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Summer travel on a budget

by Mathew Towers

Map on desk

Summer break is almost here and it’s the perfect opportunity to get out of your house and explore. After a year of being stuck in a classroom travelling somewhere new could be the perfect way to reinvigorate your spirit. I know what you might be thinking, “That’s a nice idea Mat, but how am I going to afford a vacation or find the time for it?”

With careful saving and planning summer travel is possible. Whether you’re spending a weekend in Montreal, cliff diving in Tobermory, or backpacking through Europe, IGNITE is here to show you a few cool ways summer travel on a budget can be easy, fun, and attainable.

What kind of trip should I take?

Start by getting an idea of what kind of trip you want to go on. Do you have something specific in mind? Or do you want to go wherever the wind takes you? Either is acceptable but it’s important to have some sort of idea about what experience you want to have.

Sometimes the best trips are born out of spontaneity and/or no itinerary at all. A good friend of mine backpacked southeast Asia for 10 months with only an outgoing plane ticket. I’ve taken similar trips and it is an extremely freeing experience to go wherever you want whenever you want. While this kind of trip isn’t for everybody, the message is that you don’t need to have all the details planned to know you want to travel.

Girl sticking head out of car

Where should I go?

Picking your destination is probably one of the most difficult parts of travelling. I planned to go to Peru in February but I ended up in the Sahara Desert – it just kind of happened.

When deciding where to go let your heart guide you. Whats a place you’ve always wanted to see?What are you drawn to?I learn something new on every trip, so I think that no matter where you end up, you can’t go wrong.
If you only have a little time or money to travel then your best bet is a trip close to home. This means planning a weekend getaway or taking a few days off and exploring somewhere in your own backyard. If you’re unsure of where to go you can check out Roadtrippers.com– it has a handy interactive map of most of North America that lists attractions, points of interest, food, and accommodations.

Girl diving

Popular options in the GTA are trips to Quebec, Montreal, or New York. Cottage/camping trips in northern Ontario are also favourites. My personal recommendation is to check out Tobermory in northern Ontario if you’re into swimming, cliff diving, hiking, camping, or even scuba diving shipwrecks.

If time isn’t a factor then you have a lot more freedom in picking a destination. However, the further you travel from Toronto the more expensive your flight generally is, so you’ll have to keep this in mind when choosing. Europe is a top destination for students on summer break and an excellent first trip. If Europe is your destination then you should start by picking the countries you want to see and plotting a path; you should start with the west coast to make your flight cheaper (Ireland, England, or Portugal). Other popular options include the Caribbean and Mexico, however the best choice is one that actively excites you.

Plane

How do I get there?

For local trips your best option is to drive with a few friends rather than to take an expensive flight. By splitting the cost of gas, you can make your trip much cheaper while enjoying the company of good friends. Often the journey is part of the adventure, making a road-trip more than simple travel. For those travelling solo you can also take a Megabus or a Greyhound, just be sure to book early if you are taking a Megabus.

If you are taking an international trip your first step should be to head over to skyscanner.ca and search for flights. You will have better luck if you search for a whole month at a time as this will allow you to compare prices. To give you an example you are looking at $550-600 for a round trip flight to Ireland/England during the low season.
If you are travelling to Europe you should also pay attention to RyanAir and EasyJet for your inter-Europe travel. RyanAir and Easyjet are two airlines that fly out of smaller airports across Europe and offer the cheapest prices for travelling. You should be mindful of extra charges including baggage and late check-ins. The are many student discounts available for train and bus passes, however unless you are travelling throughEurope flying is still your cheapest option.

cliffs and water

Where should I stay?

When travelling on a budget it is a good idea to stay in hostels wherever possible, and Airbnb’s when they are not. Airbnb is better if you are travelling with more people and can split the cost, while hostels are better for an individual or smaller groups who want to meet new people.
Staying in a hostel might be intimidating, especially if you’re a solo traveller and haven’t stayed in one before, but trust me when I say they’re much nicer than you’d expect.

If you are taking a road trip and hiking then your best bet is to bring a tent with you and go camping for a while. There are many different campsites in Ontario that you can stay at.

Leave nothing but your footprints sign


Travel may seem expensive and difficult but there are many ways to escape the GTA for a little while without breaking the bank. We hope these tips can help you plan your own summer adventure. Be sure to share your own travel tips with other Humber and Guelph-Humber students on our Facebook page!

Graduating this year? Check out our guide on the 6 places you should visit after graduating!