Cheapskate Travel Tips

new new cruise with text

Ideas to help you plan a vacation that you think that you can’t afford to take

I need to switch gears for a bit but before I do, this blog is about saving money on travel and I just found a Groupon that allows for the purchase of a night in a Fernie,  BC lodge plus 2 chairlift tickets for  as low as $69.00 per night.  There are 5 other options if you want different days or more than one night.

My last writings have been about how to deal with the immediate needs that arise as a result of income or job loss. While blogging about surviving income loss is a passion, so is travel.  Summer is here, and while I usually don’t do a lot of summer travel because I can live with the summer temperatures here, I do like to get away in the winter.

I once was is in a restaurant where the lady serving us could hardly wait for her shift to end because she was going on vacation.  Her vacation was a trip to a small city an hour and a half drive away, with a 2 night stay at a hotel with a waterslide.  It didn’t seem like much of a vacation to me, more like a getaway, but for her, it was a full on vacation and I shared her excitement of her anticipation of this trip. On the other hand I have friends that both have very good jobs that expressed that they would love to go to Hawaii some day but just couldn’t afford to go.   Eventually they did take their trip and they told me that they paid $600.00 per night for their lodging on Maui for a two week stay.  This answered my wondering about why they felt that they could not afford to go to Hawaii. That is $8400.00 for lodging alone.  When I went to Hawaii a couple of years ago I paid $800.00 for my airfare for 2 and $1100.00 for my hotel for a week.   The point here is that everyone has a different definition of what comprises a vacation and what they need in order to make the trip enjoyable.

Flights:  I do use travel reward points from credit card purchases to pay for the majority of the flights that I take.  I have 2 credit cards that I use extensively.  I put every purchase over $20.00 on a card and then go home and pay off the purchase via online banking.

The banks are quite freely handing out credit cards and will use enticements of 15,000 – 20,000 points or miles to get you to sign up.  This is enough for a shorthaul return trip for example from Calgary to Vancouver .   I use my Alaska Airmiles mastercard that  I have had for over 10 years at Costco and No Frills, and my other Visa for other purchases.  Many cards offer companion air provisions for one flight per year, although these are better used for long haul flights as the cost of the ticket may be as high as $150.00 plus taxes which is no deal on a short haul flight. Alaska Air offers good priced flights for US travel, but travel usually routes through Seattle unless the flight is booked through partner airline.  When flying to the US I find that the taxes are lower if I fly out of Canada on a US carrier as opposed to on a domestic carrier.

These websites offer some insight into how Canadian travel rewards cards stack up:

Cross border travel:  We don’t usually consider this to be an option in Alberta is not particularly if you live in Northern Alberta.  If, however you live in Southern Alberta,  and if you don’t mind driving to Great Falls Montana,  Allegiant Air offers very inexpensive flights from Great Falls to Las Vegas and to Phoenix.  It is a  5  hour drive from Calgary to Great Falls.

As an example I made this price comparison:

Dates I checked are for a hypothetical return trip to Phoenix, Arizona for Nov 6-10, 2016, Prices in Canadian Dollars for 4 adult travellers

Allegiant Air Great Falls to Phoenix return:    C$1102.48 or C$275.62/person
Westjet  Calgary to Phoenix return:  C$1704. 16  or C$426.04/person

Car Rentals: I checked Enterprise to see how much it would cost to rent an economy carin Phoenix  for these same dates and was quoted a US $385.89 for a Toyota Yaris or similar.  A check of came back with a price of US $224.16 for the same vehicle.  Check with your credit card and your auto insurer to see if you need to purchase the rental car company’s insurance.  Often your own insurance will render the additional purchase of a insurance as redundant and unnecessary. It is also usually cheaper to rent from offsite from the airport.  You may have to take a cab or public transit to get to the office, but it may be worth it to save on the daily rental fee.

Food: If you are going on a trip and want to go to some nice places for dinner,  go to the Groupon website for the city that you are visiting.  You often can find some very nice restaurants wherein you can get 2 dinners for the price of 1. Part of the beauty of this is that you have already paid for the meal before you even get to the restaurant.  We did this a couple of years a go in Miami and enjoyed several meals in very popular ocean front restaurants.

Hotels and lodging:  Companies such Homestay, VRBO and AirBnB have really opened up alternatives to the conventional hotel stay. I love to stay at a nice hotel where there are all kinds of amenities and daily maid service, but these other options are ideal for longer stays or stays wherein several people are staying together in one place.  My hotel budget can usually be served well by and if I am going to pay for hotels I may as well stay somewhere that will reward me with a credit toward a free nights stay after I have stayed 10 times.  They have a good choice of hotels that will suit most budgets.

