I was 17 when I traveled on my own the very first time.
From Atlantic Canada, I flew to Vienna, Austria to visit one of my aunties, at her invitation, for one month. How could I refuse?
My auntie showed me around Vienna, a place she has called home for more than 30 years now…
We strolled around the heart of Vienna, Stephansplatz...Before she took me up the tower of the great St. Stephen's Cathedral.
She brought me inside the stunning Schonbrun Palace. And then, if Vienna wasn't enough…
She even took me to Salzburg, where I thought I died and went to heaven. It was that breathtaking.
Now my auntie works as a registered nurse in a palliative unit for as long as she’s lived in Vienna. She probably had enough vacation days to take a month off if she wanted to. But there was no need for her to do that. I didn't need any hand-holding for a month...
After about a week, I was ready to explore Vienna on my own. Their public transportation wasn't tough to crack.
In Vienna, at 17, my love for travelling was borne.
Vacation Budget Travels
Five years later, I took Stephen to Vienna to meet my auntie and other family.
Since then, Stephen and I have traveled together in Europe, the US, the Caribbean, Asia and around Canada (thanks in part to our travel credit card rewards).
We rarely visit the same place more than once (unless there is family to visit and spend time with).
Over the years, I’ve heard that Quebec City is a must-see. Since we live in the Maritimes, the drive was only about 7 hours...
So 3 years ago, we went. We had to see Quebec City for ourselves...And let me tell you, despite the build up, we were still in awe when we arrived.
We had such a great visit in 2013, that we decided to return this summer.
2016 Vacation Highlights
Quebec City provided us with vouchers to access their Hop On Hop Off bus, river cruise, and entrance to parks and museums.
Here are some of our favourite things we did in Quebec:
Hop On Hop Off Bus
My mom came with us this time around and it's the first time she's visited Quebec City. Walking around for hours in downtown Quebec is not her idea of a good time. So we tried the hop on hop off bus tour for the first time, ever. Normally, Stephen and I would walk endlessly exploring the city. But my two young kids and my Mom enjoyed the view at the top of the double-decker bus.
The top deck gave us a great view and overview of the city. Audio was also available to give a quick history of each place we passed and stopped.
The river cruise took about two hours and 30 minutes counting the time to get everyone settled onboard. The time out on the water was about 1.5 hours or so.
Though not the most scenic cruise I've taken, it was relaxing. We enjoyed the sun, the fresh air, and the water.
In Old Quebec, you’ll find the iconic hotel, Chateau Frontenac. And tucked behind it, is the Dufferin Terrace - a very pretty walk overlooking the St. Lawrence River.
Close by, we took the funicular to take us all the way down from Upper Town to Lower Town Quebec…
Quartier Petit Champlain
The picturesque Quartier Petit Champlain, with its narrow cobblestone streets, reminds me of Europe. It’s a must stop for a nice long stroll. But be warned, it’s filled with bistros, boutiques, and little souvenir shops...which calls for incredible determination to stick to your budget.
Aquarium du Quebec
A haven for kids and adults like. Be prepared to spend a day at the Aquarium du Quebec. Here you'll see a diverse collection of fish, jelly fish, and star fish. They have adorable giant walrus, seals, polar bears, and arctic foxes too. There's a playground and waterpark for kids. Don’t miss the walrus and seal feedings - our family favourite.
Not just another park. Montmorency Park boasts one of Canada's highest waterfalls. Go in early as the parking lot line-up gets quite long. You can ride a cable car or go up an insane number of steps. And then walk the suspension bridge directly over top of the falls.
5 Simple Budget Travel Tips
It helps to plan ahead and find out in advance if discounts are available. Quebec City, for example, has this page of discount coupons.
Here are some ways we saved money on this trip:
- rented a condo instead of staying in a hotel
- used our American Express Membership Rewards points to get refunded for our accommodation costs
- cooked meals at the condo twice a day (breakfast and dinner) - and ate out on the go for lunch
- brought our water bottles with us everywhere we went so we didn’t spend a ridiculous amount of money on bottled water
- brought snacks for the kids (and adults) to munch on while out - so we didn’t pay for last minute expensive snacks
What are some of the ways you save money when travelling? Share your tips below!