Budget Travel: How to Save Money on Your Next Family Vacation

From airfare and accommodations to food and activities, the cost of travel has skyrocketed, mostly thanks to rising inflation, fuel prices, and consumer demand. And many Canadian households are feeling the pinch: According to a recent Ipsos poll, six in ten Canadians (62%) are scaling back their vacation plans due to inflation, and 1 in 4 say there is no way they can afford a summer vacation. Yikes!

Although cheap family vacations may seem impossible these days, there are ways to save on travel and plan the #BestVacayEver. In this article, we provide practical tips on how to take a family vacation on a budget.

How much does the average family vacation cost?

There’s no exact number on how much the average family vacation might cost in Canada. However, here are some estimates from Champion Traveler for various destinations: 

  • For travel in Canada: The average price of a seven-day trip in Canada is $2,081 for a family of four.
  • For travel to the U.S.: The average price of a seven-day trip to the United States is $3,652 for a family of four.
  • For travel to Europe: The average price of a seven-day trip to Western Europe is $4,576 for a family of four and $2,091 for Eastern Europe.
  • For travel to Asia: The average price of a seven-day trip to Asia is$6,168 for a family of four.
  • For travel to the Caribbean: The average price of a seven-day trip to Caribbean Coast is $4,401 for a family of four.

Note that the above figures are listed in United States dollars. Prices may vary—so this as a rough guide for trip planning purposes.

10 Tips to save money on your next family vacation

Whether you’re escaping the winter or planning to make memories during the summer break, here are 10 tips to save money on your next family getaway:

1. Make a vacation budget

A budget is a financial plan that outlines what you expect to spend on the trip, as well as how much to save up to afford it. You can also use it to track your expenses while on vacation to avoid overspending. Here are a few tips to get started:

  • Pinpoint your spending priorities: Get the kids involved! Ask for their two cents on where to save and splurge—it engages them in trip planning and helps teach the value of a dollar.
  • Add up all possible trip expenses: How much will each category or item cost? Include the big things—accommodations, food, transportation, attractions—but don’t forget about small, unexpected costs that inevitably crop up.
  • Build a budget: Tally up the projected costs and finalize it on paper or spreadsheet. You may even want to use an app like TravelSpend, Trabee, or TripCoin.
  • Make a savings plan: Once you have the grand total,calculate how much to you need save. Our free budget savings calculator can help kids and teens crunch the numbers and see how long it will take to save for a goal. One of the best ways to save for vacation is to set up regular, automated deposits into a “vacation fund.”

Read more: How to help kids and teens set goals.

2. Plan ahead

A spur-of-the-moment trip may be tempting, but research suggests that a little strategic planning can pay off:

  • Flights within Canada: According to Expedia’s recent data, booking domestic flights roughly two months before departure could save 40 per cent on average. However, try not to book too early; domestic airfares are reportedly pricier around four to five months before departure.
  • Flights outside of Canada: Booking international flights roughly three months before departure could save 10 per cent on average compared to booking two months or less.
  • Hotels: It (mostly) pays to be early! Hotels often offer discounts for early bookings, but luxury hotels are on average 22 per cent cheaper when booked 15 days before arrival.

3. Choose a cheaper destination

Choosing a cheaper or off-the-beaten path destination can offer cheap vacations for families—and doesn’t necessarily mean compromising on fun! For instance, Disneyland or a Caribbean holiday may not be in the cards for this year, but kids could have a blast at The Strong National Museum of Play in upstate New York or on the beautiful beaches of Prince Edward Island. It can also mean a more authentic, relaxing experience—one that doesn’t involve crowds, overpriced accommodations, and long line-ups for attractions.

4. Pick an “alternative airport”

In the wake of the global pandemic, many airports are raising their fees to recoup lost revenue—which leads to pricier flights. Ugh.

One way to avoid or minimize these charges is to choose smaller, regional airports that charge lower passenger fees. Not only can this save money but there are other perks, such as less air traffic, shorter wait times, cheaper parking, better customer service, and upgraded amenities.

However, make sure to research any additional “phantom” costs—like transportation to the city centre or overnight accommodations if the flight schedule is wonky. These costs could tack on a few hundred bucks (or more!) to your trip budget. Crunch the numbers to see if flying from an “alt airport” truly makes financial sense.

