Would You Like to See My Vacation Photos? Our Budget Family Trip To Niagara Falls.
I arranged my favourite photos into bundles to sum up our fabulous long weekend. Our journey began on Sunday, it was a two hour drive to the hotel. The day was very wet and cold but we walked down to the Falls and used the Incline Railway to get back up. This was not something we had budgeted (it was $2.50 each) but worth it to save some walking in the rain with a small child. Here are a few more things we did to make the best trip possible on a tight budget. We were honest with the Incline Railway Operator when they asked if our girl was under four years (she is petite). They let her ride one way for free anyway.
Marineland was a long dreamed of trip for me. My hubby hadn't been since the 1980's and I have never been there. The admission prices ranged from $38- $45, children under 4 years old are free. There was the option to top up your day pass with another $5 charge and make your day pass into a seasons pass. This is a great option if you are going to be staying in the area for more than one day or able to plan another trip during the regular operating season (May to October). We didn't top up our day pass but paid to have an up close visit with the Beluga's in Arctic Cove. The money we saved by bringing our own lunch helped offset the $30* cost.
Budget Travel Tips
Plan ahead and shop around- We planned this trip for the last three months by shopping around online for hotel deals and best days to travel. We learned that most travel bundles give the best deals on a Sunday to Thursday schedule and planned accordingly. We booked our dates for half the regular price by staying on a Sunday and Monday night, which was nice since we got to stay two nights and stick to our budget. There were cheaper hotels with better nightly rates, but we chose one with a good view of the Falls, with a central location to the attractions that interested us. We chose an online travel bundle offered directly from the hotel, it gave us more perks (free breakfast buffet, coupons for local restaurants, valet parking, etc). Don't be afraid to call the hotel and ask if they can give a better deal than what is listed online. We got upgraded to a falls view room and our daughter stayed for free after a direct conversation with the the guest services (she was going to be turning six right before our stay so no longer free).
Make a budget and stick to it- After looking at the travel packages available we started to crunch the numbers, adding up our hotel charges, and planning a budget for meals. Hotel rates and meals are money grabbers. Even an all inclusive package may have pop up charges, remember to plan for taxes, gratuities and leave a little extra cash to fall back on. We researched the attractions that interested us and looked for coupons. We had to encourage each other to walk away from items that didn't fit our budget (Ahem, a $25 stuffed moose and $6 coffee on every corner). Don't worry, we weren't completely stingy, our girl got $30 to spend on souvenirs at Marineland and I set aside some money for Outlet Store shopping before we headed home.
Don't be afraid to bring a cooler- Because we have a van, we packed for all weather options so we wouldn't be stuck purchasing rain gear at tourist prices. FYI-The average price of a disposable trash bag style poncho at the falls is $3.00. While browsing the guest shop in our hotel and seeing that a bottle of water was $3.50, I quickly got over my sheepish attitude about bringing a cooler to a nice hotel. I packed our favourite sandwich/wrap fixings, fruit, water, juice, and snacks to take care of three days of lunches. Bringing a case of water saved us a lot of money! This helped with our trip to Marineland on Monday.
Disclosure: This post is not sponsored nor endorsed by any of the brands mentioned within. All opinions remain honest and my own. All prices were listed from my own experience please