As anyone who knows me would agree, I love to travel. I’m also ALWAYS looking forward to my next trip or getaway. Unfortunately, trips are not free and I live on a budget, so I try to fit in mini-vacations as often as I can. These little getaways can be as simple as a weekend at the cottage, or a camping weekend. This year, my husband and I decided to splurge on a romantic week-end out of the city as our gift to each other and to ourselves for Christmas.
Of course, when I say we splurged, I mean we stayed at a hotel and ate out for all our meals! True to ourselves we still set a budget and took it upon ourselves to find ways to be frugal when possible! We set ourselves a budget of 500$ for both of us for the week-end, and so the planning began (planning is always half the fun!).
Where should we go?
The first step was deciding where we should go. Seeing as it was only a weekend getaway, we limited our search to places driving distance from home. There was no way we could fly somewhere and stay within budget anyways!
We also had to decide what we wanted to do, it is winter in Quebec after all! Not being avid skiers, we decided against a ski week-end and decided to stick to a more romantic food and spa themed week-end.
We were also looking for somewhere we could drive to but leave the car an explore on foot to avoid paying for extra gas or parking. We do also very much enjoy walking and visiting cities on foot.
After a bit of research, we settled on the Mont-Tremblant Village. It is a quaint pedestrian village with many hotels, great restaurant options and lots of activities including spas, skating, sliding, snow-shoeing, casino, shopping, etc.
Where should we stay?
Once we decided that we were going to Mont-Tremblant, we had to book accommodations. Mont-Tremblant is quite pricy and definitely a splurge since we typically try to avoid staying anywhere for more than 100$/night.
Since we wanted to be able to park and forget the car for the week-end, we decided to limit our search to hotels in the heart of the village instead of looking to rent a cottage or apartment through AirBnB. Looking at various hotels, we found that the weekend right after New Year was the cheapest (people don’t travel right after the holidays?!?). Even with that weekend having the lowest prices, the cheapest (nice looking) hotel room was 262$ after taxes. We decided we’d rather only stay one night and have a nicer room in the heart of town than have to stay further and drive to the village. And so, we booked a night at the Tour des Voyageurs.
What did we do?
One of the benefits of staying in the village is that there are perks that are included with the hotel room. Had we decided to go skiing, we could’ve gotten access to the hills before they open to the public. We also were able to go tubing on the hill at the end of the afternoon. We even had skate rentals included in our package. Even though the room was more expensive, these perks did allow us to enjoy ourselves without needing to pay more once there.
One of our main goals for the weekend was to just relax and enjoy each other’s company. We considered going to a full spa to do the whole Nordic bath circuit, but decided against it in the end because of the price, but mostly because at -25 C we felt we would really enjoy ourselves nor stay long enough to make it worth while. Our hotel had an outdoor hot tub and a sauna which were great to unwind and warm up after walking around the village in the cold weather. Best of all there was no one else so we had the whole place to ourselves!
Looking for some other activities to do inside, away from the cold, we decided to go to the Mont-Tremblant casino. Although most people wouldn’t think of going to the casino as a frugal activity, it actually could be a fun way to spend time without spending too much money as there are often many free offerings, such as drinks or shows, to entice people to stay longer and gamble. We enjoy going to the casino to play roulette or poker from time to time, but we typically limit our spending to 20$ (we stick to the 1$ machines, no tables for us!). We do not play to win big, but we see it in the same way as one would look at going to an arcade. If we can play for 2 hours for 20$, that’s a win in our books!
Once we got to the casino, we were told we could sign up for a loyalty card which give you points as you play. As a bonus sign-up offer, you get 5$ free on your first visit, 10$ on your second visit and 20$ on your third visit. Both of us signed up and got a total of 70$ free! We could use it to gamble or just take the cash. Since we were there to have fun, we used the money to essentially gamble for free! We didn’t win a jackpot but we did have fun!
What did we eat?
Typically, when on vacation, we tend to stay places where we can cook our own meals to save money. As I mentioned earlier, we decided to splurge and eat all our meals at the restaurant without holding back too much.
On the first day, we had lunch at La Forge Resto-Bar & Grill. We were starving after a long drive, we shared a smoked meat sub and a pulled pork sandwich (sharing is great when you can’t make up your mind!). With the meals, drinks, taxes and tip, the meal came out to 50$ for both of us, and we were stuffed!!
For dinner, we decided to go to Le Shack since they were playing the NFL playoffs! (Vacation isn’t an excuse to miss football!) We decided to share a starter to make our meal last for most of the game. We chose chicken wings which were truly one of the best chicken wings I’d had in a while! After we inhaled those delicious wings, we decided to share some nachos since we were still full after our big lunch. The nachos were delicious, just the right topping and cheese to chip ratio! Once again, with drinks and all it seemed like we couldn’t spend more than 50$ for our meals!
Having eaten so much already, we decided on a light breakfast. Since I had a Starbucks gift certificate I had received as a gift, we went for coffee and a breakfast sandwich. Nothing better than a free breakfast!
While the football game was playing the night before, the Montreal Canadiens were also playing the Toronto Maple Leafs and ended up scoring more than 5 goals. Although I don’t follow hockey much, I do know that 5 goals means free chicken wings at La Cage aux Sports before the next game! That made deciding where to have lunch on Sunday easy! Free chicken wings and more playoff football anyone?!? We each got 8 free chicken wings and a main meal and drinks once again for 50$ (and once again we were stuffed!).
How much did it cost us?
With all said and done, how much did our romantic winter getaway cost us?
Our grand total came out to 492$, just under our 500$ budget. On top of that, we did get 70$ free from the casino, 20$ of free chicken wings and 25$ of free breakfast for a total of 115$ of savings, not counting the activities that were free as they were included in our hotel stay!
What are your favorite ways to save money on vacations? What’s your favorite winter getaway? Share your comments below!Share this post!