Luxury On A Budget

So, its snowing here in Montreal. In November. I know…. shocker, right? It never ceases to amaze me that people somehow forget how to drive every winter, making the first snowfall the busiest time of the year for tow trucks, body shops and insurance adjusters.

For me, the first snowfall of the year has me looking out my window and wondering what coverage is like on my area mountains. Typically I’m disappointed, as there is rarely good skiing before Christmas anywhere near Montreal. So, to assuage my disappointment, I find myself watching ski videos and planning a trip out west.

This year is no exception, and I’m currently looking for ways to manage a trip out west. When you combine airfare (~$700) and lift tickets ($~500/7days), you’re already looking at a $1,200 cash outlay. Not the cheapest trip, considering that I’ve not yet accounted for anywhere to sleep, transportation between Vancouver and Whistler, or budgeted for food.

For me, there are 4 options for accommodations. I can stay with my uncle in Creakside, or if my parents are going, they’ll be staying at Club Intrawest and I’ll just crash with them. Added bonus – Club Intrawest has a bad-ass hot tub and steam room! The other options include renting a hotel room (BIG money there), or staying at a hostel.

I really like the idea of staying in a hostel. The accommodation is cheap, the facilities are generally good (I’m looking at the HI-Hostel as an example, here), and you get to meet a lot of potentially cool people. Everyone is there for the same reason, and I’d have a much better time skiing with a crew than skiing on my own. Hostel rates start at about $35 per night, so for $250-$300 i could really get a good stretch of time in the area.

I’d be flying out on points… if I leave on the 29th of February I’ll miss Air Miles’ “high” season, and save about 800 miles. Still have to pay ~$220 in taxes and fees, but that is way better than paying the full-fare of $700-800. Getting an Edge Card would be the way to go for passes… getting a 5-day pass means its only ~$70/day, as opposed to paying $96 at the gate, and I can get a discounted rate if get extra tickets past the 5 on the card.

Still, its not a cheap vacation…. and I’ve still not factored in transport (bus is about ~$140 round trip), or what I am going to do about food. Still, hostels, airmiles and buses are cheaper than full fare, hotels and rental cars, right?

Oh yeah, when you factor in that I’d like to get a new helmet (hopefully for Christmas) and a helmet cam (either a Contour GPS or a GoPro, thought I’m leaning away from the GoPro due to some fish-eye effects….), and that will set me back between $300 and $400. So, what I save on plane fare, I’ll spend on a camera. Seems like a fair trade, no?

Any time I look at taking a trip I can’t help but look at the cost. Could/should I be spending the money on something else? I’ve not taken any vacation time in over a year, and I’ve not been out west since the 2008-2009 ski season. I owe this to myself, right? Its about time, eh?

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