It's hard to advise on how much spending money you should budget for as everybody has different tastes and spending habits. A good guideline is between $250 and $300 (Canadian Dollars) per week. Some will find this is more than enough whereas others will use this up in a couple of messy nights in the pub!
Here is a rough guide to some common food and drink expenses in Canada:
On the hill $20 - $25
Homemade pack lunch - $5
NB: You will need to provide your own lunch each day. Buying food from the supermarkets and preparing your own lunch to take with you is a simple and cost effective way of feeding yourself during the day while in Canada. On a cold day you are likely to want something hot – fortunately the day lodges at the ski hills have microwaves and boiling water so you can heat food up, make hot drinks etc.
Budget- e.g. fast food, takeaway pizza etc: $15 - $20
Mid-range- e.g. sit down burger restaurant, pizza/pasta: $20 - $30
Fine dining- e.g. steak house, up market restaurant: $30+
NB: Lots of our accommodation options have cooking facilities so you can also prepare dinners there so save money. Often groups of course mates will get together to make dinners. In Fernie there is a guest kitchen at Red Tree Lodge. In Banff there is a BBQ and outdoor gas burner hobs.
Delicious Canadian tap water: FREE – Bring a water bottle with you and enjoy!
Fizzy drinks from drinks dispenser: $3.50
Cans and bottles of water/soft drinks/juices: $3 – $4.50
Coffee/Tea: $2 upwards
A pint of beer: $5 - $8
A jug of beer: $12 - $17
A glass of wine: $7 - $12
Highballs (spirits and mixers): $6 - $10
NB: Lots of bars, coffee shops and restaurants will do happy hours and daily deals so it’s worth keeping an eye out when you’re out and about. Lots of the supermarkets have loyalty cards etc so it’s worth checking them out too. When you arrive in Canada ask your host for recommendations on places to eat etc – they will know all the best places and all the deals too!
As you may be aware, it is the cultural norm to tip for services in Canada. Service isn't included in the headline price you pay so if you don't tip you're effectively not paying for what you owe. For foreigners it might be a strange concept to get used to but in small resort towns it's worth getting into the swing of things. "When in Rome..." and all that!
It's standard to tip 15 - 20% on a restaurant meal. It's also expected that you tip when you order a beer in a bar; $1 to $2 for a drink. Canadians also expect to tip on most other services including haircuts, taxi rides, guiding, and instruction - as you'll appreciate if/when you begin instructing! We suggest you consider budgeting $20/week for tipping your instructor (normally clients get together to give their tip at the end of the week), and if you choose to go snowmobiling, cat skiing or backcountry touring, it would be normal to tip your guides for their service. We'll give you more advice on this important cultural difference in more detail when you arrive in Canada!
Please note that we have taken care of the tips for the hotel staff and restaurant staff who will be serving your included meals.
We do not recommend bringing all your Canadian Dollars in cash. You will want some cash for tips, small purchases etc but is much safer to use a pre-loaded travel card for the bulk of your spending money. Depending on the card that you choose it may either work out cheaper to use it just like a debit card, or you may want to withdraw a set amount of cash each week. To decide simply work out which is higher – a weekly cash withdrawal fee or regular card fees. The rates on every card will be different so do your research and find the one that suits your preferences best. We recommend choosing one that has internet and/or mobile banking facilities so that you can easily keep an eye on your finances.
Currency cards are a great way to safely manage your money whilst you’re in Canada. You can load currency on prior to travel and add more whilst you are away if you need to. Typically there are no fees charged to withdraw money whilst you’re away. This means that you don’t have to carry around lots of cash and you won’t get charged a fee every time you want to access your money like you would with a standard debit or credit card.
The Caxton FX card has been popular with our guests in the past as they have a really handy app which makes managing your money easy. Check it out here
LOCAL WEBSITES TO CHECK OUT FOR DEALS
BANFF: Taxi Mike
FERNIE: Tourism Fernie - local deals
KEEPING IN TOUCH FOR FREE
While you’re away it’s handy to be able to keep in touch with your loved ones back home, and your course mates too. Calling and texting using your usual provider can be expensive so avoid that where possible. Instead take advantage of free wifi and use apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and skype to call and message for free. Always make sure your data roaming is off and you are on the wifi though or you could get caught out and incur big data charges. All our hotels and houses have wifi, the day lodges at each mountain offer free wifi and most local restaurants, bars etc do too so you should be able to get connected easily.
If you’re going to be calling landlines rather than other wifi enabled devices then the cheapest option is to buy an international calling card. These can be used from any landline and work out to be very reasonable. Our hotels and houses all have landlines.
If you do want to use your mobile phone as normal while you’re in Canada then consider getting an international calling package added on to your existing contract as sim cards and contracts tend to be quite expensive in Canada.
All our hotels and houses have free wifi. The day lodges also have wifi which come in handy when you’re out. Most cafes, restaurants and bars will also have wifi so you’ll easily be able to get connected when you’re out and about.
We look forward to speaking with you.