I have just returned from another pretty-damn-close-to-free trip, and wanted to let our followers know the details of how I did it. In keeping with the secrets, tips and methods we share in detail in the book, my trip to Montreal cost next-to-nothing!
Yes, I was back in Canada, just one month after Keith and I took a trip to British Columbia (as well as Seattle). Apparently I’ve discovered that the key to combating a Texas summer is to escape to Canada. And well worth it in the winter, too, especially if you love to ski. Whistler in British Columbia and Mont Tremblant near Montreal are both fantastic ski areas.
On this trip to Montreal, from July 19-26, I took my mother, daughter and nephew. We all used frequent flyer miles for the most part; my mom and I both had enough miles to get our own tickets, using only 25K miles and a small fee. I had enough American Airlines miles to also get my nephew a ticket, and my daughter had an airline voucher that she had received last year, when she volunteered to get bumped a few hours to a later flight. It can be worth it, folks!
In Montreal, we stayed a couple of nights at the Marriott Chateau Champlain, which was arranged for me by Tourism Montreal so that I could review it. But the rest of the week, we stayed completely for free at a beautiful condo as part of a home exchange. Sylvain and his wife, Diane, will come stay at my place in Austin in November. The condo was a very cool, modern two bedroom loft in an old converted factory, in the leafy and beautiful Outremont neighborhood.
For a taste of Montreal, check out the fun, catchy video: Montreal in Two Minutes
Montreal was a beautiful, historic, fascinating bi-cultural city full of the famously-friendly Canadians. We visited museums such as the Biodome, Museum of Archeology and History, and an incredibly creative Jean-Paul Gaultier exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts.
The city is continuously having festivals as well – more than one a week on average, all year long. A lot of these festivals and street events offer completely free shows and activities – for example, while we were there the Completement Cirque, African Nights Music Festival and Just For Laughs festival all offered free activities from concerts and street markets to workshops and even trapeze lessons!
We also saved money by using the Entertainment Coupon book, and by cooking a couple of meals in our condo. This is another huge benefit of home exchanges – because you have a home with full kitchen, you can save a lot of money eating out. It was also a terrific experience – we shopped at the famed Marche Jean Talon and cooked from that. Read more about this at my other blog, 30 Days at a Time.
It was a fantastic family vacation, and we all had a great time for not a whole lot more money than we would have spent staying at home.
Bon voyage, and travel well!