get a variety, and you can keep the cost down this way.
  • Free nights – many museums and galleries have free admission nights at least once a month, which is the best time to go.
  • Local festivals – many cities have FREE outdoor festivals. Go. Enjoy. Partake in as many free samples as you possibly can!
  • Car pool – If you have a car, take turns driving with your friends and save gas. Or better yet, take the bus or share a cab – whichever will work out cheaper.
  • Cheap night at the movies – Find out when the theatre has cheap night and go. The admission is usually half price, and it’ll be busy as hell, but you save money!!
  • Go Outdoors – take on an outdoor activity like hiking, climbing, running, and avoid activities that cost money.
  • Eat at food trucks – If you’re planning to eat out, and your city has food trucks, hunt them down. The food is usually under $10, gourmet, and absolutely delicious. Plus, you’re supporting local business owners.
  • Use coupons or indulge in special deals – Make a rule that if you are going to go out to eat, that you only do it using a coupon, or indulging in a special deal. That being said don’t be an asshat and do this for a friend or family member’s birthday or any other special occasion.
  • Free classes and events – Look into local programs for things like free yoga classes, business courses, outdoor movie nights, concerts, and more. Take advantage of free local events. Have some old fashion fun!
  • Buy monthly bus passes – Using a monthly bus pass if you take the bus every day to and from work. For instance in Ottawa the regular bus fare is $3.40. With a monthly pass ($98.75), if I take the bus 20 times, my fare per ride is $2.40, that is a savings of around $30 for the month!
  • Wash your own car – it is an INSANE idea, I know! But save the cash and on a sunny day get out a bucket of soapy water, some rags, a hose, and get washing! And while you’re at it, take the $10 you would have spent and place it directly into your savings account.

Financial

Financial

This entire post is financially based, but in this section I want to address ways to save money at your bank, with your credit cards, your phone bill, and other financial institutions you may be using.

  • Pay yourself first – set aside $20 – $50 a week and put it into a jar or saving account, then don’t touch it!
  • Go bank shopping – make your bank work for you, not the other way around. Shop the various banking institutions and find one that offers accounts which suit your needs. Low monthly fees, number of free monthly transactions, rewards programs you’ll actually use, and so on.
  • Bank the Rest – many banks offer this program. The basics is this, you spend $7.10, the bank rounds up the transaction to the nearest dollar (unless you’ve asked for more), then takes an additional $0.80 out of your chequing account and places it in your savings account. Great way to save without having the transfer the money yourself.
  • Paperless banking – many banks now charge a fee for things like bank books (remember those babies?!) and statements. Choose online banking and forget the fees. Then use a free budget program like Mint.com to track and budget your money.
  • Only withdraw $150 or more from Paypal at a time – Paypal is a fabulous online service, but they charge fees like crazy. Avoid withdrawal fees by waiting until you have at least $150 in your PayPal account.
  • Low Fee Credit Cards – if you MUST have a credit card pick one with a low interest fee and low annual fee. Also consider one that offers travel rewards. Keep in mind that the key to good credit card use is to spend within your budget. Use the card instead of cash to pay and earn points, then use the cash to pay your card the same day – unless your will power is stronger than mine and you can wait and pay it all off at the end of the month.
  • Get a rewards card during a promo – If you’re planning to apply for a travel rewards card, wait until there is a promotion that stacks your points. This gives you a points boost usually within the first six months, which can come in handy if you want to take a little getaway.
  • Pre-Paid Cell Plans – screw monthly cell contracts and go pay-as-you-go. It’s a lot cheaper in the long run and you can switch providers any time you want.
  • Lower Savings Account access – don’t have your savings account attached to your bank card. Make it hard for yourself to spend that money and set-up an automatic plan to withdraw money from your chequing into your savings account.
  • Pay Credit Cards on time – don’t carry a balance, always pay off your credit card at the end of the month to avoid crazy interest charges.
  • Refinance – talk to your bank or mortgage broker about refinancing your mortgage and lowering your interest rates.
  • Downsize – bigger is not always better. Look for a smaller place to live and save money on heat, rent, insurance etc.
  • Say NO to over draft – it’s a seriously bad habit. Don’t get an over draft on your account it gives you an excuse to spend more than what you have.
  • Don’t take extra money off for taxes – this is a horrible way to keep from paying taxes at the end of the year. If you want a tax break, take that money and invest in an RRSP instead and make the money work for you. Don’t throw it away!
  • Bundle up – Take advantage of service bundling whenever possible, ie: phone, internet, and cable bundled with the same company can save extra money each month.