5.  Be flexible with travel dates 

Timing is everything! Exercising a little flexibility in your travel dates could lead to sweet savings.

  • Travel during the “shoulder season”: The time between the high season and the off-season brings fewer tourists, optimal weather, thinner crowds, and lower prices. The shoulder season varies by destination, so do your homework before booking.
  • Go in the “off-season”: Travelling during the “dead” time of year—when few tourists visit—yields rock-bottom prices. Again, the off-season varies by destination, so know before you go.
  • Pick a cheaper day to fly: For domestic flights, some experts swear that departing on a Friday instead of the start of the week (Sunday or Monday) could save you as much as 20 per cent. For international trips, flying out on a Thursday instead of Sunday or Monday could save you around 5 per cent.

6. Take a road trip

With the flight prices ballooning, a road trip can offer a more affordable option for families, especially if you’re using your vehicle. Plus, a road adventure allows you to take in stunning scenery, stop at cool attractions, and explore new towns. The flexibility to go at your own pace or reroute your plans is also a real sanity-saver when travelling with kids.

7. Save on accommodation

Your crash pad is likely one of the biggest trip expenses, but there are ways to save on accommodation without forsaking comfort and convenience:

  • Stay in a hostel: This type of budget-friendly lodging offers shared accommodation, usually in dormitory-style rooms with multiple beds. Most have communal kitchens and some even offer private rooms with ensuite bathrooms. Another bonus: Hostels often have prime locations, making it convenient for getting around. Travel tip: Hostelling International is a reputable association that boasts 3,000 hostels in 59 countries.
  • Swap houses: If you’re cool with trading spaces with another traveller, there are a plethora of online platforms, like HomeExchange.com, ThirdHome.com, LoveHomeSwap.com, HomeLink.com, that allow people to exchange homes, often for free. That way, everyone saves money on accommodation while getting a chance to live like a local. Winning!
  • Trade your labour: If you’re down to work on vacation, WOOFing—or Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms— gives families free room and board in exchange for lending a helping hand on the farm. Plus, you’ll get a chance to learn about growing food sustainably—an awesome lesson for the youngsters.
  • Rent a vacation property: Short-term home rentals offer more space and amenities (kitchen, washing machine/dryer, parking, WiFi, etc.) than hotels, making them a convenient and cash-saving option for families.

8. Cash in on free attractions

Many cities and towns have museums, parks, galleries, and historical sites that offer free admission. Here are a few tips for “finding the free” in your destination:

  • Visit the tourist information centre: Get the scoop on free things to do in the area from expert tourism staff. Also, ask about coupons for local restaurants and attractions.
  • Use an app/website: Several travel apps and websites, such as TripAdvisor, FreeTour, and Free Tours by Foot, can help pinpoint the freebies in your destination.
  • Go on “free admission” days: Some attractions offer free or discounted admission on certain days or times.

9. Eat like a local

Dining out three times a day can devour your travel budget. Instead, opt to eat like a local and save money. Here are some tips:

  • Eat at local markets: Ask locals about the best farmers’ markets, fruit stands, fish markets, and more. They’re usually a treasure trove of cheap and delicious meals, snacks, and groceries.
  • Avoid the tourist traps that overcharge diners: Use websites and apps, like Yelp and TripAdvisor, to find highly-rated eateries that locals love. Read reviews from people who live in the area to find budget-friendly dining options.
  • Go grocery shopping: Supermarkets can give a glimpse into local food culture. Try some new local flavours and stock up on snacks to keep the family fueled throughout your trip.
  • Cook your own meals if you have access to a kitchen: It saves money and lets you experiment with new local flavours.
  • Seek out street food and food trucks for gourmet eats and treats on the go. It’s a cheap and convenient option for busy sightseeing days.

10. Use travel points

Many credit cards and loyalty programs offer travel rewards that can be redeemed for flights, hotels, car rentals, and more. Some also provide exclusive deals and cost-saving perks, such as free hotel upgrades, travel insurance, or free checked luggage. If you spend strategically and pay your credit card off, you’ll rack up the points pronto!

The last word

Taking a family vacation doesn’t have to break the bank. With a little creative thinking, flexibility, and planning, you can still enjoy a fun-filled trip. Just remember: the best family vacation is not necessarily the most expensive one— it’s the one that brings you closer together and creates lasting memories.

