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: Self Pedis and Self haircuts


spend save

DIY: Hair Do or Hair Disaster?

I used to binge watch a show that we have in Canada called “Til Debt do us Part”.  Its a reality tv show featuring  Gail Vaz Oxlade, a financial writer, who is very knowledgable about managing money and helps people that are anything but, to learn how to corral their debt and live within their means.  She also did or still does host a show called “Princess” that is about young women (mostly) that rack up all manner of debt living like princesses, usually by means of working low paying jobs, living for free with their parents, bumming money from anyone that will give it to them and piling up debt on their credit cards.

One of the common themes that I noticed in these shows is that many of the  women really feel that a pedicure is not a want,  rather it is a hard limit need.  Asking them to give up the weekly pedi is akin to asking them to sleep in their car for a week.  The suggestion that pedi’s can be given up is often met with extreme reluctance.

I understand that for some people proper footcare is not negotiable.  I am only addressing the cosmetic aspect of footcare.

Because of my overspending during this past month of March, I am back on a Budget of Austerity.  As a result I am doing my own pedi’s.


My at home DIY Pedi

This cost me nothing, is quite passable, and to be honest I am not a fan of the pedicure anyway. A tube of Gehwol Med Salve for Cracked Skin costs about $20.00 and lasts me about 2 months.  For me it virtually eliminates rough heel skin so going for a pedicure is a waste of money anyway as the pedicurist has nothing there to file and grate away at. All I really need is a cut, file and a polish change.  A polish change would have cost me about $10.00 at a nail salon.  A regular spa pedicure costs about $28.00 in my area.

Here is the URL wherein you can purchase the Gehwol product.

As long as I can bend over to reach my feet I am capable of doing my own pedicures.  The only reason for me to go out for one is laziness and because I don’t feel like doing it myself.  If you feel the same way, don’t want to do it yourself, and want to save some money to have it done professionally, there is always Groupon.  I found 7 Groupons for manicure, pedicures or combo packages in my area.

Here is the URL for Groupon

I did for years cut my own hair, but as soon as was financially possible, I gave that up.

bad hair bird

DIY haircut possible outcome

Unless you are a professional hair dresser or are doing very young childrens hair, I think that it is safe to say that most people should avoid the self haircut route.  A botched pedicure can be safely hidden.  It is much harder to hide a botched haircut.

The verdict
DIY Pedicure:  Good Deal
DIY Haircut:  Bad Deal


Are your grocery store loyalty cards working for you?

I paid $4.90 for this



groc receipt 1

Thank you PC Plus.

We don’t do super couponing on any level in Canada, but we do have other ways to get nearly free groceries.  This is $60.00 worth of groceries.  I only ended up paying the deposit for the recyclables.

There are lots of other things that I can do with the $60.00 that I saved.

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