Travel

Hong Kong

Hong Kong

There are several ways to save money when you travel, it just takes a little planning and thought.

  • Couchsurfing – if you’re cool with staying with strangers couchsurfing is a great way to save money. Yay, FREE accommodations! Tip: bring a wee host/hostess gift from your home country or a bottle of wine as a thank-you.
  • Hostelling International Card – getting an HI card CAN actually save you money when you stay with an HI hostel. Of course this is only prevalent if you’re in a country with a lot of HI Hostels.
  • City Passports – if you’re a museum or attractions buff, look into city passports that package museums and attractions together, this can save you a lot of money.
  • Use Kayak – this is one of my favourite websites when looking for flight deals. The sales go quickly so when you see a sweet deal, JUMP! I’ve seen flights from Toronto to Panama for $350 return!
  • Join Loyalty Programs – join loyalty programs for travel brands you use a lot like Starwood, Aeroplan, United. Look for specials and rack up points that can be used for FREE travel later on.
  • Shop local – shop for fruits and vegetables at local farmer’s markets instead of going to grocery stores.
  • Less Meat, More Carbs – it’s not healthy, but the cheapest way to eat when travelling is to eat a lot of rice, pasta, fruits, and vegetables.
  • BYOB – if you want to drink, buy your beer from a local shop instead of hitting the bars.
  • Night buses – in some countries night bus are significantly cheaper than day time buses. Travelling at night saves accommodation costs as well.
  • Street food – in places like Asia it’s cheaper to eat street food than to cook for yourself or eat out at a restaurant.
  • Local SIM – use a phone where you can switch the SIM card out when you enter a new country. This saves on roaming charges and it’s always good to have a working cell phone in case of an emergency.
  • Hand wash EVERYTHING – buy a bucket and some laundry soap and wash your clothing. This is THE cheapest way to do laundry! Just be conscious of where you hang your dainty items.
  • Work for accommodation – many hostels will trade accommodation for work. Sure, it’s housekeeping (usually), but you’re sleeping for FREE.
  • Rail or Bus Passes – buying a pass CAN be cheaper, just do some research first and know what fees are associated with the pass.
  • Buy quality clothing  – buy well made clothing before your trip as they will wear better and last longer. No need to continually buy new things on the road.
  • Bargain – always try to bargain down for a better price, and if they refuse, walk away.
  • Housesit – look for housesitting gigs on craigslist or kijiji, or join a website like Trusted House-sitters. Why pay rent when you can stay in a house for FREE?!
  • Van Shares – find a group of travellers who want to do the same excursion and book together. Most places will give you a group rate which is a lot cheaper than if you had gone on your own.
  • Limit splurges – limit yourself to one splurge per month or destination. You can travel cheap, but no need to get depressed about not affording something!

How To Travel With VIA Rail On A Budget

Travelling in Canada with VIA Rail

Travelling in Canada with VIA Rail

While I have many posts and articles to write about my trip across Canada with VIA Rail I’ve decided to put those aside for now and write a post on HOW to travel in Canada with VIA Rail on a budget – and hopefully answer some of the questions you guys have been asking on facebook, Twitter, and through email.

Travelling in Canada by train is a dream trips for many Canadians (and international travellers), but as Canada is not the cheapest country in terms of transportation costs, many travellers hold back and wait for retirement thinking that there is no way they can possibly afford such a trip.

Oh, silly, silly people.

Believe it or not travelling in Canada by train CAN be done on a budget. The trick is to do a little research (which I’m doing to do for you in this post), and be ready to pounce when a deal comes along! I’ve spent HOURS on the VIA Rail Canada website looking for all the information I wanted to include in this post, and thanks to my penchant for being too detailed this post is rather long. Oops!!

You’ll probably want to bookmark this post, and then share it as well. Just a wee suggestion. ;)

VIA Rail Routes

Polar Bear swimming in Churchill

Polar Bear swimming in Churchill

Depending on your goals for travelling across Canada, you may need to travel on more than one route offered by VIA Rail – which is a fab idea if you ask me! Here is a breakdown of the routes:

The Ocean – This line runs from Halifax to Montréal with stops in places like Moncton and Québec City. The Ocean offers economy and sleeper classes, and a panoramic car. The train runs on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday from Montréal and Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday from Halifax. There is FREE wi-fi available in the service cars.