Download Mydoh and help build the foundation of financial literacy for your kids and teenagers.

How to Budget for a Family Pet in Canada

Are your pet-obsessed kids constantly asking “how much is a dog?” or “how much is a puppy?” You’re not alone. Last year, more than half of Canadian households reported owning at least one dog or cat. Canadian families love their pet members, and while the joy they bring may be priceless, being a pet parent does come with a price tag.

Pets cost money upfront, even when they are rescued or adopted, and their ongoing needs go beyond ear scratches and belly rubs. They also need love and care in the form of nutritious food, regular grooming, veterinary bills, and more. According to Rover.com, pet costs have increased by 12 per cent since 2022.

Luckily, there are ways the entire family can come together to help cut down the costs of owning a pet. And, being aware of cat and dog prices and other potential pet costs can help you save now and avoid surprises later on. Here’s how to budget for your pet.

How much does a dog cost in Canada?

The 2022 Cost of Care report by the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association (OMVA) shows that it can cost $5,000 for the first year of getting a puppy. Some of these expenses for a dog include:

  • Total veterinarian bills: Around $2,000 for the first year with a puppy and $1,489 a year after
  • Veterinary exams with vaccines: $548
  • Neuter/spay $871/$958
  • Microchip dog cost: $115
  • Deworming medication: $77
  • Pet food: $1,017
  • Collar and leash: $50
  • Bed: $70
  • Crate: $160
  • Obedience classes: $500

How much does a puppy cost compared to an adult dog? The report also found that the adult dog price is a little more affordable at $3,999 a year, with some of those costs including:

  • Dental cleaning: $743
  • Veterinary wellness profile and bloodwork: $151

Remember, there can also be surprise costs, like potty training pads and stain odor removers. Dogs also need to be groomed regularly—roughly every four to six weeks. The cost of a standard bath and brush will cost around $45.      

How much does a cat cost in Canada?

Owning a kitten or a cat has similar upfront and annual costs, although cats are on average a bit more affordable, costing between $3,378 to $3,538 for a kitten and $2,796 a year for an adult cat.

Some common kitten costs include:

  • Total veterinarian bills: $1,700 for the first year
  • Veterinary exams with vaccines: $548
  • Spay/neuter: $673/$833
  • Microchip: $115
  • Deworming medication: $77
  • Pet food: $552
  • Collar: $20
  • Bed: $50
  • Scratch post: $40
  • Litter and litter box: $275
  • Licence: $15

There are other continuing annual costs for adult cats, including:

  • Dental cleaning: $743
  • Vet bills: $1,287
  • Veterinary wellness profile and bloodwork: $151
  • Litter: $215

How much does a small animal cost in Canada?

According to the Chartered Professional Accountants Canada (CPA), small pets like rabbits, fish and birds also have costs that can add up each year. For example:

  • Rabbits can cost $3 a day (which is over $1,000 a year).
  • For fish, like the popular Betta fish pet, upfront costs like aquarium tanks and filtration can run $200, and food costs can be up to $600 a year.
  • Hamsters and gerbils can need $215 in supplies upfront, then $180 a year to cover the cost of litter, food, and bedding inside the cage.
  • Birds can cost $350 upfront, then $220 each year in food and supplies after.

9 ways to save money on your family pet

Luckily, with some proactive planning and creativity, there are ways your family can save money and on the costs of owning a pet.

1.    Adopt a pet

Buying a pet from a breeder usually costs more, but adopting a pet from a reputable shelter, or rescuing one from a family that can no longer care for them, is a way to save money. Plus, your pet may already have vaccines or be spayed or neutered. Organizations like local SPCA and Humane Societies can be found across Canadian provinces, and regularly feature their dogs, cats and other animals for adoption on their websites. Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind also has a program that allows you to adopt a dog that is in need of a “career change” and looking for a new forever home.

2. Buy food in bulk

Just as there can be benefits to buying human goods in bulk, buying pet food in bulk can also help you cut down on costs. Buying in bulk means less packaging, less gas to get to and from the store, or fewer delivery fees. Using a measuring cup to dish out food can help you ration food and know how much your pet is eating.