Given that I am a cheapskate and that I love to travel, I would rather find as many ways as I can to travel often by minimizing the costs as much as I can.   Rewards cards let me fly for nearly free a couple of times a year. It means forgoing extravagance and staying in 2-3 star hotels, and sometimes driving a Yaris but it gets me away a couple of times a year.

Free Appetizers at Popular Restaurants

Loyalty programs = Free Appetizers

restaurant with text


In a tight economy, restaurants want your business. If you are going out to dinner and want to add a free appetizer to your meal here are links to the websites of  10 Canadian restaurants where you can get a free coupon for an appetizer and other free goodies just for signing up for their loyalty program.   I read that some people have been able  print off and use these coupons more than once.  I have an email account that I use for this purpose so that I can keep free offer in an inbox separate from my main e-mail address.

Montanas Appetizer and free birthday dinner


Red Lobster (Fresh Catch club), appetizers

Swiss Chalet, Rotisserie Mail   also you can redeem points from your Scene card

Boston Pizza , Free appetizer for signing up, Free dessert on your birthday Free individual two-topping pizza for your first anniversary

White Spot Restaurant,   a coupon for $5 off your next dinner purchase just for signing up.

Olive Garden, Free appetizer:

The Pickle Barrel

Chili’s: Chilis’ works on a point system, you get 60 points just for signing up, this is enough for a free item from the menu, a free dessert on your birthday and more.

East Side Marios:  Free appetizer when you sign up for their newsletter

If you live in the U.S. there are probably even more options available.  Here is a link that I found that shows 400 places to get free meals on your birthday.

Bon Appetit







Dollar Store Deals

Name Brand or Dollar Store Brand
Facial Cleansing towellettes

We all have things that we consider to be “essentials”.   This is a price comparison of facial towellettes. Arguably, washing your face can accomplished with a facecloth and soap, but many of us have become reliant on pre-packaged towelettes purchased at the drugstore.  They are quick and handy to use  The usual supply is a one month package of about 30 of these wipes. There are many varieties available, mostly offered by well know cosmetic makers and they cost about $8.00 -$13.00 per package.

olay montage

Available at Walmart Olay Regenerist $12.56 for 30 wipes

I have not tried these.  They sell for $12.56 for 30 towellettes.

ks photoshopped

Kirkland Signature $15.99 for 150 wipes

These are great.  There are 5 individual packages in the box for $15.99.  They come from Costco  and they are very good product.  A box of these costs $15.99 and there are 5 packages in the box, for a total of 150 towelettes.  All in all it is a good deal and a good product – if you have $15.99 to spend.

good facewipes

Purchased at Dollarama  for $1.25 for 25 wipes

If you don’t have $15.99 to spend on a bulk purchase the facial cleansing towelettes above $1.25 for a package of 25 and are available at Dollarama. Although they are not as luxurious as the Kirkland,  they are a relatively decent alternative.


Purchased at a Dollar Store for $1.25 for 30 wipes

The ones pictured above are like sandpaper.  I purchased them at a different Dollar store than the wipes pictured above but they are not the same quality.  I would probably not use them.

The Dollar store, often overlooked, can become one of your new best friends when you are on a tight budget or practicing frugality.   The Kirkland Signature at $15.99 for 150 towellettes  are a good bulk purchase but if you are short on cash or on a tight budget there is a decent product available for $1.25.

Deal or No Deal: Shoes that look like Toms

spend save

I love Toms shoes.  I have several pairs, starting with the first pair that I bought while I was on vacation in the States.  I paid US $60.00 for them.  I find the price to be similar here in Canada.    They are comfortable, durable and they make my feet look smaller than they are, although I own both of the pairs of shoes below and they both fit even though one pair looks so much smaller than the other.  Not sure about that.  Here are a couple of pairs of shoes that I own:

Toms 2

Real Toms and Not Real Toms

Here is a pic of another pair of Not Real Toms

GT Toms

Giant Tiger Not Real Toms

The Real Toms pictured on the left hand side of the top pic cost US $60.00.
The Not Real Toms on the right hand side of the top pic cost C $2.99 and were purchased in a very generic clothing shop in a mall.
The Not Real Toms on the bottom pic can be purchased at Giant Tiger for C $10.00

While I am willing to bet that the Real Toms are probably better quality, if I blow through the others I am not going to be overly heartbroken about it, because I spent next to nothing on them.