Montréal – Gaspé – This line has both economy and sleeper class, and meals are available for purchase from the service car. This is an overnight train which runs Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday from Montréal and Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday from Gaspé.

Montréal – Jonquière  – This line is a great option for a short getaway into the Saguney region and do a little wildlife and whale watching. The trip is about nine hours long and the train runs Monday, Wednesday, Friday from Montréal and Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday from Jonquière.

Montréal – Senneterre – This line is for those who go goo-goo for gorgeous scenery as you’ll travel into Northern Québec

Québec – Windsor Corridor – This is a great way to travel between Québec City to Montréal, Ottawa, Toronto, and further down to Windsor. The trips are shorter, which means you have a choice between business and economy class, and there are often fare deals called Escape Fares which will over extremely cheap fares – economy from Ottawa to Québec City for $49 one way?! Yes, please!! Also? There is FREE wi-fi available throughout the train.

The Canadian – This is by far VIA Rail’s most popular long distance line. This is where they truly shine and if you’re travelling across Canada, you will be on the Canadian line.  This line has economy and sleeper plus class, which means that if you’re in a sleeper, your meals are included. The Canadian offers dome cars, as well as activity cars and a panoramic car (after Edmonton) for guests in sleeper plus class.  The Canadian runs twice a week during low season and three times a week during high season. It’s best to go to the website to find out which days they travel through cities in between Toronto and Vancouver. If you’re travelling straight through from Toronto to Vancouver the trip is four nights, five days.

Winnipeg – Churchill – This line is THE only cheap way to travel to Churchill, Manitoba to see Beluga Whales (July – Aug), and Polar Bears (Oct – Nov). It is an absolute MUST, and it’s long. The trip will take two and a half days. This line has both economy and sleeper class, and food is available for purchase in the service cars.

Jasper – Prince Rupert – This line is on my list for 2014. Prince Rupert is the jumping off point for exploring Haida Gwaii which is a drop-dead gorgeous archipelago in Northern British Columbia. If you have the time. GO! This train runs Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday.

Sample Itineraries

The following itineraries are merely ideas. You can do pretty much anything you want. It all depends on time and what you’d like to do on your trip. In an effort to show how cheap is CAN be, these itineraries for for economy class travel. That being said, if you have the time and flexibility then I HIGHLY suggest you also shop for last minute deals on the Express Deals page of the website as well (I talk about that in a little bit).

**Note: These are sample itineraries that I have personally researched and created, you will not find these on the VIA Rail website!

The ULTIMATE Across Canada Adventure

The Ultimate Across Canada Adventure Route using VIA Rail

The Ultimate Across Canada Adventure Route using VIA Rail

This economy class trip encompasses The Ocean, a little of the Québec – Windsor Corridor, Churchill, The Canadian, and Prince Rupert. It’s going across Canada and taking some amazing side trips along the way! Prices based on high season and are subject to change. 

The route is: Halifax – Québec City – Montréal – Ottawa – Toronto – Niagara Falls – Toronto – Winnipeg – Churchill – Winnipeg – Saskatoon – Edmonton – Jasper – Prince Rupert – Jasper – Vancouver.

