Doing the math – Cheap Holidays Explained

I know I keep repeating that the Intrepid Traveler and I travel cheap – but I think a deeper explanation is in order.

We try for $3000 Canadian per person for 30 days of holiday. That has to include everything – all travel, all food, all lodging. Compare that to a cruise where a week might run around $1500 plus the airfare to get to the starting point. That results in $2000 Canadian for a week – we are talking $3000 for a month. Big difference.

To tour Japan for 30 days – as is our norm – the budget is $3000 Canadian. That works out to about $100 a day per person. Since airfare took out $900 (the absolute cheapest I could find) – that means that over the 30 days, $30 a day are allocated to just getting us here. Lodging is the next biggest chunk – and varies wildly.

We spent 1 night in Narita in a proper hotel (albeit – truly a small room) for $118 Canadian or $69 per person.

In Tokyo we’re spending $68 a night total, or just $34 each. The rest of our lodging is running at a similar lower cost.

So for just Tokyo – Add $30 in airfare to $34 for lodging and you get $64 already spent per day. That leaves just $36 for food and travel – which of course includes the prorated big trips we’ll need to take to Kyoto, Osaka, Nara and back to Narita, and the smaller subway travel here in Tokyo.

Keeping those costs down is important, but almost impossible. The train fares are the train fares, there’s little real variation. So to really control costs – we must eat cheap.

And thus we generally avoid restaurants, pick carefully in grocery stores, and love free food samples.

Friday, for example, was an expensive day. We wanted to see the Edo-Toyko Museum – (awesome – check another blog) and to just travel there and back was $16. The Museum admission – 1/2 price for seniors – was another $13. Then there was lunch. We walked around the area until we found a small grocery store and bough 2 of their fixed meals – a noodle dish for $2.48 and a pork dish for $3.48. So the total for food, travel and museum for the day was $35 – or $17.50 per person. We’re on Budget – with a grand total of $17 left per person for dinner. That leaves nothing to cover some of those upcoming larger travel costs.

Thank goodness Chris was here to treat us to an awesome dinner at the Japanese version of a tapas restaurant. We’re able to save that $17 towards those days of even higher costs.

I fear that we shall not be able to keep to our budget this trip – at least here in Tokyo. When we leave, I’m hoping that at least the subway costs will go way down. That is what is truly killing us. And while I’ve checked for budget options on the subway – so far I’ve been able to find anything that helps us.

Luckily we’ve been impressed with the quality of those take-out meals from the mini-grocery stores. And folks have been highly recommending that we try the rice balls. Today – that’s going to be lunch.

Signing to go to another museum adventure (or will it be a flea market?) – and why not – the Soup Lady and the Intrepid Traveler

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