 3. Maintain health care

Pets, like people, need preventative care to stay healthy. Investing in vaccinations and tick medications could spare you from more expensive vet bills down the line. The same goes for their teeth. Dental check-ups, teeth brushing and dental sticks can help keep your pet’s teeth in good health and avoid big bills later.

4. Compare cost pet insurance

Pet insurance in Canada can cost between $70 to $105 a month, but prices may be less or more expensive depending on your  insurance provider, your plan coverage, the deductible you choose, and your pet’s health. Insurance can help cover costs from accidents (like if they get hit by a car), illness, and dental. Some offer flat fees for preventative care like vaccines, and even cover services like acupuncture. Pet insurance can also help cover the costs of ongoing medical needs, like medications and exams, which can add up quickly. Shop around and compare pet insurance in Canada, to find the cheapest pet insurance plan that work for you.

5. Save money on expensive toys and accessories

Does your dog really need a wardrobe full of sweaters or the latest designer dog harness? Unless looking good is part of your pup’s brand, you can find pet toys and accessories within your budget at local pet or department stores and online. Or, if your pet really must have the latest knit cardigan, keep an eye out for sales.

6. Make your own pet toys and accessories

Making your own toys and accessories is not just a great way to save, it can be a fun family activity. There are plenty of online tutorials and videos that can help crafty kids make their own cat toys, tug and chew toys, cat towers, and even knit tiny puppy sweaters. Not only does this save money, but it also helps save the environment.

7. Save on pet sitting and walking 

The cost of caring for pets when you’re at work or out of town can add up quickly. According to Bark.com, hiring a dog walker can cost between $10-$35 per walk and boarding pets at kennels can be costly. See if you can buddy up with other dog owners and take turns walking your dogs. Have teens check in on your cat or rabbit while you’re on vacation or pay them to walk your dog instead of more expensive doggy day care.

8. Visit dog parks

Instead of paying for a dog walker to help your pup get out its energy, take your dog to the local dog park for a run. Bring the kids and enjoy some outdoor time together. This can also be a great way for you and your family to meet your neighbours, and can help your pooch make friends, too.

9. Cut down on treats

Cutting down on how many treats you give your pet doesn’t need to mean fewer rewards or love for them. Rover.com suggests training your pets with kibble instead. They’ll still get all of the joy of attention for a job well done, and you’ll get to save.

The benefits of owning a family pet

There’s many benefits to owning a family pet—especially for kids and teens. The advantages of pet ownership include:

  • Learning responsibility
  • Teaching kids to respect living things
  • Receiving love, comfort, and affection

Engaging the entire family in finding ways to budget and care for your furry family member can be a great way to raise financially-savvy kids, and spend time together. While life with pets is full of surprises, preparing for some of the common costs can help you prepare for them.

Download Mydoh and help build the foundation of financial literacy for your kids and teenagers.

What is the Pink Tax? A Guide for Teens

Whether you have heard of the pink tax before or not, it is very likely it’s already had an impact on your life. The pink tax is an unfair markup women and girls pay on common goods.

Now that you’re starting to spend and save your own hard-earned money, it’s important to learn about how the pink tax could impact your purchasing decisions. In this article, we explore what the pink tax is, how it affects women and girls, and what can be done about it.

What is the pink tax?

It may have tax in the name, but it’s not an actual tax. The pink tax is when products marketed to girls and women cost more than similar products marketed to boys and men. It may also be called gender discrimination or gender-pricing. This means that women are paying more for items like clothing, toys, and personal care products than men are.

The name is based on the colour pink, which is often associated with femininity and used to sell products to women. Pink shouldn’t be considered strictly a girly colour, but we’ve been subject to pink for girls and blue for boys in stores and commercials for decades. While dismantling gender norms is the way of the future, many companies continue to douse products in pink or purple to appeal to girls. The same product could then cost more when it’s in pink than it will in blue because one is being marketed for girls and the other for boys. 

The pink tax by the numbers:

  • Products marketed to women cost 7 per cent more than similar products marketed to men*
  • Women’s shirts cost 15 per cent more compared to the average men’s shirt*
  • Women pay 11 per cent more for razors compared to men*
  • Girls pay 13 per cent more for helmets and knee pads compared to boys*

These statistics show that the pink tax is a real phenomenon in Canada and that it affects women in a variety of ways, from personal care products to clothing and accessories. It is important to learn and know of the pink tax to work towards creating a more fair and equal society for all.