  • Gap Year Students (18-25, or 26+ with ISIC): $1,383 (High season Canrail system pass, and high season Canrail Québec corridor pass, plus a separate one way fare) Buy a one way ticket from Halifax to Québec City. The cost is roughly $151.
    • Book Canrail Québec Corridor in trips 1.) Québec City to Montréal, 2.) Montréal to Ottawa, 3.) Ottawa to Toronto, 4.) Toronto to Niagara Falls, 5.) Niagara Falls to Toronto. The cost of the Canrailpass Québec City to Windsor Corridor is $325
    • Book Canrail system pass in trips: 1.) Toronto to Saskatoon and use Winnipeg as a FREE stopover, 2.) Winnipeg to Churchill, 3.) Churchill to Winnipeg, 4.) Saskatoon to Jasper and use Edmonton as a FREE stopover, 5.) Jasper to Prince Rupert, 6.) Prince Rupert to Jasper, 7.) Jasper to Vancouver. The cost for the Canrailpass system is $907.
  • Adult fare using Canrailpass: $1,520 (High season Canrail system pass, and high season Canrail Québec corridor pass, plus a separate one way fare)
    • Buy a one way ticket from Halifax to Québec City. The cost is roughly $151.
    • Book Canrail Québec Corridor in trips 1.) Québec City to Montréal, 2.) Montréal to Ottawa, 3.) Ottawa to Toronto, 4.) Toronto to Niagara Falls, 5.) Niagara Falls to Toronto. The cost of the Canrailpass Québec City to Windsor Corridor is $361
    • Book Canrail system pass in trips: 1.) Toronto to Saskatoon and use Winnipeg as a FREE stopover, 2.) Winnipeg to Churchill, 3.) Churchill to Winnipeg, 4.) Saskatoon to Jasper and use Edmonton as a FREE stopover, 5.) Jasper to Prince Rupert, 6.) Prince Rupert to Jasper, 7.) Jasper to Vancouver. The cost for the Canrailpass system is $1,008.
  • Senior fare using Canrailpass: $1,383 (High season Canrail system pass, and high season Canrail Québec corridor pass, plus a separate one way fare)
  • Buy a one way ticket from Halifax to Québec City. The cost is roughly $151.
  • Book Canrail Québec Corridor in trips 1.) Québec City to Montréal, 2.) Montréal to Ottawa, 3.) Ottawa to Toronto, 4.) Toronto to Niagara Falls, 5.) Niagara Falls to Toronto. The cost of the Canrailpass Québec City to Windsor Corridor is $325
  • Book Canrail system pass in trips: 1.) Toronto to Saskatoon and use Winnipeg as a FREE stopover, 2.) Winnipeg to Churchill, 3.) Churchill to Winnipeg, 4.) Saskatoon to Jasper and use Edmonton as a FREE stopover, 5.) Jasper to Prince Rupert, 6.) Prince Rupert to Jasper, 7.) Jasper to Vancouver. The cost for the Canrailpass system is $907.

That is 16 city stops for UNDER $1,600! You cannot do that when you fly!! Note, it’s a FAST PACED route. To slow down and enjoy, take off Churchill and expand your time elsewhere.

Rocky Mountain Lovin’ a.k.a Toronto to Vancouver

Rocky Mountain Lovin Route with VIA Rail

Rocky Mountain Lovin Route with VIA Rail

This route is for those who want to travel from Toronto to Vancouver (The Canadian line), with side trips to Churchill and Prince Rupert!

The route is: Toronto –  Winnipeg – Churchill – Winnipeg – Saskatoon – Edmonton – Jasper – Prince Rupert – Jasper – Vancouver

  • Gap Year Students (18-25, or 26+ with ISIC): $907 (High season Canrail system pass)
    • Book in trips: 1.) Toronto to Saskatoon, using Winnipeg as a FREE stopover, 2.) Winnipeg to Churchill, 3.) Churchill to Winnipeg, 4.) Winnipeg to Edmonton, using Saskatoon as a FREE stopover, 5.) Edmonton to Vancouver, using Jasper as a FREE stopover, 6.) Jasper to Prince Rupert, 7.) Prince Rupert to Jasper
  • Adult fare using Canrail system pass: $1,008 (High season Canrail system pass)
    • Book in trips: 1.) Toronto to Saskatoon, using Winnipeg as a FREE stopover, 2.) Winnipeg to Churchill, 3.) Churchill to Winnipeg, 4.) Winnipeg to Edmonton, using Saskatoon as a FREE stopover, 5.) Edmonton to Vancouver, using Jasper as a FREE stopover, 6.) Jasper to Prince Rupert, 7.) Prince Rupert to Jasper
  • Senior Fare: $907 (High season Canrail system pass)
  • Book in trips: 1.) Toronto to Saskatoon, using Winnipeg as a FREE stopover, 2.) Winnipeg to Churchill, 3.) Churchill to Winnipeg, 4.) Winnipeg to Edmonton, using Saskatoon as a FREE stopover, 5.) Edmonton to Vancouver, using Jasper as a FREE stopover, 6.) Jasper to Prince Rupert, 7.) Prince Rupert to Jasper

Dude, 10 city stops for UNDER $1,010!!

East Coast Bliss a.k.a Halifax to Toronto

East Coast Bliss Route with VIA Rail

East Coast Bliss Route with VIA Rail

This route is for those who are DYING to explore a part of the Maritimes, Québec, and Southern Ontario. It’s an amazing route, and pretty pretty much any time of year (although it’s f-ing cold in winter).

