North America Travel Budget Bolt Bus via Flickr GoToVan

North America Travel Budget #10

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Months on the road: Ten
Countries visited: Canada and Seattle (budget in CAD to keep it simple)
Monthly Travel Round Up: North America Travel Budget #10
Podcasts / Books: Gemma – Serial Season 2 // Craig: A Better World by Marcus Sakey
Best film / TV: Joy (I love Jennifer Lawrence!)
Music: Gem – Chromeo, Old 45s  // Craig – Woolfy, 17

Accommodation

We ended the year in the yellow sublet on Main Street in Vancouver which was a really nice place to spend our first Christmas together (after three years and an engagement!) Unfortunately, we had a horrendous night’s sleep in Seattle, because we stupidly booked a dorm room (which was freaking $35 USD each!!) The problem was that we were roomed with an overweight older man who snored so hard the frames of the bunk beds were shaking. At midnight we gave up and the hostel re-roomed us. Not the best start to our travels, however, Seattle redeemed itself with an overnight stay at a spa! We had a suite the size of our old house and it had a TV with Netflix. We also had full use of the spa after customers left so that meant a morning hot tub dip, not sorry!

Total: $1340 / £670

North America Travel Budget Little Red Day Spa Seattle

Food

There was a grand plan to visit all of the restaurants we had our eye on in Vancouver but we failed! Christmas opening times got in the way. We had turkey and all the trimmings, knocked up by Craig, on Christmas Day and lasagne on New Year’s Day; I did miss my mum’s stovies (with sausages!) Stovies is a Scottish meal which consists of corned beef (or proper meat if you are posh!) and mashed potato. You mix both together and it’s best served with ketchup (OK, brown sauce for some). The addition of sausage is a heated debate in Scotland! Scots usually eat Stovies on Hogmanay (especially at ceilidhs, which is Scottish country dancing). The best food experience we’ve had this month has been with the Pike Place Food Tour by Savour Seattle. Our guide, Warren, served us taster sessions at over eight of the stalls at Pike Place Market – cheese, yoghurt, cherries, and chowder!

Total: $1084 / £543

 

North America Travel Budget Pike Place Market Food Tour Savor Seattle Collage

Transport

I was super nervous about crossing the border from Canada to America. Those TV programmes really do put the fear in you. We used Bolt Bus which costs $53.50 USD (for two) then an additional $3 USD as the date on the ticket emailed was the 1st of Jan, we wanted the 2nd. The journey took 50 minutes to the border then about 30 minutes to get through border control. To add to my nerves, I had piled food from the apartment into a bag to try and save money, not realising that there is a strict policy on fresh food, dairy, nuts and seeds etc. There was no need for stress! It was a smooth transition with friendly assistants. We were asked lots of questions about our trip, our engagement, David Tennant and John Barrowman. The tangerines were confiscated but we were allowed to keep our Nerds sweets which were a gift from The McMillan’s – my Scottish friend Gemma T’s family! They also bought us a Canadian flag, glasses, bangles, lanyards, and Canadian snacks – a friendly package to send us off to the States! Border control were charged $6 per person for the processing of a visitor’s card (we already had our ESTA visa waivers) however the card machine wasn’t working so we got it for free. A great (re) introduction to America and the year 2016! The drive was lovely – blue skies, snow capped mountains lurking behind lots of trees. You know how obsessed I am with bus systems and Seattle’s impressed me as much as Vancouver. For $2.50 (off peak) you could ride the bus for two hours, and the drivers are pretty lenient on that timeframe according to locals. Come on Scotland, wake up – reduce your prices and improve access!

Total: $206 / £103

North America Travel Budget Canadian Flag

Trips

Our good Scottish friends Karen and Craig, drove us to Whistler to ski on some of the world’s best slopes! My friend, Cat, is currently living there so she met us. This gave Craig the chance to ski at pace whilst Cat babysat me! I am getting pretty good considering it was my second time. Skiing at Whistler was incredible. We stayed at the hostel, which you do need to drive to as it’s not in Whistler village. Seattle was a whirlwind trip of two nights. The days were packed with a food tour of Pike Place Market, a massage at the Little Red Day Spa, dinner with fellow travel blogger (!), and then staring in awe of the Jimi Hendrix exhibition at the EMP Museum. I loved the top floor because you are allowed to play instruments, I can see myself as a drummer.

North America Travel Budget EMP Museum Seattle

Total: $410 / 205

Socialising

Lots of goodbyes and new beginnings! We said goodbye to Maddy and Zander over drinks on Main Street (General Public Bar, great pub!) We said see you later to the British Canadians, Lee and Francesca, at a Boxing Day party which we dragged my friend Danika along to. Craig’s friend, Ev, partied with us at Nero (the night of the earthquake we missed!) It wasn’t all sad partings of way, however, in Seattle we made new friends in fellow travel bloggers Val, Laura, Nick, and Tracie!

Total: $535 / £267

North America Travel Budget Socialising
Miscellaneous / Luxuries

As the year came to a close we splurged on a haircut each (!), some new threads (no room in our backpacks though), and Christmas gifts of course! Craig and I do a £20 challenge each year to keep spends reasonable and because it’s fun! You have actually think about what you are getting each other as opposed to just buying a designer watch.

I got Craig a Parallel 49 ‘Gypsy Tears’ t-shirt, his favourite craft beer in Vancouver, and a pizza made from jelly sweets (candy) – proceeds went to an aids charity. Craig cheated and combined my birthday (January 1st) with Christmas and bought us tickets to see Nero at the Commodore Ballroom. I was thrilled about this as I’d heard that the venue was outstanding. He also spent a day searching for a VNCVR hat for me after I showed him a picture from Instagram.

Poor guy didn’t realise it was online purchase only! For my birthday, he bought me new earphones, which have a band, perfect for running. No more fighting with the bud trying to escape my ear using sweat as the getaway car! Another costly experience was my visit to the doctor ($100 / £50), who then referred me to a physiotherapist ($170 / £85). I’m still not 100% but have exercises to follow that should help. For the dull diagnosis see here.

Total: $742 / £371

North America Travel Budget Christmas

Partners

  • Savour Seattle
  • Little Red Day Spa
  • Visit Seattle

Next stop – Portland: the land of craft beer, bikes, and food carts. We’re hooking up with a couple we met in Lima, Peru (Ky and Nate) and staying with Craig’s family for a couple of nights. After four nights in Portland we fly to Florida to meet Mickey in Orlando! Magical.

Total: $4327 / £2163.50
Weekly: $1075 / £537.50
Daily: $154 / £77

What are you saving for this year?

 

 Feature Image via GoToVan on Flickr. CC 2.0 

Gemma and Craig are full-time workers with a life-long travel habit. Flirting with 30 and let loose on the world! Gemma writes, Craig looks good in the photos.

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