The Anatomy of Vacation Costs: Canadian Train Adventure

Here is a full breakdown of our expenses for our most recent trip:

Days:  24

Total spent:  $5,059.52

Per day breakdown:  $210.81

Per person / per day breakdown:  $105.41


Cost Category
$400.00 United Airlines Philadelphia to Portland
$1,437.00 Via Rail Vancouver – Winnipeg – Toronto
$51.00 Bolt Bus Portland to Vancouver
$94.00 Winnipeg Airbnb 2 nights
$60.00 High Bluff Airbnb 1 night
$165.00 Toronto Airbnb 3 nights
$105.00 Via Rail Toronto to Montreal
$95.00 VaiRail train ticket Ottawa – Quebec City
$45.00 Bus ticket Quebec City to Montreal
$50.00 Amtrak Montreal to Port Kent, NY
$16.00 Ferry crossing Port Kent to Burlington, VT
$152.00 Amtrak Burlington, VT to Philadelphia, PA
$213.00 Montreal Hyatt 3 nights – Points + Cash redemption
$207.00 Philadelphia Airbnb 3 nights
$89.00 Ottawa Hotwire Best Western Hotel 1 night
$70.00 Ottawa Airbnb 1 night
$134.00 Hotwire Quebec City Hotel PUR 2 nights
$80.00 Hotwire hotel King of Prussia
$0.00 Burlington hotel 2 nights (used points)
$111.50 Public bus / metro / hotel shuttle driver
$18.00 Uber & Lyft rides
$60.00 Greyhound bus Kingston to Ottawa
$72.00 Tips:  Train & Hotel
$933.52 Food – groceries, restaurants, etc.
$63.00 Car rental & gas
$114.00 Souvenirs / gifts
$220.50 Attractions – tours, admissions, fees, bike rental, etc.
$4.00 Laundry


Breaking it down even further into major categories, I found some surprises…

$1,112.00 Hotels / Airbnb
$2,603.50 All Transport
$933.52 Food
$190.00 Tips / Gifts / Misc
$220.50 Attractions
$5,059.52 Total


Over half of our travel expenses were related to transportation!  Granted, this was specifically a train-oriented vacation, but I didn’t realize just how big of a chunk it would take.

The hotels “only” costed us $1112, or 22% of our travel expenses.  Averaged out over 23 nights, that breaks down to $46.33 per night.  Keeping in mind that four of those nights were overnight on the train, the real cost comes to $1112 / 19 nights = $58.52.  We used a combination of Hotwire hotels, Airbnb’s and our credit card reward points to keep our costs low.

Finally, we originally budgeted $60 total per day for our food expenses.  Taking out the four days on the train, our average per day came to $933.52 / 20 = $46.67.  This is kinda surprising too, since we had a lot of meals that costed us around $30, especially in Philadelphia when we just had to eat at Sabrina’s every day!  One reason why I think we came below our food budget is because Lisa and I aren’t terribly huge eaters — although I have been known to eat mounds of food at the buffet, when it is just Lisa and I we usually just split an entree or we will snack during the day.  It also helps that the US exchange rate was so favorable when we were in Canada — basically everything was 20% off.  So when we ate out at a restaurant, we just figured we were getting free service gratuities since we typically tip 20% anyways.

All in all our vacation costed us just a shade over $5,000 for 24 days.  When planning for trips, my magic number is about $200 per day, or about $100 per person per day.  This includes everything — from transportation and accommodations to food and attractions.  When budgeting for a cruise vacation, this is the same framework I use — if a cruise costs $100 per person per day with everything included (port fees, taxes, tipping, cruise fare), then I consider it a good deal.  Sometimes though the airfare costs too much to get there and it just isn’t worth it.  I’m getting a little ahead of myself, but you get the idea that our vacation budget tries to stay around $100 per person per day.  And for this recently completed 24-day train trip in Canada and the East Coast, it was pretty close to budget!

For a breakdown of other vacations and trips we’ve taken, be sure to click on the category “Anatomy of Vacation Costs.”