The route is: Halifax – Moncton – Québec City – Montréal – Jonquière – Montréal – Ottawa – Niagara Falls – Toronto

  • Gap Year Students (18-25, or 26+ with ISIC): $605 (High season Canrail Québec City – Windsor Corridor pass)
    • Book online using the Multi-city tool, Halifax to Moncton to Québec City, this gives you Moncton as a stopover for FREE!! The cost is about $151
    • Book in trips: 1.) Québec City to Montréal, 2.) Montréal to Ottawa , 3.) Ottawa to Niagara Falls, 4.) Niagara Falls to Toronto – Use remaining three tickets for day trips within the Québec City – Windsor Corridor line. The cost for the pass is $325
    • Book Montréal to Jonquière online as a return trip, the cost is about $129
  • Adult fare using Canrail Québec City – Windsor Corridor pass: $641 (High season Canrail Québec City – Windsor Corridor pass)
    • Book online using the Multi-city tool, Halifax to Moncton to Québec City, this gives you Moncton as a stopover for FREE!! The cost is about $151
    • Book in trips: 1.) Québec City to Montréal, 2.) Montréal to Ottawa , 3.) Ottawa to Niagara Falls, 4.) Niagara Falls to Toronto – Use remaining three tickets for day trips within the Québec City – Windsor Corridor line. The cost for the pass is $361
    • Book Montréal to Jonquière online as a return trip, the cost is about $129
  • Senior Fare: $605 (High season Canrail Québec City – Windsor Corridor pass)
    • Book online using the Multi-city tool, Halifax to Moncton to Québec City, this gives you Moncton as a stopover for FREE!! The cost is about $151
    • Book in trips: 1.) Québec City to Montréal, 2.) Montréal to Ottawa , 3.) Ottawa to Niagara Falls, 4.) Niagara Falls to Toronto – Use remaining three tickets for day trips within the Québec City – Windsor Corridor line. The cost for the pass is $325
    • Book Montréal to Jonquière online as a return trip, the cost is about $129

That is 9 city stops for UNDER $700!! Again, you cannot do that when you fly. Just sayin’!

Classes

Before I talk about fares, deals, and passes, let’s talk about classes (rhyme not intended) so you know which is best for you and your travel style.

Economy

VIA Rail Business Class

VIA Rail Economy & Business Class look very similar!

Seats in economy are generally very comfortable, come equipped with outlets, and recline for comfort. On trains within the Québec – Windsor Corridor the seats are a little older and may feel more cramped, but on the long distance trains there is more leg room.

Tip: if you’re sitting in four seat section (two seats that face two seats) and nobody is sitting across from you recline both seats and you can lay down flat for overnight sleeping.

Business / Touring Class

Business class is available on trains that travel through the Québec – Windsor Corridor and includes FREE wi-fi, meals, alcoholic beverages, soda, snacks, and has spacious seats with outlets for using laptops and charging devices. Business class passengers have full access to the Panoramic Lounges.

Sleeper Class & Sleeper Plus Class

Cabin for One with VIA Rail

Cabin for One with VIA Rail

There are several different types which vary depending on the line you are travelling on. All passengers travelling in a sleeper class have access to Panoramic Lounges at various VIA Rail stations across Canada. Here is a breakdown:

Berth – This is ideal for a solo traveller and the most economical option. Berths are beds during the day (separated by a curtain), and a bench during the day. This is not a cabin. People will be walking by on their way to their room or another train car. Note: This type of sleeper is only available on the Canadian line, and the trains from Winnipeg – Churchill, and Montréal – Gaspé. 

Cabin for One – This is a great option for a solo traveller who wants the luxury of a private space. All cabin classes come with a fan, air-conditioning, a sink, a private toilet (which is covered by the bed at night, meaning you need to use a public one), drinking water, pillows and bedding, and outlets (I was impressed with the quality of the duvet covers in sleeping class). Cabins for One are small, so during the day your bed is a chair, and at night you bed is either lowered down, or pulled out from the wall. At night you are able to lock your door from the inside. Note: This type of sleeper is only available on the Canadian line, and the trains from Winnipeg – Churchill, and Montréal – Gaspé. 

Cabin for Two – A cabin for two consists of upper and lower beds which are replaced with chairs during the day. The cabin comes with a bathroom with a toilet, and everything else that is included in a cabin for one. The room is cozy, and the beds are quite comfortable. Note: the beds on the Canadian line are bigger than those on the Ocean line. Ask for an ‘F’ cabin on the Canadian line if you want a little more space.