Final Verdict:  Good Deal



Tuesday is the New Friday

Dinner and a movie Date Night for $30

If you generally have come to think to Friday or Saturday night being the appropriate night for date night, just because that seems like the mainstream days to do that sort of thing, it might be good to re-evaluate your choice of nights to participate in those activities.  Tuesday is considered to be a slow day, so businesses in the hospitality industry often offer reduced prices on this day.

movie theater

Many move theaters offer reduced general admission on Tuesdays.  If you check you may find that you have a 2nd run movie cinema in your local area.  This is a movie theater that shows movies that have been pulled from the main stream theaters in order to make room for the new movies.   We have a 2nd run cinema in my area that charges an admission price of $5.00 per person, all movies, all days of the week.


On Tuesdays, (actually usually from Sunday through Tuesday), many of the Italian restaurants in my area reduce their regular pasta dish prices to as low as $8.99.

Place Setting

So, a Tuesday night date night could look like this:

Pasta  dinner:  2 x $8.99 = $17.98.
2 movies at a second run cinema @ 5.00 per person = 10.00.

Total cost $28.98.









What is a HighEndCheapskate


lady with drinks

A HighEndCheapskate is someone that recognizes the fluidity of the economy and has learned how to define and meet their needs and wants under a wide variety of financial circumstances. A lot of people consider themselves to be thrifty, money conscious, and deal savvy by nature.  But there are also a lot of people who have never really thought much about it.  They spend as they please, seldom looking for cheaper alternatives until for whatever reason they have to.  Then, with no tools at their disposal, they are left wondering how to fill their needs and wants on perhaps a drastically reduced budget.

Despite the good advice that while you may starve as your are working your way through College, you are working to secure your financial future. Life does not necessarily heed that advise, and throws financial curveballs at you from time to time.  These curveballs that create negative income change may be planned or unplanned, such as a termination of employment, a maternity leave, retirement, or just a desire to work less without rendering your standard of living unrecognizable.

Here is an example of the difference between a tightwad,  Average Joe and a HighEndcheapskate. These are all people that have different concepts as to what constitutes saving money.  Suppose you take a vacation.   Its time for dinner.  The tightwad may not even be there.  He may be too cheap to take the trip at all, so he is at home.  If he is there, is there and he and his party hit up a fast food burger joint.



Average Joe is the guy at the beach front patio restaurant paying full price for his meal.   The HighEndCheapskate is the guy at the table next to Average Joe.  He is enjoying the same ambience and maybe even the same meal, but at half the cost because he remembered to purchase his groupon for the restaurant before he departed for his trip.  Average Joes Bill is $100.00, HighEndCheapskates bill is $50.00.


HighEndCheapskate is about having the mindset and tools to get the best bang for the buck. It is about creating a lifestyle that combines financial thrift with savvy in order to get what you need or want in good or challenging financial circumstances.  Its a mindset of achieving wants and needs and the means of obtaining them by utilizing tools such as prioritizing, resisting impulse buying, researching options, and sometimes making compromise. It is about refining your spending habits to get you through good times and bad. It is the ability to deal with anticipation of income reduction and creating and navigating these situations in order to not just survive financially, but to meet the challenges and to thrive is a financial crisis and thereafter.

Bang for the buck, creating new expections and a new mindset in order to fulfill your needs and wants is what being a HighEndCheapskate is all about.   It is a combination of being thrifty, frugal and debt free, (0r working toward it),  and having and doing as much as you can while working with what you have to work with.  Being cheap for the sake of being cheap is like having a method without any madness at the end of it.  There are reasons to be frugal, such as:

1.Survival Mode:  Survival mode is about meeting immediate needs and moving forward after income loss or reduction. People that have suffered income loss that are trying just to get by and meet basic needs and dealing with the fact that it is difficult to meet these needs.  There are wants too.  Just because you are flat broke doesn’t mean that you don’t have wants.  It requires creating and adhering to a basic and tight budget, a budget of Austerity.

2.Ongoing Cheapskate:  People that are a step past Survival Mode.  There is enough income coming in to get by, but there is an ongoing need to acquire needs and wants creatively.  There is more flexibility in the budget.  Example:  Date night of dinner and a movie on Cheap Tuesdays.

3.Cheapskate Splurge:  The Budget of Austerity can be relaxed a bit in order to accommodate the desired purchase.  Example: not booking a flight with points and paying cash because you found a great deal on flight that does not involve a 9 hour layover.

The idea behind HighEndCheapskate is to become competent to handle your finances by recognizing the fluidity of the economy and being able to transition from one mode to another in order to survive and thrive through the tough times and the good times.