 *According to a Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) study in the U.S. 

What are examples of the pink tax?

The pink tax can be seen in almost every aspect of daily life, and it can add up to a significant amount of money for women and girls over time. While the pink tax applies to all kinds of goods and services, here are a few examples you’re likely to run into:


Haircuts are an example of the pink tax because women’s haircuts often cost more than men’s, even if the styles are similar. This is because many salons and barbershops charge for haircuts based on gender. For example, a haircut for men could be priced at $20, while the same haircut would be $40 for women.

Girls often have longer hair than boys, which can result in hairstylists needing to put more care or time into the cut. However, this doesn’t justify charging girls more than boys for a basic haircut.

image of pink toiletries on pink background on left side and image of black toiletries on blue background on right side


Razors are another common example of the pink tax. A standard packet of razors marketed towards women are often more expensive than razors marketed towards men, even if the only difference between the two is colour or design. An example is a women’s five-pack of pink disposable razors might cost $9, while a five-pack of blue disposable razors marketed toward men might only cost $7. 


Like razors, deodorants marketed towards women often cost more than deodorants marketed towards men. The only difference tends to be the scent or packaging. Girls and women typically pay 3 per cent more on average for deodorant.*

Similarly, a 2019 study into gender-related costs showed that moisturizers marketed to women were significantly more expensive than comparable moisturizers marketed to men. 


Toys, accessories and products for girls were consistently priced higher than those for boys. And in some cases, the same toy, such as a cash register, cost more in pink than it did in a gender neutral colour. For toys like bikes and accessories the only difference is the colour or pattern but girls will still pay more. 

How long has there been a pink tax?

The pink tax has been around for many years, but it wasn’t until recently that it was identified and named as a specific issue. The term “pink tax” began in the 1990s when the state of California’s Assembly Office of Research found that 64 per cent of stores in five major cities charged more to wash and dry clean a women’s blouse compared to a men’s shirt. The report concluded that the higher pricing for women was due to discrimination against women.

While the 1990s and early 2000s were the first time the term “pink tax” was coined, the underlying issue of gender-based pricing and discrimination has existed for much longer. Since then, advocacy groups and researchers have continued to document and raise awareness of the pink tax.

Despite their efforts, the pink tax remains an issue, and women continue to pay more for many products and services simply because of their gender.

How does the pink tax affect women and girls?

The pink tax can affect women in a few ways. First, it can make it harder for girls and women to afford items they want and need. This can be particularly frustrating as these products are often necessities that girls and women need to purchase on a regular basis – like toiletries.

The pink tax sends the message that boys and girls are not equal. When girls are consistently paying more for products marketed towards them than boys, it can lead to girls feeling like they’re not as valued as their male friends. 

Worst of all, the pink tax means that girls and women may pay thousands of dollars more over their lifetime, compared to men for similar products and services. That’s money women don’t have to invest in their future

Finally, by charging more for products marketed for women, companies are essentially penalizing women for being women.

Read more: The gender pay gap explained for kids and teens.

Image of three smiling teens lying on bed with head down, taking a selfie on a cellphone

What can you do to fight the pink tax?

There are several things we can do to fight the pink tax and promote gender equality:

Raise awareness

One of the most important things we can do to fight the pink tax is to be vocal about it. It’s important to educate yourself and others on the matter through word of mouth, social media and supporting organizations working to end the pink tax in Canada

Shop smart

Shopping smarter can be done in several ways. Choosing not to buy products that are marketed specifically for women, buying from companies that have gender-neutral packaging and pricing, or purchasing products in the men’s section. Though the last one might sound odd, next time you go to buy deodorant, double-check the prices of men’s compared to women’s deodorant. You may end up trying a new deodorant.

Advocate for change

Reach out to companies and policymakers to demand change. You can do this by writing letters, signing petitions, and contacting your local elected officials to advocate for laws and regulations that promote gender equality. 

Make smarter financial decision

The pink tax can negatively affect girls by making it harder to access products they need and want, while sending a message that girls aren’t as important as boys. It’s essential to work towards ending the pink tax to create a more fair and equal society for everyone.

To learn more about how best to protect and manage your money, download Mydoh and get started today.