Cabin for Two with Shower – Basically this is the same as a cabin for two, but the bathroom has a shower head. If you’ve travelled to Asia you’ll be fine, if not… you’ll be fine too, just embrace the fact that you’re going to shower beside the toilet. Note: This type of cabin is only available on the Ocean line.

Cabin for Three – If you’re a family with small children then a cabin for three is a great choice. The cabin is very spacious during the day, and comes complete with three beds for during the night. The amenities are exactly the same as a cabin for two. Note: This type of sleeper is only available on the Canadian line, and the trains from Winnipeg – Churchill, and Montréal – Gaspé. 

Cabin for Four – A cabin for four is basically two cabins for two where the wall between the cabins has been removed. The amenities are exactly the same as a cabin for two. Note: This type of sleeper is only available on the Canadian line, and the trains from Winnipeg – Churchill, and Montréal – Gaspé. 

Fares, Deals, and Passes

There are a couple of pricing options available and it’s worth looking into each of them when you’re doing your initial planning.

Youth Fares

VIA Rail Canada offers special fares for youth passengers ages 12 to 25, or 26 and older with an ISIC card. Yay for being young and traveling across Canada! Escape fares are even lower than those of the adult escape fares. I’m talking $30 fares for trips from Ottawa to Montréal.

Child Fares

With VIA Rail children 2 years old and under travel for FREE! Children 2-11 travel for 50% off in economy class. If you’re traveling across Canada in sleeper class child fares are discounted.

Escape Fares

If you’re planning to travel in the Québec – Windsor Corridor than look into VIA’s escape fares is definitely a must. This is where you’ll find fares as low as $20 at times. That is a fabulous deal. Express fares is the best place to look when you’re wanting a little getaway.

Express Deals

Express deals are for trains servicing the Canadian line (Toronto – Vancouver). This is THE place to go first when you’re planning a trip across Canada as the fares listed will be at least 50% off. The trick to booking these deals is that you needed to be flexible and able to travel within a couple days in order to take advantage of the deals. I’ve seen sleeper class fares from Toronto to Jasper as low as $480. That is a mind-blowing deal. This is the BEST way to find deals for SLEEPER CLASS FARES!

 

Food

Let’s talk about train food. The food available varies depending on which line and class you’re travelling. Anyone travelling in economy or sleeper class can purchase food in a service car, but the food is a little pricey ($2 for a can of soda, or small bag of chips, $7 for a heated meal). This is standard across all trains. If you’re travelling on The Ocean in sleeper plus your meals are included, and fairly good. The best is the Canadian line which offers gourmet meals cooked by a trained Chef, which is available for sleeper plus passengers (that’s everyone with a sleeper).

My advice? If you’re travelling in economy or sleeper class (Ocean, Montréal to Gaspé, Winnipeg to Churchill), bring non-perishable snacks and some beverages. Here are some ideas:

  • Nuts & granola bars
  • Cured meats
  • Crackers
  • Fruit like apples, oranges, plums, etc (things that keep well)
  • Water, juice, or soda

Basically budget $10 – $15 per day for snacks and food if you plan to bring your own. Cheaper and more filling that way.

Travelling with Pets

VIA Rail has a fairly strict pets policy in that cats, dogs, and small rodents must travel in the baggage car (unless you’re traveling with a guide dog) and have appropriate cages as well. I know that for animal-lovers this will be an atrocious revelation, but for those who have pet allergies is kind of a good one as ventilation on trains is such that smells and dander can carry easily throughout the train.

Best Of The Interwebs

I have toyed with doing a monthly newsletter in the past, but I suck at doing it. I am forever forgetting to do it, and then when crunch time comes, I just feel… ‘ugh‘ about writing the newsletter, so I don’t. Ugh. I’ve stopped trying (Not that I won’t try again in the future, I am sure I will when the time is right), but right now newsletters are not my thing.

There is only one problem. What if I want to share stories I have read and loved online? That is something one would normally put into a newsletter, or a weekly ‘news’ like blog post (which gives me the same ‘ugh‘ feeling as newsletters).

This page is my compromise. It’s not a newsletter. It’s not a weekly ‘news’ blog post. This is a page featuring articles I have read, loved, and want to share. In most cases I will share these on the Savoir Faire Abroad Facebook page, as well as Twitter, but I like the idea of these articles having a permanent home right here on the blog. While most of the articles featured on this page will be travel or food related, there will also be articles that inspire. That make us think, and appreciate life. Culture. History. Human interest. Different ways to use bacon. Nothing on knitting though, sorry.

