Met a Fort McMurray-based couple on a dive boat in Vancouver recently. Childless. In their 40s. They’d come to Vancouver to scuba dive (top-of-the-line scuba gear) and take in a concert (front row seats and backstage passes to meet the band). An extravagance that was quite a common occurrence for them. They worked hard in Alberta. They bought toys and travelled. When the conversation turned to the plummeting Canadian dollar against the USD, he said, “you can’t stop living just because it’s expensive.”
Okay. But, some of us have to cut back and prioritize when costs rise. Some thoughts on travel, my priorities and how I pay to play:
- I rarely travel for work. When I do, it’s generally limited to B.C. Any blog postings you see refer to personal travel. To be clear, neither of my employers sends me on scuba diving trips and never will.
- I work two union jobs. For parts of the year, that means working six days a week.
- I choose to spend money on travelling instead of things. I’ve come to value experiences more than stuff. With a closet full of quality, well made clothes, boots and handbags, I don’t need any more. Once a committed Holt Renfrew shopper, I now buy the odd thing at Costco.
- I limit restaurant meals. I bring lunch to work. I rarely buy booze.
- When I don’t have to drive I walk, run or cycle places. I once ran to a medical appointment at a hospital to avoid paying for parking. The doctor insisted I walk home, though. I ride my bike to Spanish class each Monday night. Even in the pouring rain.
- I rarely see movies or concerts and I’d never pay to meet the band. Unlike the fellow from Fort McMurray, I have no desire to take a selfie with Ace Frehley. I do free things, like ride my bike.
- I get the difference between a ‘need’ and a ‘want’. I do, occasionally, mix them up. Can you say, “Venti non-fat latte”?
- People I’m close with have suffered health problems in recent years. A good reminder we never know how much ‘good health’ time we have left.
- Taxis? Almost never and only when a flight gets in very late at night. I usually take transit to and from Vancouver International Airport.
- I have a credit card that gives me Aeroplan points and I charge just about everything. From Starbucks to car insurance. For Costco purchases, I use a card that gives me WestJet miles. Points add up quickly.
- Until the Canadian dollar rises, I’ll be limiting the amount of travel I do in US dollars. That means cutting back on Mexico and Central America after completing the trips I’ve already booked for later this year. Was considering a month in Costa Rica in 2016 to study Spanish and scuba dive. Probably not going to happen.
- Flying on points to Asia is looking more appealing. Fairly cheap once you get there. The trick with points is to book the flight when you see it. Don’t wait or it will be gone. This is the reason I had to pay for my flight this summer to Kuala Lumpur. And, the reason I’m diving in La Paz, Mexico instead of Roatan, Honduras in October.
- I’ll be doing more local scuba diving and less foreign.
- No more upgrading to business class. An extravagance I can no longer afford. I’m small and don’t need the leg room.
I’ve written about keeping costs down during trips, with visits to supermarkets instead of restaurants, sleeping in airports and buying airline tickets many months in advance. I scored pretty inexpensive airplane seats to Cozumel for my annual trip in December. Booked them in February.
I’ll continue to take trips but not at the rate possible when the Canadian and US dollars were at par or close to par. This is not a hardship. I’m fortunate and grateful for what I have.