In keeping with my sporadic nature, I will add article links to this page on a semi-regular basis. And of course, if you have an article you think I should read and share, leave a link in the comments. Sharing is caring! Wow, did I just write that?


January 15, 2015

To Walk The World by Paul Salopek – An award-winning journalist, Paul is on a SEVEN YEAR WALK AROUND THE WORLD. In a digital age where bloggers and travels often rush to see/do/experience the next fabulous thing, Paul is slowing things down. He is sharing his journey via National Geographic, but he is taking time to process. To think before writing. This article is his first in the series. Paul is two years into his seven year journey.
The Lyskanowskis [The Survivors] by Amiee Levitt – This article was shared with me via the Savoir Faire Abroad facebook page.In this article Stanley and Josephine Lyskanowskis talk about their experiences during WWII, and how they found each other in the Polish ‘hood in Chicago. Both are Polish-born Catholics. Stanley speaks of life in the concentration camps; he was arrested while working for the underground. A truly powerful interview.
7 Strange Questions That Help You Find Your Purpose In Life by Mark Manson – For those days when you need a kick in the arse to get your day started. I have this bookmarked and have re-read it a couple times now. A fabulous motivator.

Booking Your Holiday Using Travel Rewards

Winter is by far my favourite time of year to travel, mostly because I have an insatiable need for sunshine and heat, and as a Canadian girl, those are two things that I miss most during the winter months, which can sometimes be six months long. I’m not the only one. Many of you are the same, flocking to southern sunshine destinations as though your life depends on it. I am definitely not one of those people who travel to cold and snowy destinations in winter, unless it is the holiday season and I am going to see family or very close friends.

TD Bank (Toronto-Dominion) recently conducted a survey finding that 80% of Canadians are members of at least one travel rewards program, and may be thinking about booking their winter travel using their points.

When booking travel using points it’s important to think before you book. You have spent months collecting your points, so don’t throw them away. You want to maximize your points and get as much value as you possibly can, and TD Bank has some tips to help you:

Plan Ahead

Planning ahead will save you time and money. According to TD’s survey 70% of Canadians say that earning travel points is one of the best ways to make trips more accessible and affordable.

Traveling can be expensive at times, especially for those who book at the last minute, often missing out seat sales and hotel promotions. Start looking for travel deals at least three to four months before you plan to travel. Join the loyalty programs for airlines you are keen to use and subscribe to their newsletters as this is a great way to know when a hot deal is coming up.

Travel Rewards Credit Card

Having a travel rewards credit card is one of the fastest ways to earn travel points, but there are more benefits and perks than earning points. Most travel rewards credit cards also include travel insurance, concierge services, and airline perks. The key is to find a travel rewards credit card that suits your personal travel style.

I have flown with Air Canada for the last twenty years, and I have been an aeroplane member for the last fifteen. As such I want to maximize my rewards earnings and make sure the credit card I choose has perks that I would actually use – always look for perks you will actually use.

As an example the TD Aeroplane Visa card is probably the travel rewards credit card I would choose as I would earn 2 Aeroplane miles for every $1 I spend on Air Canada (which doen’t include the bonus points I would earn by booking online), and 1 Aeroplane mile for every $1 I spend on all my other purchases (which doesn’t include the points I would also earn by shopping at Sobeys and using my loyalty card). Another perk that I love is that as long as I have a TD Aeroplane Visa card my miles NEVER EXPIRE. I would also have access to 24/7 concierge service, and I still earn miles when using the card in the USA.

Gifting Your Miles

According to TD Bank’s survey, 30% of Canadians share their travel points with family and friends, and consider gifting them during the holiday season. This is a concept I never fully understood until last year when I was trying to convince my youngest brother to come home for Christmas to see my Dad. I work hard to earn my travel points, why on earth would I want to give them away?! Family trumps pretty much everything, and knowing I can use points to help bring family together is quite comforting, especially with my Dad’s health continuing to decline.

Using Points for More than Booking Flights

Believe it or not your travel points can be used for more than flight rewards. Most travel rewards programs will allow you to use your points for more than flights. Think about using points to book a hotel room, a show you really want to see, or a dining experience at a hot restaurant. Use your points to treat yourself, whether you want a little staycation or you want to stretch your travel dollars by using points to offset your hotel or food costs.